Lawsuit challenges SANDAG’s transportation plan


City News Service

SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan would increase sprawl and pollution and worsen climate change, while ignoring the need for public transit, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in San Diego.

The lawsuit, filed by the Cleveland National Forest Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity challenges the San Diego Association of Governments’ 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy.

SANDAG, the first agency to develop a Regional Transportation Plan since enactment of the 2008 California law that requires such plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

“However, we stand by the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, its Sustainable Communities Strategy, and their Environmental Impact Report,’’ said SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos. “We are confident that they represent a balanced approach that serves the entire region, creating a multimodal transportation system that gives travelers more choices, meets our environmental goals, and responsibly invests taxpayer funds.’’

According to the plaintiffs, SANDAG used a deficient process to develop a flawed plan that would invest heavily in freeways at the expense of public transit, increase pollution and exacerbate global climate change.

“The time to move aggressively toward a more sustainable way of life is upon us,” said Jack Shu, president of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation. “SANDAG’s plan promotes an unsustainable vision for San Diego County: More traffic, less transit; more pollution, no solutions.”

The plaintiffs maintain that most of the transit improvements identified in SANDAG’s 2050 plan would be delayed by decades and fall far short of creating a robust transit network comprised of efficient rail systems supported by bus, bicycle and pedestrian options. The plan would instead encourage more driving, leading to more air pollution, according to the lawsuit.

SANDAG approved its $200 billion transportation plan last month. The agency is required to update its vision for regional transportation developments every four years.