Bay Area Council Blog: Housing and Sustainable Development Archive

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Members Making News: Sutter Health, Heller Manus

Sutter Health’s Mills-Peninsula Medical Center recently announced the launch of a new groundbreaking approach to avoid delays in treating strokes, which are the fifth leading cause of death and the top contributor to long-term disability in the U.S. In a public private partnership, Sutter Health will pilot a new specially-equipped and -staffed ambulance, called a mobile stroke unit (MSU). The goal is to test whether bringing stroke diagnosis and treatment to patients—rather than waiting for them to arrive at the emergency department—improves outcomes. From the outside the MSU resembles a standard ambulance, but inside it equipped with a CT scanner and other technology critical for diagnosing stroke. Initially, a stroke neurologist will ride in the Mobile Stroke Unit. Data gathered through the Mills-Peninsula pilot will contribute to national efforts aimed at demonstrating the mobile stroke unit’s ability.

 

Heller Manus Founder and President and Bay Area Council board member Jeffrey Heller recently was awarded one of the top honors in architecture, the MIT Architecture Alumni Lifetime Achievement award. Heller joined I.M Pei in receiving the illustrious honor. In making the award, MIT said: Since its beginning in 1984, Heller Manus has established a reputation for influencing architecture and urban design in the Bay Area, nationally and internationally. Heller is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Heller is a major supporter of MIT’s Department of Architecture, where his Jeffrey D. Heller Fund provides graduate student financial support and is helping MIT move the needle on its goal of making the School of Architecture and Planning tuition free for all graduate students. Congratulations, Jeff!

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California’s Housing Horrors

California is producing just seven units of housing for every 10 new households, according to a report by Up for Growth that was the focus of a discussion the Bay Area Council convened on Halloween with top state and regional leaders. State Board of Equalization Chair Fiona Ma, Assemblymember David Chiu, TMG Partners executive and former Council Housing Committee co-Chair Denise Pinkston and UC Berkeley Terner Center leader Carol Galante headlined the event hosted by Council member Reed Smith. The report found that high rents are a top driver of homelessness statewide and that the housing crisis is gives California the highest level of out-migration among all western states. The panelists, in a discussion moderated by Council CEO Jim Wunderman, outlined a number of solutions to spurring new production, including regionalizing housing responsibilities, reducing construction cost using innovative building practices, and using tax policies to help make building middle income housing feasible. Read the full report here>>

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Council-Backed Bills Provide New Tools to Combat Homelessness

This year’s legislative session closed with Governor Brown signing three Bay Area Council-backed bills aimed at easing California’s spiraling homelessness crisis. SB 1045 (Wiener) creates a five-year pilot program for San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego counties to experiment with stronger conservatorship laws to remove people with severe mental illnesses from the streets. SB 918 (Wiener) requires state agencies to better track outreach and effectiveness of programs targeting homeless youth. AB 2162 (Chiu) provides expedited permitting for new housing developments that set aside certain percentages of their units for permanent supportive housing.

The Bay Area has the third largest homeless population in the United States behind New York City and Los Angeles County. In recent surveys of Bay Area Council member companies, solving chronic homelessness has emerged as one of the highest public policy priorities. This year, the Bay Area Council formed a homelessness task force to guide the Council on regional homelessness policies, and we are working with McKinsey & Co. to produce a first-of-its-kind regional assessment of homelessness in the Bay Area to be completed in early 2019. To engage with the Council’s homelessness policy work, please contact Vice President, Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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City Manager Resignation Highlights Housing Frustration

The city manager of tony Lafayette submitted his resignation this week in a move that reflected the growing frustration many in the Bay Area feel about local resistance to sensible new housing, particularly near transit. City Manager Steve Falk’s resignation letter generated considerable media interest as it struck a chord with so many residents in the Bay Area struggling to find affordable housing.

“All cities—even small ones—have a responsibility to address the most significant challenges of our time: climate change, income inequality, and housing affordability,” Falk wrote. He referred in his letter to the defeat of a recent ballot measure that would have authorized new housing and the opposition by Lafayette Mayor Don Tatzin and other East Bay elected officials to legislation (SB 2923) the Bay Area Council supported that would allow BART to develop new housing near its stations. “I believe that adding multifamily housing at the BART station is the best way for Lafayette to do its part, and it has therefore become increasingly difficult for me to support, advocate for, or implement policies that would thwart transit density. My conscience won’t allow it.”

To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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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>>

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Housing Advocacy Paying Off

There was encouraging news on the housing front this week as several projects the Bay Area Council was supporting won approval. It may not end a crisis that has been building for decades but it offered a glimmer of hope that all the hard work of advocating for more housing may be paying off. The most significant win came in Cupertino where the city council approved a project by Bay Area Council member Sand Hill Property Co. that will transform an almost 60-acre former shopping mall into 3,000 units of housing along with office and retail space and six acres of parks. In the East Bay, the Concord Planning Commission gave the green light to a 228-unit project located next to the Concord BART station, just the kind of transit-oriented development that the Council has made a top priority of expanding. Council Senior Vice President Matt Regan attended hearings for both projects and gave testimony in support.

Also this week, BART approved moving forward on negotiations to build 519 units of housing near its Lake Merritt station. And, in Foster City, the city council on Monday approved a 92-unit housing project that will reserve 22 units for teachers, first responders and other critical service workers. Just up the road in Daly City, the city council recently approved construction of 179 new apartment units at the Westlake Shopping Center and the same developer behind that project is eyeing more than 300 new units at the Fremont Hub. A Los Angeles Times story this week reported that increasing supply in the region is starting to put downward pressure on rents. The fight continues. To engage in the Council’s housing policy and advocacy, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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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.

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Key Council-Backed Housing Legislation Advances

Legislation (SB 1227, Skinner) the Bay Area Council sponsored to address a critical statewide shortage of affordable student housing is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature, along with another bill (AB 2923, Chiu and Grayson) the Council supported that could produce an estimated 20,000 units of new housing ideally situated near the BART mass transit system. The bills were among a handful the Council either sponsored or supported this year to address California’s historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. Another important housing bill (SB 828) by Sen. Scott Wiener that the Council co-sponsored also appeared poised for the Governor’s signature following an Assembly vote today that sends it to the Senate for concurrence.

“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.”

SB 1227 authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner allows housing built for students to receive a 35 percent density bonus as long as 100 percent of the units are dedicated to students, a minimum 20 percent of the units are reserved for very low-income students, and students experiencing homelessness get priority. The legislation is aimed at bringing relief for the estimated 800,000 college students statewide that recent studies have found are either homeless or housing insecure.

“College students are increasingly priced out of California’s extraordinary housing prices, threatening the Golden Goose of our economy,” said Matt Regan, Senior Vice President in charge of housing policy for the Bay Area Council. “If the world’s most promising students can’t afford to study here, they’ll go someplace else. This bill gives colleges and universities new tools to build affordable off-campus housing. We want than Sen. Skinner for her leadership in addressing our housing crisis.”

“SB 1227 will encourage the construction of more housing and more affordable housing for college students up and down the state,” said Senator Skinner. “Students deserve to focus on learning instead of worrying about whether they have a place to live.”

The Council also hailed the passage of AB 2923 by Assemblymember David Chiu (San Francisco) that 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. It’s estimated that BART-owned land could support as much as 20,000 new housing units. The Council made passing AB 2923 a major priority during this legislative session.

“This bill kills two birds with one stone, producing badly needed housing near transit that encourages commuters to leave their cars behind,” said Wunderman.

With the legislative session coming to a close, the Council was still working to win passage of SB 828 (Wiener), which would reform the state’s housing allocation system and hold cities more accountable for meeting their local housing obligations. Another bill (SB 831, Wieckowski) the Council sponsored this year to promote construction of accessory dwelling units, also known as granny or in-law units, previously fell short of the votes needed for passage.

The Council on Tuesday also cheered the passage of AB 2596 (Cooley). The bill, which the Council co-sponsored with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, would authorize 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.

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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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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.

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New Report: Expanding Rent Control Hurts Local Coffers

Expanding rent control will chill investment in new and existing housing and reduce local tax revenues by tens of millions of dollars annually, according to a new report by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. The report adds to an already substantial body of research that has conclusively found rent control has a negative impact on the housing market. The LAO specifically focused on Proposition 10, a statewide ballot measure the Bay Area Council strongly opposes that would repeal a decades-old law restricting rent control. A recent report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that expanding rent control in Alameda County would reduce housing affordability for more than 10,300 households. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.