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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 22, 2023

Contact: Colin Parent

619-567-6856 | [email protected]


San Diego, September 22, 2023— Circulate San Diego, a local nonprofit organization, recognized outstanding individuals and public agencies at its annual Momentum Awards event held last night. The event, which took place at the San Diego National History Museum in Balboa Park, brought together over 350 attendees, including regional elected officials, representatives from SANDAG, MTS, and professionals from the transportation and land use sectors.

The Momentum Awards spotlighted and celebrated the accomplishments of leaders who have made significant contributions to enhancing public transit, improving street safety, and fostering sustainable growth throughout San Diego County.

Colin Parent, CEO and General Counsel of Circulate San Diego, expressed pride in acknowledging the exceptional awardees. He said, "Circulate San Diego was proud to recognize so many great projects and individuals in San Diego. We are grateful that so many people came out to celebrate our region’s progress."

The awards ceremony featured the presentation of six community-nominated awards and the Walk-The-Walk Award. The Walk-The-Walk Award is given to local and statewide leaders who are actively advancing mobility choices and sustainable growth. This year's honorees included Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and environmental justice advocate Diane Takvorian.

During his acceptance speech, Attorney General Rob Bonta emphasized his commitment to addressing California's housing crisis. "I share this award with my team at California DOJ, particularly our housing justice team. They're the folks who ensure we don't just talk the talk. They make it possible for us to put words into action, for us to move forward on the path of progress. With an estimated 172,000 people struggling with homelessness in California, more than in any state in the country, the work we're doing to address the housing crisis and to ensure every Californian has a place to call home is critical."

In presenting this year's Walk the Walk Award, City of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, expressed gratitude for the partnership and advocacy of community leaders and organizations like Circulate San Diego, acknowledging their pivotal role in advocating for affordable housing, improving the public transit system, and enhancing street safety.

The event featured pre-recorded remarks from Attorney General Rob Bonta, which are now accessible online.

All award winners are listed below. Photos from the event are attached to this release.

2023 Momentum Award Winners

Safe Streets and Vision Zero Award

Winner #1: Brian Pepin, Poway City Councilmember - Councilmember Brian Pepin, elected to the Poway City Council in November 2022, has been the Council's chief advocate for increased walkability and bikeability in the face of a vehicle-centric mindset prevalent in this suburban community. During his short time on the Council, the Councilmember has championed a forward-thinking approach to transportation and road safety that is changing the conversation at Poway's City Hall. Despite experiencing pushback from some of his council colleagues, he has organized neighborhood leaders and garnered additional community support to encourage Vision Zero efforts, raise awareness of unsafe activities, and change behaviors. His commitment to this cause is helping to shift the narrative from a car-centric mindset to one that prioritizes the safety and well-being of all road users.

Winner #2: Safer Streets Together (City of Carlsbad) - The City of Carlsbad's "Safer Streets Together" initiative is a model of proactive, community-driven road safety efforts. Faced with a 233% increase in bike and e-bike collisions from 2019 to 2022. Tragedy struck with two fatalities in a 10-day span, prompting the city to declare a traffic safety emergency in August 2022, allocating $2 million for a comprehensive plan focusing on education, engineering, and enforcement. Carlsbad's approach is distinguished by its data-driven strategy, identifying collision hotspots and initiating projects to improve bike lanes, intersections, and lane restriping. Through a partnership with the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and Circulate San Diego a robust community engagement campaign was developed, with thousands taking the Safer Streets Together pledge. Within six months, the initiative achieved a remarkable 19% reduction in injury collisions across all modes.

Public Transit Connectivity Award

Winner #1: RideFACTNow - RideFACTNow significantly improves mobility and accessibility for individuals with disabilities in San Diego County. As a Nonprofit FACT addresses the critical gap in accessible transportation, allowing those who are often underserved due to the lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles access reliable and sustainable transportation options. This initiative stands out for its commitment to breaking down transportation barriers and fostering equity by providing on-demand accessible services. With funding from SANDAG and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), RideFACTNow is creating essential connections to community resources, medical services, and various opportunities.

Winner #2: Marisa Mangan (SANDAG) -Marisa Mangan, as a Senior Regional Planner at SANDAG, embodies a passion for innovative solutions and a commitment to transforming San Diego County's transportation landscape. With over 12 years of experience at SANDAG, her work on many pivotal projects demonstrates her exceptional creativity and thoughtfulness. Marisa's ability to work within the system while pushing for positive change sets her apart. Marisa's impactful contributions to progressive transportation planning at SANDAG, coupled with her collaborative spirit and commitment to sustainable commuting practices, make her a standout in the region. Her work sets a high standard for the industry, reflecting the transformative potential of innovative transportation planning.

Sustainable Growth Award

Winner: UC Pro Housing Campaign (OTTA United) - Our Time to Act United’s is a youth-driven organization dedicated to fostering an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future. They believe in the power of youth engagement in decision-making processes and emphasize its positive impact on both young people and the wider community. OTTA United focuses on addressing issues disproportionately affecting youth, amplifying their voices, and tackling their unique challenges. Their UC Pro Housing Campaign centers on empowering youth in areas traditionally dominated by adults, creating innovative pathways to elevate the next generation of leaders. Their efforts to collect student testimonials and comments, presented to the City Council, helps showcase an often-missing voice in land use policy making. By actively campaigning for housing in the University Community Plan Update, addressing the housing and climate crises. Their advocacy for high-density, mixed-use housing and transit benefits the communities around the UCSD Blue Line Trolley extension.

Innovation Award

Winner: La Semilla (Casa Familiar) - La Semilla, "The Seed," is an environmental justice initiative that embodies sustainability and community empowerment. Nestled in San Ysidro, it serves as a groundbreaking climate resiliency research center and pilot project. San Ysidro faces air quality challenges, with residents experiencing a 30% higher incidence of asthma due to border traffic. La Semilla's design, shaped in collaboration with the community, showcases climate-resilient, affordable, and low-maintenance construction techniques and urban farming methods. Placing this initiative in an underserved neighborhood sets an example for sustainable development and empowers residents to advocate for similar projects. La Semilla is privately funded and fully accessible to the San Ysidro community. As a project of the nonprofit Casa Familiar, La Semilla brings together an excellent team, including: from landscape architects at McCullough, civil engineers at Latitude 33, structural engineers at KPFF San Diego, lighting engineers at Introba Lighting and Noctiluca Lighting, and architects at Workshop B Architects, Inc.

Public Voice Award

Winner: MacKenzie Elmer (Voice of San Diego) - MacKenzie Elmer, an environment and energy reporter at Voice of San Diego, excels in investigative journalism with expertise in climate science and policy. Her work delves into the intricate connections between environmental issues, energy policies, transportation and their impact on San Diego. In 2022, Elmer's reporting drew attention to transportation affordability and accessibility issues in San Diego. Her articles, such as "San Diegans Say, If the Bus Were Faster, I'd Ride It" and "MTS Is Losing Money Because of its Pronto Pay System," illuminated the challenges faced by San Diegans in using public transit and the factors influencing their choices. Through her reporting, she emphasizes the need for improved bus transit speed and service quality to encourage greater public transportation usage. Elmer's work amplifies the voices of transit riders and advocates, holding decision-makers accountable and shaping public policy discussions. Her reporting also underscores the economic, environmental, and social implications of transportation choices, fostering a broader understanding of the societal benefits of investing in efficient public transportation systems.

Advocate Award

Winner: Terrence Morrissey - In February 2022, Terrence acted to address the issue of high-speed traffic in Altadena. He collaborated with city council staff, inviting them to witness the problem firsthand. Terrence's vision for San Diego centers on creating vibrant, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods where everyone can navigate streets without fear. Over a year of relentless effort, Terrence remained steadfast, ensuring the successful installation of traffic calming measures. Though his community engagement efforts he motivated city authorities to act. Earlier this year, his hard work paid off - speed humps were installed, a monumental achievement for a community that had waited for over 25 years. Terrence's exceptional leadership was instrumental in this success. Without his dedication, this accomplishment would have remained elusive, underscoring his invaluable contribution to the neighborhood and its residents. His passion and determination continue to serve as a beacon for creating safer, more pedestrian-friendly communities.

Walk the Walk Awards

Winner #1: Diane Takvorian - Through her leadership as Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Environmental Health Coalition Diane Takvorian has long centered her core values of environmental and social justice to make our bi-national region a better place to live, work, and move around. Working with diverse community stakeholders she has led efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advocate for affordable public transit, and empower communities to make our built environment more equitable. Through your dedication and service on numerous international, national, state, and regional advisory boards you have ensured the voices all Californians are heard.

Winner #2: Senator Toni Atkins - From City Hall, to her leadership in both the Assembly and Senate, Senator Toni Atkins has been a crucial leader in ensuring we meet our statewide housing crisis head on. As you have often stated, “Housing is the most critical issue facing California.” Senator Atkins has attacked this issue through authoring and championing our state’s most significant pro-housing bills. Like, Senate Bill 2 – the Building Homes and Jobs Act –creating a permanent source of funding for affordable housing, and Senate Bill 9, the California Housing Opportunity and More Efficiency (HOME) Act, which widens access to housing for California’s working families and provides homeowners with more options to create intergenerational wealth. We commend you for making housing one of your top priorities. Through your dedication to protecting pro-housing legislation you have ensured the rights and interests of all Californians.

Winner #3: Attorney General Bonta - As California’s Attorney General, Rob Bonta, deserve our praise and thanks for his unwavering commitment to enforcing state housing law and your significant investment in holding cities accountable for their actions. With his guidance, the Housing Strike Force within the Department of Justice, has played a pivotal role in advancing housing access across our state. AG Bonta’s unprecedented passion for enforcing state housing law has led to the implementation of transformational policies that promote equity and inclusivity, ultimately fostering a healthier and stronger California. Like me, he has made housing one of his top priorities and for empowering the Housing Accountability Unit to effectively address housing issues. Through your dedication to protecting pro-housing legislation you have ensured the rights and interests of all Californians.

About Circulate San Diego
Circulate San Diego is a regional nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing mobility andmaking the region a better place to move, work, learn and play. Our work focuses oncreating great mobility choices, more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and land uses thatpromote sustainable growth. For more information, go