Bay Area Council Blog: Government Relations Archive

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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 cadeepcondit@outlook.com.

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.

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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.

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New Tariffs to Escalate Construction Costs Impacting Bay Area’s Housing Production and Prices

Tariffs of 20% the Trump administration imposed last year on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, and more recent tariffs of 15% and 10% on steel and aluminum imports, are starting to impact the local economy – including construction and housing. Beyond land cost, the region’s high housing costs are primarily driven by a lack of inventory caused by resistance to development and fees imposed by local governments. The cost of construction materials can now be added as another obstacle to meeting the region’s housing goals – not the primary one, but an issue that’s additive and is likely to be significant.

Lumber accounts for the largest material cost of building homes. This may push builders to focus more on high-end homes where buyers can absorb the increased costs, instead of the low and middle income housing the region needs most. Higher steel prices are also starting to impact commercial high-rise construction. The marginal cost of materials, particularly when increases are double digit, can stall or stop a project. Some towers are being reduced in scale in order to lower costs, reducing the number of units produced. Residential projects have also been stopped or stalled as developers recalculate the higher costs and how design around them. The potential impact of tariffs is likely to grow with time, as more products (tools, fixtures, appliances) used in the building process or incorporated into new structures are added to the list. To engage in the Council’s housing advocacy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Matt Regan.

 

 

Select Committee Hearing Graphic

Modernizing The Master Plan: The Future of Higher Ed in California

On August 14, the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, chaired by Assemblymember Berman (Palo Alto), will meet at the State Capitol to discuss higher education finance in California. The agenda can be viewed online.

The hearing will consist of two panels. The first panel will provide an overview of the budget process for community colleges, CSUs, and UCs, as well as discuss higher education finance challenges. Speakers on this panel will include the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Monica Lozano, President and CEO of College Futures Foundation.

The second panel will discuss California’s financial aid system. Speakers will include the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Lupita Cortez Alcalá, Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission, and Robert Shireman, Senior Fellow with the Century Foundation.

In 1960, California developed a visionary plan for the future of higher education, known as the Master Plan. However, much has changed since 1960 – population growth, increased student diversity, a change in leading industries and their need for talent, as well as in the field of education itself. Technological advancements and the rise of new industries have altered student needs and boosted demand for higher education. As a result, our higher education system needs to respond to a host of issues never previously envisioned.

The Select Committee was established in March of last year to conduct a thorough review of the 1960 Master Plan. This hearing is the fifth of five planned hearings over the 2017-2018 Legislative Session and is the first step in a multi-year endeavor to ensure that the Master Plan reflects the needs of students in the 21st century economy.

For more information about the Select Committee for the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, as well as to watch previous hearings and view materials, please visit https://a24.asmdc.org/camasterplan.

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November Ballot Positions Announced

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has adopted positions on a range of state and local ballot measures that voters will decide in November.

Support

Proposition 1: Authorizes $4 billion in bonds for affordable housing programs and veterans’ home loans.

Proposition 2: Authorizes state to use revenue from Proposition 63 (2004) for $2 billion in bonds for homelessness prevention housing.

Proposition 3: Authorizes $8.9 billion in bonds for water-related infrastructure and environmental projects.

Proposition 4: Authorizes $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals.

Proposition 5: Amends Proposition 13 to allow homeowners 55 and older to transfer their property tax assessments from their current home to a new home anywhere in California.

Proposition 11: Allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call during breaks paid.

Oakland Children’s Initiative: Proposed measure would support early childhood education programs and services through $198 annual parcel tax.

San Mateo County transportation: Funds wide range of traffic relief and transportation improvement projects over 30 years with ½-cent sales tax increase.

Marin County transportation: Extends existing voter-approved ½-cent sales tax to fund wide range of traffic relief and transportation improvement projects.

Oppose

Proposition 6: Repeals 2017 fuel tax and vehicle fee increases (SB 1) to fund road, bridge and highway repairs and requires public vote on future increases.

Proposition 10: Repeals the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and allows local governments to enact rent control.

Willie Brown

Da Mayor Honored for Lifetime of Civil Rights Leadership

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown Jr. was awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal on Wednesday, July 18 for his lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights. President Bill Clinton presented Brown with the prestigious honor during the NAACP’s 109th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas, which was also attended by San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Brown, Jr., two-term mayor of San Francisco, renowned speaker of the California Assembly, and often regarded as the most influential African-American politician of the late twentieth century, has been at the center of California politics, government and civic life for four decades. Today, he heads the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service, where he shares his knowledge and skills with a new generation of California leaders. The Bay Area Council extends its warmest congratulations to our good friend Willie L. Brown Jr. on this richly deserved honor.

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Feds Surprise with $177M for Massive Sea Level Rise, Restoration Project

The South Bay is poised to become more resilient to rising sea levels, thanks to an unexpected decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fully fund the $177 million South Bay Shoreline Project—a massive effort to build four miles of new levees and restore 3,000 acres of wetlands near San Jose. A report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found the South Bay is more economically vulnerable to catastrophic flood damage than any other portion of the Bay Area and could suffer over $6 billion in damages during an extreme storm event. The project has been in the works since at least 2005, following Senator Dianne Feinstein’s work to facilitate the historic acquisition of the South Bay Salt Ponds from Cargill, and the Bay Area Council has been strongly advocating for federal support of the project ever since.

The South Bay shoreline project was one of the very first projects to receive local support from the Bay Area Council co-sponsored Measure AA, the $12 parcel tax measure approved by voters in 2016 to fund multi-benefit wetland restoration and flood protection projects. With funding in place, construction is slated to begin next summer, and the new levee is expected to be completed in 3-5 years. Enormous thanks are due to the hard work of the Bay Area Council partners who helped make this announcement a reality, including Senator Feinstein, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Save the Bay. To learn more about the Bay Area Council’s work on climate resilience, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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Voters to Decide on Housing at Brisbane Baylands

The Bay Area would add 2,200 units of badly needed housing at an idle former industrial property located near transit under a proposal the Brisbane City Council approved this week that voters will now decide. The decision was a victory for the Bay Area Council and other groups that for years have been advocating for including housing as part of an overall project that would include 7 million square feet of commercial office space and significant open space and recreational amenities. The city previously had said it wouldn’t allow any housing on the 684-acre site, a position that drew strong condemnation from many housing advocates as the region confronts an epic housing shortage and affordability crisis. Whether voters in the small city will agree to add housing that would about double the size of Brisbane remains to be seen. UPC General Manager and Director of Development Jonathan Scharfman said “we are encouraged by Brisbane’s courageous decision to double the housing stock in their city.”

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Statement Denouncing Misguided Regional Measure 3 Lawsuit

The Bay Area Council today (July 10) issued the following statement responding to a lawsuit seeking to invalidate Regional Measure 3 (RM3), an initiative approved by almost 54 percent of Bay Area voters on June 5 to invest $4.5 billion to ease the region’s worsening traffic and expand and improve mass transit. The Bay Area Council partnered with Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR to run the successful campaign for RM3.

“This misguided lawsuit is a little bit like someone arguing that fixing a leaky pipe has nothing to do with saving water,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Bay Area bridges are swamped with some of the worst traffic we’ve seen in generations, traffic that is largely the result of the 70 percent and more of commuters who every day drive alone to work. Getting commuters and others out of their cars and into mass transit, including BART, Caltrain, local buses and ferries, provides a direct and powerful benefit to everyone who uses the region’s seven state-owned bridges. Regional Measure 3 draws a clear and indisputable nexus between tolls and traffic by addressing some of the most critical bottlenecks in the bridge approaches. In addition, RM3 effectively will add greater capacity to our bridges by directing 75 percent of funding to improving and expanding critical regional mass transit systems and providing other good alternatives like bicycling and walking. We’re confident this lawsuit will be quickly dismissed or defeated.”