Mobilizing for Change

Human Rights

Holding Customs and Border Protection Accountable

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014

Alliance San Diego and our coalition partners at Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) continue to lead the way for accountability and oversight over Customs and Border...

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Educational Equity

Life After DACA: Tips and Q&A

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014

During our efforts in assisting young immigrants to apply for DACA, applicants frequently ask these questions to which we are providing some answers. Do I need to pay taxes if I...

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Inclusive Democracy

MTS Policy Acts as De Facto Voter Suppression

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014

Advertising Policy Prohibits Message Reminding Citizens to Vote Media Advisory Press Conference: MTS Office Clock Tower Tuesday, October 21 – 9:30 am 1255 Imperial Ave...

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Community Development

Free Assistance to Become a Citizen in November

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014

Are you a permanent resident who is ready to become a citizen? Alliance San Diego and our partners in the the San Diego Naturalization Collaborative along with NALEO and Wells...

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Alliance Updates

MTS Policy Acts as De Facto Voter Suppression



For Immediate Release
Contact: Ricardo Favela, 760-468-4519,

MTS Policy Acts as De Facto Voter Suppression
Advertising Policy Prohibits Message Reminding Citizens to Vote

Additional Material for Media:

MTS Policies and Procedures PDF

Photo Gallery of Alliance San Diego Press Conference about MTS Bus Ads

MTS denial emails addressed to Alliance San Diego will follow.


From: Randal Phillips <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 7, 2014 1:51 PM
To: Ricardo Favela
Subject: SDMTS Advertising Policy


Here is the link to the SDMTS Advertising Policies and Procedures on our website.

My reference as to the rejection of your ad is under items 21.1.1 and 21.1.1a in the policy and procedures document.

Under item 21.1.4, I will go ahead and submit your ad to the MTS CEO and General Counsel for their opinion.

Let me know if you need any additional information.




From: Karen Landers []
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2014 2:25 PM
Subject: RE: SDMTS Advertising Policy

MTS has a strict commercial-only advertising policy and our buses and shelters are not First Amendment public forums.

The first section of our policy (attached) clearly states: “The subject matter for all advertising materials displayed on MTS property shall be limited to speech which proposes a commercial transaction as its primary purpose.”

Especially over the last several years, MTS has increased oversight of its advertising contractors to make sure that ads are not accepted that violate this policy. While unfortunate that non-commercial ads may have been accepted in 2010 or before, we feel the enforcement of our policy over the past several years has shown a policy and practice to not open MTS buses and shelters as a First Amendment public forum. Accepting the Alliance San Diego ad would violate our commercial-only advertising policy.

Karen Landers
General Counsel
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
1255 Imperial Avenue, Suite 1000
San Diego, CA 92101
Direct: (619) 557-4512

MTS Policy Acts as De Facto Voter Suppression

Advertising Policy Prohibits Message Reminding Citizens to VoteAlliance San Diego Logo_PMS

Media Advisory

Press Conference:
MTS Office Clock Tower
Tuesday, October 21 – 9:30 am
1255 Imperial Ave #1000
San Diego, CA 92101

Spokespersons: Alliance San Diego leadership (Board and staff members)

Visuals: Vote for San Diego Bus Ads

San Diego: With an election only two weeks away, informing San Diego voters about the election and encouraging them to vote is of critical importance for a functioning democracy, especially on the heels of the lowest voter turnout in San Diego’s recent history. Yet, the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has a policy in place that prevents community messages to remind San Diegans to vote on November 4th.

A few weeks ago Alliance San Diego launched a non-partisan effort to increase awareness about the election in communities with historically low voter turnout. Part of the effort included paying for printed bus ads with the message, Vote for San Diego, along with the date of the election. Images of native San Diegans were included with motivational messages such as, “Vote for what’s best for your community”.


The effort to place the ads came to a halt after MTS’ advertising agency, Michael Allen & Associates, informed Alliance San Diego that the ads were too “political”. When Alliance responded that these were non-partisan messages, the MTS general counsel replied with a different response; that the MTS policy only allows ads that serve a commercial purpose. In other words, MTS will only allow messages that strengthen the corporate wallet, not our democracy.

Alliance San Diego strongly urges MTS to be a responsible community partner and allow messages that encourage voting. We also call upon them to reverse their shameful policy, which acts as de facto voter suppression.


Tickets On Sale Now for 27th All Peoples Celebration

APC Logo 1

Ticket sales open today for the 27th All Peoples Celebration honoring the living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Be the first to get your ticket. The event will take place on Monday, January 19th, from 10-11:30 am at the Balboa Activity Center on the breathtaking grounds of Balboa Park. The event is open to all and all are welcome.

Drawing on the “I am a Man” signs from the Civil Rights Movement and the “I am a Woman” signs that have emerged since, the theme for this year’s celebration is “I am a Human, I am the Dream.”  The program will be a dynamic and diverse commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, featuring local musical and spoken word artists, multimedia presentations, and visionary speakers. We hope you will join us for this uplifting and unifying event. Tickets are $50 each. Buy your ticket online today!