Bay Area Council Blog: Government Relations Archive

BART housing

BART HOUSING BILL ADVANCES

The Bay Area would add 20,000 units of new transit-oriented housing, including 7,000 units designated as affordable for lower and middle income residents, under legislation the Bay Area Council is supporting that passed key state Senate committee votes on Tuesday (June 26). AB 2923 authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (San Francisco) and Assemblymember Tim Grayson (Concord) would require BART to adopt zoning standards for transforming more than 200 acres of parking lots and other land the mass transit agency controls within a half mile of its stations into a mix of housing and commercial developments. The bill comes on the heels of legislation by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) that the Council supported that extended from a quarter mile to a half mile the distance from stations that BART could undertake transit-oriented development on its properties. AB 2923 next moves to Assembly Appropriations. To add your company to our list of supporters, please contact Senior Director of Government Relations Cornelious Burke.

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STACEY ABRAMS TALKS WITH THE COUNCIL ON HER HISTORIC RUN FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR

Stacey Abrams, whose historic run to become the first African American female governor in U.S history has captured national attention, was the featured guest this week at the Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity and Diversity Committee. Abrams is running to become governor of Georgia, where she served as the House Minority Leader, was the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly, and was the first African American to lead in the House of Representatives. Abrams talked about her record of supporting legislation and policies that benefit working class families and promote strong reproductive healthcare. She also highlighted her goal of expanding Medicaid and promoting economic opportunity for all Georgians. Abrams in November will face the winner of a Republican primary runoff on July 24. The Council extends its thanks to member Greenberg Traurig for hosting our meeting.

The Gender Equity and Diversity Committee consists of Bay Area employers that are committed to advancing workplace cultures of equality within their companies and promoting more diverse leadership in corporate and political offices. To learn more about the committee, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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COUNCIL’S THREE HOUSING BILLS ADVANCE

All three of the bills the Bay Area Council is sponsoring to address California’s housing crisis advanced this week. The Council is sponsoring more housing-related bills this session than any other organization in the state. SB 1227 by Sen. Nancy Skinner would allow student housing builders that meet certain affordability and other requirements to exceed local limits on the number of units allowed by 35 percent and exempt them from costly parking requirements. SB 831 by Sen. Bob Wieckowski would build on the huge success of his earlier legislation the Council sponsored in 2016 to make it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to add accessory dwelling units, aka granny units. SB 831 would eliminate most of the fees that add tens of thousands of dollars to each unit. SB 828 by Sen. Scott Wiener would strengthen accountability rules for cities to meet their local housing obligations. All three bills still have a couple legislative committee stops in the coming weeks. To find out how you can help in advocating for passage of these bills, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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Council Urges Immediate Action on Comprehensive Federal Immigration Reform

The Bay Area Council today (June 20) issued the following statement on the urgent need for enacting comprehensive immigration reform and ending the practice of separating children from parents.

“The Bay Area Council joins with the growing number of business organizations, companies and other leaders across the country in urging the Trump Administration and Congress immediately to enact long overdue immigration reform and to end the “zero tolerance” policy that is causing the inhumane, painful and unnecessary separation of children from their parents along our borders. We need clear, comprehensive and fair immigration laws and policies that recognize the importance of immigrants to our country, our communities and our economy. These reforms should permanently address the fate of so-called Dreamers, and we strongly advocate for an expansion of visas for foreign workers and others who play a vital role in addressing employment needs and contributing to our economy.”

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Council Urges Legislative Action for Secure, Reliable Energy Future

The Bay Area Council on Friday, June 15 submitted the following letter urging Gov. Brown and state legislative leaders to take immediate action on comprehensive reforms that can provide for a secure energy future for California’s businesses, consumers and the economy.

Dear Governor Brown and Legislative Leaders,

The Bay Area Council urges you to take immediate legislative action to preserve healthy, reliable, and safe public and investor-owned utilities so they can continue to power our economic success story, create new jobs and invest in the delivery of clean renewable energy. We have already witnessed the negative economic effects of delayed action in the face of a changing climate, extreme weather events and the resulting wildfires. Not since the rolling blackouts of 2000/2001 have we experienced such a dire threat to our utilities and as a result the economic well-being of our region and our state.

The Bay Area Council and our member companies depend on a reliable and secure energy supply. This can only be guaranteed if the infrastructure that generates and moves that energy is resilient enough to withstand the “new normal” of extreme weather and a changing landscape that you identified in your joint statement earlier this year. We applaud your vision and leadership and support solutions that address the principles you established:

Modernize vegetation and forest management practices for fire prevention and carbon sequestration.

With increased suburban and exurban development in close proximity to fire-prone landscapes across our region and state, we support the updating of vegetation and forest management practices. We must implement these new practices as quickly as possible to decrease the risk of disasters like the 2017 North Bay fires.

Ensure utility and public infrastructure is designed, constructed and operated to maximize resiliency to extreme weather events and natural disasters.

We know that without a modern and resilient grid California cannot maintain a healthy growing economy or meet any of our climate objectives. We support establishing the necessary standards and oversight measures to keep our grid strong in the face of extreme weather so it can continue to power what is now the 5th largest economy in the world.

Enhance the emergency response system, including consideration of mutual aid resources, telecommunications, 911 systems, and community needs, particularly in low income and vulnerable rural and urban communities.

Knowing that the community they belong to is safe, and has safe reliable power, is a basic need for any company seeking to grow and create new jobs.  We support increased investments in first response infrastructure to meet the demands of what has become a year-round fire season.  As I write this letter 11 named fires are burning in California from Shasta Trinity to San Diego.

Examine the availability of insurance products in high wildfire areas in light of increased risks from climate change.

As high wildfire areas continue to expand, and more people choose to live in those areas, insurance options are becoming increasingly limited for many consumers. We support your work to find solutions that help increase access to affordable insurance.

Update utility rules and regulations for utility services in light of changing climate and the increased severity and frequency of weather events.

The current rules under which our utilities operate were crafted at a time when man-made climate change was a topic discussed in theoretical terms, and its projected impacts were educated guesswork. Today we are living with those impacts and witnessing them every day, from the millions of dead trees across our state to the extreme fluctuations in our rainfall and the emergence of 70 mph-plus Santa Ana-type winds in Northern California.  If our utilities are to continue to modernize their clean energy generation and transmission capacity and if California is to continue to lead the world in this effort, we must recognize the “new normal” around us and have an honest conversation about liability reform and shared risk across all stakeholders.

The Bay Area has just 20 percent of California’s population but we provide 40 percent of the personal income taxes paid to the state. Without the economic success of our region, California cannot succeed, and without a safe and reliable source of energy delivered by our utilities, our businesses cannot succeed. Absent the reforms described above, particularly liability reform and reform of the perverse doctrine of inverse condemnation that makes our utilities liable for fire damages even if they have followed all the rules to the letter of the law, nobody will be able to generate and supply power in California let alone invest in upgrading to a cleaner, lower carbon grid.

We urge immediate action and comprehensive reforms otherwise we risk an existential threat to our economy and our state.

Sincerely,

Jim Wunderman

President & CEO

Bay Area Council

 

CC:

Senate Minority Leader Patricia Bates

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Dahle

Senator Ben Hueso, Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications

Assemblymember Chris Holden, Chair, Utilities and Energy Committee

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CONDOLEEZZA RICE, DAVID BROOKS & #METOO LEADERS WOW PACIFIC SUMMIT

The timing was ideal. As President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, guests at the Bay Area Council’s 2018 Pacific Summit on Tuesday were sitting down to hear from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on what it all meant. In a lengthy conversation with Andrew Westergren, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Strategy and Corporate Development for Visa, in front of almost 200 top executives and other leaders, Rice candidly acknowledged the unconventional way in which the summit came together but also said it was worth a try given the failure of past efforts. Rice also gave her insights and analysis about the tumultuous G7 meeting in Canada, talked about U.S.-China relations as a trade war looms and provided insights into the motives and agenda of Russia President Vladimir Putin.

With national attention intensely focused on the issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, the timing was also perfect for a lively conservation with two leaders of the #MeToo movement. Janet Liang, President of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, moderated the discussion with Adama Iwu, Vice President of State Government and Community Relations for Visa, and Tina Tchen, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and Partner at Buckley Sandler. Iwu was honored as a Time magazine Person of the Year for her work in founding We Said Enough, a group focused on exposing and changing a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination in the California legislature. Tchen is a leader of Time’s Up, which works to support women who have suffered sexual harassment or discrimination. The three gave their personal insights on the #MeToo movement and the cultural and institutional changes that must occur in order to end sexual harassment and discrimination.

The audience also was treated to sobering and humorous remarks from renowned New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks, in his comments and in a Q&A with McKinsey & Co. Senior Director and West Coast Regional Manager Kausik Rajgopal, talked about cultural and political divides in the U.S. and how a sense of community that has united people in the past has been replaced by tribalism, which by its nature divides people.

See photos of the Pacific Summit>>

The conversations continued later in the afternoon in smaller group discussions, with PwC Managing Partner Jeanette Calandra moderating a conversation with Tchen, UPS Northern California District President Rosemary Turner leading a discussion with Dr. Rice and TMG Partners leader Denise Pinkston guiding a talk with Brooks. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman opened the summit with insights about the Bay Area’s run of economic success and the housing and transportation challenges that threaten to pull the rug out from under it.

The Bay Area Council extends its thanks to Visionary sponsor Kaiser Permanente and the many other sponsors whose support is critical to funding our public policy and advocacy. See a full list of all Pacific Summit sponsors. Our thanks also to the Kohl Mansion for hosting us.

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Bay Area Council Poll: Newsom Holds Strong Lead in Governor’s Race

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom holds a firm lead among Bay Area voters in the June primary to become California’s next Governor, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, with two Republicans locked in a tie to advance to the November general election.

More than a third of Bay Area voters are still undecided about their choice for California’s next governor, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll. With absentee ballots starting to arrive in mailboxes, 36 percent of Bay Area voters say they don’t know who among seven candidates should replace Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento. There’s a little more certainty among just those voters who are most likely to cast ballots in June—based on their past voting history—with 26 percent saying they are undecided.

Voters who have made up their mind overwhelmingly pick Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, with 31 percent of voters putting the former San Francisco mayor at the top of their ballots. The next highest finishers might be a surprise in the deep blue Bay Area. Republicans Travis Allen and John Cox each tallied 7 percent, followed by Democrats Delaine Eastin at 5 percent, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang at 4 percent each and last-minute Democratic entry Amanda Renteria at 2 percent. 5 percent chose ‘someone else’.

Among likely June voters, Newsom’s support increases to 39 percent, with Allen and Cox each capturing 9 percent, Chiang getting 5 percent, Eastin and Villaraigosa each logging 4 percent and Renteria gathering less than 1 percent.

The results come as the election enters a critical stage as absentee ballots have been mailed and the candidates are pushing to get their message out to voters.

“It’s not over until it’s over, and Bay Area voters, while definitely showing strong support for Lt. Governor Newsom, still harbor a lot of uncertainty about this race,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council.

See the poll results for the Governor’s race>>

Women and younger voters are the most undecided. The Bay Area Council Poll found 43 percent of women don’t know who will get their vote, while 28 percent of men aren’t sure who to pick. For those that have decided, Newsom again is the clear favorite with 34 percent of men and 28 percent of women casting their ballot for him. Among men that have decided, 10 percent say they’ll vote for Cox and 9 percent for Allen. Next in line for women, however, is Eastin with 8 percent saying they’ll vote for the former state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Young women, in particular, are unsure about who to cast their vote for. The poll found 50 percent of Bay Area women aged 18-49 are undecided on who should lead California, with just 22 percent saying they back Newsom for the job. Women aged 50-64 back Newsom by 30 percent while women 65 years and older back the Lt. Governor by 42 percent.

Clear generational differences, regardless of gender, also emerged in the results, with older voters showing greater support for Newsom. The poll found that 44 percent of voters aged 18-49 remain undecided, with 26 percent backing Newsom. Second place is a statistical toss up among this age group, with none of the other candidates getting more than 7 percent of votes. Among voters aged 50-64, 33 percent put Newsom at the top of their ballot and among those 65 and older Newsom grabs 38 percent.

Silicon Valley voters registered the lowest level of support at 22 percent for Newsom among the Bay Area’s different subregions. The Bay Area Council Poll found 39 percent support Newsom in the town where he served as mayor and 40 percent support him in the North Bay where Newsom resides. The only other candidate to break double digit support in any county was Travis Allen, getting the nod from 12 percent of Contra Costa County voters.

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

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VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN FOR REGIONAL MEASURE 3

Absentee ballots began arriving this week in Bay Area mailboxes ahead of the June election and the Bay Area Council is urging early voters to support Regional Measure 3 to invest $4.5 billion to ease traffic and improve mass transit systems around the region. The Council is partnering with the Silicon Valley Leadership and SPUR on a multi-million dollar campaign that is ramping up now to spread the word about this important measure targeting the region’s horrific traffic and overburdened mass transit system. The Council was also instrumental in passing the legislation by state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. that authorized the RM3 vote. An estimated 75 percent of the money will go to public transit, replacing and expanding the aging BART fleet and extending BART to San Jose and Santa Clara, a fleet of ferries, electrifying and modernizing Caltrain and extending the SMART train in the North Bay. Another big chunk will go to unclogging some of the region’s worst traffic chokepoints at key highway interchanges in Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and completing the widening of Highway 101 between Marin and Sonoma counties. The funding would come from a $3 toll increase on seven state-owned bridges that would be phased in over six years with $1 increases in 2019, 2022 and 2025. Learn more about RM3>>

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New Study Will Explore Opportunities for Expanding, Deepening Bay Area, Fresno, Central Valley Megaregion Connections

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Central Valley Community Foundation today announced the launch of an in-depth study to examine Fresno’s important role in the fast-emerging Northern California megaregion and how the arrival of high speed rail over the next decade will dramatically accelerate economic connections between Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area and the state’s fifth largest city.

High speed rail is expected to shrink the time it takes to travel between the Bay Area and the Central Valley from more than three hours to less than one hour when it is scheduled to begin service in 2025 between Fresno and San Jose. That has huge implications for housing, transportation and workforce development across the megaregion and promises to bring exciting new economic opportunities to Fresno and other parts of the Central Valley. “Fresno and the broader Central Valley are key players in developing a broader megaregion strategy,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “As county and other regional boundaries blur with the emergence of the megaregion, it’s imperative that we get a handle on what that future looks like and the infrastructure we’ll need to put in place to support it. We can act now to address these issues or confront chaos later. The Central Valley Community Foundation is an important and indispensable partner in making that happen.”

The study will focus in particular on strategies Fresno and other Central Valley cities can pursue to leverage high speed rail and other economic and demographic changes within the megaregion to boost their own economic prospects. While the 10 percent economic growth that Fresno has enjoyed since 2011 matches the national average, it has lagged cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles where the rate has reached 26 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Expanding the Central Valley’s participation in the megaregion economy, attracting new business and elevating its workforce to meet the needs of employers will also be a focus of the study.

“Improved economic and infrastructure connections between the Silicon Valley/Bay Area and the Central Valley is good, not just for our regions, but for the entire state,” said Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation. “We are pleased to launch this work with the Bay Area Council and to explore meaningful ways to create new economic opportunities for Central Valley residents, businesses and communities and relieve pressure on the congested Bay Area.”

Swearingen kicked off the project on Friday, April 24 at a meeting in Fresno to identify the issues that would be addressed. The study is part of a much broader, long-term effort the Bay Area Council is leading to bring together top business, government and other civic leaders from the Bay Area, Central Valley, Sacramento and Monterey regions to develop a unified, integrated vision for guiding future planning for the megaregion around such issues as housing, transportation and workforce development.

Driving the Council’s intense focus on the megaregion is the Bay Area’s meteoric economic growth over the past decade combined with an historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. In search of more affordable housing, record numbers of Bay Area workers are being forced into longer and longer commutes from the Central Valley and Sacramento that are putting increasing pressure on an already overburdened and congested transportation system. At the same time, the Central Valley is eager to accelerate economic development opportunities that the megaregion offers and prepare its workforce.

The study with the Central Valley Community Foundation and support from Wells Fargo, UC Merced, Fresno State University, City of Fresno, and Lance Kashian & Co., is one of several activities the Council is leading to bring greater attention to megaregion planning. The Council is also working closely with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council on megaregion issues, including investing in better rail connections along the I-80 corridor and promoting the capitol city as a destination for businesses looking to start and expand outside the Bay Area.

The Council will be convening a series of meetings in 2018 to begin a dialogue with government, business, nonprofit and academic leaders on the future of the megaregion.

 

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About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives. Learn more at www.bayareaeconomy.org.

 

About the Central Valley Community Foundation

Central Valley Community Foundation has been a trusted partner in philanthropy in the Central Valley for more than 50 years. Our mission is to cultivate smart philanthropy, lead, and invest in solutions that build stronger communities. Learn more at www.centralvalleycf.org.

 

About the Bay Area Council

The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here. Founded in 1945, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the voice of Bay Area business. Today, more than 300 of the largest employers in the region support the Bay Area Council and offer their CEO or top executive as a member. Our members employ more than 4.43 million workers and have revenues of $1.94 trillion, worldwide. Learn more at www.bayareacouncil.org.

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GOOD NEWS, NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS ON HOUSING

It was a good news, bad news week in the Bay Area Council’s continuing fight to loosen the grip of the state’s historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. Legislation (SB 831) the Council is sponsoring to eliminate many of the fees that represent a financial obstacle to building accessory dwelling units (ADU), aka granny units, cleared a key Senate committee this week. The bill by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) builds on reform legislation the Council sponsored in 2015 that has unleashed a statewide surge in ADUs. Fees and other regulatory barriers can add many tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of building an ADU. The Council estimates that making it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to build ADUs could result in the addition of well over 150,000 affordable housing units in the Bay Area alone.

Not all the news was positive, however. Legislation by Sen. Scott Wiener (San Francisco) that the Council was backing was defeated in committee after building trades, social equity and city government groups loudly opposed it. SB 827 stoked a statewide debate and gained national attention for its bold approach to promoting transit-oriented housing development. The bill would have allowed more home building near transit-rich areas like BART and Caltrain, but opponents feared it would lead to displacement of existing residents and weakened local control over housing decisions. The Council is looking forward to working with Sen. Wiener to bring the legislation back next year and we applaud his leadership in addressing a crisis that is hurting millions of Californians and threatening to harm the state’s economy.

Coming up, the Council will be returning to the state capitol next Tuesday to advocate for legislation (SB 1277) by Sen. Nancy Skinner (Oakland) that we are sponsoring that would address a huge statewide shortage of student housing. An estimated 762,585 California college students experience housing insecurity or homelessness. SB 1227 would authorize 35 percent more units in student housing developments that meet a variety of affordability requirements and exempt them from costly parking requirements. To join our coalition in support or SB 1227 and engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.