Every three years, SANDAG releases a Call for Projects to incentivize projects that promote smart growth and active transportation. The money for the grant programs comes from two sources: TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation approved by San Diego County voters, which sets aside 2 percent of annual revenues for each grant program; and funds distributed by the state under the California Transportation Development Act.

In March, SANDAG called on local jurisdictions to submit applications for more than $30 million in competitive grants available under the fourth cycle of the TransNet Smart Growth Incentive Program (SGIP) and Active Transportation Grant Program (ATGP). $27 million in smart growth funds and $3.6 million in active transportation funds were available. For the first time, up to $1 million from the smart growth funds were available for local jurisdictions to complete Climate Action Plans and Complete Streets Policies. In May, July, and October 2018, the Board approved the funding awards.

Smart Growth Grants

The TransNet Smart Growth grants help pay for efforts to implement public infrastructure projects that facilitate compact, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, as well as increasing housing and transportation choices in Smart Growth Opportunity Areas on the SANDAG Smart Growth Concept Map. The Smart Growth Concept Map illustrates the location of existing, planned, and potential smart growth areas, and serves as the land use element of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, showing where local jurisdictions are planning for smart growth, and where SANDAG is planning for higher-frequency transit services. The map contains more than 200 locations in seven smart growth categories. The seven smart growth “place types” include: the Metropolitan Center, Urban Centers, Town Centers, Community Centers, Rural Villages, Mixed Use Transit Corridors, and Special Use Centers, reflecting the notion that smart growth is not a “one-size-fits-all” concept. The map also shows the habitat conservation areas in the region, which often receive funding from the TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program.

In this fourth funding cycle, the TransNet SGIP awarded more than $27 million to 23 projects (11 capital projects and 12 planning grants). Those projects will leverage over $18 million in matching funds. Roosevelt Avenue in National City and Paseo Santa Fe in Vista are two examples of areas which will receive major streetscape improvements to enhance multi-modal options, such as enhanced sidewalks, landscaping, parking, lighting, and signage. The projects will enhance transportation options, as well as improve safety and accessibility in the neighborhoods.

The 11 Capital projects that were awarded funding include:

  1. National City: Roosevelt Avenue Smart Growth Revitalization Plan – $2,080,000
  2. Vista: Paseo Santa Fe Phase 3 – $2,500,000
  3. San Diego: Downtown Mobility Cycle Way Phase 1 and 2 – $2,500,000
  4. El Cajon: El Cajon Transit Center Connections – $2,500,000
  5. El Cajon: Main Street-Green Street Gateway – $2,500,000
  6. Lemon Grove: Connect Main Street Phase 1 and 2 – $2,500,000
  7. Chula Vista: Third Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project Phase 3 – $2,500,000
  8. San Diego: Downtown Wayfinding-Cycle Network – $220,000
  9. National City: Sweetwater Protected Bikeway – $2,500,000
  10. San Diego: East Village Green Park, Phase 1 – $1,039,748
  11. Escondido: Grand Avenue Complete Streets Improvement Project Phase – $1,443,161

The 12 Planning projects that received funding are:

  1. San Diego: College Area Smart Growth Study – $500,000
  2. National City: 24th Street Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Overlay – $500,000
  3. San Diego: University City Community Smart Growth Study – $500,000
  4. San Diego: E Street Greenway Master Plan – $110,000
  5. San Diego: Mira Mesa TOD Concept Plan – $500,000
  6. Lemon Grove: Smart Growth General Plan Update and Implementation Project- $262,290
  7. Oceanside: Coastal Rail Trail Extension – $400,000
  8. San Diego: Clairemont TOD Design Concepts – $500,000
  9. County of San Diego: Valley Center Community Plan Update, Special Study, and Supplemental Environmental Impact Report – $325,000
  10. La Mesa: Complete Streets Design Manual – $169,801
  11. County of San Diego: Casa de Oro Specific Plan – $500,000
  12. County of San Diego: Alpine Community Plan Update Implementation and Financing Tools – $300,000

The City of El Cajon received $150,000 for a Climate Action Plan. No jurisdictions submitted applications for complete streets funding.

Active Transportation Grants

The TransNet Active Transportation Grants fund efforts to increase opportunities for walking and biking, and to implement traffic calming measures throughout the region, such as enhancing bike parking facilities, constructing buffered bike lanes and landscape medians, and planning for safer pedestrian pathways and bike routes. These projects help provide healthier transportation options, address traffic congestion, improve air quality, and improve public health.

The fourth cycle included $3.6 million awarded to 15 projects (7 capital projects and 8 non-capital projects) under the TransNet Active Transportation Grant Program. The projects receiving funding will leverage approximately $2 million in local funds.

The 7 Capital projects that received funding are:

  1. La Mesa Massachusetts Avenue Bike Connectivity Improvements – $123,000
  2. La Mesa University Avenue Pedestrian and Bike Improvements – $502,000
  3. National City National City Division Street Bike Improvements – $312,000
  4. National City National City Boulevard Bike Inter-City Bike Connection – $394,001
  5. City of San Diego San Diego Streamview Drive Improvement Project Phase 2 – $585,950
  6. Santee Santee Prospect Avenue and Mesa Road Improvements – $306,999
  7. Solana Beach Lomas Santa Fe Corridor Active Transportation Improvements – $616,050

 The 8 Non-Capital projects that received funding include:

  1. Del Mar Civic Center Bike Locker – $10,000
  2. El Cajon El Cajon Active Transportation Plan – $207,000
  3. El Cajon El Cajon Bike Parking Enhancements – $50,000
  4. Imperial Beach Imperial Beach Education Encouragement Awareness – $50,000
  5. National City “Waterfront to Homefront” Connectivity Study – $198,000
  6. National City National City Bike Parking Enhancements – $50,000
  7. Oceanside Enclosed Bike Parking Facility (BikeStation) – $70,000
  8. City of San Diego Move Free San Diego Campaign $125,000

The Big Take-Away

These smart growth and active transportation grant programs are beginning to make a big difference in our local communities. To date, SANDAG has awarded more than $80 million to over 140 SGIP and ATGP projects throughout the San Diego region, leveraging approximately $54 million in matching funds. This represents a total investment of more than $134 million for smart growth and active transportation projects in local communities since the first funding awards were made in 2009. (See map.)

For additional details about the fourth cycle of grant funds, visit sandag.org/cycle4grants. Also, check out successful grant-funded projects on the Keep San Diego Moving interactive story map.

The next cycle of grant funding will be available in approximately 3 years… Stayed tuned until 2021.