Bay Area Council Blog: 21st Century Infrastructure Archive

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The Bay Area Council this week (Dec. 10) doubled down on its efforts to tackle the region’s most pressing challenges, unveiling a bold policy agenda for 2015 that prioritizes building workforce housing, creating the workforce of the future, securing water supply reliability, battling traffic and modernizing vital communications and energy infrastructure. The Council’s Executive Committee, under the leadership of Chair David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America, approved a set of policy priorities that include:

Workforce Housing: The Bay Area’s inability to meet housing demand is creating a massive affordability crisis and threatening to hamper the region’s economic growth. The Housing Committee, Co-Chaired by TMG Partners Chairman & CEO Michael Covarrubias and Signature Development Group President Michael Ghielmetti, will focus on ways to ease regulatory barriers and speed new housing in so-called regional “priority development areas.” To engage in our housing work, contact policy Vice President Matt Regan.

21st Century Infrastructure: New energy and communications technologies are essential to building the “smart cities” of the future and driving economic growth. However, the regulatory powers are not keeping pace. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs PG&E Chairman, CEO & President Anthony F. Earley and AT&T California President Kenneth McNeely, the 21st Century Task Force is driving legislative and regulatory change that will enable the development and utilization of advanced energy and communications networks. To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Commute Improvement: Growing traffic indicates an expanding economy, but also reflects insufficient transportation capacity and outdated operations. Under the leadership of Arup Principal John Eddy, the Council’s Transportation Committee is focused on leveraging new technologies to boost highway capacity and efficiency, increasing investment in mass transit and identifying new reliable transportation funding sources. To engage in our commute improvement work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Water Supply and Security: With growing and often-conflicting demand and limited supply, ensuring that the Bay Area has sufficient water is vital to the region’s economic health. The Water Committee, Co-Chaired by Montezuma Wetlands Managing Partner Jim Levine and Suffolk Construction Company West Coast President Andrew Ball, will work to ensure Proposition 1 funds support best regional projects and continue to advance coequal goals of supply reliability and environmental preservation in the Bay Delta. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

Workforce of the Future: The world of work is changing much faster than the education and training world. This mismatch creates “skills gaps” between what employers want and the skills job applicants possess. Students and educators need better information about the world of work and the skills that are needed for high demand jobs. Employers need strategies for engaging with and influencing the public sector talent/workforce supply chain. The Council will work to establish a regional model of public-private cooperation for the future workforce. To engage in our Workforce of the Future work, contact policy Vice President Linda Galliher.

The Bay Area Council extends its hearty thanks to Board member and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland President and CEO Bert Lubin and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute Executive Director Janet King for generously hosting our Executive Committee and Board of Directors meeting. The Council has been honored to work with Dr. Lubin in our early childhood education work, including the launch earlier this year of our Talk Read Sing campaign in Oakland.



California’s once-visionary Master Plan for Higher Education has not kept pace with tectonic changes rumbling across the Golden State, according to a report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released this week (Dec. 2) that calls for overhauling the blueprint to position the state’s three public university systems to better serve and respond to the demographic, economic and technological realities of the 21st Century. The report and recommendations come as the debate over state funding for the University of California and the California State University systems reaches a fever pitch. Among the report’s findings:

  • When the Master Plan was written, 11 percent of jobs were filled by workers with at least a bachelor’s degree – today it is over one-third and growing.
  • In 1960, 82 percent of high school graduates were non-Hispanic whites; today it is 28 percent.
  • In 1977, 18 percent of the state’s budget went to higher education; today, it is 11.6 percent.

Read the full report>>

See reaction from academic and business leaders>>

Read the press release>>

In addition to well-documented and dramatic declines in state funding for higher education, the report cites legislative and administrative mandates will allow them to experiment with new funding and academic approaches to meet the needs of individual institutions. As the 2015 legislative session moves forward and Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his proposed budget in January, the Bay Area Council will be actively engaged in seeking higher education reforms necessary to help meet California’s future workforce needs, grow middle-class jobs and compete globally. To engage in our workforce and higher education policy work, contact policy Vice President Linda Galliher.

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Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman joined an august panel of business and policy leaders this week (Nov. 20) at the Milken Institute California Summit in Los Angeles for a discussion on the resurgence of the city as a driver of policy and economic growth. Wunderman engaged in a lively discussion with Carol Armstrong, Director of the L.A. River Project for the City of Los Angeles; Riverside Mayor William Bailey; Los Angeles Times Publisher & CEO Austin Beutner; and Plenary Concessions Executive Chairman Dale Bonner, who served as California’s secretary of business, transportation and housing from 2007 to 2011. Kevin Knowden, the Milken Institute’s California Center Director and Managing Economist, moderated the discussion.

During the discussion, Wunderman highlighted how public-private partnerships and private sector financing mechanisms in major Bay Area cities are advancing innovative solutions toward the region’s transportation, water and infrastructure challenges—citing the Bay Area Council’s role in the Oakland Airport Connector and development of San Francisco’s commuter shuttle pilot program as prime examples. Watch the discussion.

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Plans taking shape for UC Berkeley’s new Global Campus in Richmond

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute this week (Nov. 19) hosted a presentation on UC Berkeley’s plans for the Berkeley Global Campus, a new international educational and research complex that will be developed on the site of the university’s Richmond Field Station. Robert Lalanne, Vice Chancellor for Real Estate at Berkeley, and Terezia Nemeth, the Berkeley Global Campus Development Manager, briefed 75 participants drawn from development, construction, architecture, investment banking, technology, biotechnology, law, higher education, local government and consulates on the project.

The approved Long Range Development Plan for the site allows for up to 5.4 million square feet of commercial, educational, R&D and supporting uses. The new campus will host universities and private companies from around the world that will co-locate to conduct joint research with UC Berkeley. Key areas of focus will include energy, sustainability, big data and life science. The facilities will be developed through public-private partnerships, creating major opportunities for development both on campus and in the adjacent Richmond community. The build-out of the campus will add an important new piece to the Bay Area’s rich research and innovation network, and further strengthen its position as a global technology leader. The Economic Institute has supported the university in developing its financial strategy for the project.


Growing Concern about Data Breaches

U.S. Postal Service, Department of State! Who’s next? The recent string of hacks into U.S. federal agencies laid bare the clear and present danger that cyber threats pose not just to consumer and business data, but also especially to federal agencies and critical infrastructure.

The Bay Area Council’s Cybersecurity Committee met this week (Nov. 20) to discuss awareness strategies for policy makers and the need for California’s critical infrastructure systems—water, transportation and energy—to be part of the cybersecurity discussion. These interdependent systems rely heavily on advanced communications systems making them vulnerable to cyber breaches. Committee members discussed the need for R&D to protect those systems, preventing cascading disasters from one mode to the next, and developing new approaches that are less inherently vulnerable as possible strategies to minimize the risk.

The Committee continues development of its 2015 program, which includes creating a focused regional dialogue on building cyber resiliency and raising awareness in incumbent legislators and staff members on cybersecurity issues. Special thanks to DLA Piper for hosting the meeting. To get involved in the Council’s cybersecurity policy work please contact Senior Advisor Matt Gardner.


800 Celebrate Giants Win, Business Leadership at 2014 Annual Dinner

About 800 of our closest friends gathered Wednesday (Oct. 29) for the Bay Area Council’s 69th Annual Dinner and Business Hall of Fame at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, where we honored Intuit Founder Scott Cook and former Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson.

Oh yeah, and we turned the whole event into a big viewing party to watch the San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals in a rollicking Game 7 that featured a sublime and historic performance by pitcher and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Kaiser Permanente and CEO Bernard J. Tyson for their continuing support of the Bay Area Council. Thank you also to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown for dropping by to add their congratulations to our two honorees.

See a photo gallery of the festivities.



Speaking passionately about the importance of business-education partnerships, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman addressed a capacity crowd at the STEM Summit in Oakland on Thursday (Oct. 23). The summit opened the 4th Annual Bay Area Science Festival, one of the largest STEM events in the nation. Organized by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, the STEM Summit covered business partnerships, the need for broadband infrastructure improvements, career pathways, and STEM educator perspectives.

Wunderman joined other top business leaders, including Terry Hermiston, Vice President of Biologics Research for Council member Bayer, Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO of California Emerging Technology Fund, Rich Robbins, CEO of Wareham Development, and Jim Vanides, Global Education Program Manager for Hewlett-Packard. The group emphasized the importance of inspiring and educating Bay Area students, especially girls and minorities, for the STEM jobs that are located right in this region. There was much agreement on the importance of teacher professional development in STEM subjects and the need for technology integration into all subjects and all grade levels. To engage in the Council’s STEM policy work, contact Vice President Linda Galliher.


Getting More Renewable Energy into the State Grid

The Bay Area Council on Thursday (Sept. 11, 2014) was pleased to host California Public Utilities Commissioner Carla Peterman in conversation with Recurrent Energy CEO Arno Harris about the challenges of incorporating a greater proportion of renewable energy into the state’s power grid. The discussion was hosted by the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure Task Force, which is co-chaired by Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corp., and Ken McNeely, AT&T California President.

One of the main hurdles Peterman and Harris discussed is the intermittency of renewable energy supplies, particularly during peak demand times. They also talked about the blurring of lines between energy generators and consumers. Possible solutions include developing new energy storage capabilities and real-time demand response. Peterman likened the problem to changing a car engine while the car is racing down the freeway. The two emphasized the importance of effective communications networks for enabling real-time information needed to manage supply and demand.

Watch the full discussion with CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman and Recurrent Energy CEO Arno Harris.

To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Energy and Communications Infrastructure Initiative, contact Policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.


Disappointed, Not Surprised by Gigafactory Decision

The Bay Area Council responds to news reports today that Tesla has chosen Reno, Nevada, to build its battery Gigafactory:

“While we were hoping for California to come out on top, we knew Tesla would make its decision based on factors that contribute to the success of the company,” said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We continue to believe California can be the central place for Tesla’s growth and think there will be many future opportunities to see that happen.   Specifically, with this decision we recognize the prospects for the development of a robust supply chain between Reno and Tesla’s manufacturing plant in Fremont which can support businesses old and new along that corridor, which includes the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions.

“We appreciate the hard work by Governor Brown’s office to make California a contender, and we will continue to work with the Governor to pursue future opportunities that leverage the state’s many competitive advantages for growing jobs. This can serve as a good learning opportunity for California. We should look very closely at what factors ultimately led to Tesla choosing Reno, and we should determine what we can do better going forward to attract and retain middle class jobs in California.”


21st Century Infrastructure Coming to Cupertino

Residents and businesses in Cupertino in the heart of Silicon Valley will be among the first in California – and among the first in the nation — to receive AT&T’s new ultra-fast GigaPower Internet broadband service, an example of the kind of digital upgrade the Bay Area Council is promoting as part of its 21st Century Infrastructure Initiative. AT&T California President Ken McNeely made the announcement this week with Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong, who said “Cupertino is leading the way in creating an environment that fosters innovation, and the deployment of ultra-high-speed broadband service will further support innovation in our community, spur our local businesses, and result in even greater economic development in our city.” The GigaPower service promises speeds of 1 gigabyte/second, fast enough to download 25 songs in one second or an HD online movie in less than 36 seconds.

McNeely is co-chairing the Council’s 21st Century Initiative, which is also focused on modernizing our energy infrastructure, along with PG&E CEO Tony Earley. A major component of the effort is identifying the public policies that will be necessary to encourage the private sector to invest in the new technologies that will benefit consumers, business and the economy. Many current policies are based on outdated technologies and create barriers for new investment. The Council is working to build understanding among government and elected officials about the importance of bringing public policy in line with technology. A report due out this fall by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute will explore this topic in detail. To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure Initiative, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.