Bay Area Council Blog: News Archive

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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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FIRST IMPORTANT STEP IN ADDRESSING CA HOUSING CRISIS

California took an important first step today in addressing its massive housing crisis when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of legislation aimed at providing new funding, streamlined local approvals and stronger enforcement of existing housing laws. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined Gov. Brown, legislators and housing advocates from around the state at a signing ceremony in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point for 15 bills that included a handful for which the Council had advocated. SB 2 (Atkins) creates a $75 real estate transaction fee that is estimated to generate $250 million annually for affordable housing and SB 3 (Beall) authorizes a statewide $4 billion bond measure for housing that is expected to appear on the ballot in 2018. In addition, SB 166 (Skinner) and SB 167 (Skinner) add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve new housing. Much more remains to be done to open the pipeline of new housing the state so badly needs and the Council is already turning its attention to the next legislative session. With an annual shortfall of about 80,000 housing units on top of an estimated 2 million unit deficit, California has a long way to go before it closes the gap and begins to make a dent in its affordability problem.

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COUNCIL CHAIR BERNARD J. TYSON A NATIONAL VOICE ON BIPARTISAN HEALTHCARE FIX

The debate over the nation’s healthcare system continues to rage and Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO and Bay Area Council Chair Bernard J. Tyson is emerging as a strong national voice on the topic. Tyson was a key witness in testifying before Congress on the latest repeal effort and brought his views to a national television audience in offering analysis on what steps we need to take to stabilize healthcare markets. Tyson advocated for a bipartisan approach to addressing problems with the ACA that ensures access for all to healthcare and healthcare insurance, provides adequate cost-sharing provisions and allows flexibility for states.

Watch Tyson’s comments on ABC News>>

Watch Tyson’s testimony in Congress>>

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NEW POLL HIGHLIGHTS URGENCY FOR HOUSING SOLUTIONS

Results of a new statewide poll gave added urgency to the Bay Area Council’s efforts in securing Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on legislation to address California’s epic housing crisis. The survey by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that 25 percent of voters are considering leaving California because of skyrocketing rents and home prices fueled by a massive housing shortage. The poll found that 92 percent of Bay Area voters think that housing affordability is a serious problem, exceeding the 84 percent level statewide. Council CEO Jim Wunderman was a featured guest on KQED Forum on Thursday to talk about the Berkeley poll results and the solutions on which the Council is focused.

The Council is urging Gov. Brown to sign SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall), which would authorize a statewide vote in 2018 on a $4 billion bond measure for affordable housing and a $75 real estate transaction fee to support local housing, respectively. The Council also is urging the Governor’s signature on two bills by Sen. Nancy Skinner (SB 166 and SB 167) that add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve housing.

Listen to the KQED Forum segment with Jim Wunderman>>

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COUNCIL WELCOMES BEIJING MAYOR, SIGNS MOU EXPANDING ECONOMIC COOPERATION

The Bay Area Council this week was honored to welcome Beijing Mayor Chen Jining to the Bay Area as he attended a ceremony for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that takes a step forward for a possible new Council office in China’s capital city. The visit by Mayor Chen, former President of prestigious Tsinghua University and Chinese Minister of Environmental Protection, and a delegation of top level Chinese economic and innovation officials highlighted the Council’s deep and growing relationships in China as we work to expand bilateral trade and investment. The MOU between the Council, world-famous Zhongguancun Science Park, which serves as Chinese headquarters for such U.S. companies as Google, Oracle and Intel, and Council of Industry and Technology Alliances in Z-Park marked a significant step forward in our work to expand economic connections with Beijing. The MOU calls for exploring the creation of a new think tank, developing a research and development platform and establishing branch offices both here and in Beijing. Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined Wang Chengwen, Vice Chairman of the Council of Industry and Technology Alliances in Z-Park, and Zhai Lixin, Director General of the Administrative Committee of Zhongguancun Science Park, in signing the MOU. To engage in our China initiative, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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LEGISLATURE TAKES FIRST STEP IN ADDRESSING HOUSING CRISIS

The state legislature late Thursday (Sept. 15) took a first step in addressing California’s epic housing crisis by approving a package of bills aimed at providing new funding for affordable housing and easing regulatory hurdles. Two funding bills the Bay Area Council was supporting—SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall)—won passage along with two other bills—SB 166 (Skinner) and SB 167 (Skinner)—that add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve new housing. SB 2 creates a $75 real estate transaction fee that is estimated to generate $250 million annually for affordable housing, while SB 3 authorizes a statewide $4 billion bond measure for housing that is expected to appear on the ballot in 2018. The bills, which still need Gov. Brown’s signature, represent a welcome opening salvo against the state’s massive housing shortage and affordability problem, but much more must be done to close an ongoing housing shortfall of 80,000 units a year. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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MAKING THE BAY RESILIENT BY DESIGN

Against the backdrop of record-breaking flooding in Houston and the Caribbean, the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge on Sunday (Sept. 10) announced 10 winning design teams to propose innovative resiliency projects along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The winning teams were selected by an independent jury from a pool of over 50 applicants, and include several Bay Area Council member companies, including AECOM, Arup, Gensler, and Andy Ball. The winning teams are now spending the next few weeks taking whirlwind tours of the entire Bay shoreline, meeting with local officials and community groups along the way to get a better understanding of the Bay’s diverse needs, culminating in the unveiling of 10 project proposals in May 2018.

The Rockefeller Foundation selected the Bay Area to host the first Resilient by Design challenge following the region’s approval of Measure AA, the June 2016 parcel tax measure that raises $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and flood protection improvements along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The Bay Area Council played a leading role in the Measure AA campaign, and serves on the Executive Board of Resilient by Design. To learn more about the Council’s resiliency work, or about the Resilient by Design challenge, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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Bay Area Coalition Hails Assembly Passage of Traffic Busting Bill

A coalition representing many of the Bay Area’s largest employers and millions of workers and residents today hailed the state Assembly passage of legislation (SB 595—Beall) that promises major investments across the region to ease traffic congestion, fix nagging highway bottlenecks and dramatically expand mass transit services. The Keep the Bay Area Moving coalition, which is led by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Alliance for Jobs and SPUR, has been working for over a year with Bay Area legislators and transportation planners to craft the bill and is now urging the state Senate to give its approval and Gov. Brown to sign it into law.

“The Bay Area has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a big whack at traffic congestion,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Worsening traffic is ruining our quality of life, damaging our environment and hurting our economy, but this bill gives Bay Area voters the chance to turn the tables on highway congestion and overcrowded transit. We are calling on the Senate to approve and Gov. Brown to sign SB 595 and give voters the chance to approve a visionary regional traffic relief plan.”

The bill, which authorizes a regional ballot measure in June 2018, outlines a bold, balanced plan that focuses on making big fixes to the Bay Area’s transportation system with the primary goals of reducing or eliminating some of the region’s worst highway backups, getting cars off congested roads and highways and creating a modern, seamless public transit network that addresses overcrowding and better connects cities and employment hubs.

“Working with key stakeholders allowed this coalition the opportunity to find balance and fairness within SB 595. A compromise between the entire Bay Area on how these funds are invested is integral to our success,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a Governor Brown appointee to the California Transportation Commission. “Our ability to work collaboratively towards a common goal – easing gridlock on our Bay Area roads in order to improve quality of life for our workers and their families spells success for everyone in the Bay Area. It is through this lens that we support Senate Bill 595 by Chairman Beall.”

The bill includes unprecedented levels of public oversight and accountability to guarantee that all investments are made according to the overall plan, known as Regional Measure 3 (RM3) following two previous measures that voters have approved over the past 30 years. Specifically, RM3 would establish an independent oversight committee to review all investments, including making regular reports to the state Legislature, and create a new Inspector General position to serve as a watchdog for investments on BART.

Among the centerpiece projects included in the RM3 plan are:

  • Increasing the BART fleet and completing an extension from the East Bay to Silicon Valley
  • Improving key highway interchanges in Contra Costa County at Interstate 680 and Highway 4 and in San Mateo County along Highway 101 to ease traffic bottlenecks
  • Extending Caltrain to connect with other regional mass transit systems in San Francisco
  • Expanding regional water transit service to meet skyrocketing demand
  • Accelerate planning for a second transbay rail crossing
  • Adding express lanes along major highway corridors to move cars faster, including the Highway 101 Novato Narrows connecting Marin and Sonoma counties
  • Improving transit access in the Tri-Valley and North Bay areas
  • Reducing truck traffic that clogs highways and pollutes the air

“RM3 will fund a set of transformative investments that will start to get our region’s transportation system working again,” said Gabriel Metcalf, President and CEO of SPUR.

Polling done in June 2017 shows strong voter support for Regional Measure 3. The survey by FM3 of nearly 9,500 voters found 56 percent support for RM3, exceeding the 50 percent threshold needed for passage.

“Not only will motorists see significant improvement in alleviating traffic bottlenecks and improving transit service for everyone throughout the nine Bay Area counties, they can rest assured that their money will be spent only on voter approved projects thanks to strict accountability, financial safeguards and citizen oversight. By implementing accountability measures, such as the creation of a new Inspector General position, SB595 will ensure that the financial commitment to voters is honored and projects are delivered in a timely manner.” said California Alliance for Jobs Executive Director Michael Quigley.

RM3 would raise up to $4.2 billion and would be paid for by a bridge toll increase of between $1 and $3. The final amount of any toll increase included in RM3 will be decided in the coming months by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

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MAJOR TRANSPORTATION FUNDING MEASURE CLEARS CRITICAL HURDLE

After months of the Bay Area Council’s intense advocacy in Sacramento, a bill that could lead to major transportation improvement projects to ease traffic and transit woes throughout the region passed a critical hurdle in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week and heads to the Assembly Floor in a few days. SB 595 (Beall) would authorize Regional Measure 3, a nine-county ballot measure asking voters to decide whether to raise tolls on the state-owned bridges and generate $4.2 billion for critical transit investments and congestion relief projects.

The Bay Area Council has been advocating for a comprehensive expenditure plan that would address the biggest challenges in each county and massively enhance BART, ferry, and bus capacity across the region. We applaud the hard work of the Bay Area legislators for crafting a commendable plan that will make transformative investments throughout the region and provide widespread benefit to residents across the nine-county Bay Area. This is our only shot at significantly adding transit capacity and reducing traffic gridlock in the foreseeable future.

With approval on the Assembly Floor next week, the bill would go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and then to the Governor’s desk later this month. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a region-wide vote in June 2018, which the Council plans to take a lead role in organizing. To learn more about Regional Measure 3 and the Council’s transportation work, contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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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.