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 communities who have traditionally been underserved and underrepresented in the planning process.  

Learn more about our regional planning partners

Casa Familiar Outreach

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 historically marginalized communities. SANDAG proactively engages these 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. In addition, SANDAG completed a Community Health Equity Evaluation documenting the health results caused by implementing the 2021 Regional Plan, with an emphasis on disadvantaged communities that have historically borne a disproportionate share of pollution. The Community Health Equity Evaluation concludes that disadvantaged communities would equally benefit from the implementation of the 2021 Regional Plan as would the San Diego County region and have slightly greater reductions in total avoided mortalities compared to the region.

How does SANDAG define social equity communities? 

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

How is SANDAG actively engaging underserved communities? 

As part of the public involvement program for the 2021 Regional Plan, we put proactive engagement measures into place early on to ensure underserved 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 underserved communities is crucial to encouraging participation. Many of these communities have been marginalized 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 underserved populations. 

Our 12 CBO partners facilitate meaningful involvement with people of low-income, people of color, people with impairments, and senior populations; those with alternative language needs; and other traditionally underrepresented communities.  

Social Equity Working Group

The 2021 Regional Plan Social Equity Working Group is a collaborative public forum for the various CBOs in the county and SANDAG. It generates ongoing public input from underrepresented and historically marginalized 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 Social Equity Working Group are representatives from community-based organizations or community collaboratives serving underserved communities. They are selected by SANDAG through a competitive Request for Proposals process. 

The 2021 Regional Plan Social Equity Working Group reports to the Regional Planning Committee, which in turn reports to the Board of Directors. See the Social Equity Working Group page on the SANDAG website for more information. 


SANDAG Regional Digital Divide Taskforce

Access to the internet has become critical to our lives and livelihood. The digital divide refers to the growing gap between the members of society who do not have reliable access to high-speed internet—mainly low-income and rural populations—and those who do.

Closing the digital divide has implications for mobility and sustainability. Working from home and other remote access options, such as for healthcare and education, have the potential to reduce car travel and the associated greenhouse gas emissions in our region. Broadband, or high-speed internet access, also is critical improving personal mobility, transportation operations, and safety.

The SANDAG Board of Directors adopted a resolution on January 22, 2021, stating that bridging the digital divide is integral to developing a healthy, resilient, and economically competitive region. The resolution directed SANDAG staff to develop a Digital Equity Strategy and Action Plan that brings regional stakeholders together to identify sample policies, tools, and implementation strategies to close the digital divide in the San Diego region. This includes expanding affordable access to broadband service so everyone in our region can subscribe to and use broadband service.

The SANDAG Regional Digital Divide Taskforce aids in the development of the action plan and consists of government organizations, educational institutions, tribal nations, community-based organizations, Internet Service Providers, community technology training and network providers, and other social service and civic organizations. The Regional Digital Equity Strategy and Action Plan is anticipated to be developed by late 2021.

View the Taskforce Charter to learn more

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.