The Coast News Group
Warner Springs
A valley near the Los Coyotes Reservation, home to the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Tribe. Courtesy photo

SANDAG commits $200K for regional planning with tribal nations

REGION — San Diego Association of Governments Chair Steve Vaus met with the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association this week to commit $200,000 from SANDAG through a memorandum of understanding for mutual regional planning strategies such as transportation and conservation.

Vaus and SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata met with SCTCA Chairman Robert Smith and members of the SCTCA Board at Sycuan Resort and Casino to commit funds for planning related to key issues that affect the Native American reservations.

The reservations make up approximately 4% of the region’s land base and a majority are in remote areas within the unincorporated eastern portion of San Diego County.

“It is an honor to continue our commitment to work with the tribal nations of our region. For too long, their needs and contributions were ignored or misrepresented,” said Vaus, who is the mayor of Poway. “This MOU unites us to work together to ensure our borders extend handshakes, not barriers, and to ensure we cooperate on planning and design to support prosperity. SANDAG is committed to fostering these relationships to ensure the needs of every person in our region are met.”

The memorandum outlines the coordination efforts between SANDAG and the tribal nations on policy areas including transportation, habitat conservation, energy and economic development.

“We are pleased that our partnership with SANDAG continues to grow. This MOU provides us with resources that greatly enhance our ability to fully realize the potential of this partnership,” Smith said. “Our region is home to the most federally recognized tribal nations in the United States. The work we do here will benefit all our communities long into the future.”

The SCTCA represents 20 federally recognized tribes in Southern California, 17 in San Diego County and three in Riverside County. The agreement signed earlier this week only affects the 17 San Diego County tribes. The 17 sovereign domestic nations in San Diego are from four cultural/ethnic groups: the Kumeyaay/Diegueno, Luiseno, Cupeno and Cahuilla.

In 2018, SANDAG met with the SCTCA for the San Diego Regional Tribal Summit as part of the tribal consultation for the Regional Plan. During the summit, elected officials from the region’s Tribal Nations and local governments discussed opportunities for mutual collaboration and agreed on a set of strategic objectives:
— Transportation: Pursue critical mobility project planning;
— Energy: Identify policies and opportunities to support energy and renewable energy program planning;
— Environment: Continue collaboration to support habitat and environmental conservation in areas that surround reservations;
— Economy: Develop a methodology to study the impacts of tribal economies on the region.

The results of these planning efforts will feed into the SANDAG long-range blueprint, San Diego Forward: The 2021 Regional Plan.