Bay Area Council Blog: Government Relations Archive

CASA compact

Bold Regional Plan Offers Unique Opportunity to Significantly Help Fix the Bay Area’s Painful Housing Crisis

Solving the Bay Area’s epic housing crisis will require a wide range of strategies and a considerable amount of give and take among a diverse mix of stakeholders, many with competing and sometimes conflicting interests. A bold, comprehensive regional plan unveiled in December aims to take on the immense challenge of bringing together all those pieces and giving the Bay Area a unique and perhaps once-in-a-generation opportunity to solve a problem whose scale and complexity flatly defies half measures. TMG Partners CEO and former Bay Area Council Chair Michael Covarrubias co-chaired the group—Committee to House the Bay Area or CASA—that developed the plan, dubbed the CASA Compact. Initial reviews have been generally favorable as key decisions loom for moving the plan forward in the coming weeks and months, but some critics long-aligned against specific parts of the plan are eyeing it warily.

“Doing nothing as our region suffers from a historic housing shortage and affordability crisis is not an option,” Covarrubias said. “We must compromise, break down silos, and set aside differences for the greater good of the Bay Area, and the CASA Compact gives us a unique opportunity to do just that.”

The CASA Compact was developed through an exhaustive public process over 18 months by a group of more than 50 government, housing, social equity, business and community leaders from around the region convened by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation and Leslye Corsiglia, Executive Director of Silicon Valley@Home joined Covarrubias in co-chairing CASA.

The 15-year emergency plan outlines 10 key elements that seek to balance the broad regional goals of protecting tenants, preserving affordable housing and spurring new residential construction. It targets an historic dearth of new housing construction that has led to stratospheric rents and home prices throughout the region, contributed to a growing homeless epidemic, forced workers on longer and longer commutes and threatened to undermine the region’s economy.

Many of the solutions in the regional plan are not new and are consistent with approaches the Bay Area Council has long endorsed, including encouraging new housing near transit and easing local regulatory barriers and fees. Many will require state legislation. Still others will require voter approval. A number of the proposals, from reducing onerous regulatory burdens to utilizing state-owned land for housing, are similar to those that Gov. Gavin Newsom this week included in his proposed budget.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board, “The plan’s most entrenched opponents have been less likely to suggest modifications than to decry the process, cast aspersions on its motives, and blindly insist on the sacrosanctity of local rule. What they haven’t done is explain how they would alter the status quo — probably because they have no desire to do so.”

MTC’ Board of Directors by a near-unanimous vote recently endorsed the CASA Compact, and ABAG has scheduled a vote for Jan. 17 before CASA leaders take it to Sacramento to share with state legislators. The Bay Area Council, which has been carefully studying the plan over the past month, is preparing to announce a formal position next week ahead of the ABAG vote. As the Council considers its position, we welcome your thoughts. To give your input, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.


Election Results Point to Need for More Regional Cooperation

Tuesday’s election produced some great news on the housing and transportation fronts, but it was more difficult to divine a clear overarching message from voters. If anything, the mix of state and local results suggested that addressing our biggest challenges requires a continued and stronger focus on regional solutions. The resounding defeat of Propositions 6 and 10 signaled that voters are all in to solve our traffic and housing crises. The Bay Area Council vigorously opposed both initiatives. Prop. 6 would have eliminated $54.2 billion in funding to fix bridges, roads and highways statewide. Prop. 10 would have worsened our housing crisis by allowing cities to adopt rent control, which chills investment in new housing and drives up overall housing costs. Two other state initiatives the Council endorsed—Propositions 1 and 2—got the thumbs up and will provide important new funding for a range of affordable housing and homelessness programs.

See how the Council did on the Nov. 7 election>>

Housing was likely top of mind for voters who overwhelmingly installed Gavin Newsom to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown. Newsom made housing a key issue in the campaign, pledging to create 3.5 million new housing units and touting the power of attacking problems like housing and homelessness at a regional level. Newsom echoed the regionalist theme during a candidate forum the Council hosted in October when he talked about the need for a regional approach in addressing homelessness. The Council has enjoyed a very good relationship with Governor-elect Newsom and is looking forward to working with him and his administration over the next four years on housing, early education and transportation, among other issues.

Election results in cities and counties across the Bay Area offered a mixed bag on key issues of housing, transportation and homelessness. They suggested to us that there remains a huge unmet opportunity for building greater regional cooperation in addressing these challenges. And they raise an important question about the extent to which complex issues that span the region can be solved at the local level. Local measures to impose new taxes and fees on businesses in Mountain View, San Francisco and East Palo Alto all passed, with the intent that they will help address local housing, homeless and traffic problems. But how much control, really, does any individual city or county have in isolation? And aside from any negative economic effects the measures might have on job growth and business expansion, how big of dent will they make in the overall problem?

In San Francisco, Proposition C also opened up a fierce and very public debate about the role of business in addressing our biggest challenges. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff championed Prop C, which raises taxes on big business to support homeless programs, and challenged other CEOs to get behind it. Some of Benioff’s peers in the tech industry, including Square CEO Jack Dorsey, disagreed that more money would solve the problem. Dorsey and others argued for more accountability in how money is spent and more coordination among different agencies working on the homeless problem. It remains to be seen how much impact Prop. C will have on the homeless problem, but Benioff’s outspoken leadership certainly elevated awareness even if it left unanswered the question of how the business community can better build consensus around extremely challenging issues.

The Council is no stranger to these dynamics and has long advocated for stronger and more effective regional cooperation and collaboration. It’s why we helped lead the campaign for Regional Measure 3 in June, the Measure AA bay restoration funding campaign in 2016 and why we’ve argued for greater regional accountability on meeting our housing goals. Voters in Brisbane thankfully approved Measure JJ to allow more than 2,000 units of new housing on an idle former industrial site. Welcome news, but again, can we hope to solve these problems through a continuing stream of local measures? Or, will we just end up playing a never-ending game of election whack a mole?


As Election Day Nears, No Time for Complacency

With the election just days away, new polling shows voters siding with the Bay Area Council on two of the most hotly contested propositions on the ballot. The two problematic measures—Proposition 6: Road Funding Repeal and Proposition 10: Rent Control—would gravely impact the state’s already crisis-level transportation and housing challenges. The latest polling by Public Policy Institute of California indicates a majority of voters oppose both measures.

Prop. 6, which would repeal legislation the Council supported to invest $52.4 billion to fix the state’s bridges, roads and highways, trailed in the poll with 48 percent of voters opposed. Prop. 10, which would allow cities to enact rent control, was trailing badly in the PPIC poll, with 60 percent opposed. There is almost universal agreement among credible economists and housing experts that rent control chills investment in new housing, worsening shortages and affordability.

See the Council’s ballot recommendations>>

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Bay Area – Germany Dialogue on Smart Manufacturing / Industry 4.0

From November 7 – 9, the Bay Area hosts a German delegation of Smart Manufacturing / Industry 4.0 leaders, including the recipient of the Frost & Sullivan Manufacturing Leader of the Year 2017 Award. The program is organized by EIT Digital and the German American Business Association in California as part of the “Year of German-American Friendship” and includes events on November 7 and 8 that are open for BAC members as well as visits to Bay Area manufacturing sites.  Learn more and register here>>

November 8 at 4 pm, Industrie 4.0 Conference at SAP Palo Alto: REGISTER

Bay Bridge Traffic

Highways to Hell

On the remote chance Bay Area commuters weren’t aware how awful their commutes are, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission this week released some data to drive home the point. MTC’s annual list of Top 10 worst commute corridors ranked the Bay Bridge as the worst, followed by the I-80 stretch north to Hercules from the Bay Bridge and the segment of Highway 101 through Silicon Valley. The ranking highlights the importance of defeating Prop. 6 on the November ballot and preserving $52 billion in planned investments statewide to improve bridges, roads and highways and help ease traffic. A story in the East Bay Times and Mercury News on the ranking also cited data from the Bay Area Council that shows how the region’s housing shortage is contributing to the gridlock by forcing workers on longer and longer commutes as they search for affordable housing far from job centers. See the Council’s full list of ballot measure endorsements for the November election.


New Data: Bay Area’s Roads Worst in the Country

With absentee ballots arriving in mailboxes and election day just a few weeks off, new data released this week on California’s deteriorating roads should motivate voters to turn out and cast their ballots against Proposition 6. A report by Washington, D.C.-based TRIP found that 71 percent of streets in San Francisco, Oakland and nearby cities are dilapidated and cost motorists an average of $1,049 annually in car repairs. San Jose wasn’t far behind and the Bay Area as a whole ranked as the worst nationally among metropolitan areas. Proposition 6 aims to repeal legislation (SB 1) approved in 2017 to invest $52.4 billion to fix bridges, roads and highways across the state and improve transit. The Council was a leading proponent of SB 1 and strongly opposes Prop. 6.

Also this week, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found a measure (Proposition 10) to allow the expansion of rent control across the state doesn’t have the votes it needs to pass. The Council strongly opposes Prop 10, which would chill investment in new housing and only worsen the state’s historic housing crisis. While the poll results were encouraging, they still signaled the importance of voters turning out and casting their ballots against it. A report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that expanding rent control in Alameda County alone would reduce housing affordability for more than 10,300 households. To engage in the Council’s government relations work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

See the Council’s positions on state and local ballot measures>>


Election 2018: Where the Council Stands

Political campaigns are heating up. Absentee ballots are arriving. Votes are being cast. There are critical issues on the November ballot that will significant implications for California, residents and businesses and the economy. The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has carefully studied many of the key state and local measures and propositions that voters will decide. We encourage you to get informed and consider the Council’s recommendations. And please, please make sure you vote!

See the Council’s ballot recommendations>>


Road Funding Repeal & Rent Control Ballot Propositions Trailing

Two key California propositions that the Bay Area Council has made mission critical for the November election appear to be trending favorably, according to new polling this week. The results indicate that voters have good awareness of the issues and understand what’s at stake, but also show that much work remains to educate voters about how flawed the two propositions are. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll found that 52 percent of voters oppose Proposition 6, which would repeal the passage last year of legislation (SB 1) that is pouring $5.2 million annually into fixing California’s deteriorating bridges, roads and highways. The Council was a staunch advocate of SB1 and the important investments it is making in cities across the state, and is partnering with a diverse coalition of groups across the state to defeat the measure. A report out this week by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission found that road improvement investments being made in the Bay Area are having a good impact. The report found that increased funding from SB1 and other local sources, such as Oakland’s Measure KK, has halted what had been a steady decline in the overall condition of local roads.

The PPIC survey also held encouraging results for the Council’s continuing work to ease California’s housing crisis. The poll found Proposition 10 trailing by 12 percentage points. Proposition 10, by repealing the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, would open the door for a massive statewide expansion of local rent control, which is almost universally regarded as a deterrent to investment in housing and a long-term driver of reduced housing affordability. A recent study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that expanding rent control in Alameda County would reduce housing affordability for more than 10,000 households. Much work remains to defeat these two misguided measures, particularly as absentee ballots begin to arrive in mailboxes in coming weeks and campaigns ramp up advertising.

See the Council’s positions on state and local ballot measures>>


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.