New hand at the helm of San Diego region's transportation agency

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Hasan Ikhrata started Dec. 3 as the new executive director of San Diego Association of Governments, a regional transportation agency that has been mired in controversy.

Ikhrata oversees a $1.3 billion annual budget at the agency, which employs 375. He reports directly to the board of directors, which is comprised of 21 elected officials from the region’s 18 cities and San Diego County.

“My first task will be to listen and to learn,” Ikhrata said. “My longer-term goal is to help create a vision for the San Diego region that includes the best transportation system in the world.”

Over the prior decade, Ikhrata ran the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional planning organization for Imperial County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Ventura County.

Ikhrata has a three-year contract with an annual salary of $414,149, equal to what he made at SCAG.

He replaces Gary Gallegos, who stepped down in August 2017, after it came to light that he concealed an internal debate about a now-failed tax measure that promised voters billions of dollars in transportation projects it wouldn’t be able to deliver. Gallegos had been making about $310,000 a year.

SANDAG settled a lawsuit in August led by the state attorney general's office and environmental groups that claimed the agency's long-rang plan didn't adhere to the state's environmental mandates.

“We are looking forward to working with Hasan, who has had many years of planning transportation systems for our neighbors to the north,” said SANDAG Board Chair-Elect and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. “This is a new era for the agency and the Board. We’ve got a lot to look forward to and a lot on our plate. I’m confident that Hasan and our team will successfully tackle any challenges facing our region.”

Ikhrata rose to the executive director position at SCAG after holding a variety of leadership roles at the organization. He has a master’s degree in civil and industrial engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and is a Ph.D. candidate in Urban Planning and Transportation at the University of Southern California.

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