Civic Engagement Helps Casa Familiar Improve Neighborhood Health and Safety

NEWS // October 14, 2015

Civic Engagement Helps Casa Familiar Improve Neighborhood Health and Safety

Casa Familiar is a community development agency that uses its capacity for civic and community engagement to help implement neighborhood improvement projects within the community of San Ysidro.  In the past year, Casa Familiar has helped to move projects forward that make improvements to the built environment to address health and safety issues in the community.

Casa Familiar helped to conduct the Border Health Equity Transportation Study (BHETS) to identify significant health impacts within the community of San Ysidro potentially caused by built environmental factors. In partnership with SANDAG and the local U.S. EPA office, the 16 month BHETS analyzed the relationship between health issues, such as asthma or cancer, and the factors in the built environment, such as exposure to air and noise pollution.  The final study report was completed and released on February 27, 2015. 

One key recommendation identified in the BHETS was to “Implement an air quality monitoring program.” A solution developed during the course of the study was the installation of a new air pollution monitor at the San Ysidro Port of Entry supported by the U.S. EPA and the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District. The new monitor measures fine particulate matter up to 2.5 microns in diameter which can result in negative health effects when inhaled. A two year project will analyze if particulate matter levels are elevated in the area.

To address safety issues within the community, Casa Familiar worked with local promotoras to help identify an unsafe pedestrian pathway for improvement by the City of San Diego.  The pathway along old Otay Mesa Road is a combination of sidewalk and dirt path between steep hills and canyons on a two lane road that is poorly lit for pedestrians. The promotoras, walking with their high school aged children to school, identified that the dirt path portion is treacherous and dangerous and that the missing ½ mile of sidewalk should be urgently constructed.

To call attention to this community need, Casa Familiar is providing its support to organize monthly Community Safety Walks until the sidewalk gets built.  For fiscal year 2014-15, the promotoras were able to complete 12 Community Safety Walks along the ¾ of a mile path with a total of 178 participants who logged 133 miles of walking for the year.  Because of the efforts to bring attention to this community need, the City of San Diego was able to identify the funding needed for the project and tentatively scheduled the project start for spring of 2016.

In order to improve quality of life and well-being, Casa Familiar engaged the local community around the San Ysidro Community Park Playground Project.  The playground is in the oldest community park in San Ysidro and community residents asked for it to be brought up to ADA standards and re-constructed with today’s safety and new playground structures.

Casa Familiar has taken the lead on this project to identify initial funding to upgrade this community asset and leverage funding sources. A resident committee was formed to maintain project engagement with community stakeholders and work with the City of San Diego to bring the playground and surrounding access ways into compliance with ADA. The first phase of the project, design and demolition, occurred in June 2015. The total budget for this project including the reconstruction of the playground, new play equipment and all ADA improvements to ensure accessibility is $1.3 Million.

Casa Familiar uses community workshops, petitions, letters of support to engage their community and work with partners and civic leaders to move forward neighborhood improvement projects in San Ysidro.

To learn more about what Casa Familiar is doing, visit: