Sustainable Communities Strategy


SANDAG and the region’s local jurisdictions have worked together to complete San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, a document that provides a long-term planning framework for the region to balance our needs for housing, transportation, a vibrant economy, community health, social equity, borders, and environmental protection.

San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan includes a number of elements, one of which is the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). Required by state law (SB 375), the primary purpose of the SCS is to show how development patterns and our transportation system will work together to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for cars and light trucks, providing a more sustainable future for our region.

The SCS includes five building blocks:

  • A land use pattern that accommodates our region’s future employment and housing needs, and protects sensitive habitats and resource areas.
  • A transportation network of public transit, Managed Lanes and highways, local streets, bikeways, and walkways built and maintained with reasonably expected funding.
  • Managing demands on our transportation system (also known as Transportation Demand Management, or TDM) in ways that reduce or eliminate traffic congestion during peak periods of demand.
  • Managing our transportation system (also known as Transportation System Management, or TSM) through measures that maximize the overall efficiency of the transportation network.
  • Innovative pricing policies, and other measures designed to reduce the number of miles people travel in their vehicles, as well as traffic congestion during peak periods of demand.

The Air Resources Board (ARB) established GHG reductions targets for 2020 and 2035 for each region in California. The targets ARB set for SANDAG are to reduce the region’s per capita emissions of greenhouse gases from cars and light trucks by 7 percent by 2020, compared with a 2005 baseline,  and 13 percent per capita by 2035. San Diego Forward is projected to achieve GHG reductions of 15 percent per capita by 2020 and 21 percent by 2035, exceeding the targets set for the region. 

SB 375 GHG Slide

Every four years, regions across the nation are required by federal law to update their plans. San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan serves as our update, and includes an updated SCS that builds upon the prior plan and further encourages sustainable development, including transportation infrastructure that supports our future development patterns and meets our GHG reduction goals.

Our region has come a long way already. The first map below shows the growth patterns that were planned in 1999 – when the region was looking out into the future, plans called for extensive development in the eastern part of the county. Since then, plans have changed. The second map below shows our new vision for the future. In just 14 years, our planned development patterns have shifted significantly – toward more growth in the western and more urbanized areas of our region that are close to our existing and planned transportation network, with more open space and habitat preservation in our eastern and rural areas.