By Miriam Raftery
April 25, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has released a $200 billion, 35-year regional growth plan for the county titled "San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan." The plan lays out visions for transportation, sustainability and growth through 2050 including higher density land use along transportation corridors.
Several public hearings will be held including a May 13th hearing at 6 p.m. in La Mesa’s community center. But thus far, no hearings have been schedule in East County’s mountain, desert or rural areas.
East County Magazine asked the County why no hearings are scheduled in those areas. We pointed out that rural, mountain and desert areas lack public transit, making it difficult for residents to travel long distances to attend hearings in San Diego or even La Mesa. In response, the County indicated it could hold additional workshops potentially if a community group to partner with could be found.
We first contacted Supervisor Dianne Jacob's office, though she is not currently on the SANDAG Board. (Supervisors Ron Roberts and Bill Horn are the current County SANDAG representatives.) Her office referred us to SANDAG.
David Hicks, SANDAG communications manager, responded. “First and foremost, we are more than happy to come and present the details of the Regional Plan, answer questions, get involved in discussions, take part in meetings, etc. – anywhere in the region. We are actively looking for opportunities to do that – so if there are organizations in East County that you think we should be approaching about that, please let me know.” The workshops include a short presentation, followed by discussion and an open house.
East County Magazine would like to partner with a community group willing to donate a venue for a meeting in June in a rural or mountain area, helping to publicize the event to our 150,000 readers.
He added, “The reason that we have booked the meetings where they are is to give us the opportunity to reach the largest number of people possible. The workshops require a major effort and a great deal of staff time to put on, so we are limited in the number that we can do. For that reason, we have located them in venues around he region where the largest number of people live and work.”
But Hicks added, “That said, we do realize that some people may not be able to make these meetings. That is why three of the meetings will be streamed live on the internet – giving anyone in the region with a computer the opportunity to see the presentation, listen to the panel discussion, and make comment on the draft Plan.” (There is also a web presence dedicated to the plan at: www.sdforward.com and other options for submitting comments.)
As for issues of low income communities lacking transit access, Hicks said, “SANDAG produces on a regular basis a document called the Coordinated Plan. It identifies gaps in the transit system throughout the region. That information is then used to help us identify transit services that can fill those gaps – and then to fund those transit services with federal grants. The outreach for the Coordinated Plan places special emphasis on rural communities given that transit in those communities is often very limited. That outreach process for the next update to the Coordinated Plan will start in the coming months.”
He added that some community organizations are working with SANDAG to dissemination information on the Regional Plan. “It is our sincere desire to reach out to entire community and make information available to everyone about San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan,”Hicks insists, adding that he would like to hear of any organizations he can approach about making presentations on the Regional Plan.
The current workshops are planned for May 12 in Escondido, and continue May 13 in La Mesa, May 14 in Old Town, May 20 in Oceanside, May 21 in San Ysidro, May 27 in San Diego and May 28 in University City.
Public comments on the Draft Regional Plan will be accepted for a period of 55 days after distribution of the plan's Draft Environmental Impact Report, which SANDAG believes will happen in mid-May.
There are a number of ways you can submit comments on the draft plan:
- On the website: Visit SDForward.com to view plan and provide your comments online.
- By e-mail: Email your comments to SDForward@sandag.org.
- By U.S. mail: Send written comments to: ATTN. Phil Trom, SANDAG, 401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA, 92101.
- By fax: Fax written comments to (619) 699-1905
- By Printable Comment Form. Complete the comment form and scan, mail, fax, or walk in your comments.
- By calling (619) 699-1934, toll free 1-877-277-5736, TTY (619) 699-1904
The plan is available at www.sdforward.com In addition, hard copies of the plan can be viewed at SANDAG’s offices (401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA, 92101), public libraries throughout the region, and are also available for purchase based on the cost of reproduction.