San Diego Adopts Nation's First Sustainable Communities Strategy

Today the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) voted 14 – 1 to adopt the first Sustainable Communities Strategy to implement SB 375 in California. After hours of public testimony and debate, SANDAG Chairman Jerome Stocks summarized his thoughts on the day, and called for the vote.

“We are the first in the state, the nation, and possibly the world to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy, and that does matter.”

Since this summer, NRDC has been working with SANDAG to recommend improvements to the plan, and we are pleased to see that some of our recommendations have been incorporated into the final plan, and grateful to staff for their willingness to work with us, particularly at this late date. In particular, we are pleased to see SANDAG commit to adopt an early action measure for active transportation by next summer, to develop a transit-oriented development policy to ensure its $53 billion investment in transit leads to strong ridership gains, and to develop a complete streets policy. We also appreciate SANDAG’s commitment to evaluating alternative land use scenarios through its upcoming Regional Comprehensive Plan.

But we need a clear commitment from SANDAG that these scenarios will be integrated land use and transportation scenarios which will re-assess SANDAG’s transportation network-- as the Air Resources Board itself has recommended--in order to reverse the backsliding in the out years of the plan.

As co-sponsor and drafter of SB 375, NRDC never once imagined that a region would be considered to have met its targets if the GHG reductions were temporary and eroded over time. AB 32 calls for permanent reductions. SB 375 implements AB 32. We are pleased to hear Boardmember Heebner commend staff for their commitment to “address and reverse the backsliding”, as well as invite us all to keep SANDAG honest in the months and years to come.  We will honor this request and ensure that through the Regional Comprehensive Plan and next Regional Transportation Plan, that SANDAG finds a way to make sure these critical pollution reduction gains are permanent. We also hereby commit to working with SANDAG to secure the necessary transit funding to make this goal a reality.

Following quickly on the heels of adoption of this plan, the Southern California Association of Governments, SANDAG’s neighbor to the north, will consider a preferred scenario for their SB 375 plan next Thursday November 3rd at 10:30 am. Stay tuned.