Community Characteristics by Segments

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) recently completed an analysis that is a conscious effort to better understand the needs and choices of the people who live and work in the San Diego region and can be a tool to facilitate conversation around how to be more responsive to their needs. This analysis complements, rather than replaces, traditional demographic analyses developed with public data, such as data from surveys or modeling, by providing an additional layer of information about characteristics and behaviors. It is intended to help SANDAG staff, decision-makers, and stakeholders gain a deeper understanding of the people in the region through the lens of their preferences and behavior to deliver more effective projects, policies, and programs. This initial analysis resulted in ten groups that highlighted different preferences and needs of individuals across the region. These are broad generalizations and the intent is not for any individual to necessarily identify with only one group or to simplify the diversity of our cultures and experiences.
Use the filter at the top of the page to choose a community segment.
The link to the full report is found at the bottom of the page.


The following two sections highlight demographic and other characteristics across the ten different sectors to enable a deeper understanding of the data used in the analyses and how the sectors may be similar on some dimensions and different on others.

Various Lifestyle Characteristics

The visualizations below depict the prevalence of certain behaviors within the chosen characteristic segment, compared to the national average.
Note: The index value for a specific variable is the propensity of this group’s behavior, compared to the national average (which is indexed to 100). For example, an index value of 150, would mean that this group is 50% more likely to have this behavior than the national average.


How far this group travels to work, how long they take to get to work, and how often they use alternative transportation modes in the past 7 days for any adult in the household.


How this group describes their health status and other factors related to health, including diet and exercise.   

Use of Computer/Internet

This group's level of comfort and use of technology.   

Other Random Lifestyle Items

What a "typical" day for this group may look like. 


The map below depicts the percentage of households within each census block group that belong to the specified community segment (using 2010 census block groups).


Data for this analysis came from the 2019 Claritas PRIZM Dataset and 2016 SANDAG Household Travel Behavior Survey. PRIZM is a dataset that classifies every U.S. household into 68 segments based on demographics, consumer behavior, and geography.
Claritas PRIZM does not provide SANDAG with individual level data, but instead indicates the number of households that fall into each of the 68 segments for a specific area. To build groups representing the region, SANDAG started with the 68 segments and based on demographic characteristics, travel behavior, presence in the region, and urbanicity (referring to whether someone lives in a city, suburb, or rural area), combined similar segments into ten groups. When consolidating from 68 groups to 10, a given individual may not see him/her/themselves in any one group. However, it is still helpful to more easily convey the broad needs of the region while enabling SANDAG to use the data for regional planning purposes. It should be noted that the ten groups presented here include 99% of the region’s population and that an eleventh group, that represented 1% of the region’s total households is not presented separately, even though the Indexes that are presented for each group were calculated using these data. This group is composed of those groups in the initial 68 that were not present or represent an extremely small proportion of the population in the San Diego region, even though they are present nationally. Because they were combined since they did not “fit” in another category, and not because they shared any similar profiles, they were excluded from this summary.
In addition to the number of households that fall into each of the 68 segments, Claritas also provides demographic and lifestyle (i.e., behavior) characteristics for each segment. For example, within each segment, data for the percent of households in each income decile or that have taken a plane trip in the past 12 months are included. Again, no data is provided at the individual or specific household level, but rather, just the distributions for each characteristic for each segment, and these are national values.
These demographic and behavioral characteristics were used to generate values for each of the jurisdictions in the County, as well as the unincorporated areas. To do this, the number of estimated households in each area was determined. Each characteristic was then calculated as the weighted average using the distribution for each group applied to the number of households in that group for each jurisdiction (or the unincorporated areas).

Context and Limitations

The purpose of this analysis is to increase the understanding of the diverse and varied range of people in the region, as well as each jurisdiction. The Claritas PRIZM data indicate key characteristics that people within a specific group are more or less likely to possess.
The analysis prepared by SANDAG was written to highlight those characteristics, although not every person will identify with all of the characteristics or specific behaviors in order to belong to one specific group, and people may be more likely to see themselves reflected in more than one group. The ten groups underlying the analysis presented here are representative of people with similar backgrounds, experiences, needs, motivations, opportunities, and challenges. These groups are broad generalizations designed to reflect different needs to help with long-range transportation planning for the region. In addition, the reconfiguration of the data from ten groups to those residing in specific jurisdictions or the unincorporated area of the County reflects analyses at the larger level and assumptions that the characteristics of households within a group will be consistent across different geographies. It is thus possible that, for example, the actual distribution of household income or family size in a jurisdiction may differ from an estimate produced using the ten groups, and also that the data presented here varies from other SANDAG estimates and forecasts using different data or methodologies.
In addition, the analysis is reflective of the data available to SANDAG at the time of development. If a specific characteristic is not included (e.g., disability or sexual orientation), it does not reflect a lack of importance, but could mean that the data were not available at the time the analysis was prepared. It should also be noted that these data reflect who may live within a jurisdiction, but not those who may travel to it for other purposes (e.g., work or recreational activity). It also does not reflect how communities may change over time as regional visions are implemented. This information is accurate to the best of SANDAG’s ability and is not intended to inflict any bias. SANDAG’s intention is to continuously update and bolster the analysis as new data become available. Because national data were used, some descriptors may not be directly comparable to the San Diego region. Local data were used whenever possible and national data, when used to compare and contrast the potential needs and preferences of different groups, are still useful and generalizable. It also should be noted that the data were compiled prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay home orders.

Community Characteristics full report