A number of cities across the Bay Area have been pursuing initiatives to increase taxes on businesses with stated goals of generating revenue amid mounting housing affordability, transportation, and homelessness crises. This week, the City Councils of Mountain View and East Palo Alto passed measures going on November 2018 ballots to place a head tax and parcel tax, respectively, on businesses meeting certain parameters. Meanwhile, San Francisco and Cupertino withdrew their measures to increase business taxes following collaboration with affected companies. In San Francisco, Supervisor Aaron Peskin replaced his ballot measure to tax gross receipts of ride-hailing and autonomous vehicle companies with a per-ride fee that will be introduced through state legislation. Cupertino agreed to delay consideration of a head tax measure until 2020 after more thorough planning is completed.
The Bay Area Council shares the concerns of these cities to find solutions to our region’s problems. However, we are concerned that in an attempt to be seen as taking action on a timely issue, cities are increasingly turning to taxing businesses without sufficient analysis or stakeholder engagement. Without a thoughtful process, cities risk reducing employment and wage growth, affecting employees and constraining the region’s economic success. The Bay Area’s housing and transportation problems are regional in nature and a myriad of heavy-handed taxes on businesses across multiple cities discourages the potential for a coordinated, regional strategy needed to solve these major challenges. The Bay Area Council has written letters and testified at numerous City Council meetings on these issues, and has offered to partner with City Councilmembers and their staff to assist with their analysis. We are encouraged by the actions of San Francisco and Cupertino to work with affected companies and take the time to analyze the impact of the proposed taxes before sending measures to voters for approval.
The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has adopted positions on a range of state and local ballot measures that voters will decide in November.
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.
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.
Reducing and eliminating onerous local fees that discourage homeowners from building accessory dwelling units (ADUs), aka granny units, is among the Bay Area Council’s top priorities in our work to expand this important source of affordable housing. Such fees can add tens of thousands of dollars and more to the cost of ADUs. So we were thrilled this week to learn that the Napa City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to exempt accessory dwelling units (ADUs) of less than 500 square feet from the city’s housing impact fee. It’s thought to be one of the few cities in California to take such a proactive step on ADU fees.
The move will reduce construction costs by an estimated $2,700 per ADU. And, Napa City Housing Manager Lark Ferrell said proposed ADU fee reductions being considered by the Napa sanitation and school districts could lower total impact fees by $12,000. We applaud Napa’s action and encourage other cities to take similar steps. The Bay Area Council has sponsored and advocated for a number of bills to remove barriers to ADU construction, including Assemblymember Phil Ting’s bill (AB 2890) which the Senate Appropriations Committee currently is considering.
Founded in 2015 by Stanford Business School alumni facing the uncertainty of being able to afford to buy a home in the Bay Area themselves, Landed seeks to help essential professionals build financial security in the communities they serve. In the last two years, Landed has partnered with more than 50 public school districts across the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Denver to offer an innovative shared equity down payment assistance program. Educators receive up to $120,000 towards the down payment on a home in exchange for sharing in the future appreciation in the home’s value at sale or refinance.
Earlier this year, Landed launched Landed Housing Solutions (LHS) to help employers – companies, nonprofits, and municipalities – create and manage their own shared equity down payment programs. In May, LHS launched its first university partnership with Santa Clara University to help their faculty buy homes near campus. These custom housing programs allow employers to invest directly in the homes of employees, sharing in the long-term gain of the properties, without the support being taxed as income. Employers interested in exploring home ownership programs for their employees can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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.”
There’s a valley in the Bay Area that has been leading the region in job creation over the past 12 years, but it’s not the valley you might be thinking of. A new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released Wednesday (July 18) examines the economic juggernaut that is the Tri-Valley, an area encompassing the cities of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman led a discussion at the release event in Pleasanton with a panel of the Tri-Valley’s business and community leaders.
This isn’t a story, however, about competition with the other valley just across the Bay. It’s a story about connections, the Tri-Valley’s continuing ascendance as a technology and innovation powerhouseand its place at a key intersection of the growing Bay Area megaregion. With a GDP of $42 billion, the Tri-Valley economy is larger than the states of Wyoming and Vermont. The Tri-Valley’s 35 percent increase in jobs since 2006 exceeds San Francisco (31 percent), Silicon Valley (19 percent) and California (8 percent).
The report, which was produced in partnership with Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group, analyzes the incredible jobs and economic growth in the Tri-Valley, the factors that are fueling it—including the most educated workforce in the Bay Area—and the challenges that it faces as the region’s housing and traffic crises worsen. The report also highlights the important role of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories in creating a rich ecosystem of investment, entrepreneurs and talent around which the local innovation economy is thriving. It also highlights how employers like Bishop Ranch, which has launched its own technology accelerator and is piloting autonomous shuttles, are leading the charge in embracing the valley’s growing technology sector.
The report also highlights the Tri-Valley’s key role as a job and population center for the Northern California megaregion, and it provides recommendations to ensure the future sustainability of megaregional growth, such as a focus on transit-oriented development and creating new clusters of innovation.
Read Tri-Valley Rising 2018>>
Alameda took a big step in adding much needed housing when the City Council on Tuesday (July 10) unanimously approved the EIR and Master Plan for Alameda Marina, a housing project endorsed by the Bay Area Council’s Workforce Housing Committee. The proposed project is the culmination of more than two years of work with city planners and the community. The plan will provide 760 new units of housing, including 103 designated as affordable. In addition to providing housing, the project also includes a $57 million investment to upgrade infrastructure on site, including new service roads, a dockyard for marine services, Bay Trail extension, $35 million to rebuild a crumbling seawall, and more. The Bay Area Council thanks the City of Alameda for approving this project and doing its part to provide housing for our growing region. Have a significant housing project you’d like us to consider for endorsement? Please contact Senior Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros.
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.
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.
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.