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SANDAG CEO Hasan Ihkrata announced his resignation after nearly five years on the job in a late-night Friday press release. Courtesy photo
SANDAG CEO Hasan Ihkrata announced his resignation after nearly five years on the job in a late-night Friday press release. Courtesy photo
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Divisive SANDAG CEO Ikhrata resigns

REGION — Hasan Ikhrata is resigning from the top job at the San Diego Association of Governments, he announced on Friday. 

Ikhrata, who has been a divisive figure in his role as SANDAG chief executive officer, stated in a letter to Board Chairwoman Nora Vargas his last day will be Dec. 29. 

“I came to SANDAG almost five years ago to reinvigorate this organization and reimagine a brighter future for the San Diego region. Together, with you and the amazing SANDAG team, we have done just that, tackling long-standing issues such as transit to the airport, the falling Del Mar Bluffs, building a third crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the need for free transit, more bikeways and housing. Our bold vision has garnered support from federal and state funding agencies, with more than $1 billion in investments coming to the region,” Ikhrata said in the letter to Vargas. 

“As the agency starts its next chapter focused on implementing your programs and projects, this is the right time to hand over the leadership reins.” 

The agency said in a press release Friday evening that Vargas will be leading the transition with the board, and more information will be available in the coming months. 

“This news is a bittersweet moment for our region,” Vargas said. “I am grateful for Hasan’s vision, leadership, and unwavering commitment to helping us all reimagine the future of the San Diego region. Throughout his tenure, Hasan has spearheaded transformative changes in transportation and regional planning for the County of San Diego, and I want to wish him the best in his next endeavor. I also want to thank SANDAG staff for all the work they continue to do and I look forward to continuing to deliver on all of our projects and priorities for the San Diego region.”

Other board members said they believe this news will allow room for positive changes. 

“This opens the way to rethink and rationalize transportation planning for the entire San Diego County region,” said Del Mar City Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland. 

Ikhrata came on as the agency’s CEO in 2018 from the Southern California Association of Governments. Opponents of his leadership have said Ikhrata has alienated many San Diego leaders with his strong advocacy for controversial transit proposals such as a mileage fee for drivers and has not been shy about his focus on reducing car travel in the region. 

Supervisor Jim Desmond said he was “hopeful for a new day at SANDAG” following Ikhrata’s announcement.

“I am encouraged to hear about Hasan Ikhrata’s departure from SANDAG,” Desmond said in a statement. “This development opens the door to change and progress within the organization. SANDAG’s primary focus must be on finding a new leader who embodies the qualities of a consensus builder who can collaborate effectively with all cities and unincorporated area communities in San Diego County.

“SANDAG should prioritize taxpayers’ needs and use San Diegans’ hard-earned money efficiently and responsibly. I am committed to supporting a new SANDAG executive who will diligently work toward designing a comprehensive regional transportation plan that addresses the needs of the entire region, including freeways and roads.”

1 comment

steve333 July 31, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Good riddance, don’t let the door hit you on the way out

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