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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 a legislatively created regional government agency that serves as the forum for regional decision-making. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, councilmembers, and county supervisors from each of the region’s 19 local governments. Supplementing these voting members are advisory representatives from Imperial County, the U.S. Department of Defense, Caltrans, San Diego Unified Port District, Metropolitan Transit System, North County Transit District, San Diego County Water Authority, Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, and Mexico. Policy Advisory Committees assist the Board of Directors in carrying out the agency’s work program. These include the Executive Committee, Transportation Committee, Regional Planning Committee, Borders Committee, Public Safety Committee, and Audit Committee. The SANDAG Board of Directors is responsible for creating public policy on significant regional issues such as growth, multimodal transportation, land use, climate change, environmental management, housing, open space, air quality, energy, fiscal management, economic development, and public safety. SANDAG serves as the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization and Regional Transportation Commission for the region. Each May, the SANDAG Board approves the Annual Program budget. The FY 2018 budget allocates $1.31 billion in federal, state, and local resources for regional planning, services and operations, and capital improvement initiatives. SANDAG is responsible for a variety of projects, programs, initiatives, and operations; the agency leads planning, environmental review, design, and construction of capital projects that focus largely on transportation improvements. These projects range from the implementation of dozens of bike/pedestrian paths as part of the San Diego Regional Bike Plan, to major transit improvements like the $2 billion Mid-Coast Trolley extension and South Bay Rapid projects currently under construction, and the North Coast Corridor program of projects that will invest $6 billion in multimodal improvements and habitat preservation in the coming decades. SANDAG develops San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, a comprehensive document that is updated every four years and includes the Regional Transportation Plan and the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy. The agency oversees administration of TransNet, the region’s half-cent sales tax for transportation and SANDAG works to secure matching funds from federal and state sources to support the TransNet program, as well as other goals and objectives established by the Board of Directors. SANDAG has numerous operational responsibilities, including the South Bay Expressway toll road and the I-15 Express Lanes FasTrak programs, as well as administering the region’s Motorist Aid Services program of highway call boxes and the Freeway Service Patrol. The agency also implements programs to reduce traffic congestion, improve mobility, and promote alternative commutes, and fulfills many other regional responsibilities such as serving as a clearinghouse for crime statistics, demographic and GIS mapping data, and a variety of regional models.


The SANDAG Board of Directors has established the following long-term strategic goals as the framework for the agency’s annual work program. 

  1. Implement the regional vision and guiding principles of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan. 
  2. Improve mobility by providing more transportation choices through implementation of TransNet, public transportation, goods movement, Transportation Demand Management (TDM), emerging technologies, regional operations, and Active Transportation improvements. 
  3. Develop and implement strategies to improve the quality of life in the region as characterized by a sustainable economy, healthy environment, public safety, and more housing choices consistent with the components of the Regional Plan and the SANDAG mission. 
  4. Enhance organizational effectiveness both internally and externally. Partner with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure rapid delivery of projects; advance strategic efforts to increase communications with member and partner agencies, committees, and the public. 
  5. Pursue new funding and innovative solutions to fiscal, economic, and environmental challenges and opportunities.

The SANDAG work program is based upon the premise that “the goals for planning originate with the people.” SANDAG uses a mix of committees, working groups, public hearings, workshops, surveys, webbased information, social media, and publications to inform, gauge, and respond to public concerns regarding regional issues. The direct involvement of residents and organizations representing all segments of the population, including outreach efforts to traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations, such as the elderly, disabled, low-income, and minorities, are encouraged to ensure that plans and programs reflect the diverse interests within the region. 

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