Downtown El Cajon. Photo by Chris Stone

El Cajon and National City have each received multi-million grants as part of a statewide effort to reduce litter and beautify neighborhoods.

Caltrans is leading Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Clean California initiative, a $1.1 billion, multi-year clean-up effort to remove trash, create jobs and engage communities to transform public spaces.

El Cajon received $5 million for the Oakdale Alameda Gateway Beautification project, with the goal of creating a city gateway near an Interstate 8 exchange.

It includes the creation of native landscape and tree canopies, installation of efficient irrigation, waste and recycling receptacles and state-certified storm drain waste filters, a green alley conversion, public art, signage and themed sidewalks and crosswalks.

The total cost for the project – which aims to improve pedestrian safety while reducing waste and addressing emissions goals – is expected to reach nearly $6.8 million.

The National City grant, $4.99 million, will fund the effort to eventually achieve the “grand vision” of adding a greenbelt along the east side of Interstate 805.

The work, to include the areas between Division Street and Plaza Boulevard, and those from Alpha Street to the Sweetwater Bike Path, is intended to address issues related to waste, debris, under-utilized public right-of-way and safety.

The city, according to state officials, intends to address the needs of underserved residents related to parks, recreation and commuting. The city hopes the project will improve connections to El Toyon and Rancho de la Nacion elementary schools, El Toyon Park and local shopping centers.

In addition, Imperial Beach received an $863,580 grant for 10th Streetscape Enhancements, including a missing accessible sidewalk connection between Donax and Palm avenues. 

“Keeping California clean and litter-free is a responsibility that we all share,” Caltrans Acting Director Steven Keck said, adding that it is a “collective goal to help Californians build clean and green communities and keep them beautiful.”