Earlier this week, SANDAG chairman Steve Vaus met with the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association at the Sycuan Resort and Casino to sign a memorandum of understanding committing $200,000 to regional planning strategies of mutual concern.
Vaus and SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata met with SCTCA chairman Robert Smith and members of the SCTCA board to commit funds for planning related to key issues that affect the Native American reservations. The reservations make up approximately 4 percent 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 MOU outlines the coordination efforts between SANDAG and the Tribal Nations on policy areas of mutual concern, 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,” said Chairman Smith. “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 Indian tribes in Southern California, 17 in San Diego County; three are 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/Diegueño, Luiseño, the Cupeño, and Cahuilla.
In 2018, SANDAG met with the SCTCA for the San Diego Regional Tribal Summit (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 identified by Tribal Nations
Energy: Identify policies and opportunities to support energy and renewable energy program planning for tribes
Environment: Continue collaboration to support habitat and environmental conservation in areas that surround Tribal Nations
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.