There are many critical infrastructure needs facing the region, with limited resources available to meet them. As the San Diego region continues to change, we must regularly assess the ability of our infrastructure to handle that change and to maintain our quality of life. Because of the lack of available resources at the national and state level to help finance transportation and other regional and local infrastructure needs, regions are increasingly being asked to leverage or match state and federal funds with local money or programs that help fill the infrastructure gaps.
The Integrated Regional Infrastructure Strategy (IRIS) is a component of the Regional Comprehensive Plan (RCP) adopted by the SANDAG Board in July 2004. Developed in response to the need to manage demand for infrastructure services as the region continues to grow, the IRIS provides a framework for better integrating long-range planning with short-term capital expenditures for key region-serving infrastructure areas.
Through a comprehensive infrastructure inventory and evaluation, needs assessment and identification of policy and investment options, the IRIS found that the overall need for infrastructure is greater than available resources. While most of the region’s infrastructure providers have a system in place to address these needs and prioritize expenditures, the IRIS identified three regional infrastructure areas that are significantly underfunded and lack dedicated funding streams: habitat conservation, shoreline preservation, and water quality enhancement. Since that time, the SANDAG Board of Directors has also identified public transit operations and maintenance as a fourth infrastructure area meeting these criteria.
In addition, when San Diego County voters approved the extension of the TransNet half-cent sales tax in November 2004, the measure included a requirement for the SANDAG Board of Directors to “act on additional regional funding measures (a ballot measure and/or other secure funding commitments) to meet long-term requirements for implementing habitat conservation plans in the San Diego region.” The current deadline outlined in the TransNet Extension Ordinance for meeting this commitment is November 2012 (EMP Principle No. 10, amended November 20, 2009).
Because the potential cumulative funding needs of all these quality of life elements are so great, SANDAG has embarked on a regional dialogue to examine quality of life funding priorities and potential funding mechanisms.
The SANDAG Quality of Life Ad Hoc Steering Committee, made up of Board members and other local elected officials, oversees policy development of the Funding Strategy. The Quality of Life Stakeholder Working Group, representing key regional disciplines and interests associated with a Funding Strategy, provides input to the Ad Hoc Steering Committee.