San Diego’s Lowrider Women: Carolina’s Hopper

Carolina's Hopper

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Two kinds of lowrider cars stand out: show cars and hoppers. Marisa Rosales and Jose Arevalo are good examples of lowriders who have worked for two decades to perfect their show cars.

Carolina Hernandez, on the other hand, is the lowrider with the hopper—a car whose front hood can bounce up in the air.

‘Hopping’ cars has been an art form since the 1960s. It wasn’t fully perfected, however, until the mid-1970s. Back in the day, they would put a beer can next to the car and if your car was able to hop higher than the beer can, you gained celebrity status among lowriders. Nowadays, when hoppers get together casually or at competitions such as Extreme Autofest, they can hop their cars up to eighty inches high.   [Read more…]

Women Lowriders in San Diego County: Marisa Rosales and The Hudson

Marisa's 1949 Hudson Brom dashboard

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Lowriding is an art that also pushes car technology to the limits. Car Clubs members are like family and lowriders spend decades restoring cars to exactly how they looked and rode in the 1960s and 1970s.

Are there problems in the lowriding community? Yes, but probably not the ones you think. Lowriders, with their images of voluptuous girls on the front hoods, still remains a manly art form. Yes, nowadays diverse males from all ethnic and socio-economic groups join together in these car clubs, but they are still predominantly male. In San Diego County, Mayra Nuñez explains there are about seven women lowriders total, each in different car clubs.   [Read more…]

Anatomy Of A Lowrider: The Standards, The Art, The Technology

Switch Car Club 3

To join a car club or win awards at car shows, every lowrider needs to adhere to strict standards. Standard #1: the car must be impeccably clean.

Jose Arevalo, born and raised in National City, explains the standards while giving me a tour of his car.

Arevalo is a member of the Switch Car Club, established in National City in 1980. “How switch came together was, six of us guys played baseball together down in Las Palmas here locally. As we turned fourteen or fifteen years old we started getting cars. The club right there, the Latin Lowriders, were older guys, so we kinda looked up to them. They are the kind of group of people who showed us standards. Things that you do. How to act. How to be correct. During the early mid-1980s, Switch flourished and grew to be from 6 guys to 36 guys. From the early 80s to the late 80s we were one of the top clubs in San Diego.”   [Read more…]

Lowriders in San Diego: Jose Romero Tells The History


By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Low-RI-der. We all know the 1975 song by Jerry Goldstein, but do we really understand the history, art and technology lowriders have contributed to our American culture?

I’m here to find out and Jose Romero is first up to tell us a little bit about lowriding history.

Jose Romero, a member of the Klique car club, the oldest continuous running car club in San Diego, has been lowriding for over 40 years. He explains that lowriding is a talent he’s had since childhood.   [Read more…]

Lowriders Return To Highland Avenue in National City

Lowriders On Highland, National City

And the National City Mayor is joining them

By Barbara Zaragoza / Southbay Compass

After many decades of clashes with the city council and police department in National City, lowriders again take Highland Avenue by storm, this time packing the parking lot of Foodland Mercado on Highland Avenue for Taco Tuesdays to show off their hoppers and show cars.

On Tuesday, July 28th even the National City Mayor, Ron Morrison, attended. He strolled past the vintage cars and posed for a picture with lowriders from several different car clubs.

Mayor Morrison said, “This is like an art fair because these cars are more like art than anything else.”   [Read more…]

The Filipino-American Tour of the South Bay

Iglesia Ni Christo, Rios Ave.

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Ethnic enclaves are generally defined by a cluster of stores and eateries that feature culinary delights from a specific country from abroad. Within that cluster of businesses, you’ll usually hear that foreign language being spoken. In addition, there will often be a religious organization (usually a church) in the vicinity where the members of that ethnicity go to worship, but also come together as a community to support one another.

So how do you like my definition?…It’s imperfect for sure, but I am fascinated by residents who identify with more than just one country and one “ethnic” label.   [Read more…]

Sweetwater Reservoir

Sweetwater boarded up house

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Editor Note: The ongoing drought conditions in the region have impacted the availability of our water resources. The Sweetwater Reservoir is one of those resources.

While some may claim that the South Bay is filled with concrete and suburban McHomes, city planners have done much to preserve our green spaces. The Sweetwater Summit Campground is a wonderful little example.

You might consider it lackluster IF you are looking for “Disneyland” entertainment, but this low-key regional park hosts a playground with water works, 500-acres of trails and roaming animals that include the southern pacific rattlesnake, the coyote and the bobcat.   [Read more…]

National City’s Mariachi Festival Set for March 14th

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

It’s time for the Third Annual Mariachi Festival! National City expects between 10-15,000 people to join in the fun. Last year they had 11,000 people, making it one of the largest mariachi events in San Diego County.

This year, National City has invited mariachi students from throughout the United States and Mexico. At least 10 groups will compete and professional judges will hand out awards based on their stiff rubric.

The festival — which is free to the public — will also include ballet folklorico, a live Latin Band, carnival game booths, a beer garden and food.   [Read more…]

5th Annual Love Thy Neighbor Toy Drive Takes Place This Weekend

 By Brent E. Beltrán

This weekend the 5th annual Love Thy Neighbor Clothing & Toy Drive takes place at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. For the past five years Ruben Torres and some of his close friends have organized this event to bring a little joy during the Christmas season to youths in San Diego and Tijuana.

South Bay native Ruben Torres continues to give back to the community he loves. He says, “God gives us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with. I’m honored to see the community come together to give and to be a blessing to the needy.”

Toys will be collected for the children of the YWCA as well as families of The Training Center in Spring Valley.

This year’s main event takes place on Sunday, December 14 from 12-8pm and is hosted by radio DJ Beto Perez of 95.7 KISS FM and features an art show curated by Ruben Torres and Wendy Wolf.   [Read more…]

A Trail for Humanity Comes to San Diego

Marchers take a stand against violence targeting migrant women and children

By Brent E. Beltrán

On July 22 a group of mothers and their children began a journey from Merced, California to the U.S./Mexico border. This Saturday at 7am they will be at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan for the final leg of their pilgrimage.

After a ceremony at Chicano Park participants in A Trail for Humanity will leave around 8am and walk to Kimball Park in National City. From there they will be transported by vehicle to the MAAC Charter School in Chula Vista where they will have lunch.

After lunch and a brief rest they will continue their journey on foot to Larsen Field in San Ysidro. They will arrive at the park sometime between 3pm and 4pm where a rally will take place with speakers on immigration rights, danza Azteca and entertainment.   [Read more…]

Premiere Video Learning Tool Gives Power Back to the Communities

Environmental Health Coalition Launches “Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Community Planning to Overcome Injustice”

By Environmental Health Coalition

On Monday, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), an organization fighting toxic pollution in San Diego and Tijuana, released its video learning tool to empower residents to speak up and advocate for positive changes to their communities. Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Community Planning to Overcome Injustice is a bilingual video demonstrating the impacts of discriminatory land-use in San Diego and teaching community members how to achieve environmental justice in seven empowering steps.

This series of strategic planning techniques has led to great successes for low-income communities of color in San Diego. In Old Town National City, this process guided residents to provide input and influence policy in their community to achieve a collective vision. In 2006, residents successfully advocated for adoption of an ordinance to phase out heavy polluters from a predominately residential area in close proximity to a local elementary school. In 2010, the city implemented the Westside Specific Plan, bringing affordable housing units within walking distance of public transit and vastly improving the quality of life in Westside National City.   [Read more…]

The “Most Walkable” Cities in San Diego County – La Mesa Scores Highest

By Bill Adams/UrbDeZine San Diego

Walk San Diego rated La Mesa as 2013′s most walkable city in San Diego County. The number one reason for the City’s walkability happened 100 years ago.

It’s the traditional town pattern of it’s historic center. It’s a pattern that is relatively rare in Southern California but seen everywhere in the East and Midwest U.S.:

  • narrow streets (even its main commercial street La Mesa Blvd.),
  • small densely (for suburbia) developed lots,
  • human scaled and architecturally diverse development,
  • pedestrian amenities (e.g., the “secret stairs”), which were created when that was the primary form of short distance travel,
  • and a railway (now trolley) through the center of town.
  •   [Read more…]

Commemorate Día de los Muertos throughout San Diego – Long Live the Dead!

Día de los Muertos Commemorated for Thousands of Years in the Americas

By Brent E. Beltrán

Los días de los muertos have been commemorated for thousands of years in the Americas. It started in what is now México and has spread throughout the United States and the world. Today these days are celebrated by people of many different colors and cultures.

November 1 is Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) when deceased children are honored and November 2 is known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where we pay tribute to adults who have passed away. These dates correspond with the Christian holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day.   [Read more…]

Language Interpreters Are California’s Lifeline

Lack of Interpreters is a Life and Death Situation for Many

By Lorena Gonzalez

There are more than 50 languages spoken more comfortable and proficiently than English by the residents in the South Bay and Mid-City San Diego neighborhoods I represent. Throughout California, this challenge is shared by more than 6.5 million Californians, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Ordering food. Asking for directions. Attending school. Interviewing for a job. Filling prescriptions. Rescheduling appointments.

No situation involving a language barrier is as frightening, though, as one that risks the life of a loved one.   [Read more…]

San Diego’s Favorite Bicycle Rides #1 – Ocean Beach to National City

By John P. Anderson

A few weeks ago I wrote up one of my favorite bicycle routes, from North Park to Ocean Beach.  I got some good feedback and suggestions in response and decided to continue this idea.  However, I’m still a relatively new to cycling in San Diego and there are many areas of the city and county that I haven’t ridden.

To address my lack of personal knowledge I’ll be reaching out to cyclists across the county to profile some of their favorite rides and hopefully connect readers with some new places and routes to check out and enjoy.  I hope this series will be on a monthly basis, but we’ll see where things go.

The inaugural installment of this series features a ride from Jamie Ortiz.  Jamie recently won the 2013 Commuter of the Year Diamond Award from SANDAG for her earth-friendly cycling habit.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Fake Video About San Diego ACORN Yields $100,000 Settlement; Wingnuts Continue Defamation

You’d think the right wingers would give it a rest. But the myth of the evil-doers at ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) continues to live.

Four separate investigations by various state and city Attorneys General and the GAO released in 2009/2010 cleared ACORN of any illegal activities. Law enforcement officials found its employees had not engaged in criminal activities and that the organization had managed its federal funding appropriately.  Videos purporting to show illegal activities were found to have been deceptively and selectively edited to present the workers in the worst possible light.

So it’s with some small satisfaction that former members of that group were in a celebratory mood yesterday after court documents were released revealing that James O’Keefe, the conservative activist whose hidden-camera stings were at the center of the controversy, agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former employee of ACORN.

INSIDE: North Park Water Tower, District 4 Dirt, Balboa Park Redux, Digging in South LA   [Read more…]

San Diego For Free – Biking the San Diego Bay

A weekly column dedicated to sharing the best sights and activities in San Diego at the best price – free! We have a great city and you don’t need to break the bank to experience it.


Neighborhood & Address: San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Coronado; Detailed map here.

Best For: Outdoor enthusiasts, bicyclists, nature lovers, bird watchers

Hours: Free all day, every day. $4.25 for ferry if you prefer not to bicycle round-trip

The San Diego Bay is one of many iconic natural features of the regional geography. The bay is about 12 miles long, from San Diego in the north to Imperial Beach in the south. On the east side of the bay lies National City and Chula Vista and Coronado is about a mile across the bay to the west.

A wonderful feature of the San Diego Bay is the Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile bicycle-friendly loop that goes from Broadway Pier on the downtown San Diego Embarcadero around the entirety of the bay to the south-east, before returning north along Silver Strand Boulevard and ending at the Coronado Ferry Landing.   [Read more…]

La Raza Unida Party’s National Convention 40 Years Later: Time for a Third U.S. Political Party?

By Herman Baca / August 29, 2012 / Committee on Chicano Rights (CCR)

Forty years ago on Labor Day weekend (Sept 1-5, 1972), two months before the Richard Nixon/George McGovern presidential election, a call was issued by Reyes Lopez Tijerina, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, and Jose Angel Gutierrez, for a national convention in El Paso, Texas. The purpose; to create a national political party for Chicanos… La Raza Unida Party (LRUP).

Numerous individuals from San Diego joined thousands of others from thru-out the U.S. to journey to El Paso to attend and partake in the convention. At that time Chicano movement activists perceived the convention as being the most important political event to be ever be organized by Chicanos in the history of the U.S. Over 3,000 Chicanos from 18 states, the majority from the Southwest, but some as far away as Washington, D.C., Maryland, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Nebraska convened at the historic national convention to discuss strategy and policy to create the new national Chicano political party.   [Read more…]

Sweetwater Authority’s $49,083,000 Water Rate Increase! (The Impact on the Poor)

By Herman Baca / President, Committee on Chicano Rights

There are many things that individuals in the community can do without; water is not one of them. Poor people, especially in National City (NC), the poorest in SD County, median income of $39,000, and others on fixed income in the South Bay could find themselves if the increase is approved choosing to pay their water bill, over lives’ other necessities…food, rent, clothing, etc..

The Sweetwater Authority serves 187,000 customers in Bonita, parts of Chula Vista and NC. A public hearing to “consider adopting increases to its water service fees” will be held on August 27, 2012. In the last seven years the Sweetwater Authority has approved rate increases 6 times, but failed to raise rates in 2011, because of outraged Bonita residents. The CCR has gone on record in opposing the proposed water rate increase.

Most San Diego County residents, voters and water customers have little, if any idea that 16 water agencies even exist, what they do, or that they have become private fiefdoms, private ATMs and cash cows for self-serving individuals and politicians.   [Read more…]