Transit and Tacos is the 2020 winner of the SDAPA Public Outreach Award. This event has achieved an impressive level of participation and branding that truly embodies San Diego. Transit & Tacos exemplifies the planning profession’s important contribution to community engagement.

On August 30th, 2019 the City Heights Community Development Organization held the fourth annual Transit & Tacos event which prioritizes active community engagement in the transportation planning process.

Located off El Cajon Boulevard, a major pedestrian and transportation hub, the Fair@44 community activation space in City Heights housed four input-gathering stations, two engagement stations, and local vendor: Dos Tierras Chicano Soul Food.

Mid-City SAN and CDC Staff also facilitated an open mic session during the event, encouraging participants to share their experiences with public transportation.

Transit & Tacos helps planning agencies and decision-makers bring complex planning questions to groups that have historically been left out of the planning process. The 2018 Transit & Tacos Summer Block Party brought SANDAG & MTS planners to discuss a change in regional fare policy, and SANDAG’s current draft of their Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), with City Heights residents.

Participants of the block party included City Heights high school students, pedestrians and motorists not previously engaged in the planning process, young professionals curious about how they could improve commuting in their community, and long-time resident advocates who were excited to provide their input and interact with SANDAG and MTS planners over a plate of tacos.

Results of this block party, and other Transit & Tacos events, included data points that continue to inform Transportation Justice advocacy efforts,  connections between residents and planners, and the engagement of community members in local and regional transportation planning efforts.

Data and interactions from the 2018 block party led to the re-introduction of the Purple Line trolley into SANDAG’s draft RTP communications. The 2019 BLVD to Beach Transit & Tacos Community Transit Ride led to an active discussion on barriers to coastal access in San Diego County for communities of concern.

The first Transit & Tacos event was possible through partnership with SANDAG to conduct community-based outreach for the Regional Transportation Plan. SANDAG has been an active supporter of multiple Transit & Tacos events. MTS requested to be part of the first Transit & Tacos event in 2018 in order to conduct outreach for their regional fare policy update. The City of San Diego’s Sustainability Department funded three additional City Heights CDC-led Transit & Tacos events in 2019 & 2020 to support their outreach efforts around the City’s Climate Action Plan and participation in the Bloomberg Foundation’s American Cities Climate Challenge.