SCAG was founded on October 28, 1965, when local elected officials from 56 cities and five counties first convened to begin growth projections and regional planning for Southern California’s future. SCAG, a joint powers authority (JPA) under California law, was established as an association of local governments and agencies that voluntarily come together on issues of common concern. Under federal law, SCAG is designated as a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and under state law as a Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) and a Council of Governments (COG).
Generally, SCAG develops long-range regional transportation plans including sustainable communities strategy and growth forecast components, regional transportation improvement programs, regional housing needs allocations, and a portion of the South Coast Air Quality management plans. SCAG expanded its governing body, the Executive Committee, in 1992 to a 70-member Regional Council to help accommodate new responsibilities mandated by the federal and state governments, as well as to provide more broad-based representation of Southern California’s cities and counties. With its expanded membership structure, SCAG created regional districts to provide for more diverse representation. The districts were formed with the intent to serve equal populations and communities of interest. Currently, the Regional Council is comprised of 86 members.
In addition to the six counties and 191 cities that make up SCAG’s region, there are six County Transportation Commissions that hold the primary responsibility for programming and implementing transportation projects, programs and services in their respective counties. Additionally, SCAG Bylaws provide for representation of Native American tribes and Air Districts in the region on the Regional Council and Policy Committees.