Developing an environmental impact report for San Diego’s 2021 regional plan

We collaborated with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to produce an environmental impact report (EIR) for San Diego Forward, the 2021 regional plan that provides a bold new vision for the San Diego region through 2050.

Challenge

San Diego Forward SANDAG logo

San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) had a condensed schedule to produce the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for their Regional Plan. They needed the document prepared, vetted through a QA/QC process in cooperation with SANDAG staff and their attorneys, and approved by the SANDAG Board in a period of approximately six months. 

In addition to the tight time frame, the EIR had to navigate complex environmental issues associated with future regional growth and land use change and $163 billion worth of proposed transportation network investments associated with the Plan—the most challenging of which related to air quality, climate change, vehicle miles traveled, and greenhouse gases.

Solution

SANDAG selected ICF to lead this important work. Our project management team relied on their excellent relationship with SANDAG staff to develop an open line of communication that proved crucial in anticipating issues before they arose, reacting quickly to challenges, and devising innovative solutions during the preparation of the document. We also assembled and managed a sub-consultant team with unique SANDAG expertise. This team allowed us to effectively navigate technical areas related to vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Our air quality team—in collaboration with ICF staff from a variety of fields including transportation, air quality, and public health—prepared air quality modeling and technical analysis that evaluated and quantified localized pollutant concentrations along transportation corridors and the potential human health outcomes associated with that exposure. The team analyzed air quality and health impacts ranging from the project level to region-wide scale. This effort also involved cross collaboration with ICF’s diverse team of climate change, sustainability, and resiliency experts to evaluate whether the proposed Plan would exacerbate climate change impacts based on known climate projections.

Results

SANDAG published the draft EIR in August 2021 without any delays to the schedule, a feat that garnered much praise of the ICF team from SANDAG staff. In particular, our unique approach to the air quality analysis demonstrates our innovation and technical expertise for complex projects.

Following public circulation, revisions were made as applicable to the EIR—along with responses to 51 comment letters received—and the document was subsequently approved by the SANDAG Board in December 2021.

6 months

to obtain approval of the environmental document from when the most critical data needs were received by our team

51 letters

received and responded to in the two months between public circulation and SANDAG Board approval of the environmental document

6 partners

external teams provided crucial support to achieve this effort through close collaboration

“They have done a remarkable job pulling together this complex document in a very short amount of time. I am very impressed with the attention to detail, diligence and camaraderie of the SANDAG, ICF, and Sohagi team.”

— Keith Greer, Principal Regional Planner, SANDAG
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