Bay Area Council Blog: Government Relations Archive


Gavin Newsom Outlines Priorities at Council Forum

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the Bay Area Council on Tuesday to talk about his bid to become California’s next governor and share his insights on the issues that he is making a priority for the campaign. The former San Francisco mayor highlighted three main “buckets” on which he is most focused, including the state’s growing public pension liabilities and an aging population, energy and climate change, and the workforce implications of changing technology and globalization.

Newsom said pension and other post-retirement benefit obligations are among the fastest-growing segment of municipal spending, squeezing out other important priorities and putting cities at increasing financial risk. He talked about the challenges for the state in meeting aggressive clean energy and climate goals and said the advent of artificial intelligence and other technologies along with increasing economic globalization will pose major policy challenges for the next governor in addressing the impact on the current and future workforce.

In a wide-ranging conversation moderated by Council CEO Jim Wunderman, Newsom also discussed California’s housing crisis, homelessness, the need for more investment in early education, and the opportunity to leverage public private partnerships in addressing the state’s massive infrastructure needs, among other topics. The gubernatorial frontrunner emphasized the importance of pursuing regional solutions to vexing problems like homelessness that don’t abide county lines. He was extremely critical of a measure on the November ballot in San Francisco that would raise taxes on business to increase spending on homeless programs and services by up to $300 million – a misguided approach he said will only make the problem worse.

The forum was one of a series that the Council has convened with gubernatorial candidates since the spring, and we soon will be announcing a final forum with Republican candidate John Cox.


SF Mayor Breed Addresses Council Members at Annual Meeting

It was a double-header at the 2018 Annual Members Meeting this week (Aug. 27) as Bay Area Council members gathered at AT&T Park to hear from keynote speaker San Francisco Mayor London Breed and later fielded fly balls during batting practice. Council Chair and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson welcomed Mayor Breed, reflected on the Council’s many accomplishment during his first year as Chair and outlined his vision for the final year of his term. Breed, the city’s first African American female mayor, shared her vision and plans for the city. Homelessness, building more housing, improving our transportation systems, and youth employment programming were among the top issue areas she highlighted.

Mayor Breed emphasized the importance of regional solutions to these challenges and the need to work collaboratively with the other big city mayors. Following the meeting, members enjoyed a private reception in “Triples Alley” as they watched the Giants batting practice from the field before cheering them on as they defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks. Special thanks to Giants CEO and Bay Area Council Executive Committee member Larry Baer for hosting. Thanks also to all of our members, whose support and engagement are the lifeblood of the Bay Area Council.

felipe calderon

Council Urges Governor’s Signature on Key Bills

It ain’t over until Gov. Brown signs, but the Bay Area Council this week was still cheering one of its most successful legislative campaigns in recent memory. Three bills the Council sponsored and a number of others that were a high priority for us have all cleared the legislature and now await the Governor’s final decision. Housing, which was the Council’s major focus heading into this year’s legislative session, was also a big winner. Two bills the Council sponsored—SB 1227 (Skinner) and SB 828 (Wiener)—will expand affordable student housing and increase accountability on cities to meet their housing obligations, respectively. A third bill the Council strongly supported (AB 2923, Chiu and Grayson) will allow BART to develop up to an estimated 20,000 units of housing on land it owns or controls near its rail stations.

“It’s starting to sink in that California has a devastating housing crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We applaud the legislature for approving these bills and we strongly encourage Gov. Brown to sign them. While this represents a good step forward in addressing a problem that is hurting millions of Californians and threatening our economy, we really need a big leap forward to remove the myriad regulatory and other barriers that are a huge obstacle to building the millions of new housing units we need. We’re not done, yet.”

The Council hailed the passage of AB 2596 (Cooley), a bill the Council co-sponsored with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council that authorizes the creation of a statewide economic development strategy. It would help improve the state’s economic competitiveness, bolster California’s resilience to an economic downturn and expand economic opportunity.

Shankar, India visit

Council Hosts India’s Technology Minister

On August 28 the Bay Area Council hosted a private dinner in Palo Alto with the Hon. Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s Minister of Electronics, IT, Law and Justice and top Silicon Valley executives. Discussion covered a range of topics including infrastructure, data policy, and India’s accelerating digital transformation. Part of the Council’s growing focus on India, the dinner was supported by Council Executive Committee member Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital, and Dr. Nandini Tandon, CEO Of Tenacity Global. Together, they co-chair the Council’s ongoing India project. In his remarks, Prasad said the Bay Area Council “should be the bridge between the Bay Area and India.”

The Council is working to better connect Bay Area companies with opportunities in India, which has the highest growth rate (7.7 percent) of any major country and now boasts the world’s fifth largest economy. A centerpiece of the Council’s current work is a report being prepared by the Economic Institute on economic reforms instituted under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as business sectors that connect most strongly with the Bay Area and offer the largest opportunities. For more information on the Council’s India work, please contact Senior Director Sean Randolph.

BART housing

Council-Backed BART Housing Bill Clears Senate

Legislation the Bay Area Council is supporting that would usher in tens of thousands of new housing units near BART stations passed the Senate this week and appears headed for approval in the Assembly. Authored by Assembly members David Chiu (San Francisco) and Tim Grayson (Concord), the bill is a high priority for the Council, which is focused on expanding new housing near mass transit to provide commuters and others with an alternative to steering their automobiles onto the region’s already congested roads and highways. The bill, which San Francisco BART Director Nick Josefowitz has championed, now heads to the Assembly, where it is expected to get quick approval before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

Specifically, the bill would require the elected BART Board of Directors to establish guidelines for transit-oriented development for BART-owned land at or around BART stations. Cities would then update their local zoning to be consistent with these standards while retaining control over community design standards and final permitting authority. Meanwhile, the Assembly on Monday (Aug. 27) is scheduled to vote on legislation (SB 1227-Skinner) the Council is sponsoring to expand student housing.


Pushing Back on Business, Jobs Taxes

A number of Bay Area cities are teeing up new taxes on the November ballot aimed at jobs and business that will hurt the region’s economic competitiveness and make it vulnerable when the next recession rolls around. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined KQED Forum this morning (Aug. 24) to talk about why specialized, local taxes are the wrong answer for addressing problems like housing, traffic and homelessness whose scale and complexity require regional solutions. Taxing jobs will only discourage new investment in the Bay Area, drive companies to look elsewhere when they are expanding and make it far more difficult for the region to recover when the economy inevitably takes a turn for the worst. Wunderman also argued that none of the proposed taxes come with reforms aimed at regulatory barriers and other obstacles that often drive up the cost of addressing problems.

Listen to the KQED Forum discussion on jobs taxes>>



Council Works the Capitol Halls as Legislative Deadlines Near

State lawmakers were working furiously this week to wrap up the current legislative session and the Bay Area Council was working furiously to ensure passage of a raft of bills that we are either sponsoring or supporting. Today (Aug. 17) is the deadline for bills to pass muster with appropriations committees in both the Assembly and Senate. Three bills the Council is sponsoring were still moving forward along with four other bills we are supporting.

The bills we are sponsoring include SB 828 (Wiener), which would increase accountability on cities to meet their housing obligations, SB 1227 (Skinner), which would expand student housing, and AB 2596, which we are co-sponsoring with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and would authorize the creation of a statewide economic strategy. The bills the Council is supporting include easing the path for building housing near BART, streamlining environmental review for a new Oakland A’s stadium, speeding up rebuilding in the wake of the devastating North Bay fires and easing restrictions on accessory dwelling units. To engage in the Council’s government relations work, please contact Senior Director Cornelious Burke.

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Breakfast with Ravi Shankar Prasad

The California Business Roundtable, California Chamber of Commerce, Bay Area Council, DLA Piper, and The Westly Group, in partnership with NASSCOM, the industry association supporting the $154 billion IT industry in India, cordially invite you to an exclusive reception and presentation honoring the esteemed

Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad
Union Minister for Electronics & IT, Law & Justice
Government of India

Union Minister Prasad will join us to discuss his vision for a Digital India and long-term partnership opportunities with American and California-based companies looking to help the Government of India with its vision to bring better access to digital technology to its citizens.

Monday, August 27, 2018

DLA Piper
555 Mission Street, 24th Floor
San Francisco, CA

9:15-10:45 AM—Breakfast Reception & Presentation
For security purposes, please plan to arrive no later than 9:00AM

There is limited space for this exclusive event, so please RSVP at your earliest convenience to Cadee Condit at (209) 756-1202 or

BART police

Council Urges Stronger Police Response to BART Crime

Despite a spasm of violent and deadly attacks on BART, wavering confidence in the system and a depleted police force, the mass transportation agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday (Aug. 9) rejected key elements of a plan presented by BART General Manager Grace Crunican to bolster public safety and security. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman in a letter and in testimony to the Board urged BART to adopt the full package of security measures. Wunderman also urged the Board to request a regional mutual aid response from other local law enforcement agencies to increase patrols on trains and in stations.

In response to Wunderman’s request, the Board said only that it would direct agency officials to research mutual aid options. However, it was unclear exactly what that meant. The union representing BART police had previously rejected the idea of mutual aid, even as BART grapples with a shortage of officers. Union officials indicated that contract provisions blocked other law enforcement from the system.

Watch Jim Wunderman testify at BART Board meeting>>

“It’s hard to believe in the face of growing public fear and anxiety about safety on BART that the Board wouldn’t act swiftly and aggressively to adopt the full slate of strong measures for restoring confidence in the system,” Wunderman said. “The Board’s decision is a disservice to the more than 420,000 BART riders who rely on the system daily and presents an open invitation to criminals and others who flagrantly ignore system rules and regulations to continue to act with impunity.”

A Twitter survey the Council launched today and targeting users in San Francisco and much of the East Bay where BART operates found 81 percent support more police patrols on BART trains and in stations. A total of almost 400 had responded to the survey as of 1 p.m.

The Council is continuing to advocate for a stronger police response to avoid future deadly attacks on the system and address ongoing public safety concerns that threaten to push passengers away from the system and onto already congested roads and highways.


As Housing Crisis Grows, Council Convenes Top Leaders to Identify Solutions

The Bay Area Council Housing Committee on Wednesday (Aug. 8) convened a powerhouse group of elected, labor, government and industry leaders at our offices near the state capitol to explore ways for partnering to move the needle on housing affordability. The group included Senators Nancy Skinner and Scott Wiener, Assemblymember David Chiu, State Building and Construction Trades Council President Robbie Hunter, California Building Industry Association President and CEO Dan Dunmoyer, California Apartment Association Senior Vice President Debra Carlton, and League of California Cities Assistant Legislative Director Jason Rhine.

The meeting represented an important step in finding common ground among different interests on the reasons for the state’s historic housing crisis and possible solutions. There was much agreement about various ways to incentivize and encourage more housing and how to move forward. The discussion covered a range of topics, including rent control, NIMBYism, prevailing wage, redevelopment and the megaregion. Leaders also focused on what the business community can do to support housing, sticks and carrots to incentivize housing production, and creative solutions to increase density in existing neighborhoods.

The urgency of the housing crisis was highlighted in a survey released by the California Association of Realtors’ (CAR) that found housing affordability in the Bay Area is the worst in 10 years. Only 18 percent of Bay Area households are able to purchase a median-priced, single-family home, according to the CAR survey, down from 23 percent last quarter. When broken down by county, the qualifying income for housing affordability in San Francisco and San Mateo spike to $344,440 and $349,740 respectively, lowering the affordability index to 14 percent in those counties. Read more on the findings in CAR’s press release>>

The Housing Committee will meet next on October 3 to identify legislation and policies to pursue in 2019. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.