SANDAG has several federal, state, and local designations that form the framework for what we do. Below are some of SANDAG’s most important designations and critical responsibilities. Find SANDAG’s governing legislation and a complete list of our mandates and designations on our website.
Metropolitan Planning Organization
Every major region throughout the country is required to have an MPO. As the San Diego region’s MPO, SANDAG is one of 18 in California. In this role, we are required to have a long-range, comprehensive Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). This role also allows us to receive formula federal funds.
Intelligent Transportation Systems Architecture
The U.S. Department of Transportation and federal regulations require that federally funded projects be consistent with an adopted regional Intelligent Transportation System architecture.
Federal and State
Co-Lead Agency for Air Quality Planning
SANDAG carries out air quality planning mandates in cooperation with the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (APCD). We determine conformity of transportation plans and programs—RTP and RTIP—with an air quality plan.
SANDAG reviews projects with regional impacts under California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
Regional Transportation Planning and Fund Allocation Agency
As the regional transportation planning agency, SANDAG adopts the RTP and RTIP, the five-year programming of state and federal transportation funds. The agency also allocates Transportation Development Act funds (local quarter-percent sales tax collected statewide and returned to the county based on the amount collected, approximately $176 million in FY 2023).
San Diego Regional Consolidated Agency
This designation consolidated regionally significant transit planning, programming, project development, and construction into SANDAG, Day-to-day operations responsibilities remain with the existing transit operators. SANDAG is also authorized by statute to place a ballot measure before the voters and use revenues from the sales tax to provide infrastructure that maintains and improves the region's quality of life. Examples include habitat conservation, shoreline preservation, water quality enhancement, and public transit.
SANDAG determines each jurisdiction’s share as part of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment and establishes performance criteria for self-certification of housing elements.
Otay Mesa East Toll Facility Act
This legislative act authorizes SANDAG to establish highway toll projects to facilitate the movement of goods and people along the State Route 11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry corridor.
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Reform Act of 2007
Senate Bill 10 (Chapter 287, Statutes of 2007) defines the responsibilities of SANDAG and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) regarding aviation and surface transportation planning. The SDCRAA is responsible for developing the Regional Aviation Strategic Plan in coordination with SANDAG.
State and Local
Congestion Management Agency
All 18 cities and the county government have designated SANDAG as the Congestion Management Agency responsible for adopting a Congestion Management Program (CMP), overseeing preparation of deficiency plans, and monitoring local agency compliance with the CMP.
Local and Voter Approval
San Diego County Regional Transportation Commission
SANDAG is the designated commission and administers the local half-cent sales tax, TransNet, for transportation purposes (approximately $376 million in FY 2023).
Council of Governments
This designation makes SANDAG the public forum for regional decision-making among the area’s 18 cities and county government relating to a broad range of topics pertinent to the region’s quality of life. Some of the regional topics include strategic planning, allocation of resources, and the creation of accurate, timely, and useful demographic, economic, transportation, planning, borders, environmental, and public safety information.
Regional Census Data Center
The Regional Census Data Center was established to increase the accuracy, availability, and use of census data by coordinating with the Census Bureau, the State Census Data Center network, and local agencies in all aspects of census planning and data analysis.
Regional Criminal Justice Clearinghouse
The Regional Criminal Justice Clearinghouse provides the means to seek and secure research funds from local, state, and federal sources to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of crime control programs. Assistance to member agencies occurs through various avenues: publishing crime and arrest reports, sharing resources and information, quality assurance studies of crime-related data, impact assessments of crime-reduction strategies, long-term evaluations of critical issues, and grant writing assistance for agencies seeking grant funding. Through the Regional Criminal Justice Clearinghouse, staff also conducts analyses of offender drug use.
North County Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (Local)
Undertaken on behalf of the seven North County cities, SANDAG serves as the policy body for the program.
Regional Toll Authority (Congestion Management and Infrastructure Financing)
In this role, SANDAG is responsible for the delivery and operation of pricing programs such as the Interstate 15 Express Lanes and future managed lanes. Fees support the operation and maintenance of the program and provide additional funding for Rapid transit and vanpool services in the corridor.
Automated Regional Justice Information System
ARJIS Joint Powers Agency is to develop and maintain state-of-the-art criminal justice information technology that provides its members with seamless, cross-jurisdictional access to essential, accurate, real-time data via a secure criminal justice enterprise network. As the convening agency for regional justice technology, ARJIS enhances officer and public safety.
Freeway Service Patrol Administration
In this capacity, SANDAG provides rapid assistance to stranded motorists during peak traffic periods on various highways. This service reduces congestion and increases safety.
Successor Agency for the San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies
SANDAG administers the Motorist Aid Call Box Program in San Diego County, which provides lifeline support for stranded motorists. Managed by SANDAG since January 1, 2013, the program is funded by a $1 vehicle registration fee paid by residents in San Diego County.
Regional Transportation Demand Management Program Administration
SANDAG provides and administers the regional Sustainable Transportation Services program consisting of carpool, vanpool, and transit programs; bike parking programs; telework; employer and school outreach; and other projects.
State Route 125 Toll Facility
SANDAG administers toll collection on the State Route 125 Toll Road under a long-term lease with the State of California. This agency responsibility was approved by the Board in December 2011.
In this capacity, SANDAG conducts reviews of regionally significant projects that may impact the implementation of the RTP and/or its Sustainable Communities Strategy. The review ensures these projects are coordinated appropriately with local jurisdictions, Caltrans, transit agencies, APCD, and other agencies.
Regional Information System
The Regional Information System (RIS) is a nationally recognized integrated system of data, computer models, state-of-the-art analytical tools, and staff expertise. It is the San Diego region’s most comprehensive databank of historic, current, and forecasted demographic, economic, land use, criminal justice, and transportation-related information. SANDAG, its member and partner agencies, and the public rely on the RIS as the foundation for planning, policy research, analyses, and studies of local and regional issues.
SANDAG Service Bureau
The SANDAG Service Bureau provides research and technical products and services on a fee-for-service basis to government agencies and private organizations and individuals. Examples include custom compilation and analysis of demographic and economic information, custom mapping, transportation modeling and analysis projects, geographic information system analysis, and survey design and analysis.
This is a memoranda of understanding (MOU) or contractual agreement where SANDAG agrees to perform specific services in exchange for fees, which provide the funding for the applicable task or product budgeted.
Master Agreement with Caltrans
SANDAG honors its commitment through a Master Fund Transfer Agreement with Caltrans District 11.
Memoranda of Understanding with Member Agency(ies)
SANDAG maintains commitments through an MOU between itself and one or more of the member agencies.
Memoranda of Understanding with Metropolitan Transit System and North County
SANDAG honors its transit district commitments through an MOU between SANDAG, the Metropolitan Transit System, and the North County Transit District.
Local, State, or Federal Grant Conditions
This is a project-specific local, state, or federal grant agreement where reimbursement of costs is conditioned upon completion of applicable activities, tasks, or products.
Regional Beach Sand Replenishment Program
SANDAG administers the Regional Beach Sand Replenishment Program in coordination with federal, state, and local agencies.