Bay Area Council Blog: Membership Archive

Photo by New York Times

WITH RECORD BUDGET PROPOSAL, GOV. BROWN SEES RAIN IN THE FUTURE

There hasn’t been a lot of rain so far this winter, but Gov. Jerry Brown had the wet stuff on his mind this week (Jan. 11) when he released a $190 billion budget proposal that ups the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” by $5 billion to $13.5 billion. The reserve is designed to protect California against future economic downturns, which Brown believes is coming sooner rather than later. Still, the budget represents a record for California and includes a $7 billion increase over the previous spending plan. The Bay Area Council applauded many of the spending priorities, which include $4.6 billion for commute improvement projects from last year’s SB1 (Beall) legislation that the Council supported.

The plan invests $245 million to expand and protect affordable housing under SB2 (Atkins), another bill the Council supported last year. Brown proposed another $277 million for housing in anticipation of the passage of a statewide housing bond measure expected to appear on the November 2018 ballot. The spending plan also continues the Governor’s efforts to pay down the overall state debt and makes a small dent in the state’s massive pension liability shortfall. The Council is continuing to analyze the plan and will be weighing in directly as it now moves to the legislature, which has a June deadline to approve it.

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2018 POLICY AGENDA TARGETS HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION, WORKFORCE

Behind the Bay Area Council’s continuing advocacy, the California legislature this year took its first (albeit modest) actions to address the state’s historic housing crisis. Much, much more needs to be done, and the Council’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, under the leadership of Chair and Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson, this week approved a 2018 policy agenda that calls for escalating our work to achieve deeper, stronger and more effective reforms for spurring the tsunami of new housing the state so badly needs. Already, the Council is identifying new legislation for 2018 that can speed the approval and bring down the cost of new housing.

The 2018 agenda also prioritizes ridding the scourge of traffic fom the Bay Area’s roads and highways and getting more commuters out of their vehicles and into ferries, carpools, shuttles and other forms of transit. The Council is gearing up now for a campaign to win passage of Regional Measure 3, a $4.4 billion transportation investment plan that is expected to hit the June 2018 ballot. Rounding out the Council’s top policy priorities for 2018 is building a stronger workforce pipeline to meet the future needs of the region’s employers. The Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is making immense strides to better align educators and employers to close the region’s yawning middle skills and talent gap, as well as creating new career opportunities for underserved youth.

Along with the top three policy priority areas, the 2018 agenda includes gender equity and workforce diversity, healthcare, advanced communication infrastructure, China and global innovation, carbon reduction and renewables, and water and climate resiliency.

The policy agenda was approved Thursday (Dec. 7) during a meeting hosted by new member Santa Clara University. The Board also welcomed state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. and applauded him for his incredible leadership as the author this year of SB 1, which invests $52 billion in statewide transportation improvements, and SB 595, which authorized the vote on Regional Measure 3. Beall talked about both measures and outlined his plans for new legislation for delivering transportation projects faster and at lower cost. The Council will be working closely with Sen. Beall on that project delivery legislation.

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FOCUS TURNS TO 2018 FOR ESCALATING RESPONSE TO CA HOUSING CRISIS

California’s housing crisis was the hot topic of a discussion the Bay Area Council Housing Committee hosted this week with special guest Eleni Kounalakis, 2018 candidate for Lieutenant Governor and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. Kounalakis, former president of AKT Development, one of California’s largest housing development firms, said housing is a major plank in her campaign. She described a number of concrete strategies to increase housing production, many of which are consistent with solutions the Council is pursuing, including utilizing public land for development, adding teeth to the housing element law, making some public funds dependent on housing production, supporting bonds to subsidize housing, and creating CEQA exemptions for housing for teachers, first responders, nurses and other employees that are vital to supporting our “social infrastructure.” Kounalakis cited Bay Area first responders who live in Sacramento because of a lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area and the public safety risk that poses here. The Housing Committee will be advocating and potentially sponsoring state legislation next year to support many of these policies. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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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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OVER 80% OF COUNCIL MEMBERS OPPOSE RESCINDING DACA

The Bay Area Council joins with many others nationwide that are expressing serious policy concerns about the Trump Administration’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The depth of those concerns were reflected in a survey issued this week of our members, with the majority of 81% indicating “strong opposition” to the President’s overturning of the Obama-era immigration policy, and 13% in favor. Those Bay Area Council members that supported the overturn often stated that they think this matter should be handled by legislation, not an Executive Order, and therefore hope President Trump “forces the hand of Congress” to pass permanent legislation. They also felt DACA was a way “around legal immigration.” Opponents of the President’s move frequently spoke to America being a nation of immigrants, and that the people left in limbo are ” just the sort of people we need in this country: highly motivated, educated and determined to make their mark in America.”

The Trump Administration will delay implementation for six-months giving Congress a window to develop a legislative fix. A large 88% of members support the passing of permanent legislation that would make the policies expressed in DACA permanent, such as the DREAM Act co-sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC).

The DACA program was enacted in June 2012 through executive order and provides a level of amnesty to undocumented, law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children through a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit if they are in, or have graduated from, high school. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, approximately 800,000 young people – known as DREAMers – have been approved for the program. Specifically, individuals eligible for DACA must have been under the age of 31 when the program was enacted, entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Many DREAMers have lived in the U.S. longer than the country they were born in.

California is home to over 223,000 DREAMers who now live in fear of deportation. A significant number live in the Bay Area, and many work for our members. “The Bay Area and nation have long depended on global talent,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “Though the DREAMers may not have been born in America, they grew up here and became colleagues, students, entrepreneurs, neighbors, friends, parents and more. They are the lifeblood keeping our economy and communities competitive, diverse and thriving. Upending hundreds of thousands of young, innocent lives raised and educated here will have deep social, political and economic impacts.” The Council has long advocated for thoughtful, comprehensive immigration reform and urges Congress to reach a fair, bi-partisan legislative solution. We invite interested members to engage in further strategic discussions around federal action on immigration by contacting Senior Advisor George Broder.

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SUPERVISOR TANG TALKS NEW LOCAL DENSITY PROGRAM FOR MISSING MIDDLE

The missing middle has become an increasing problem in the Bay Area, with affordable housing production aimed at low and very low income residents and market rate production taking care of higher income residents. This week (Sept. 6) San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang spoke with the Bay Area Council Housing Committee about her solution to this, a new program called Home-SF. Home-SF is a new density bonus program focused on increasing housing for middle income families. It is estimated to generate about 5,000 new units of housing for middle income families, helping close the gap for the missing middle in San Francisco.

The Housing Committee also heard from Committee Co-Chair Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners regarding the huge uptick in ADU permits across the state now that Bay Area Council sponsored SB 1069 (Wieckowski) has taken effect. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, among others, have experienced a significant upsurge in ADU permits. In addition, the committee learned about the benefits of modular development from new Bay Area Council member Jason Laub of RAD Urban. Modular manufactured housing can reduce both cost and time of building housing by 20%, making it a key cost reduction strategy for the Bay Area Council. To engage with the Bay Area Council Housing Committee, please contact Senior Vice President of Public Policy Matt Regan.

DEVELOPING STRONG TALENT PIPELINES TO MEET GROWING WORKFORCE DEMANDS

“Casting a wide net” was agreed upon as a top priority by Bay Area Council member participants at the Workforce of the Future Committee’s third Employer Best Practices Workshop this week (Sept. 6) focused on Talent Pipeline Partnerships. Participants agreed that in order to connect with the talent they need to fill their open jobs, expanded outreach and relationship-building with a wide array of training and education partners would be required on their part. Best practices regarding partnership models, internal organization of pipelines, and long-term investment in future workers bubbled up as key takeaway items. Companies across industries, including utilities, transportation, and banking are facing growing needs for diverse, qualified, and loyal workers and must get creative in their workforce planning strategies. To learn more about how the Bay Area Council is supporting this creativity through our various programs such as the Best Practices Workshop series, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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FLYING IN TO CLOSE AVIATION INDUSTRY WORKFORCE GAP

An expected surge in aviation maintenance jobs in the Bay Area in the next few years has industry leaders scrambling to find qualified workers. Employers like Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, FedEx and Southwest are already starting to feel the pinch from a shortage of workers to fill hundreds of middle-skills jobs that are expected to come open in a wide range of aviation-related jobs. In response, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee this week (Aug. 7) convened a group of industry leaders to launch an Aviation Occupational Council focused on identifying the specifics jobs and partnering with Bay Area high schools and community colleges to build awareness about the opportunities in aircraft maintenance and other aviation-related jobs. The Aviation Occupational Council is just one of many similar councils we are forming to help meet demand in fields where there is a shortage of middle-skills workers. To engage in the Council’s Workforce of the Future efforts, and for more information on how to participate in occupational councils for your industry, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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WORKING TO CAPTURE BIGGER SHARE OF CHINESE INVESTMENT

Chinese investment in the U.S. is booming and the Bay Area Council is working to attract as much as possible to our region. Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States reached $45.6 billion in 2016, triple the amount from 2015. Real estate development is one the biggest segments of Chinese investment, with deal volumes reaching a record high of $19.2 billion in 2016, according to a recent article in Forbes that put the Bay Area as the second largest recipient of incoming funds among major metropolitan areas.

Against that backdrop, the Council on Tuesday (Aug. 8) was honored to welcome executives from Agile Property Holdings Ltd., a leading real estate developer in the Chinese market considering expansion to the Bay Area. The discussion, which included executives from member companies Colliers International, Deloitte, Greenberg Traurig, and Hanson Bridgett, centered on the region’s housing need, market opportunities, and real estate challenges. To learn how the Council facilitates inbound business and investment and to capitalize on like business opportunities, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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Bernard J. Tyson Elected Bay Area Council Chair

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee and Board of Directors on Wednesday (July 26) welcomed new Chair Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and applauded the immense legacy of his predecessor, TMG Partners Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias, for his two years of strong, focused leadership. The passing of the gavel occurred during a meeting generously hosted by member company and global investment firm BlackRock at their stunning San Francisco office.

During his tenure as Chair, Covarrubias led the organization through a period of significant growth and achievement marked by a series of historic wins in Sacramento to advance the Council’s robust policy agenda. Tyson, who takes the helm as the 38th Chair in the organization’s 72-year history, is a tremendous business leader recognized nationally and regionally. As a longtime member of Council’s Executive Committee and most recently as Vice Chair, he has provided important leadership and engagement across all of the Council’s policy areas.

Council Board Member and BlackRock Vice President Anthony Bassili and Managing Director Debbie McCoy warmly welcomed the group and kicked off the Board meeting. The Board also heard from Tipping Point CEO Daniel Lurie on fighting poverty and chronic homelessness in the Bay Area. Since 2005, Tipping Point has raised more than $150 million to educate, employ, house and support those in need in the Bay Area.

In a series of lively reports, the Board of Directors heard from policy committee chairs on the great progress the Council is making on its lead priority issues. Heller Manus President Jeffrey Heller reported on Commute Improvement; Genentech Vice President Carla Boragno on Workforce Housing; and Union Bank Managing Director Julius Robinson on Workforce of the Future. Special thanks again to BlackRock for hosting us.