Regional Leadership & Planning

Regional leadership and innovation for a strong economy and healthy environment.

Why is Leadership Important?

A high quality of life means a clean environment, a thriving economy, and an equitable place for all to enjoy.

Addressing the quality of life issues we face requires policies, plans, and partnerships to innovate new projects and find solutions that address the economic, social and environmental challenges of today. In addition to innovation, we also need leaders with integrity, commitment and kindness to envision responses that address the underlying systemic and structural causes of these challenges.

We want to celebrate our San Diego regional leaders who are working to sustain our quality of life today and for future generations.


Regional Leaders Answering the Call

  • San Diego Association of Governments' Regional Climate Action Planning Framework
  • San Diego County Water Authority's Water Solutions for San Diego and the Southwest
  • San Diego Gas & Electric’s Power Your Drive Program
  • The Greenlining Institute's San Diego Climate Investments Analysis
  • The Port of San Diego's Microgrid at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal
  • The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority's Airport Innovation Lab
  • The San Diego Foundation's Climate Initiative

Where is the San Diego Region Leading?

The San Diego region is collectively moving towards greater climate resilience. This is being fueled as local and regional government bodies as well as special jurisdictions construct plans in the following major areas of: Climate Mitigation, Climate Adaptation, Habitat and Species Conservation, and Hazard Mitigation.

Prioritizing Equity: California has prioritized embedding equity in public health and climate planning, and cities are addressing this through climate action implementation. Here in the San Diego region, 6 cities have called out a commitment to focus on social equity or explicitly list social equity as a co-benefit of their Climate Action Plan strategies.

solar panels on grass in the sun Mitigation Planning
  • 18 of 19 local jurisdictions in the region have adopted or are currently developing a Climate Action Plan
  • 16 energy roadmaps
  • 2 Smart City Strategic Action Plans

Mitigation-related plans include: the Regional Sustainable Communities Strategy, local level City Climate Action Plans, Energy Roadmap Plans, Zero Net Energy Plans, Air Quality Management Plans, and Smart City Strategic Action Plans.

boat anchored in San Diego harbor next to sidewalk with downtown in the background Climate Adaptation Planning
  • SANDAG, The San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, The Tijuana River Estuarine Research Reserve and The San Diego Foundation received a grant from SB1 to conduct a regional Adaptation Needs Assessment in 2019.

Climate adaptation-related plans include: Urban Water Management Plans, Local Coastal Plans, Adaptation and Resilience Plans, and Water Stewardship Plans.

Quino butterfly resting on blooming milkweed Habitat and Species Conservation Planning
  • San Diego County is recognized as one of the first in the nation to enact a habitat conservation plan that streamlines the permitting process for developers while preserving and protecting large connected areas of land to protect vulnerable habitats.

Habitat and Species Conservation Plans include activities geared towards protecting the natural habitat and wildlife for future generations. San Diego County's plan, called the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), has three subarea plans: 1) South County, 2) East County, and 3) North County. The San Diego Management and Monitoring Program (SDMMP), funded through SANDAG, supports the management and monitoring of conserved land.

burnt forest smoking in the wake of a wildfire Hazard Mitigation Planning
  • San Diego County was one of the first in the State to tackle hazard mitigation planning on a multi-jurisdictional basis in 2004, and has recently updated the plan in 2017.

Hazard Mitigation Plans identify risks and highlight ways to minimize damage by natural and manmade disasters, such as wildfires and heatwaves.

What Policies Are Behind Regional Planning Efforts?

The following policies inform the regional planning responses to issues of natural resource management and protection:

California Urban Water Management Planning Act (1983) requires urban water supplies serving more than 3,000 acre-feet annually to prepare an urban water management plan every 5 years to plan for adequate supplies for the future.

California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (1969) is the basis of water protection and pollution control efforts and was used to develop the national Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (the Clean Water Act 1972). California enforces the Clean Water Act, setting water quality standards and issuing discharge permits through Water Boards to restore and maintain the quality and integrity of waters.

California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32, 2006) and Executive Order S-03-05 provide the basis of all climate and energy policies in California today. AB32 has a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020; EO S-03-05 has a goal of reducing GHGs to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, in line with internationally agreed scientifically developed targets. SB32 (2015) sets a mid-term target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Multiple other climate and energy regulations have followed, such as:

  • The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (2008), also known as Senate Bill 375, ties together the regional allocation of housing needs and regional transportation planning in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicle trips and develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy within the Regional Transportation Plan.
  • Updates to the California Environmental Quality Act (2010) require all new discretionary projects to include GHG analysis and mitigation, leading to the requirement for community-level GHG mitigation plans and climate action plans.

California Coastal Act (1976) is aimed at protecting, maintaining, and enhancing the overall quality of the coastal zone environment and its natural and artificial resources through the work of the California Coastal Commission which also administers the federal Coastal Zone Management Act in California. The Coastal Act mandates standards to be applied to planning and regulatory decisions made by the Commission and by local governments.

Disaster Mitigation Act (2000) is a federal act that requires all local governments to develop a hazard mitigation plan to qualify for federal funding.

California Endangered Species Act (1970) preceded the national Endangered Species Act (1973) - This Act aims to protect endangered and threatened species by acquiring land to protect, restore and enhance the habitat of these species.

California is taking steps through its Adaptation Strategy, Adaptation Planning Guide, exploration of local vulnerabilities and risk areas.