San Diego, California—Alleyways in under-served neighborhoods have become prime locations for dumping, tagging, drug dealing, sexual activity, assault, and loitering. To address this chronic issue, local residents, business owners, artists, and community organizations are coming together to beautify and activate alleyways in North Park, Logan Heights, Barrio Logan, and Tijuana over the course of four days, May 15-18. You can donate to the cause by clicking here

The Media Arts Center launched an initiative called “Take Back the Alley” in 2012. Each May, Qualcomm has helped bring over 70 volunteers to the Media Arts Center to enhance their back lot and encourage activation of the outdoor space. This year, with the help of the City of San Diego’s new Civic Innovation Lab, there is greater capacity to grow this effort and develop a pilot for participatory place-making in San Diego. The project has now expanded to include TWO parallel projects in the Greater Logan Heights area: the alley between Imperial Ave and Commercial St (between 28th and 29th) and the alley between Clay Ave and Franklin Ave (between 30th and 31st).  Additionally, two noted architects, Javier and Jorge Gracia, have plans to adopt the Take Back the Alley model in downtown Tijuana, in concert with their San Diego partners. 

“Residents taking ownership of their alley lends itself to increased community vigilance,” said Monte Jones, CEO of BAME CDC, a community-based organization in the Greater Logan Heights. “This grassroots effort can help improve dangerous alley conditions.” 

Community members have been meeting regularly since February to build the vision of their alleyways through a series of design workshops. Volunteers are invited to come and help paint murals, install signage and lighting, mark pathways, build planters out of recycled materials, pull weeds and collect trash, and a variety of other designs as determined by the community.This event will culminate into a series of block parties in each project location, featuring music, food, and guest speakers. Additionally, the City of San Diego has fixed potholes and drainage issues in these alleys, and will provide dumpsters and barricades to help control traffic in the alley on the day of the event.

These projects are supported by the Media Arts Center, El Cajon Boulevard BIA, Greater Logan Heights Community Partnership, LISC San Diego, BAME CDC, Central Village Business Association, Bread & Salt, Public Architecture & Planning, City of San Diego Civic Innovation Lab, Estrada Land Planning, Index Open Studio, and Gracia Architecture Studio.

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The Greater Logan Heights Community Partnership (GLHCP) is a collaborative of local nonprofit agencies working to unite & strengthen community organizations in Greater Logan Heights by empowering residents and communities to improve quality of life and create a sustainable community. For more information about the GLHCP, visit, call 619-858-0563, fax 619-858-0564, or write GLHCP, 3085 K St. San Diego, CA. 92102