Bay Area Council Blog: News Archive


Many Ways to Help Victims of Deadly Fires

Northern California too soon is reeling from a deadly fire. The Camp Fire in Butte County exploded to become one of the state’s most destructive and deadly fires in history, incinerating the entire town of Paradise and so far killing at least 63 people with hundreds still missing. The conflagration has destroyed an estimated 9,000 homes, leaving thousands homeless as winter approaches and putting urgent pressure on local, state and federal agencies to find replacement housing in a remote area already reeling from a serious housing affordability problem.

The Bay Area Council extends is deepest condolences to all the victims and families affected by this horrific inferno, and the Woolsey blaze in Southern California. We express our profound gratitude to the firefighters, police and other first responders, along with an army of selfless volunteers, who are working courageously and tirelessly to put out the flames and assist residents in recovering. Many Bay Area Council member companies have moved quickly to provide resources and raise millions of dollars for the massive rescue and recovery efforts that are already under way. Much more will be needed in the coming weeks and months.

The Camp and Woolsey fires come just a little over a year after the devastating North Bay fires, which killed dozens, eviscerated whole neighborhoods and communities, and wiped out more than 7,000 homes. While the reasons for these catastrophic blazes are complex, climate change is a major factor in creating weather conditions that contribute to the severity of fire. The Bay Area Council is working along several channels to help address how we adapt to changing weather and make our communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. Our Bay Area Council Economic Institute is working with leaders in the North Bay to leverage data in developing new policies that can help speed the rebuilding of homes and address the growing risk of building in areas where fire danger is highest. As California’s population grows, we must work to concentrate new housing away from rural and remote areas that increasingly will be affected by more and more dangerous fires and other impacts of climate change.

Red Cross: Monetary donations can be made to the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

California Water Service & Utility Workers Union of America Camp Fire Relief Fund. Cal Water will match the first $25,000 of contributions made to the Camp Fire Relief Fund before November 26, 2018, effectively doubling your individual contribution.

North Valley Community Foundation: Fund goes to support the needs of the evacuation centers who opened their doors to house fire victims who lost their homes or had to evacuate. Donate here.

United Way of Northern California Relief Fund: To donate text BUTTEFIRE to 91999, or visit and select “Camp Fire Relief”

California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund: Supports victims by helping to rebuild homes and providing financial assistance to those who need medical and mental treatment. Donate here.

California Fire Foundation: Provides financial support to surviving families of fallen firefighters and firefighters who are battling at the front lines of the blaze. Donate here.

Airbnb: The home-rental company started a program that asks users to open their homes to those hit hardest by the fire. Hosts in regions marked on the map will offer their homes for free until November 29, 2018. Offer is good for displaced residents and relief workers.

North Valley Animal Disaster Group: Works jointly with public and private agencies and organizations in the area help in the safety and well-being of all domestic animals and farm animals, including wildlife, affected by a disaster. This includes assistance with emergency temporary shelter, evacuation, and medical care. Donate here.

Volunteering: The Red Cross has a volunteer page for those who want to pitch in above and beyond donations.


Council’s Wunderman among the Bay Area’s Most Admired CEOs

Great leadership, vision and values. Those were the themes of the San Francisco Business Times’ Most Admired CEOs Awards on Thursday celebrating the business community’s most esteemed leaders, including Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman.

In his acceptance remarks, Wunderman reflected on the importance of listening and teamwork as essential to effective leadership, and effusively praised the incredible work of the business executives governing the organization and Council staff as key drivers to both his and the organization’s success. Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO and Bay Area Council Chair Bernard J. Tyson introduced Wunderman, praising his strategic and visionary leadership and emphasizing his unique ability to bring together other CEOs and diverse stakeholders to shape the future of the Bay Area.

2018 Most Admired CEOs: Bay Area Council’s Jim Wunderman brings businesses into policy conversations>>

Hosted by San Francisco Business Times Publisher and Council Executive Committee member Mary Huss, the celebration also honored Council board members Jeff Hoopes, CEO of Swinerton, Rich Robbins, CEO of Wareham Development, and Jim Wallace, CEO of BPM.


SF Business Times Names Its Most Admired CEOs of 2018

You’ll never guess who was named one of the San Francisco Business Times outstanding CEOs of 2018? That’s right.  We are thrilled to announce that Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman will be honored at the 2018 Most Admired CEOs Awards, which will be held on Thursday, November 8 from 5:30-9:00pm at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. Since becoming CEO in 2004, Wunderman has tripled the size of the organization, elevated its influence, expanded the organization to Sacramento and China and honed the Council’s regionalist approach to advocacy in key areas that impact the Bay Area’s economy and competitiveness. With Wunderman at the helm, the Council has played a leading role on issues related to housing, transportation, water, climate change and energy, early education funding and healthcare reform. The event will also honor Council board members Jeff Hoopes, CEO of Swinerton, Rich Robbins, CEO of Wareham Development, and Jim Wallace, CEO of BPM.  Join us in celebrating some of our region’s most esteemed business leaders on Nov. 8>>


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


JP Morgan Chase Grant Fuels Innovative Workforce Program

JPMorgan Chase & Co. continues its commitment to the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future program with a $100,000 grant. These funds will help accelerate programs already underway through our Occupational Councils and our Inclusive Economy work, which is focused on serving under-represented populations in the Bay Area. In addition, the funds will drive regional collaboration with workforce stakeholders across California, leveraging best practices from different regions to maximize results at large scale.

Corporate philanthropy dollars are the engine for workforce programs run by the Council and other non-governmental organizations serving under-represented populations. JPMorgan Chase & Co. funding over the years has supported the growth of the Occupational Councils in aviation, healthcare, and construction.  These employer-driven programs are systematically removing barriers to entry for our local diverse talent.  Curated career fairs, targeting youth of color, veterans, emigrants and refugees, through the Inclusive Economy work where the Council leverages the expertise of talent training partners Work2Future, Swords to Plowshares and Upwardly Global. The regional efforts have already started with partnerships across the megaregion and Southern California. To participate and benefit from the Workforce of the Future programs, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.


Council CEO Again Named to Top 100 Influencers List

For the fourth straight year, Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman was named to the Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 Influencers list. Wunderman was quick to deflect any individual role in the honor and said it reflects the larger influence that the Bay Area Council has in working on a wide range of legislative and public policy issues in Sacramento. The Council’s Sacramento office, which is led by Policy Manager Cornelious Burke, was opened under Wunderman’s leadership and has become an important and effective platform for engaging with political, government and business leaders. The Council this year sponsored important legislation to address the state’s housing crisis, was instrumental in passing legislation last year that led to Regional Measure 3—the $5.6 billion traffic relief ballot measure Bay Area voters approved in June—and has played a leading role on issues related to water, climate change and energy, early education funding and healthcare reform.


Sen. Feinstein Leads Landmark Shoreline Restoration Project Launch

Sen. Dianne Feinstein led a group of local, state and federal officials in a ceremony Friday in San Jose’s Alviso neighborhood launching the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project—a massive $177 million effort to build four miles of new levees and restore 3,000 acres of wetlands near San Jose. It’s the largest wetland restoration project outside the Florida Everglades. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman attended the event, where the Council was recognized for our stalwart support of the project and a 2015 report that highlighted the region’s economic vulnerability to extreme flooding. The Council also received praise for helping lead the successful 2016 regional Measure AA campaign, which will raise $500 million over the next 20 years for multi-benefit restoration and flood protection projects along the San Francisco Bay shoreline.

The Shoreline project has been in the works since at least 2005, following Sen. Feinstein’s leadership in facilitating the historic acquisition of the South Bay Salt Ponds from Cargill and the Council’s effective advocacy in securing federal funding. With funding in place, construction is slated to begin next summer with completion in the next 3-5 years.

Enormous thanks are due to the hard work of the Bay Area Council partners who helped make this announcement a reality, including Sen. Feinstein, San Mateo County Supervisor David Pine, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the California Coastal Conservancy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, and Save the Bay. To learn more about the Bay Area Council’s work on climate resilience, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

P3 copy

New Report: Overcoming CA’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Deficit

With California facing a $1 trillion infrastructure deficit between now and 2050, a new Bay Area Council Economic Institute report explores how public-private partnerships (P3) can accelerate infrastructure delivery. According to the report, P3 methods are extremely effective in mobilizing private capital, speeding project delivery and better maintaining public infrastructure through life-cycle management. Read the report>>

The report – the latest in a series – assesses how the P3 model has evolved, analyzes projects completed in the last five years, assesses upcoming projects, and identifies future projects that could benefit from P3 delivery in the future. It also looks at steps state and federal governments, as well as the private sector, can take to build a larger pipeline of P3 projects.

One major promising project featured in the report is the potential redevelopment of the Sonoma County and Santa Rosa City civic centers, which could represent up to 700,000 square feet of government offices, as well as mixed-use retail and housing development on approximately 100 acres. Following last November’s devastating wildfires, the Economic Institute is working closely with public and civic leaders in the North Bay to build more resilient and inclusive communities and this project is key to achieving that goal. Developers and financiers who are interested in learning more should fill out this survey>>

BART police

Council CEO Calls for Regional “Mutual Aid” Response for BART

Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman today (Aug. 8) called for an immediate regional “mutual aid” response by Bay Area law enforcement agencies to boost public safety on BART following a recent string of violent and deadly attacks on a transit system that serves an average of almost 420,000 riders daily.

“We need swift, forceful and sustained action to avoid future violent attacks and restore public confidence in the Bay Area’s largest mass transit system,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which was instrumental in the creation of BART. “Like we do in cases of natural disasters and other extreme emergencies, we must mobilize local law enforcement to partner with BART as it works to address a troubling spike in violent crime in the system.”

News reports have highlighted a string of deadly and violent knife and other attacks on trains and in stations in recent weeks, which come as BART is experiencing a significant overall jump in violent crimes over the past 10 years. Reports have also highlighted the challenges BART is facing in maintaining its own police force as the system and ridership grow.

“BART riders deserve to feel safe when they enter a station or board a train and not providing for their safety will push them into their cars and cripple our already congested highways and bridges,” Wunderman said.  “Not addressing this problem will have huge and negative implications for every city and county that BART serves, and for our entire region. A shock and awe show of force by law enforcement will send a direct and powerful message to commuters that we’re looking out for their safety and to criminals and other offenders to stay away from BART. New York has had great success with its Operation Impact in staunching all types of crimes. It’s a model we should explore for responding not only to the recent spike in violent crimes but to the ongoing litany of other smaller offenses, from drug use to loitering, that make riders feel unsafe and unwelcome on BART.”

Wunderman said police chiefs, sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies whose cities and counties are served by BART should convene a task force to discuss with BART how they can deploy officers to help increase patrols on trains and stations, among other enforcement and public safety activities. He noted that fire protection agencies regularly employ mutual aid agreements to share resources, provide for stronger, faster response in times of disaster and emergency and even to conduct training.

Wunderman commended an announcement Monday by BART that it is taking steps to bolster patrols by using overtime shifts and other safety enhancement techniques. The BART Board of Directors is scheduled to consider the additional enforcement efforts and Wunderman urged its quick approval. Wunderman also applauded police officials in San Francisco and Oakland for contributing officers to help BART, but said more needs to be done and that the dozens of other cities and counties whose residents use BART have a role to play.

“The Bay Area and its 101 cities and nine counties have a wealth of public safety resources available to us if only we can get past some of the historic territorial and other obstacles that so often get in the way of such a mutual aid response,” Wunderman said. “There are many examples of this sort of mutual aid response working effectively in other cities and regions and there’s no reason it can’t work here if we set our mind and will to doing it.”

“Violent crime doesn’t abide jurisdictional or city boundaries and we shouldn’t let those boundaries get in the way of using all available resources to make BART safe for all riders,” Wunderman said. “And there are many other benefits to public safety beyond protecting BART riders that we can realize by working together and creating flexible, scalable regional law enforcement mechanisms for addressing local crimes and other public safety needs.”


Responding to New Threat to Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System

The Bay Area Council today (July 24) issued the following statement following a recent visit by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Yosemite National Park where he signaled that the Trump administration may consider a misguided and dangerous plan to tear down the Hetch Hetchy clean water and energy system serving 2.6 million California residents and businesses.

“Spending $10 billion tearing down perfectly good water storage infrastructure would merely be a monumental waste of time and money, if it wasn’t also a cynical and nefarious plot to steal the region’s water supply under the patina of environmentalism,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Hetch Hetchy is the primary water source for 2.6 million Bay Area residents and businesses. Eliminating water storage at a time of increased drought is economic suicide, but dehydrating the leading nation’s innovation economy is economic sabotage. We invite Sec. Zinke to meet with us and learn why this disastrous proposal has been defeated over and over again in the courts and at the ballot box and why we would be better served investing to expand our water storage infrastructure rather than getting rid of it.”

The Bay Area Council for decades has been the leading advocate for maintaining the regional Hetch Hetchy system, which provides reliable, clean drinking water to 2.6 million people and businesses in 30 cities across four counties, and generates 1.6 billion kilo-watt hours of carbon free energy each year. According to estimates from the California Department of Water Resources, draining and replacing the reservoir would cost $10 billion, and result in a less reliable, lower quality, and more expensive water supply and increased carbon emissions.

Sixty percent of California’s managed water supplies, including Hetch Hetchy, originate in the Sierra Nevada as snowpack. State water officials estimate the Sierra snowpack will shrink between 25 and 40 percent by 2050, and a recent UCLA study estimates that the snowpack could be entirely gone by 2100. In 2012, the Bay Area Council led the opposition against a San Francisco ballot measure that would have forced the city to spend $8 million studying draining and replacing Hetch Hetchy. The measure was rejected by 77 percent of city voters.