San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan – adopted unanimously by the SANDAG Board in 2015 – is the future blueprint plan for a more sustainable San Diego region. At its core, it relies on creating a transportation network that will provide more travel choices, which in turn will protect the environment, create healthy communities, and stimulate economic growth.

Last month, the Regional Plan was selected as the “Best of the Best” in the 2017 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards, a prestigious biennial program co-sponsored by the federal government and the National American Planning Association. Additionally, the Regional Plan received the “Comprehensive Plan – Large Jurisdiction” award from SDAPA at the annual awards program. SANDAG also received the SDAPA Transportation Planning award for the Mobility Solutions for Environmental Justice Communities Project.

Monica Gourdine, associate division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), presented the “Best of the Best” national award to Chairman Ron Roberts at the regular SANDAG Board meeting on May 26, 2017. To be selected, San Diego Forward had to meet several criteria, including representing a holistic approach to transportation planning, demonstrating an innovative approach to a critical issue, providing significant benefits to transportation users, and exemplifying a commitment to collaborating with partners and stakeholders.

The vision statement for this long-range blueprint – which will carry the region through 2050 – is “to provide innovative mobility choices and planning to support a sustainable and healthy region, a vibrant economy, and an outstanding quality of life for all.” In response to the shift in development patterns based on the cities and county updated general and specific plans, San Diego Forward includes greater investments in public transportation, bike paths, and pedestrian improvements than in any previous plan. Together, the land use pattern and transportation investments included in the Regional Plan allow the region to meet and exceed greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets established by the state Air Resources Board.

Additionally, the Regional Plan was developed in close partnership with the region’s 18 cities and county government. It builds upon local planning efforts by emphasizing the links between land use and transportation planning. Closer integration of the two will result in more compact and sustainable communities, helping the region meet GHG reduction targets. As it is implemented, the Plan will enhance the movement of both people and goods, as well as break new ground by incorporating components aimed at enhancing public health.

At each step in the process, SANDAG reached out to a wide range of community members and stakeholders throughout the region. The Public Involvement Plan involved a menu of public engagement techniques, such as workshops, social media, visualizations, surveys, videos, and presentations. SANDAG also partnered with a regionwide network of community-based organizations to engage low income, minority, senior, and disabled populations in the planning process.

Unique to the region is the network of 17 tribal nations. SANDAG implemented a consultation process in partnership with the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA) to ensure issues of the region’s tribal nations were addressed in the Plan. In addition, SANDAG collaborated with Mexico, the U.S. military, neighboring counties, the business community, and local organizations in an inclusive planning process to ensure our regional transportation system will connect to the megaregion and national network.

The Regional Plan was driven by a core team of planners at SANDAG but was enhanced and enriched by professionals across the agency and private sector planners throughout the region. Furthermore, “planning” was added to one of the three goal areas of the Regional Plan (titled “Innovative Mobility and Planning”) to recognize the importance of planning in the process. The incorporation of this goal showcases the role of planning to help use land more wisely; build more efficient and accessible transportation systems; protect the environment; improve public health; ensure adequate housing for everyone; incorporate social equity into the process; address military needs; and, support a vibrant international border.

San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan includes a specific “Action Element” to put the Plan into motion. First and foremost, the Regional Plan calls for using federal, state, regional, and local transportation funds, in conjunction with locally-generated incentives, as catalysts to promote smart growth and habitat conservation, economic prosperity, and sustainable development.

San Diego Forward makes a commitment to ensure that progress is made and that implementation efforts can be carried out. Today, the agency is focused on putting the Plan into action: Constructing the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, South Bay Rapid, Bayshore Bikeway, planning for Mobility Hubs, providing grants to local jurisdictions to build infrastructure to support smart growth and active transportation, preserving over 8,000 acres of valuable open space, among countless other projects).

For more about our award-winning Regional Plan and to learn about how the plan is being implemented today, please visit SANDAG is thrilled and honored to receive both national and local planning awards, and thanks everyone involved in the preparation and implementation of this forward-thinking planning document.