Bay Area Council Blog: Government Relations Archive

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Council Announces $3.3 Million for North Bay Fire Relief

The Bay Area Council raised more than $3.3 million for North Bay fire relief during its Annual Dinner and Bay Area Business Hall of Fame event on Nov. 9, including a $2 million contribution announced by Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson on behalf of the Oakland-based healthcare giant. Another $1.3 million, including a $500,000 matching grant by Verizon Wireless, was tallied during a live Raise a Paddle fundraising auction at the dinner, where Tyson was formally installed as new Chair of the Council. A gift package donated for the auction by the Golden State Warriors that included two courtside tickets, a pre-game dinner with owner Joe Lacob and a briefing with Coach Steve Kerr alone raised $65,000.

“The Bay Area is a close knit community that looks after its own and we’re proud of the generous response by our member companies to the awful tragedy in the North Bay,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Kaiser Permanente and Bernard Tyson set the tone for the amazing outpouring of support we have received. These contributions will go directly to community organizations in the North Bay that are working tirelessly to help thousands of residents, businesses and others recover from the horrific fires and rebuild their lives.”

The Council is partnering with non-profit Tipping Point on the Band Together Bay Area fire relief campaign along with Council members Salesforce, San Francisco Giants and Google, among others. The support raised at the Annual Dinner is part of an estimated almost $20 million in overall contributions and in-kind support donated by Council member companies to the fire relief effort so far, including groups not affiliated with Band Together.

List of Council members contributing to fire relief>>

As soon as Tipping Point announced several weeks ago that it would hold a Band Together benefit concert on the same night (Nov. 9) as the Council’s Annual Dinner, the Council quickly shifted the focus of its annual event to include a major fundraising push for fire relief.

In announcing Kaiser Permanente’s contribution, Tyson talked about the incredible bravery and sacrifice of the many first responders, residents and others in battling the historic blazes and working on the recovery. In a particularly moving story, Tyson told about a Kaiser Permanente doctor who continued to treat fire victims even as the flames demolished his own home.

The Council is working with local North Bay officials and legislators on ways to help speed the recovery and rebuilding. Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman is serving on the advisory board of Rebuilding North Bay, an organization established to lead long-term recovery efforts.

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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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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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FIRST IMPORTANT STEP IN ADDRESSING CA HOUSING CRISIS

California took an important first step today in addressing its massive housing crisis when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of legislation aimed at providing new funding, streamlined local approvals and stronger enforcement of existing housing laws. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined Gov. Brown, legislators and housing advocates from around the state at a signing ceremony in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point for 15 bills that included a handful for which the Council had advocated. SB 2 (Atkins) creates a $75 real estate transaction fee that is estimated to generate $250 million annually for affordable housing and SB 3 (Beall) authorizes a statewide $4 billion bond measure for housing that is expected to appear on the ballot in 2018. In addition, SB 166 (Skinner) and SB 167 (Skinner) add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve new housing. Much more remains to be done to open the pipeline of new housing the state so badly needs and the Council is already turning its attention to the next legislative session. With an annual shortfall of about 80,000 housing units on top of an estimated 2 million unit deficit, California has a long way to go before it closes the gap and begins to make a dent in its affordability problem.

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COUNCIL CHAIR BERNARD J. TYSON A NATIONAL VOICE ON BIPARTISAN HEALTHCARE FIX

The debate over the nation’s healthcare system continues to rage and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO and Bay Area Council Chair Bernard J. Tyson is emerging as a strong national voice on the topic. Tyson was a key witness in testifying before Congress on the latest repeal effort and brought his views to a national television audience in offering analysis on what steps we need to take to stabilize healthcare markets. Tyson advocated for a bipartisan approach to addressing problems with the ACA that ensures access for all to healthcare and healthcare insurance, provides adequate cost-sharing provisions and allows flexibility for states.

Watch Tyson’s comments on ABC News>>

Watch Tyson’s testimony in Congress>>

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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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COUNCIL WELCOMES BEIJING MAYOR, SIGNS MOU EXPANDING ECONOMIC COOPERATION

The Bay Area Council this week was honored to welcome Beijing Mayor Chen Jining to the Bay Area as he attended a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that takes a step forward for a possible new Council office in China’s capital city. The visit by Mayor Chen, former President of prestigious Tsinghua University and Chinese Minister of Environmental Protection, and a delegation of top level Chinese economic and innovation officials highlighted the Council’s deep and growing relationships in China as we work to expand bilateral trade and investment. The MOU between the Council, world-famous Zhongguancun Science Park, which serves as Chinese headquarters for such U.S. companies as Google, Oracle and Intel, and Council of Industry and Technology Alliances in Z-Park marked a significant step forward in our work to expand economic connections with Beijing. The MOU calls for exploring the creation of a new think tank, developing a research and development platform and establishing branch offices both here and in Beijing. Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined Wang Chengwen, Vice Chairman of the Council of Industry and Technology Alliances in Z-Park, and Zhai Lixin, Director General of the Administrative Committee of Zhongguancun Science Park, in signing the MOU. To engage in our China initiative, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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LEGISLATURE TAKES FIRST STEP IN ADDRESSING HOUSING CRISIS

The state legislature late Thursday (Sept. 15) took a first step in addressing California’s epic housing crisis by approving a package of bills aimed at providing new funding for affordable housing and easing regulatory hurdles. Two funding bills the Bay Area Council was supporting—SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall)—won passage along with two other bills—SB 166 (Skinner) and SB 167 (Skinner)—that add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve new housing. SB 2 creates a $75 real estate transaction fee that is estimated to generate $250 million annually for affordable housing, while SB 3 authorizes a statewide $4 billion bond measure for housing that is expected to appear on the ballot in 2018. The bills, which still need Gov. Brown’s signature, represent a welcome opening salvo against the state’s massive housing shortage and affordability problem, but much more must be done to close an ongoing housing shortfall of 80,000 units a year. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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Bay Area Coalition Hails Assembly Passage of Traffic Busting Bill

A coalition representing many of the Bay Area’s largest employers and millions of workers and residents today hailed the state Assembly passage of legislation (SB 595—Beall) that promises major investments across the region to ease traffic congestion, fix nagging highway bottlenecks and dramatically expand mass transit services. The Keep the Bay Area Moving coalition, which is led by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Alliance for Jobs and SPUR, has been working for over a year with Bay Area legislators and transportation planners to craft the bill and is now urging the state Senate to give its approval and Gov. Brown to sign it into law.

“The Bay Area has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a big whack at traffic congestion,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Worsening traffic is ruining our quality of life, damaging our environment and hurting our economy, but this bill gives Bay Area voters the chance to turn the tables on highway congestion and overcrowded transit. We are calling on the Senate to approve and Gov. Brown to sign SB 595 and give voters the chance to approve a visionary regional traffic relief plan.”

The bill, which authorizes a regional ballot measure in June 2018, outlines a bold, balanced plan that focuses on making big fixes to the Bay Area’s transportation system with the primary goals of reducing or eliminating some of the region’s worst highway backups, getting cars off congested roads and highways and creating a modern, seamless public transit network that addresses overcrowding and better connects cities and employment hubs.

“Working with key stakeholders allowed this coalition the opportunity to find balance and fairness within SB 595. A compromise between the entire Bay Area on how these funds are invested is integral to our success,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a Governor Brown appointee to the California Transportation Commission. “Our ability to work collaboratively towards a common goal – easing gridlock on our Bay Area roads in order to improve quality of life for our workers and their families spells success for everyone in the Bay Area. It is through this lens that we support Senate Bill 595 by Chairman Beall.”

The bill includes unprecedented levels of public oversight and accountability to guarantee that all investments are made according to the overall plan, known as Regional Measure 3 (RM3) following two previous measures that voters have approved over the past 30 years. Specifically, RM3 would establish an independent oversight committee to review all investments, including making regular reports to the state Legislature, and create a new Inspector General position to serve as a watchdog for investments on BART.

Among the centerpiece projects included in the RM3 plan are:

  • Increasing the BART fleet and completing an extension from the East Bay to Silicon Valley
  • Improving key highway interchanges in Contra Costa County at Interstate 680 and Highway 4 and in San Mateo County along Highway 101 to ease traffic bottlenecks
  • Extending Caltrain to connect with other regional mass transit systems in San Francisco
  • Expanding regional water transit service to meet skyrocketing demand
  • Accelerate planning for a second transbay rail crossing
  • Adding express lanes along major highway corridors to move cars faster, including the Highway 101 Novato Narrows connecting Marin and Sonoma counties
  • Improving transit access in the Tri-Valley and North Bay areas
  • Reducing truck traffic that clogs highways and pollutes the air

“RM3 will fund a set of transformative investments that will start to get our region’s transportation system working again,” said Gabriel Metcalf, President and CEO of SPUR.

Polling done in June 2017 shows strong voter support for Regional Measure 3. The survey by FM3 of nearly 9,500 voters found 56 percent support for RM3, exceeding the 50 percent threshold needed for passage.

“Not only will motorists see significant improvement in alleviating traffic bottlenecks and improving transit service for everyone throughout the nine Bay Area counties, they can rest assured that their money will be spent only on voter approved projects thanks to strict accountability, financial safeguards and citizen oversight. By implementing accountability measures, such as the creation of a new Inspector General position, SB595 will ensure that the financial commitment to voters is honored and projects are delivered in a timely manner.” said California Alliance for Jobs Executive Director Michael Quigley.

RM3 would raise up to $4.2 billion and would be paid for by a bridge toll increase of between $1 and $3. The final amount of any toll increase included in RM3 will be decided in the coming months by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

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MAJOR TRANSPORTATION FUNDING MEASURE CLEARS CRITICAL HURDLE

After months of the Bay Area Council’s intense advocacy in Sacramento, a bill that could lead to major transportation improvement projects to ease traffic and transit woes throughout the region passed a critical hurdle in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week and heads to the Assembly Floor in a few days. SB 595 (Beall) would authorize Regional Measure 3, a nine-county ballot measure asking voters to decide whether to raise tolls on the state-owned bridges and generate $4.2 billion for critical transit investments and congestion relief projects.

The Bay Area Council has been advocating for a comprehensive expenditure plan that would address the biggest challenges in each county and massively enhance BART, ferry, and bus capacity across the region. We applaud the hard work of the Bay Area legislators for crafting a commendable plan that will make transformative investments throughout the region and provide widespread benefit to residents across the nine-county Bay Area. This is our only shot at significantly adding transit capacity and reducing traffic gridlock in the foreseeable future.

With approval on the Assembly Floor next week, the bill would go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and then to the Governor’s desk later this month. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a region-wide vote in June 2018, which the Council plans to take a lead role in organizing. To learn more about Regional Measure 3 and the Council’s transportation work, contact Policy Director Emily Loper.