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State Board Accepts SANDAG Strategy to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

SANDAG Sustainable Communities Strategy would achieve state GHG reduction targets, Air Resources Board finds

San Diego County CA—The California Air Resources Board has found that the Sustainable Communities Strategy developed by SANDAG will achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets set for the region by state law, according to a recently issued executive order.

“The Regional Plan not only meets and exceeds our GHG reduction targets, it now has earned the approval of the state Air Resources Board,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts, chair of the SANDAG Board of Directors and the County Board of Supervisors. “SANDAG is determined to achieve its environmental goals, while at the same time improving mobility in the region, adding more travel choices, and helping fuel our economy.”

The Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) is an important element of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, a long-range blueprint for the region’s future approved by the SANDAG Board in October. The Regional Plan invests $204 billion over 35 years to add choice to our transportation system, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserving half the region as open space, while at the same time supporting our local economy.

The SCS, which is required by state law, spells out exactly how SANDAG expects to meet state greenhouse gas reduction targets through the coordination of land use and transportation planning. The document is updated every four years.

In December, the Air Resources Board released two separate documents determining that the SCS meets the targets set forth by the state. The first document was a technical evaluation prepared by ARB staff; the second was an executive order issued by ARB Executive Officer Richard Corey.

That executive order concludes: “Now, therefore, be it resolved that under California Government Code section 65080, subsection (b)(2)(J)(ii), the Executive officer hereby accepts SANDAG’s determination that the SCS adopted by SANDAG’s Board of Directors on October 9, 2015, would, if implemented, achieve the 2020 and 2035 GHG emission reduction targets established by ARB.”

The requirements set by the Air Resources Board call for the region to reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles through the coordination of transportation and land use. The ARB targets for the San Diego region are a 7 percent per capita reduction by 2020, and a 13 percent reduction by 2035.

When implemented, the plans in San Diego Forward and its SCS are expected to meet and exceed those targets, achieving 15 percent per capita reduction by 2020, and a 21 percent per capita reduction by 2035.

In related developments:

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation made a “Conformity Determination” for San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan. This determination found that the Regional Plan meets all air quality conformity requirements and conforms to the applicable State Implementation Plan in accordance with the provisions of 40 CFR Parts 51 and 93.
  • In November, the deadline passed for a plaintiff to file a petition with the courts claiming that the environmental impact report (EIR) for the Regional Plan does not meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. The Regional Plan and EIR have received no legal challenges.
  • A legal challenge to the EIR for the previous Regional Plan remains before the California Supreme Court. In that case – Cleveland National Forest Foundation et al. v. San Diego Association of Governments et al. – SANDAG is seeking clarification on state law governing analysis of greenhouse gas emissions.


The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government.