Bay Area Council Blog: Community Engagement Archive

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Regional Coalition Submits Bid for Amazon HQ2

Leveraging a highly skilled and educated talent pool, a renowned innovation culture unmatched in the world and a slew of large transit-rich development sites located near top universities and airports, a Bay Area Council-led coalition of cities including Concord, Fremont, Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco today (Oct. 19) submitted a proposal to bring Amazon’s second corporate headquarters to the Bay Area. The Bay Area Council worked with the cities and other partners to coordinate the development of the bid.

“The Bay Area offers the whole package and is a natural and perfect fit for an innovation leader like Amazon,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We are the world’s innovation capitol. We offer top talent, top universities and large development sites connected by a rich network of mass transit and other transportation systems. Our competitive advantages are unparalleled, including our strong connections to the huge Asia-Pacific region.”

The coalition of cities working with the Bay Area Council has identified numerous sites which together offer Amazon an unmatched level of flexibility to create a world-class headquarters that embraces new models of dispersed but highly connected workplaces.

Read the Bay Area Amazon HQ2 proposal>>

The proposal includes more than 60 million square feet of high-quality office and research and development space, far exceeding Amazon’s requirement for up to 8 million square feet needed to house 50,000 workers. All of the sites provide seamless connections to robust transportation and mass transit networks, including BART and a fast-growing ferry system, and easy access to both regional and international airports.

Among the sites featured in the proposal are the Concord Naval Weapons Station in Concord, Coliseum City and numerous downtown locations in Oakland, the Warm Springs Innovation District in Fremont, SF Shipyard in San Francisco and the Richmond Field Station and Hilltop Mall in Richmond. All the cities are served by BART, which is undergoing a massive upgrade to expand its capacity and speed in the coming years, as well as by nearby international and regional airports and freeways. The proposal includes a combined 45,000 units of new housing that cities envision being built in the coming years.

“We are extremely confident that steps we are taking now as a region to improve our housing and transportation infrastructure will address Amazon’s needs for its workforce and future growth,” Wunderman said. “Our housing production has increased three fold in just the past six years and numerous residential development sites throughout the region envision adding tens of thousands of more units in the next five to 10 years.”

Amazon already knows the value of being located in the Bay Area, with current operations occupying more than 3 million square feet around the region.

A major draw for tech employers like Amazon is the access to some of the world’s best talent. Not only does the Bay Area produce its own highly educated and highly skilled workforce from top tier universities and colleges like UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, UC San Francisco, California State University East Bay and St. Marys attracts the best and brightest workers from around the globe. More than 75 percent of the Bay Area population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, with more than 40 percent of those coming from science and engineering-related fields.

The proposal also outlines a range of state and local tax credits and other incentives along with commitments to streamline permitting and environmental review and work with Amazon on various workforce training and similar programs.

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SAN FRANCISCO STATE TO HONOR COUNCIL’S JIM WUNDERMAN

The Bay Area Council’s own Jim Wunderman will be honored as San Francisco State University Alumnus of the Year at the 2017 President’s Dinner & Alumni Hall of Fame Celebration on Friday, November 3 from 6-9 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. To attend and help celebrate Jim’s many contributions to SFSU and our region, please reserve a table or seat today.

Wunderman graduated from SFSU in 1984 with a degree in political science and for the past 12 years has led the Council through an unprecedented period of expansion. Wunderman, named one of the Top 100 movers and shakers in California politics that past two years, has led the Council’s efforts to advocate for billions of dollars in federal, state and regional funding for major transportation projects, solve the state’s housing crisis and positioned the Council as a thought-leader by expanding to Sacramento, overseeing offices in China, and partnering with the state to reopen the California-China Trade Office.

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REGIONAL HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION PLAN STARTING IN THE RED

An update to the Bay Area’s long-range regional housing and transportation planning roadmap, Plan Bay Area 2040 (PBA), has been finalized and we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Since the first plan was approved in 2013, the region has produced just under half of the housing that was called for to keep pace with a healthy, growing economy. The Council argued during the first go-around that the housing targets badly underestimated the region’s need, so it’s likely the gap is even wider based on job and population growth. In addition to creating a massive affordability crisis, the shortfall undercuts the goal of PBA to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by forcing residents on longer and longer polluting commutes in search of housing they can afford.

The regional planning agencies responsible for PBA have little authority to create housing themselves, but the Council is working to toughen state laws that compel cities to meet their housing obligations under the plan. Gov. Brown last week signed two bills by Sen. Nancy Skinner and supported by the Council that aim to do this. And, the Council is also working to encourage cities to adopt streamlining measures for granny or in-law units, also known as accessory dwelling units (ADU), under legislation we sponsored last year. Cities that have embraced the ADU streamlining measures have seen a dramatic surge in applications.

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TAKING NEW APPROACHES TO ADDRESSING REGION’S WORKFORCE NEEDS

Joined by leaders from industry, academia and philanthropy, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee on Monday (Oct. 2) explored new approaches to addressing the burgeoning skills and talent gaps affecting employers’ bottom lines and workers’ livelihoods. AT&T California President and Council Executive Committee member Ken McNeely joined Mitchell Stevens, Director of Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Research through Online Learning, Don Howard, President and CEO of the Irvine Foundation, and Felix Ortiz, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Viridis Learning, for a discussion on the roles of employers, educators and job seekers in keeping up with our changing economy. The discussion also emphasized the need for interconnectedness and alignment between these entities, expanded career pathways and work-based learning opportunities, and funding of innovative efforts. Our thanks to Council member Salesforce for hosting the event.

Those in the room agreed that our region urgently needs to collaboratively implement solutions, such as industry-led partnerships with school districts, community colleges, and four-year universities, in order to see long-lasting outcomes and systems change. With the guidance of Bay Area Council members and thought leaders like those that participated in Monday’s meeting, the Workforce of the Future Committee is pursuing efforts like the Occupational Councils and the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership to support systems change by aligning hiring needs with educational offerings, and addressing barriers to entry faced by specific historically underrepresented populations, respectively. To participate in the Workforce of the Future Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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NEW POLL HIGHLIGHTS URGENCY FOR HOUSING SOLUTIONS

Results of a new statewide poll gave added urgency to the Bay Area Council’s efforts in securing Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on legislation to address California’s epic housing crisis. The survey by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that 25 percent of voters are considering leaving California because of skyrocketing rents and home prices fueled by a massive housing shortage. The poll found that 92 percent of Bay Area voters think that housing affordability is a serious problem, exceeding the 84 percent level statewide. Council CEO Jim Wunderman was a featured guest on KQED Forum on Thursday to talk about the Berkeley poll results and the solutions on which the Council is focused.

The Council is urging Gov. Brown to sign SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall), which would authorize a statewide vote in 2018 on a $4 billion bond measure for affordable housing and a $75 real estate transaction fee to support local housing, respectively. The Council also is urging the Governor’s signature on two bills by Sen. Nancy Skinner (SB 166 and SB 167) that add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve housing.

Listen to the KQED Forum segment with Jim Wunderman>>

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MAKING THE BAY RESILIENT BY DESIGN

Against the backdrop of record-breaking flooding in Houston and the Caribbean, the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge on Sunday (Sept. 10) announced 10 winning design teams to propose innovative resiliency projects along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The winning teams were selected by an independent jury from a pool of over 50 applicants, and include several Bay Area Council member companies, including AECOM, Arup, Gensler, and Andy Ball. The winning teams are now spending the next few weeks taking whirlwind tours of the entire Bay shoreline, meeting with local officials and community groups along the way to get a better understanding of the Bay’s diverse needs, culminating in the unveiling of 10 project proposals in May 2018.

The Rockefeller Foundation selected the Bay Area to host the first Resilient by Design challenge following the region’s approval of Measure AA, the June 2016 parcel tax measure that raises $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and flood protection improvements along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The Bay Area Council played a leading role in the Measure AA campaign, and serves on the Executive Board of Resilient by Design. To learn more about the Council’s resiliency work, or about the Resilient by Design challenge, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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OVER 80% OF COUNCIL MEMBERS OPPOSE RESCINDING DACA

The Bay Area Council joins with many others nationwide that are expressing serious policy concerns about the Trump Administration’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The depth of those concerns were reflected in a survey issued this week of our members, with the majority of 81% indicating “strong opposition” to the President’s overturning of the Obama-era immigration policy, and 13% in favor. Those Bay Area Council members that supported the overturn often stated that they think this matter should be handled by legislation, not an Executive Order, and therefore hope President Trump “forces the hand of Congress” to pass permanent legislation. They also felt DACA was a way “around legal immigration.” Opponents of the President’s move frequently spoke to America being a nation of immigrants, and that the people left in limbo are ” just the sort of people we need in this country: highly motivated, educated and determined to make their mark in America.”

The Trump Administration will delay implementation for six-months giving Congress a window to develop a legislative fix. A large 88% of members support the passing of permanent legislation that would make the policies expressed in DACA permanent, such as the DREAM Act co-sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC).

The DACA program was enacted in June 2012 through executive order and provides a level of amnesty to undocumented, law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children through a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit if they are in, or have graduated from, high school. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, approximately 800,000 young people – known as DREAMers – have been approved for the program. Specifically, individuals eligible for DACA must have been under the age of 31 when the program was enacted, entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Many DREAMers have lived in the U.S. longer than the country they were born in.

California is home to over 223,000 DREAMers who now live in fear of deportation. A significant number live in the Bay Area, and many work for our members. “The Bay Area and nation have long depended on global talent,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “Though the DREAMers may not have been born in America, they grew up here and became colleagues, students, entrepreneurs, neighbors, friends, parents and more. They are the lifeblood keeping our economy and communities competitive, diverse and thriving. Upending hundreds of thousands of young, innocent lives raised and educated here will have deep social, political and economic impacts.” The Council has long advocated for thoughtful, comprehensive immigration reform and urges Congress to reach a fair, bi-partisan legislative solution. We invite interested members to engage in further strategic discussions around federal action on immigration by contacting Senior Advisor George Broder.

DEVELOPING STRONG TALENT PIPELINES TO MEET GROWING WORKFORCE DEMANDS

“Casting a wide net” was agreed upon as a top priority by Bay Area Council member participants at the Workforce of the Future Committee’s third Employer Best Practices Workshop this week (Sept. 6) focused on Talent Pipeline Partnerships. Participants agreed that in order to connect with the talent they need to fill their open jobs, expanded outreach and relationship-building with a wide array of training and education partners would be required on their part. Best practices regarding partnership models, internal organization of pipelines, and long-term investment in future workers bubbled up as key takeaway items. Companies across industries, including utilities, transportation, and banking are facing growing needs for diverse, qualified, and loyal workers and must get creative in their workforce planning strategies. To learn more about how the Bay Area Council is supporting this creativity through our various programs such as the Best Practices Workshop series, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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Statement on Charlottesville Tragedy, Bay Area Rallies

The Bay Area Council today (Aug. 17) issued the following statement in response to reported plans by a white nationalist or similar group to hold a rally in San Francisco in the coming days on the heels of the deadly and painful events in Charlottesville, Virginia:

“In the wake of the tragic and awful events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, the Bay Area Council is calling on public safety and other officials in San Francisco and throughout our region to do everything in their power and to take every precaution available to prevent similar violent confrontations here,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Bay Area Council condemns in the clearest, strongest terms possible the hatred, bigotry and racist beliefs being promoted by the white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and other hate groups that ignited and fueled the horrific events in Charlottesville.

“As the Charlottesville tragedy aptly demonstrated, with Nazi sympathizers bringing weapons, these “rallies” would be expected to incite a strenuous reaction from the overwhelming majority of Americans who reject these hateful views and believe they deserve no place in our public discourse, politics, business, society or anywhere else,” Wunderman said. “Uncontrolled, these rallies are unpredictable and disruptive, threaten public safety and put the general public in harm’s way, cost considerable taxpayer dollars and often can result in considerable damage to public property, and local businesses.

“Expression of political views must be done without weapons and the intent to physically confront those who hold opposing views, and we call upon local police to make sure that bullies carrying weapons are not a part of political demonstrations of any kind,” Wunderman said. “For anyone planning to attend any such events in the Bay Area, we urge you to exercise extreme caution and even greater restraint.

“Violent white supremacy rallies damage the American brand, and those communities that foment and tolerate this kind of behavior will not fare well in the worldwide competition for jobs and economic growth,” Wunderman said.

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: BACK TO SCHOOL AT ORACLE

If you visit Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, you’ll see a new building under construction at the north end of campus. In early 2018, Design Tech High School (d.tech) will move into this facility — its purpose-built home — and become the first public high school in the U.S. to be located on a tech company’s campus, while remaining fully autonomous. d.tech—a free public charter school— has occupied temporary spaces in existing education facilities since it was founded in 2014. In October 2015, Oracle CEO Safra Catz announced plans to construct the school a permanent home at the company’s headquarters. The new school facility was designed to meet the specialized needs of the school’s forward-thinking education model, which emphasizes extreme personalization and putting knowledge into action. The 64,000-square-foot, two-story building will also enable the school to grow to full capacity (550 students). The building is targeting LEED for Schools Gold with an efficient building form/envelope, a healthy interior environment, and low-impact landscaping. Visit Oracle’s d-tech to learn more.