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More Details About the Smart Growth Concept Map

Land Use and Transportation Targets

The Regional Comprehensive Plan (RCP), incorporated into San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, establishes land use and transportation targets for each of the smart growth place types. If the areas on the map meet the targets, they are identified as “Existing/Planned” areas. If they do not, but they show future opportunities for smart growth, they are identified as “Potential” areas. The following Listing of Smart Growth Areas (by place type) delineates the status of each area.

Uses of the Map

The Smart Growth Concept Map provides the framework for several significant SANDAG programs.

In an effort to better connect land use and transportation, the Concept Map is used in the update of SANDAG transportation plans. With more than 200 locations, the map is guiding the planning and development of the region’s future transit networks, providing higher priority for peak period transit services that link smart growth areas to one another and to other major activity centers. In addition, the smart growth place types have been incorporated into the point structure of the SANDAG Transportation Project Evaluation Criteria. These criteria are used to prioritize funding for regional transportation projects. As a result, smart growth areas receive higher priority for transportation improvements.

The map also identifies the region’s habitat preserve planning areas, providing a framework for the continued preservation of open space and natural resources. In addition, the map is used to determine eligibility to participate in the region’s long-term Smart Growth Incentive Program, which is funded through TransNet, the region’s half-cent local sales tax.

An important idea behind the map is that successful, on-the-ground smart growth examples serve as catalysts for more smart growth development in the region. The primary value of the map is that it identifies specific locations in the San Diego region with opportunities for smart growth, allowing transportation agencies, transit operators, utility agencies, lenders, developers, and others to focus coordinated infrastructure investments and services in these areas. This in turn helps reduce development pressure on the outlying and rural areas of the region.

Smart Growth Incentives

As referenced above, the TransNet sales tax includes a $280 million Smart Growth Incentive Program (SGIP) to be allocated over 40 years (between 2008 and 2048). This results in the availability of approximately $3-5 million of smart growth incentives per year, which can be leveraged with local matching funds or other state and federal funds to augment the total amount of funding available. In order to be eligible to compete for these funds, an area must be designated on the Smart Growth Concept Map.

The Existing/Planned areas are eligible to compete for both infrastructure and planning grants from the SGIP. Infrastructure grants could include streetscape or sidewalk enhancements, transit station improvements, traffic calming measures, or other quality of life amenities that support smart growth in that area. Potential smart growth areas are eligible to compete only for planning grants. These planning grants could be used to prepare specific plans, update zoning ordinances, or prepare other plans that provide the institutional framework for smart growth development in these areas.

Preparing the Map

Local planning and community development directors and their planning staffs were instrumental in developing the Smart Growth Concept Map. As a first step, the planning directors were asked to identify areas in their jurisdictions that exemplified the characteristics of the smart growth place types contained in the RCP. Using Geographic Information System (GIS) databases, SANDAG staff then verified whether the areas met the RCP land use and transportation targets and transit service levels and assigned them the “Existing/Planned” or “Potential” status. The planning directors subsequently provided the site descriptions for these areas and engaged local elected officials and community members in discussions about the areas in their jurisdictions.

Updates to the Concept Map

The Smart Growth Concept Map is updated periodically in response to local General Plan or community plan updates and amendments, and SANDAG's Regional Transportation Plan.

The map has been developed through a collaborative approach with the local planning staffs. Because land use authority rests with the local jurisdictions, each jurisdiction is responsible for making recommendations on updates to the Concept Map. Updates to the map could include the addition of smart growth areas, the removal of smart growth areas, boundary changes to identified areas, or changes in the designated status of areas. Updates could also include changes to transit networks, as included in updates to SANDAG's transportation plans.

The Smart Growth Concept Map is dynamic. As local general and community plans evolve and transit plans and services are refined, the map is updated to reflect changing conditions.

The map was most recently updated in May 2016 as part of a technical update. The next update is scheduled in late 2017 or early 2018 in anticipation of a "call for projects " for the TransNet Smart Growth Incentive Program.