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Comprehensive Land Use and Regional Growth Projects

Smart Growth Tool Box

A key goal of RCP implementation is to provide incentives and assistance to local member agencies to encourage smart growth development in the areas identified on the Smart Growth Concept Map. The SANDAG “Smart Growth Tool Box” includes the following planning and financing tools.

Planning Tools

Financing Tools

Outreach Program

SANDAG staff members are available to make presentations to local planning, redevelopment, and public works departments; local planning commissions; local city councils; and other groups and organizations interested in smart growth. Requests for presentations can be e-mailed to Carolina Ilic at

Smart Growth Concept Map

The Smart Growth Concept Map contains almost 200 existing, planned, or potential smart growth locations. Additional information is available on the Smart Growth Concept Map web page.

Visualization Tools

Visualization tools can help illustrate how communities can be transformed by smart growth development and transit-friendly design. The visual simulations are meant to illustrate conceptual smart growth development alternatives and include elements such as mixed-use buildings, pedestrian-oriented streetscapes, public transit improvements, higher density and compact housing, and multimodal transportation options. The goals of the simulations are to provide ideas for discussion in local communities, showcase different levels of smart growth on the Smart Growth Concept Map, and generate greater support for smart growth in the San Diego region.

Visualization Toolbox: Bringing Data in Focus

2-D Visual Simulations: These simulations show existing conditions and potential changes based on smart growth principles. Simulations have been developed by Urban Advantage, Inc. for the following areas on the Smart Growth Concept Map. Visualizations are posted in PowerPoint format. Please save the files to your computer to view the speaking points for each presentation.

3-D Visual Simulations: These simulations consist of a 3-D digital model and animated fly-throughs of conceptual possibilities based on smart growth principles. These areas represent approximately four to six blocks, and the simulations show, for discussion purposes, how these areas could potentially be transformed by mixed use development and transit-friendly principles. 3-D simulations have been completed by Stantec for the following areas:

Note: Video requires Windows Media Player to download.

Questions or comments on the visualization tools can be directed to Carolina Ilic at

Smart Growth Design Guidelines

Additional information is available on the Smart Growth Design Guidelines project web page.

Smart Growth Trip Generation/Parking Study

Smart growth developments are generally perceived to generate fewer auto trips and less demand for parking as compared to conventional developments due to an increased number of trips via transit, walking, or bicycling. Current trip generation and parking supply guidelines are based on conventional suburban development, perhaps imposing a burden on developers and jurisdictions to provide more roadway and parking capacity than is necessary. Application of identified trip generation and parking demand rates appropriate for smart growth development could result in cost savings for jurisdictions, developers, homebuyers, and renters.

SANDAG prepared Trip Generation for Smart Growth: Planning Tools for the San Diego Region and Parking Strategies for Smart Growth: Planning Tools for the San Diego Region to identify trip generation rates and parking demand associated with smart growth developments. The trip generation and parking demand guidelines update the SANDAG San Diego Traffic Generators Manual, a guide to trip generation rates in the San Diego region, and Designing for Smart Growth: Planning Tools for the San Diego Region, smart growth design guidelines published by SANDAG in 2009. The guidelines are available for jurisdictions to use in local planning efforts.

The guidelines address the following questions:

1. Does smart growth development result in lower trip generation rates and decreased parking demand as compared to traditional development? If so, what rates have been observed?
2. What are the characteristics of smart growth development that account for identified reductions in trip generation and parking demand?
3. Can identified trip generation rates and reductions in parking demand associated with smart growth development in other regions be applied in the San Diego region?

Trip Generation for Smart Growth is accompanied by an interactive Excel spreadsheet tool designed to assist users in calculating trip reduction rates for individual smart growth developments or smart growth planning areas.  The spreadsheet can be fully completed by the user on his or her own, or data can be provided by SANDAG Service Bureau for a fee.

Trip Generation for Smart Growth
Parking Strategies for Smart Growth
Smart Growth Trip Generation Spreadsheet Tool

Questions or comments on the Smart Growth Trip Generation/Parking Study can be directed to Josh Clark at

San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan

The San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan will be a component of the SANDAG Regional Transportation Plan. The San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan will represent the combined efforts of SANDAG staff, the SANDAG Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Working Group (BPWG), local jurisdictions, local agencies, advocacy groups, and citizens in the San Diego region. Work on the plan began in April 2008 and will continue through fall of 2009. While the plan is regional in focus, it will provide a framework for local decision-makers to determine specific local routes and facilities.

Federal and state directives are placing greater emphasis on accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists when designing roadway facilities. Of particular note is Caltrans Deputy Directive (DD) 64 issued in 2001. SANDAG’s goal is to implement these directives and use them as a framework for developing the bicycle master plan.  Improving bicycle travel in the region requires support from the region’s many different stakeholders.

The San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan will accomplish the following:

  • Define a network of regionally significant bicycle routes, facilities, and necessary support programs;
  • Identify gaps in the network and recommend specific improvements needed to fill the gaps;
  • Develop cost estimates to complete construction of the regional network;
  • Develop a funding strategy to build and maintain the regional bike network;
  • Provide a design manual focusing on bicycle-friendly designs for all streets and roadways through new technologies, standards, guidelines, and innovative treatments on all new roadways and multiuse paths; and
  • Provide policy direction and identify programs to assist local jurisdictions in improving safety, education and awareness about bicycle travel.

Questions or comments on the San Diego Regional Bike Plan can be directed to Chris Kluth at

Research on Connections between Public Health, Land Use, and Transportation

Planners have long known of the need to protect public health by separating incompatible land uses like housing and manufacturing. Increasingly, research in the public health arena is pointing to a much more extensive connection between the built environment and public health. How we design our streets, and how we mix such compatible land uses such as housing, retail and opportunities for recreation can affect people’s travel choices, and this can make the difference between an active life style and a sedentary one that can lead to the health complications associated with obesity and a lack of physical activity. An auto-dependent life style also exacerbates health problem caused by air pollution.

SANDAG is working with public health professionals in the region to identify opportunities to bring public health consideration into the local and regional planning process. SANDAG is supporting the government domain component of the County of San Diego’s Childhood Obesity Action Plan. The goal of these and subsequent efforts is to help define how Regional Transportation Plan, and the policies and initiatives in the Regional Comprehensive Plan can help healthy support healthy lifestyle choices in the San Diego region.

Questions or comments on the connections between public health, land use, and transportation can be directed to Carolina Ilic at

TransNet Smart Growth Incentive Program (SGIP)

Making smart growth work for the San Diego region sometimes requires improvements to the public realm so that, as the intensity of development increases, the quality of public places also improves. To help finance those public improvements, the TransNet Extension Ordinance includes a provision that will set aside two percent of the funds collected under the ordinance for a competitive grant program known as the Smart Growth Incentive Program. For the fiscal year beginning in July 2008, $5 million a year will be available to improve streetscapes, provide for bicycle and pedestrian access, improve access to public transit, and make other related improvements that will support mixed use, transit oriented development in the smart growth opportunity areas identified on SANDAG’s Smart Growth Concept Map. The program will continue for the 40-year life of the Ordinance.

Questions or comments on the TransNet Smart Growth Incentive Program can be directed to Carolina Ilic at or Tracy Ferchaw at

TDA/TransNet Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Neighborhood Safety Program

Currently, as the Regional Transportation Planning Agency and Metropolitan Planning Organization, SANDAG is responsible for the following regional bicycle planning activities:

  • Integration of bicycle planning into the Regional Transportation Plan;
  • Administering funding for the development of bicycle facilities. Primary funding sources are TransNet, Transportation Development Act (TDA), Transportation Enhancements (TE), and Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAQ);
  • Encouraging continuity of bicycle facilities across jurisdictional boundaries;
  • Supporting programs to encourage a mode shift to bicycling; and
  • Providing technical assistance and functioning as an information clearinghouse.

The passage of the TransNet Extension in 2004 results in two important changes in the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Neighborhood Safety Program beginning in FY 2009. First, there will be an additional $4.5 million to $5 million per year in funding available for plans and projects. Secondly, the program has been expanded to include a neighborhood safety component. As such, the criteria used to evaluate and select projects for funding through the established competitive grant process is being modified to reflect these changes.

The Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Neighborhood Safety Program will also be responsible for developing the San Diego Regional Bike Plan. Once adopted, the Plan will provide a framework for modifying the project selection criteria. However, the Plan will not be completed until the FY 2010 funding cycle.

Questions or comments regarding the TDA/TransNet Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Neighborhood Safety Program can be directed to Chris Kluth at

Planning and Designing for Pedestrians

“The most memorable public places in our cities and towns are generally those places where people congregate on foot - the streets, parks, and squares. These are democratic places that make our towns and cities livable and vital. Our streets especially have a significant responsibility to be accessible to all, and to be functional, safe, and attractive places to walk.”

So begins Planning and Designing for Pedestrians, a comprehensive reference on sidewalk design, street design and traffic calming, and the important planning issues that are should be address to creating walkable communities. The document is a reference for policy makers, planners, designers, engineers and community members interested in creating great places for pedestrians.

Questions or comments on Planning and Designing for Pedestrians can be directed to Chris Kluth at

Integrating TDM Into the Planning and Development Process – A Reference For Cities

This study assists municipal governments with implementing and monitoring TDM policies as part of their local plans and projects. Information on how TDM can be effectively incorporated into urban design, site development, and parking strategies is included. Featured case studies and recommendations can be tailored to any jurisdiction’s needs. The study was accepted by the Transportation Committee on May 18, 2012, for inclusion as a resource in the Smart Growth Toolbox.

Integrating TDM Into the Planning and Development Process – A Reference For Cities

Questions or comments on Integrating TDM into the Planning and Development Process can be directed to Antoinette Meier at

Regional Parking Management Toolbox

SANDAG has created a Regional Parking Management Toolbox as a means of providing the communities within the San Diego region a framework for evaluating, implementing, and managing parking management strategies that support their individual economic development, sustainability, and mobility goals. This interactive document provides a broad set of tools and step-by-step instructions for shaping successful parking management programs that address the unique challenges and needs of different types of communities.

Questions or comments on the Regional Parking Management Toolbox can be directed to Antoinette Meier at

Complete Streets

Complete streets are streets designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Complete streets accommodate people of all ages and abilities, traveling by all modes, including walking, biking, using public transit, and driving cars or commercial vehicles. For more information and to view the SANDAG Complete Streets Policy see our Complete Streets webpage.

Questions or comments can be directed to Carolina Ilic at