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City Heights Kids’ 2-Hour Trek To Beach Highlights Inequities

Students from the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs around San Diego pose at the Pac...

Photo by Priya Sridhar

Above: Students from the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs around San Diego pose at the Pacific Beach pier after riding public transportation from City Heights to the beach on August 21, 2019.

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Countless kids across San Diego County are enjoying their last week at the beach before school starts, but for some getting to the beach can be a long ordeal.

Aired: August 26, 2019 | Transcript

The City Heights Community Development Corporation organized a "Boulevard to Beach: Community Transit Ride" trip this week to highlight what they say are inequities in ocean accessibility for the low-income residents of San Diego.

Tina Luu said her family doesn't have time for the beach. "Sometimes its inconvenient for my family and I have a lot of activities that I do," the 11-year-old said.

Luu was among a couple dozen kids from various San Diego area Cesar Chavez Service Clubs took the 11-mile trek from the El Cajon Boulevard Transit Plaza in City Heights to Pacific Beach. When everything goes smoothly, it takes two buses and about an hour and a half to make it from the transit plaza to Pacific Beach.

Things didn't go smoothly on Wednesday's trip. They got on the first bus at 1:14 p.m., which took them to a stop in Kearny Mesa. From there, the bus to Pacific Beach was supposed to depart at 1:51 p.m. But mechanical problems ended up delaying the trip by 20 minutes. They finally made it to Pacific Beach at 3:00 p.m., nearly two hours after their journey began.

Reported by Priya Sridhar , Video by Matthew Bowler

"It was my first time being on a bus ever," said 10-year-old Allan Ovezverdeyevi. "I was very nervous. It was like a little bit too cramped but I think it was really good though."

But the organizers of the trip said the long ride epitomized the disparities these children suffer from.

"We all live here in San Diego County and we believe that the beach should be equitably accessible for all communities and unfortunately it's not right now, There are a lot of folks in our neighborhood in City Heights who want to go to the beach, but because of different access issues [and] affordability, it's not really feasible," said Randy Torres-Van Vleck from the City Heights CDC.

According to SANDAG's regional plan, minorities and low-income people in San Diego are more likely to live farther than 15 minutes away from the beach by both car and public transportation.

"San Diego is a spread-out community. We have over 100 bus routes, we have 800 vehicles out there including over 100 trolleys. It's well designed, but San Diego is a challenging area to get people where they want to go," said MTS spokesperson Rob Schupp.

Jonathan Burgos, one of the chaperons, said the ocean is something all San Diegans should have equal access to.

"To be here, to watch a sunset, to even like have S'mores on the beach ... a lot of times when the students have that, it's such a game-changer," Burgos said. "I think everyone should have that opportunity."

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