Social Equity in the 2021 Regional Plan

Social equity is a shorthand term we use for an overarching goal that combines the concepts of environmental justice, the federal laws in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and various other federal and state laws intended to promote an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens resulting from SANDAG projects and programs.  

To truly promote social equity and environmental justice in regional planning, we are proactively engaging with communities of concern who have traditionally been underserved and underrepresented in the planning process.  

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How is social equity considered in transportation planning? 

Good planning strives for fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of a transportation system to all communities and population groups–regardless of age, race, color, national origin, income, or physical ability. By making investments that better connect all people in our region with opportunities to work, shop, study, be healthy, and play, we can boost our regional economy and improve quality of life. Today, communities throughout our region have varying levels of access and mobility needs. A focused attention to equitable planning can help narrow these gaps and uplift those historically left behind.  

Promoting social equity in transportation planning requires involvement from a wide variety of communities and stakeholders, particularly from underserved and disenfranchised communities. SANDAG proactively engages these vulnerable communities in the planning and decision-making process and continually strives to improve methods for analyzing how transportation improvements affects those populations.  

In developing the 2021 Regional Plan, SANDAG will use performance measures and other evidence to make decisions intended to ensure compliance with Title VI requirements and environmental justice principles. 

How does SANDAG define communities of concern? 

Populations in our region with a high concentration of low-income people, seniors, communities of color, and federally recognized Native American tribes are historically underserved communities and are recognized as “communities of concern”. These communities are often disadvantaged in terms of infrastructure and economic opportunities.  

How is SANDAG actively engaging communities of concern? 

As part of the public involvement program for the 2021 Regional Plan, we put proactive engagement measures into place early on to ensure underrepresented populations are included in the decision making process in a timely and meaningful way.   
2018OCT National City

Community-Based Organizations

Building trust with stakeholders in communities of concern is crucial to encouraging participation. Many of these communities have been disenfranchised in the past and may be wary or unaware of how decisions are made in the planning process. SANDAG partnered with 12 community-based organizations (CBOs) from around the San Diego region, forming a community-based outreach network. The organizations are familiar to people in the communities in question, and specialize in providing services to and engaging disadvantaged populations. 

Our 12 CBO partners facilitate meaningful involvement with low-income, minority, disabled, and senior populations; those with limited English proficiency; and other traditionally underrepresented communities.  

Community-Based Organizations Working Group

The 2021 Regional Plan Community-Based Organizations (CBO) Working Group is a collaborative public forum for the various CBOs in the county and SANDAG. It generates ongoing public input from disadvantaged or underrepresented communities about key activities associated with developing the 2021 Regional Plan and related planning activities with a focus on social equity. 

The 12 voting members of the 2021 Regional Plan CBO Working Group are representatives from community-based organizations or community collaboratives serving underserved/disadvantaged communities. They are selected by SANDAG through a competitive Request for Proposals process. 

The 2021 Regional Plan CBO Working Group reports to the Regional Planning Committee, which in turn reports to the Board of Directors. See the Community-Based Organizations Working Group page on the SANDAG website for more information. 


Social Services Transportation Advisory Council

The SANDAG Social Services Transportation Advisory Council (SSTAC) is an advisory group represented by social service agencies, individuals, transportation providers, and the Consolidated Transportation Services Agency. The SSTAC works to respond to local concerns regarding transportation accessibility issues, promotes development and use of accessible services, and makes recommendations to help inform the 2021 Regional Plan. 

2019 Federal Plan

We are also collaborating with community partners to actively involve the public in the longer-term implementation of projects and programs in the 2019 Federal Regional Transportation Plan, the region’s current plan. You can review our Appendix on Social Equity: Engagement and Analysis to learn more about our process for promoting equity.