Frequently Asked Questions

The 18 cities and county government are SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments. This public agency serves as the forum for regional decision-making. SANDAG builds consensus; makes strategic plans; obtains and allocates resources; plans, engineers, and builds public transportation, and provides information on a broad range of topics pertinent to the region's quality of life.SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors that is made up of mayors, councilmembers, and county supervisors from each of the 19 local governments. The Board of Directors is assisted by a staff of planners, engineers, and research specialists.

San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan is a big picture vision for our region’s future out to the year 2050. It includes goals and strategies for maintaining our quality of life, as well as an implementation plan for building a transportation network that creates more travel choices and protects our environment.

Our region is expected to add one million people and hundreds of thousands of homes and jobs in the next 35 years. San Diego Forward lays out a vision for accommodating that growth, while at the same time maintaining our quality of life and protecting our environment. San Diego Forward is the Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS), which outline important investments in our transportation network and how our region will reduce greenhouse gases. For the first time, both the Regional Comprehensive Plan and the RTP/SCS have been integrated into a single document. The region is required by federal and state law to update it every four years.

With the region expected to add one million people in the next 35 years, we need to carefully think through how we will grow if we want to protect our ability to get around the region, access open space, live in quality neighborhoods, and enjoy the benefits of a healthy economy. San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan lays out a vision for accommodating that growth and maintaining the unique qualities we enjoy in the San Diego region.

The development of the Regional Plan is a dynamic process that starts with the development of a regional growth forecast. Once future population, jobs, and housing growth are estimated, transportation networks are designed to address transportation issues and needs. During the entire process, SANDAG involves stakeholders at every level, and conducts extensive public outreach.

SANDAG staff, working in partnership with the 18 cities and the county government, engaged in a lengthy and inclusive process to prepare the plan. This process included extensive public involvement and stakeholder outreach, including nineteen public workshops, and multiple opportunities for the public to participate online via the website. During the comment period for the Draft Plan, SANDAG conducted a series of workshops and offered many different opportunities for the public to comment on the Plan – see the following question for more information.

Various elements of the Regional Plan were brought before SANDAG Policy Advisory Committees for review, and then before the SANDAG Board of Directors for approval. The SANDAG Board is made up of elected officials from the region’s 18 cities and the county government. The Final Plan was adopted by the Board October 9, 2015.

San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan combines the region’s two big-picture plans for the future - the Regional Comprehensive Plan and the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. The Regional Plan will be updated every four years.

The Regional Comprehensive Plan (RCP), created and adopted by SANDAG in 2004, lays out a vision for maintaining our region’s quality of life into the future. It includes specific performance measures so we can track our progress. The RCP includes the concept of “smart growth” – accommodating new growth in already existing communities in order to maximize transportation investments and minimize environmental impacts. San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan combines the updates to the Regional Comprehensive Plan and the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy.

A regional transportation plan (RTP) and Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) is a blueprint for how the region will invest in our transportation system in the coming decades, including a specific network of projects and a timeline for their implementation. The RTP includes improvements to many systems, including the highways, transit, and “active transportation” infrastructure such as bikeways and pedestrian improvements. Because the plan goes out to the year 2050, transportation projects are included in “phases” that are adjusted to the various funding sources that are projected to be available when needed. Federal law requires that the RTP be updated every four years. San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan combines the updates to the Regional Comprehensive Plan and the Regional Transportation Plan.  Approved on October 9, 2015, San Diego Forward serves as the Regional Transportation Plan.

SANDAG, as our region’s metropolitan planning organization and regional transportation planning agency, is required by state and federal laws to develop and adopt a regional transportation improvement program (RTIP). The RTIP is a multi-billion dollar, five-year program of proposed projects for major transportation projects in the San Diego region. The RTIP implements the projects identified in the initial years of the Regional Plan. The current 2014 RTIP was adopted in September 2014 and underwent an amendment in conjunction with the approval of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan.

In fall 2014, the SANDAG Board selected a preferred transportation network scenario that outlines more than $200 billion in transportation improvements to be built between now and 2050. This scenario includes transit projects, Managed Lanes, bike and pedestrian improvements, rail freight capacity enhancements, improvements to local streets and roads, and limited general purpose highway improvements.

You can view the preferred network scenario maps at http://sdforward.com/fwdAsp/fwdNetMap.aspx. Select the year to see what projects are planned for completion, and select the mode to view transit projects, active transportation improvements, Managed Lanes, or general purpose highway projects. Zoom in on the map to see your community in more detail.

SANDAG and its member agencies involved the entire community in the creation of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan. Additional visions for the future of our region were considered as SANDAG worked with stakeholders and the public to create the Regional Plan.

At its core, the Regional Plan is a long range planning document that is required to be completed every four years and have at least a 20 year planning horizon. The Plan is based on policy priorities set by regional elected officials, who eventually end up adopting it. The Regional Plan is also financially constrained – meaning that only projects with reasonably assumed revenue sources are included and is subject to additional environmental review under the California Environmental Review Act.

The California Transportation Plan (CTP) is developed by the State DOT (Caltrans, in this case) and is a compilation of the other region’s RTPs and Sustainable Communities Strategies. In other words, the two documents comply with different statutory requirements. The CTP is not required to be financially constrained and may include additional projects for which funding has not been projected. The CTP may result in policy and legislative changes to achieve state-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction outcomes.