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Metro Atlanta Leaders Head to San Diego on 2018 LINK Trip. Here’s What’s on Their Radar

Posted on: Apr 26, 2018

Ocean Front Walk at Mission Beach in San Diego, CA
Ocean Front Walk at Mission Beach in San Diego, CA

The name San Diego conjures images of sunshine and surf. But when you look beyond the travel brochure, the region is wrestling with many of the same issues as Atlanta, from housing affordability to traffic congestion.

That’s why more than 100 business, government, and nonprofit leaders are heading to San Diego soon for the 2018 LINK trip, organized by ARC. They will hear from their west-coast peers how San Diego is tackling some of these issues and will share best practices and see solutions first-hand.

Here are five regional issues the LINK delegation will explore:

Improving Housing Affordability Near Jobs

Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego
Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego

Housing in the San Diego region is becoming increasingly unaffordable, forcing low-and middle-wage workers to commute longer distances and making it more difficult for employers to find qualified employees. According the U.S. Census, more than 40% of San Diego residents spend at least 30% of their income on housing, compared to 31% of metro Atlantans. LINK participants will learn what is driving this trend, how the region and state are addressing the challenge, and how governments, nonprofits, and others in metro Atlanta are trying to prevent a similar crisis in our own region.

Military, Mexico make San Diego’s Economy Tick

San Diego’s economy is unique in that it is powered primarily by the military and the research and technology industries that follow it, and because it is a binational economy.

More than 25% of the region’s jobs are connected to the military and in 2016, the region saw almost $9 billion in military procurement contracts. As part of the CaliBaja megaregion of 6 million+ people, San Diego is connected economically and culturally to Tijuana, with more than 49 million people, 930 million trucks, and $40 billion in goods crossing the San Diego-Tijuana border each year.

Addressing a Major Homelessness Crisis

Despite being just the 17th largest metro region in the U.S., San Diego has the 4th largest homeless population. Participants will meet leaders of partnerships working on this problem that impacts the region’s health, services, and image.

Planning for Tomorrow’s Technology

Recognized globally as a leading smart city, San Diego is partnering with GE to install more than 3,000 “intelligent nodes” on street lamps in half the city. These connected nodes will help people find parking, better understand traffic patterns, and even pinpoint the location of gun shots.

San Diego is also a hot spot for testing autonomous vehicles, and LINK participants will visit two testing grounds.

Providing Transportation Options

Passengers board and exit the San Diego blue line trolley at the southernmost station stop at the US - Mexico border crossing in San Ysidro on November 27, 2013.
Passengers board and exit the San Diego blue line trolley at the southernmost station stop at the US – Mexico border crossing in San Ysidro.

When LINK visited San Diego in 2001, the locals were abuzz about the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network they were planning. Today, the region’s BRT network is expanding, as is its light rail system that LINK participants will ride.

LINK, which began in 1997, has been responsible for the development of several important regional efforts: The Metro Atlanta Mayors Association was created following a visit to Chicago in 2002; theMetro Atlanta Speaks public opinion poll began after the Houston trip in 2013; and the Atlanta Regional Public Art Program was inspired by a visit to Philadelphia in 2014.

“LINK has been an invaluable resource for the Atlanta region,” said Doug Hooker, ARC Executive Director. “The lessons we learn and the relationships forged among participants have helped drive important innovation and collaboration back at home.”