Requirements for the Regional Plan

The development of the 2021 Regional Plan is governed by several federal and state laws and regulations. Meeting these requirements is necessary to maintain compliance and protect our region’s eligibility for vital funding sources. In our region, the Regional Plan combines three required planning documents: the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), its Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), and the Regional Comprehensive Plan (RCP).

What does the state government require?

The state of California requires that the Regional Plan conform to certain standards:

  • Senate Bill 375 (SB 375) (Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008) directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to set regional targets for cars and light trucks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SB 375 amended state RTP requirements (Government Code Section 65080 et seq.) by requiring RTPs to include a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) that demonstrates how the regional greenhouse gas reduction targets will be achieved. CARB has adopted guidelines for the evaluation of the SCS.

  • Assembly Bill 805 (AB 805) (Chapter 658, Statutes of 2017) requires SANDAG’s Regional Plan to include strategies that provide for mode shift to public transportation, identify disadvantaged communities, and include transportation strategies to reduce pollution exposure in disadvantaged communities.

  • Senate Bill 1730 (SB 1730) (Chapter 634, Statutes of 2019) extended the deadline for SANDAG’s next Regional Plan to December 31, 2021. It also requires SANDAG to submit an implementation report to CARB when it submits an SCS to CARB for review. This report will track the implementation of its most recently adopted 2015 SCS.

  • California Environmental Quality Act
    SANDAG, as the Lead Agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), will prepare a Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 2021 Regional Plan.

  • Other state requirements
    The Regional Plan also includes the elements required for the Regional Comprehensive Plan (Public Utilities Code Section 132360, et seq.) and the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) described in the state’s housing element law (Government Code Section 65580, et seq.).

What does the federal government require?

The federal government requires that the Regional Plan conform to certain standards:

  • MAP-21/FAST Act and Metropolitan Planning Regulations

    The Regional Plan must implement a performance-based approach in its metropolitan transportation planning process and meet other requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation Metropolitan Planning Regulations (Title 23 CFR Parts 450 and 771 and Title 49 CFR Part 613).

  • Section 176 of the federal Clean Air Act and Transportation Conformity Rule

    Under the Clean Air Act (42 USC Section 7506), as amended, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Transportation Conformity Rule (Title 40 CFR Part 93), SANDAG must demonstrate that the Regional Plan conforms to requirements of the State Implementation Plan for attainment of air quality standards and uses the most recent planning assumptions.

  • Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other nondiscrimination requirements
    The Regional Plan must comply with Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d), the Americans with Disabilities Act (as defined in Title 49, Part 37, of the United States Code), Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, and Executive Order 13166 on Limited English Proficiency to ensure consideration of social equity, environmental justice, and accessibility.

What does the California Transportation Commission require?

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) periodically adopts guidelines for the preparation of RTPs that include checklists that must be submitted with the draft and final Regional Plan to the CTC, Caltrans, and federal agencies.

What do the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency require?

Under the U.S. Department of Transportation Metropolitan Planning Regulations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Transportation Conformity Rule requirements, the Regional Plan needs to meet four requirements:

  1. Regional emissions analysis
  2. Timely implementation of Transportation Control Measures
  3. Financial Constraint Analysis
  4. Interagency consultation and public involvement

In the San Diego region, the air quality conformity analysis is conducted for ozone or smog (2008 and 2015 federal ozone standards).

Are there other regulatory requirements for the Regional Plan?

The Regional Plan must also fulfill the following requirements:

  • General

    The Regional Plan must cover a period of at least 20 years from the adoption date; include policy, action, financial elements, and SCS addressing ten specified issues; include long- and short-range strategies and actions; and include travel demand model methodology.

  • Consultation/Cooperation

    A Public Involvement Program must be developed and implemented. Consultation must be conducted with Tribal Governments; local elected officials; representatives from environmental and economic communities, airport, transit, and freight; and agencies responsible for land use, natural resources, environmental protection, conservation, and historic preservation. The Regional Plan must discuss involvement of the private sector and federal land-management agencies as well as coordination efforts with regional air quality planning authorities (San Diego County Air Pollution Control District).

  • Title VI and Environmental Justice

    The Public Participation Plan must describe strategies to seek out and consider the needs of low-income and minority communities. A Title VI analysis and an Environmental Justice analysis must be prepared.

  • Multimodal Discussion, Programming/Operations

    The Regional Plan must discuss intermodal and connectivity issues, highways, transit, regional airport system, regional pedestrian needs, regional bicycle needs, California Coastal Trail, rail transportation, maritime transportation, and goods movement. It must be consistent with regional ITS architecture. It also must identify objective criteria used for measuring the performance of the transportation system.

  • Financial

    The Regional Plan must include a financial plan that demonstrates how it can be implemented; revenues must reflect fiscal constraint, and the Regional Plan must include a list of financially constrained projects.  

  • Environmental
    The Regional Plan is subject to CEQA, and an EIR must be prepared. Clean Air Act SIP conformity must be demonstrated per U.S. Department so Transportation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements.