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SANDAG To Try Social Media

The agency responsible for planning future growth in San Diego is trying some new strategies to get the public involved.

The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, is responsible for prioritizing how to spend billions of dollars on freeway expansion or public transport. It also has a hand in projects like beach sand replenishment or whether to reinstate the Coronado Bay toll. The agency is currently reviewing its strategy to get public input.

More than a thousand people responded to a poll by saying they want more communication via email and the web. Currently, SANDAG’s web site does not accept comments.

Ann Steinberger of SANDAG said plans are already afoot to use the web more, rather than relying on people showing up for meetings.

"On Facebook” she said, "our plan is to focus on projects, so if someone is interesting in the Interstate 15 project, then they could just go to the Facebook page and click on that project and follow it. We did sign up for a Twitter site but we’re not twittering yet."

Steinberg said the jury is still out on whether Twitter is a good tool for a public agency like SANDAG. She said the Facebook site should be up later this year.

SANDAG spends $300,000 a year on public participation, not including separate budgets for specific projects.

SANDAG will be the first agency in the state required to include a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its next Regional Transportation Plan Update, due in 2011. Steinberger said they’ll be looking for public input on how to tackle that.

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