San Diego


San Diego was the first region in the state to include a Sustainable Communities Strategy in its Regional Transportation Plan. San Diego adopted its second Sustainable Community Strategy in October 2015. ClimatePlan is monitoring the plan's implementation together with regional partners.

Find out more about San Diego’s SCS and Regional Transportation Plan.

Quick Fact

According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), to achieve the region's 2020 goal of a 7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a resident could do one of the following:
• Telecommute to work one day a month
• Carpool two days a month
• Bike or walk instead of driving 10 miles a week
• Take the bus instead of driving 12 miles a week

Regional Overview

The San Diego region includes 18 cities and an unincorporated area, with total population of just over 3 million residents. By 2050, its population is projected to be over 4 million.

According to the 2000 census, when asked how they got to work, nearly 74% of San Diegans said that they drove alone. An effective Sustainable Communities Strategy will improve transportation systems and encourage well-planned communities that take advantage of existing infrastructure and transit corridors.

SB 375 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets:
–  7% reduction for 2020
– 13% reduction for 2035

Leading Practices

For a full review of "leading practices," or best practices so far in Sustainable Communities Strategies from regions around the state, download our Leading The Way report. Here are a few from the San Diego region:

  1. To build climate resilience into land use forecasts and transportation investments, before adopting its 2015 SCS, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) prepared a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation White Paper. This discusses strategies for reducing GHG emissions and addressing climate impacts such as increased temperature, sea level rise, wildfire, stress on freshwater resources, and threats to habitat and public health.

    San Diego’s 2015 SCS commits to:
    • “Consider the potential impacts of climate change on transportation projects by designing infrastructure to withstand impacts such as sea level rise, extreme heat, and intense rain events;"
    • Continue using TransNet (sales tax) funds to support climate resilience in habitat areas; and
    • Work with others to protect beaches from inundation.

  2. To give the entire community a voice in creating the Sustainable Communities Strategy, SANDAG provided grants to community-based organizations. The twelve grantee organizations did outreach to low-income residents, non-English speakers, seniors, the disabled, and other underrepresented stakeholders. It also offered presentations in both English and Spanish, reached out to 17 tribal nations, and convened a working group for dialogue with the military.

  3. SANDAG can use its transportation sales tax funding measure flexibly to shift funds away from road expansion, toward investments that help meet regional health, equity, and sustainability goals.

    A TransForm report provides a valuable roadmap for finding flexibility in sales tax measures like TransNet in San Diego. Analyzing both the text of TransNet and the history of its implementation, the authors find that funding allocations can be adjusted by a supermajority of the SANDAG Board, that the scope of highway projects can be changed with the approval of the MPO and Caltrans, and that specific projects can be accelerated or delayed as priorities change.

    ClimatePlan, TransForm, and other partners continue to urge SANDAG, and other regions, to shift more funding to more sustainable investments. This is fundamental to meeting regional and state goals to create healthier and more equitable communities and protect the climate we all depend on.



Our Strategic Direction


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