Bay Area Council Blog: 21st Century Infrastructure Archive

Regional Profile

PROFILE X: BAY AREA JUMPS TO TOP 20 WORLD ECONOMIES

With a GDP of nearly $750 billion, the Bay Area is now a Top 20 world economy, jumping from 23 to 19 since 2016. This was just one of many key findings unveiled Tuesday (June 10) as the Bay Area Council Economic Institute presented its Economic Profile with partner McKinsey & Company. The tenth in a series of Profile reports, this latest edition examines a new period of immense growth and innovation, benchmarking the Bay Area’s performance against other knowledge-based economies to assess the region’s national and global competitiveness.

Joined by Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company’s Silicon Valley office, Alexis Krivkovich, and Associate Partner Kunal Modi, Institute President Micah Weinberg presented to a packed room of members, guests, and the media. Key takeaways focused on the exceptional period of growth the region is experiencing including the maturation of some of the world largest companies, record employment, and an increasingly diverse technology sector. The report also examines the challenges such rapid growth has brought to housing, transportation, and equity in the region.

Read the full Economic Profile report>>

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ALAMEDA OKS 760-UNIT HOUSING PROJECT THAT COUNCIL ENDORSED

Alameda took a big step in adding much needed housing when the City Council on Tuesday (July 10) unanimously approved the EIR and Master Plan for Alameda Marina, a housing project endorsed by the Bay Area Council’s Workforce Housing Committee. The proposed project is the culmination of more than two years of work with city planners and the community. The plan will provide 760 new units of housing, including 103 designated as affordable. In addition to providing housing, the project also includes a $57 million investment to upgrade infrastructure on site, including new service roads, a dockyard for marine services, Bay Trail extension, $35 million to rebuild a crumbling seawall, and more. The Bay Area Council thanks the City of Alameda for approving this project and doing its part to provide housing for our growing region. Have a significant housing project you’d like us to consider for endorsement? Please contact Senior Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros.

TRAFFIC RELIEF MEASURE HEADING TO SAN MATEO COUNTY BALLOT

Worsening traffic plagues the Bay Area, and San Mateo County commuters suffer from some of the worst of it. A 2017 Metropolitan Transportation Commission report found that “eight of the 10 most crowded commutes (in the Bay Area) are routes to or from the Bay Bridge or Silicon Valley.” San Mateo County voters soon may be able to do something about it.

This week, the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) Board of Directors voted to place a measure on the November ballot that will reduce traffic congestion on Highways 101, 280, and others in the county; repair potholes and address local traffic; improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities; expand regional transit connections; and construct grade separations where Caltrain tracks intersect with local streets. If voters pass the measure, the half-cent sales tax would generate $2.4 billion in revenue dedicated to improving transit for years to come. The county Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to meet July 24, still must approve the plan before it goes on the November ballot. The Council worked with a coalition of companies the corridor to help develop the measure, and we applaud the SamTrans Board of Directors for its efforts to relieve congestion and address transit challenges in the region.

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Council Urges Legislative Action for Secure, Reliable Energy Future

The Bay Area Council on Friday, June 15 submitted the following letter urging Gov. Brown and state legislative leaders to take immediate action on comprehensive reforms that can provide for a secure energy future for California’s businesses, consumers and the economy.

Dear Governor Brown and Legislative Leaders,

The Bay Area Council urges you to take immediate legislative action to preserve healthy, reliable, and safe public and investor-owned utilities so they can continue to power our economic success story, create new jobs and invest in the delivery of clean renewable energy. We have already witnessed the negative economic effects of delayed action in the face of a changing climate, extreme weather events and the resulting wildfires. Not since the rolling blackouts of 2000/2001 have we experienced such a dire threat to our utilities and as a result the economic well-being of our region and our state.

The Bay Area Council and our member companies depend on a reliable and secure energy supply. This can only be guaranteed if the infrastructure that generates and moves that energy is resilient enough to withstand the “new normal” of extreme weather and a changing landscape that you identified in your joint statement earlier this year. We applaud your vision and leadership and support solutions that address the principles you established:

Modernize vegetation and forest management practices for fire prevention and carbon sequestration.

With increased suburban and exurban development in close proximity to fire-prone landscapes across our region and state, we support the updating of vegetation and forest management practices. We must implement these new practices as quickly as possible to decrease the risk of disasters like the 2017 North Bay fires.

Ensure utility and public infrastructure is designed, constructed and operated to maximize resiliency to extreme weather events and natural disasters.

We know that without a modern and resilient grid California cannot maintain a healthy growing economy or meet any of our climate objectives. We support establishing the necessary standards and oversight measures to keep our grid strong in the face of extreme weather so it can continue to power what is now the 5th largest economy in the world.

Enhance the emergency response system, including consideration of mutual aid resources, telecommunications, 911 systems, and community needs, particularly in low income and vulnerable rural and urban communities.

Knowing that the community they belong to is safe, and has safe reliable power, is a basic need for any company seeking to grow and create new jobs.  We support increased investments in first response infrastructure to meet the demands of what has become a year-round fire season.  As I write this letter 11 named fires are burning in California from Shasta Trinity to San Diego.

Examine the availability of insurance products in high wildfire areas in light of increased risks from climate change.

As high wildfire areas continue to expand, and more people choose to live in those areas, insurance options are becoming increasingly limited for many consumers. We support your work to find solutions that help increase access to affordable insurance.

Update utility rules and regulations for utility services in light of changing climate and the increased severity and frequency of weather events.

The current rules under which our utilities operate were crafted at a time when man-made climate change was a topic discussed in theoretical terms, and its projected impacts were educated guesswork. Today we are living with those impacts and witnessing them every day, from the millions of dead trees across our state to the extreme fluctuations in our rainfall and the emergence of 70 mph-plus Santa Ana-type winds in Northern California.  If our utilities are to continue to modernize their clean energy generation and transmission capacity and if California is to continue to lead the world in this effort, we must recognize the “new normal” around us and have an honest conversation about liability reform and shared risk across all stakeholders.

The Bay Area has just 20 percent of California’s population but we provide 40 percent of the personal income taxes paid to the state. Without the economic success of our region, California cannot succeed, and without a safe and reliable source of energy delivered by our utilities, our businesses cannot succeed. Absent the reforms described above, particularly liability reform and reform of the perverse doctrine of inverse condemnation that makes our utilities liable for fire damages even if they have followed all the rules to the letter of the law, nobody will be able to generate and supply power in California let alone invest in upgrading to a cleaner, lower carbon grid.

We urge immediate action and comprehensive reforms otherwise we risk an existential threat to our economy and our state.

Sincerely,

Jim Wunderman

President & CEO

Bay Area Council

 

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Senate Minority Leader Patricia Bates

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Dahle

Senator Ben Hueso, Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications

Assemblymember Chris Holden, Chair, Utilities and Energy Committee

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New Study Will Explore Opportunities for Expanding, Deepening Bay Area, Fresno, Central Valley Megaregion Connections

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Central Valley Community Foundation today announced the launch of an in-depth study to examine Fresno’s important role in the fast-emerging Northern California megaregion and how the arrival of high speed rail over the next decade will dramatically accelerate economic connections between Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area and the state’s fifth largest city.

High speed rail is expected to shrink the time it takes to travel between the Bay Area and the Central Valley from more than three hours to less than one hour when it is scheduled to begin service in 2025 between Fresno and San Jose. That has huge implications for housing, transportation and workforce development across the megaregion and promises to bring exciting new economic opportunities to Fresno and other parts of the Central Valley. “Fresno and the broader Central Valley are key players in developing a broader megaregion strategy,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “As county and other regional boundaries blur with the emergence of the megaregion, it’s imperative that we get a handle on what that future looks like and the infrastructure we’ll need to put in place to support it. We can act now to address these issues or confront chaos later. The Central Valley Community Foundation is an important and indispensable partner in making that happen.”

The study will focus in particular on strategies Fresno and other Central Valley cities can pursue to leverage high speed rail and other economic and demographic changes within the megaregion to boost their own economic prospects. While the 10 percent economic growth that Fresno has enjoyed since 2011 matches the national average, it has lagged cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles where the rate has reached 26 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Expanding the Central Valley’s participation in the megaregion economy, attracting new business and elevating its workforce to meet the needs of employers will also be a focus of the study.

“Improved economic and infrastructure connections between the Silicon Valley/Bay Area and the Central Valley is good, not just for our regions, but for the entire state,” said Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation. “We are pleased to launch this work with the Bay Area Council and to explore meaningful ways to create new economic opportunities for Central Valley residents, businesses and communities and relieve pressure on the congested Bay Area.”

Swearingen kicked off the project on Friday, April 24 at a meeting in Fresno to identify the issues that would be addressed. The study is part of a much broader, long-term effort the Bay Area Council is leading to bring together top business, government and other civic leaders from the Bay Area, Central Valley, Sacramento and Monterey regions to develop a unified, integrated vision for guiding future planning for the megaregion around such issues as housing, transportation and workforce development.

Driving the Council’s intense focus on the megaregion is the Bay Area’s meteoric economic growth over the past decade combined with an historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. In search of more affordable housing, record numbers of Bay Area workers are being forced into longer and longer commutes from the Central Valley and Sacramento that are putting increasing pressure on an already overburdened and congested transportation system. At the same time, the Central Valley is eager to accelerate economic development opportunities that the megaregion offers and prepare its workforce.

The study with the Central Valley Community Foundation and support from Wells Fargo, UC Merced, Fresno State University, City of Fresno, and Lance Kashian & Co., is one of several activities the Council is leading to bring greater attention to megaregion planning. The Council is also working closely with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council on megaregion issues, including investing in better rail connections along the I-80 corridor and promoting the capitol city as a destination for businesses looking to start and expand outside the Bay Area.

The Council will be convening a series of meetings in 2018 to begin a dialogue with government, business, nonprofit and academic leaders on the future of the megaregion.

 

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About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives. Learn more at www.bayareaeconomy.org.

 

About the Central Valley Community Foundation

Central Valley Community Foundation has been a trusted partner in philanthropy in the Central Valley for more than 50 years. Our mission is to cultivate smart philanthropy, lead, and invest in solutions that build stronger communities. Learn more at www.centralvalleycf.org.

 

About the Bay Area Council

The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here. Founded in 1945, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the voice of Bay Area business. Today, more than 300 of the largest employers in the region support the Bay Area Council and offer their CEO or top executive as a member. Our members employ more than 4.43 million workers and have revenues of $1.94 trillion, worldwide. Learn more at www.bayareacouncil.org.

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STATE ECONOMIC STRATEGY BILL ADVANCES

California is a global innovation and economic powerhouse, but currently does not have a statewide, comprehensive plan to grow its economy. That would change under legislation (AB 2596) that the Bay Area Council is sponsoring with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and Valley Vision. AB 2596, authored by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley, Kevin Kiley and Sharon Quirk-Silva, would authorize the creation a statewide economic development plan to grow jobs, better coordinate economic activities across counties and regions and boost the state’s competitiveness. Having a clear, unified strategy can also help protect the state against future economic downturns and ensure that economic opportunities are being spread more evenly across the entire state. AB 2596 on Tuesday won unanimous approval by the Assembly Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee and now heads to Assembly Appropriations. Just ahead of the vote, an OpEd by Council CEO Jim Wunderman and Greater Sacramento Economic Council CEO Barry Broome that ran in the Sacramento Bee argued for passage of the bill. To add your company to the growing list of our AB 2596 supporters, please contact Director for Government Relations Cornelious Burke.

Read the OpEd in support of AB 2596>>

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Charting a Course for Megaregion Coordination

A rising economy, a massive housing shortage and growing traffic in the Bay Area are causing major changes across the Northern California megaregion that represent both opportunities and challenges. The Bay Area Council is spearheading an effort to bring together business, government, academic and civic leaders from across the megaregion on planning to embrace the former and minimize the latter. The Council last week traveled to Stockton where CEO Jim Wunderman presided over a meeting that included mayors from Stockton, Merced, Modesto and Livermore, leaders from key rail and regional planning organizations, and business and academic leaders.

In addition to hearing about the foundational research on the Northern California megaregion put together by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and University of the Pacific, participants focused on the potential for future rail investments–in the ACE train and high speed rail–to spur economic development. The meeting, hosted by University of the Pacific in partnership with Valley Vision, was the first of a series of meetings the Council is convening across the megaregion in the coming months that will seek to produce a common policy advocacy agenda for megaregional stakeholders. To engage in the Bay Area Council’s work on the Northern California Megaregion, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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Council’s Board Welcomes Senator Feinstein and Mayor Schaaf

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf met with the Bay Area Council’s Board of Directors Thursday to discuss a range of pressing issues, from healthcare reform and homelessness to infrastructure investment and public safety. Board Chairman and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson welcomed both leaders to a packed room at Kaiser’s Oakland headquarters. Feinstein updated the Board on her efforts to ban assault weapons, an issue she has championed for decades. She also discussed the importance of making Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) permanent as well as her interest in leveraging public private partnerships to repair and rebuild the nation’s aging and crumbling infrastructure.

Investing to expand and improve the region’s congested transportation system was also a top issue as Feinstein emphasized the need for a new crossing south of the Bay Bridge. Tyson thanked Feinstein for her great leadership and urged Council members to join a business delegation we’re leading to D.C. in May to promote California’s importance to the nation as some critics frame the Golden State as out of control.

Feinstein also gave warm praise for Mayor Schaaf, who described the progress Oakland is making in turning around years of crime and addressing a complicated homeless problem. Schaaf also highlighted a measure she is championing for the November ballot—the Oakland Children’s Initiative—that would invest in expanding access to early education and other early childhood programs. She touted the huge returns that early childhood investments have in increasing employment opportunities and avoiding expensive social and public safety costs. This is an issue that has long been a priority for the Council, whose executive leadership has expressed early support for Schaaf’s November measure as she works to get it placed on the ballot. The Council extends its gratitude to Kaiser Permanente for hosting our meeting.

Photo by New York Times

WITH RECORD BUDGET PROPOSAL, GOV. BROWN SEES RAIN IN THE FUTURE

There hasn’t been a lot of rain so far this winter, but Gov. Jerry Brown had the wet stuff on his mind this week (Jan. 11) when he released a $190 billion budget proposal that ups the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” by $5 billion to $13.5 billion. The reserve is designed to protect California against future economic downturns, which Brown believes is coming sooner rather than later. Still, the budget represents a record for California and includes a $7 billion increase over the previous spending plan. The Bay Area Council applauded many of the spending priorities, which include $4.6 billion for commute improvement projects from last year’s SB1 (Beall) legislation that the Council supported.

The plan invests $245 million to expand and protect affordable housing under SB2 (Atkins), another bill the Council supported last year. Brown proposed another $277 million for housing in anticipation of the passage of a statewide housing bond measure expected to appear on the November 2018 ballot. The spending plan also continues the Governor’s efforts to pay down the overall state debt and makes a small dent in the state’s massive pension liability shortfall. The Council is continuing to analyze the plan and will be weighing in directly as it now moves to the legislature, which has a June deadline to approve it.

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11TH ANNUAL ECONOMIC FORECAST CONFERENCE ON JAN. 19

What is the economic outlook for the Bay Area in 2018 and beyond? How will national and international trends affect our region? Join the Bay Area Council Economic Institute for the 11th Annual Economic Forecast Conference on Friday, January 19 from 8:00am-11:00am at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Each year this conference convenes the region’s top private and public sector leaders to share their economic outlook for the Bay Area, California and the nation. In addition to remarks by SF Fed President Williams, there will be a panel of  thought-leaders from three different sectors: tech, commercial real estate, and finance. Also, visually compelling presentations by the leaders in the field of VR/AR will bring to life the economic forecast by showing what our cities will look like as this development occurs. From new urban homes and offices spaces being created in downtown Oakland to massive developments happening at the San Francisco Shipyards and around San Jose’s Diridon Station, we can now see the future before it is built. Speakers include:

Forecasting the Future
John Williams, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Ranjana Clark, Bay Area President, Union Bank
Kausik Rajgopal, West Coast Regional Manager, McKinsey & Company
Colin Yasikochi, Director of Research and Analysis, CBRE
Igor Popov, Economist, Airbnb

Visualizing the Future
O’Bien Chalmers, President, Steelblue
Radha Mistry, Futurist, Autodesk
Aaron Selvertson, CEO and Founder, Owlized

Special Announcement
Mayor Libby Schaaf, City of Oakland; Vice Chair, Bay Area Council Economic Institute

A continental breakfast will be served. Council members will receive a 50% discount using the code BACEI2018. Click here to register.