Bay Area Council Blog: Newsroom Archive

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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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Statement on Charlottesville Tragedy, Bay Area Rallies

The Bay Area Council today (Aug. 17) issued the following statement in response to reported plans by a white nationalist or similar group to hold a rally in San Francisco in the coming days on the heels of the deadly and painful events in Charlottesville, Virginia:

“In the wake of the tragic and awful events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, the Bay Area Council is calling on public safety and other officials in San Francisco and throughout our region to do everything in their power and to take every precaution available to prevent similar violent confrontations here,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Bay Area Council condemns in the clearest, strongest terms possible the hatred, bigotry and racist beliefs being promoted by the white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and other hate groups that ignited and fueled the horrific events in Charlottesville.

“As the Charlottesville tragedy aptly demonstrated, with Nazi sympathizers bringing weapons, these “rallies” would be expected to incite a strenuous reaction from the overwhelming majority of Americans who reject these hateful views and believe they deserve no place in our public discourse, politics, business, society or anywhere else,” Wunderman said. “Uncontrolled, these rallies are unpredictable and disruptive, threaten public safety and put the general public in harm’s way, cost considerable taxpayer dollars and often can result in considerable damage to public property, and local businesses.

“Expression of political views must be done without weapons and the intent to physically confront those who hold opposing views, and we call upon local police to make sure that bullies carrying weapons are not a part of political demonstrations of any kind,” Wunderman said. “For anyone planning to attend any such events in the Bay Area, we urge you to exercise extreme caution and even greater restraint.

“Violent white supremacy rallies damage the American brand, and those communities that foment and tolerate this kind of behavior will not fare well in the worldwide competition for jobs and economic growth,” Wunderman said.

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Statement: Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

MILLBRAE, CA— Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.  The Bay Area Council released the following statement attributable to Jim Wunderman.
“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”
The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project.
Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

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Council Hails Key Vote on Bill to Address Bay Area’s Traffic, Commute Crisis

SAN FRANCISCO—Following weeks of intensive advocacy in the Bay Area and Sacramento, the Bay Area Council today hailed a pivotal vote by the Assembly Transportation Committee on a bill that could lead to $4.2 billion in new funding to help ease the Bay Area’s traffic and commuter nightmare. The bill—SB 595 authored by state Sen. Jim Beall—would authorize a regional, nine-county ballot measure in June 2018 for a $3 toll increase on state-run bridges in the Bay Area that a recent poll found was supported by 56 percent of voters.

“We’re one step closer to taking a big leap forward in addressing the region’s transportation and traffic crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “With the funding that a regional toll increase would generate we can make important investments to expand mass transit like BART, Caltrain and ferries, ease congestion on traffic-clogged freeways and address the number one frustration plaguing Bay Area commuters. We applaud the Assembly Transportation Committee under the leadership of Chair Jim Frazier for working to create a balanced plan that makes meaningful improvements to the region’s beleaguered transportation system.”

With the Committee’s approval, the bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a vote and, with approval, to the Assembly floor later this summer for final approval before heading to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Passage is expected. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a region-wide vote in June 2018, which the Council would play a leading role in organizing. Voters have approved two previous measures.

The Council provided key testimony in support of the legislation at today’s hearing and has worked closely over the past few months with Bay Area legislators and many other stakeholders to shape the spending plan included in SB 595.

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New Oakland A’s Stadium Would Generate $3.05 Billion in Economic Impacts, Create 2K Jobs

Oakland residents and businesses would reap $3.05 billion in economic benefits over the first 10 years from the construction and operation of a new privately financed Oakland A’s stadium and the increased attendance and game day spending that would come with it, according to an analysis released today (June 20) by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. Building the stadium would also create 2,000 construction jobs, many of which would go to local workers and businesses under hiring agreements expected to accompany the project.

“A new Athletics baseball stadium would be very, very good for Oakland,” said Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “These types of signature projects come along only once every couple of generations. A new ballpark represents a significant and important investment in Oakland that will generate tremendous buzz and excitement, creating local jobs, supporting local businesses and spurring even more investment in the city.”

The analysis breaks down the economic impacts from the first 10 years of stadium operations into three categories, including:

  • $768 million from construction and related spending
  • $1.54 billion from game-day spending
  • $742 million from ballpark operations

Read the Oakland A’s stadium economic analysis>>

The study does not identify a specific location in Oakland for any new stadium and does not include estimates for the considerable additional economic benefits from new commercial development and other business activity that would likely be spurred by the arrival of a new ballpark. Noting that Major League Baseball teams can serve a very public purpose, the analysis said “the stadiums that they play in are often viewed as a public amenity, which can increase civic pride, attract new residents and businesses to a city, and act as a tool for neighborhood revitalization.”

The excitement around a new stadium can also lead to a significant boost in attendance, which is a major factor in pushing up game-day spending on tickets, merchandise, food concessions and luxury suites. The study estimates that a new Athletics stadium could lift annual attendance from its 2016 level of 1.5 million to 2.55 million in the first year of operation before settling back to an average of 2.4 million in subsequent years. That estimate is based on historical data from 12 other teams that have built new ballparks since 1998.

For example, when the San Francisco Giants moved from their windy, isolated stadium at Candlestick Point south of the city to a more intimate ballpark downtown the team saw attendance increase from 1.2 million in 1995 to 3.3 million in the first year at their new facility in 2000. Similar increases have been seen in Minnesota, San Diego, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh when those teams built new ballparks. Winning also helps bring in more fans, and the study acknowledges that the A’s success on the field would impact attendance totals.

The study is careful to use a variety of methods to identify just those benefits that would accrue exclusively to Oakland, and excludes benefits that would flow outside the city. For example, the study assumes that 25 percent of the estimated cost to build a new stadium would likely flow to vendors outside Oakland. The analysis also does not reflect possible increases in the significant community and philanthropic contributions the club already makes in Oakland and the East Bay.

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Council Statement on Tragic Shootings in SF, D.C.

Two shooting tragedies today (June 14) struck painfully close to home for the Bay Area Council. A Bay Area Council-led business delegation arriving in Washington, D.C., today for meetings with Congressional and Administration leaders was stunned and saddened by the shooting at a congressional softball practice that critically injured Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others. Within hours, another awful shooting at a facility operated by Bay Area Council member UPS in San Francisco claimed the lives of four people.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by today’s senseless and horrific shootings in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “There is absolutely no place in our society or anywhere for violent acts like this. That the shooting in Washington, D.C., may have been politically motivated makes it even more despicable, particularly at an event that highlights how we can and must rise above partisan differences to serve a larger purpose. Regardless of the motivation, it is our greatest wish that these tragedies will cause people to reflect on the need for more civility in public discourse and a greater coming together to peacefully and respectfully address our differences and move our country forward.”

The Council delegation in D.C. is planning to attend the Congressional Softball Game on Thursday to show our support for those who were injured and the bipartisanship that the game symbolizes.

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Statement on President Trump’s Decision to Withdraw U.S. from Paris Climate Accord

The Bay Area Council today (June 1) issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawing the United States from the landmark 2015 U.N. Convention of Parties climate change agreement (COP21). The Council has long supported California’s global leadership on clean energy and was the first major business group to endorse the historic California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. In 2016, the Council hosted energy ministers from the world’s largest 23 economies and the European Union for the Clean Energy Ministerial 7 (CEM7) in San Francisco—a follow-up to the COP21 talks—and next week is leading a delegation to Beijing for CEM8 along with Governor Jerry Brown.

“California and the Bay Area remain on an irreversible course forward to lead the world into a sustainable clean energy future,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Addressing climate change is not just an environmental or moral imperative, it is an economic imperative and an economic opportunity. California’s ambitious assault on climate change has spawned a vibrant and fast-growing clean technology industry that is creating new jobs, attracting investment and new businesses and producing innovative new products. It has also given us a strong competitive advantage in a sector we believe will continue to grow and thrive as more and more companies embrace a clean energy future.”

The Bay Area Council is working on a variety of initiatives focused on addressing the climate change challenge, including:

  • Promoting urban infill and transit-oriented housing development that reduces long, polluting commutes
  • Building stronger connections with China and other countries to expand the development and use of clean energy technologies
  • Championing investment in the expansion and modernization of mass transit systems, including BART, ferries and Caltrain
  • Leading an innovative regional effort to restore wetlands and build infrastructure to protect against the threat of rising seas and extreme storms
  • Advocating for investment and policies that support the creation of a new, modern energy grid to better integrate and manage growing renewable energy sources
  • Modernizing and expanding our water storage and delivery system to prepare for future droughts
  • Supporting business in adopting corporate renewable energy goals and strategies
  • Advancing the deployment and adoption of electric and other zero emission vehicles
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New Poll Finds That 25% of Homeowners Would Add an In-­Law Unit, Creating 400,000 New and Affordable Housing Units

SAN FRANCISCO—Amid the Bay Area’s crippling housing crisis, important legislation that took effect in January makes it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to build in-law or accessory dwelling units (ADU). SB 1069 authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski and sponsored by the Bay Area Council reduces parking requirements, discretionary permitting, and onerous utility connection fees that previously made in-law units infeasible for many residents.

In the recently released 2017 Bay Area Council Poll, a total of 25 percent of homeowners said they would consider adding an ADU. The Bay Area Council estimates that this could create an additional 400,000 new units—an even greater number than was previously projected when the legislation was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

The poll also found that 76 percent think the region’s housing shortage is threatening the Bay Area’s economy, with 40 percent of respondents considering leaving the Bay Area in the next few years. The Bay Area’s future workforce and talent pipeline of millennials led the way at 46 percent.  Encouragingly, the poll found 62 percent of respondents are in favor of building new housing in their neighborhood, up from 56 percent in 2014.

With the ability to build in-law units quickly and cheaply, the potential for new affordable rental housing in the Bay Area is massive and crucial to reducing the number of students, teachers, nurses, family members, senior citizens, and others being priced out. The expansion of ADUs has been tremendously successful in alleviating housing woes in other cities like Vancouver, which after passing similar legislation over a decade ago, has seen 35 percent of single family homes add a second unit.In Portland, recent efforts by proponents have resulted in an increased pipeline from one per month to one a day.

“Despite overall growing support for building new housing and the enormous potential of ADUs, challenges remain,” said Bay Area Council Housing Committee Co-Chair and Partner at TMG Partners Denise Pinkston. “We are working to overcome resistance in implementing the new law as well as raising public awareness among homeowners about this now more accessible opportunity.” The Bay Area Council is also working with local and national banks to develop a financing tool that ensures loan opportunities are available to construct ADUs for households of all incomes.

“While an important first-step in addressing the monolithic regulatory system that’s fueling the housing shortage, ADUs will not be able to single-handedly meet the monumental demand our region is experiencing. Nor were they intended to,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “Much bigger and significant statewide reform is needed to reduce regulatory barriers for all housing and build long-term relief.”

The 2017 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from Jan. 24 through Feb. 1, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

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COUNCIL HAILS HUGE VICTORY FOR CA ROADS, TRANSPORTATION

Bay Area motorists dodging potholes and fighting traffic can loosen their grip on the wheel after an historic vote in the legislature last night (April 6) that will generate $52 billion over 10 years to fix roads and highways statewide, ease congestion and improve transit. The win culminates a more than decades-long effort by the Council and many others to address a backlog of transportation work that has made California’s roads and highways among the worst in the nation. The Bay Area Council extends its hearty thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown, State Senate President Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for their courageous leadership in winning passage of SB 1 and to bill author state Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose and Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Jim Frazier (Oakley), who authored a companion bill in the Assembly, for their tireless efforts in guiding the legislation to victory.

The Council also extends its gratitude to all the Bay Area legislators who cast their vote in favor of making long overdue investments to fix California’s badly deteriorated roads and highways, including Senators Bill Dodd, Jerry Hill, Mike McGuire, Bill Monning, Nancy Skinner, Bob Wieckowski, Scott Wiener and Assemblymembers Marc Levine, Marc Berman, Cecilia Aguilar Curry, Rob Bonta, David Chiu, Kansen Chu, Tim Grayson, Ash Kalra, Evan Low, Kevin Mullin, Bill Quirk, Mark Stone, Tony Thurmond and Phil Ting. The Council also gives special thanks to Ceres Senator Anthony Cannella, who bravely crossed party lines to provide the votes needed in the Senate. We also want to thank our many member companies that signed letters, made calls and sent emails to legislators urging them to support SB 1.

The Council, as part of a statewide advocacy coalition led by the California Alliance for Jobs, worked feverishly into the night on Thursday (April 1) to help secure the two-thirds votes needed to pass the funding package, which includes a mix of fuel and vehicle taxes and fees. Improving the commute has been among the Council’s top policy priorities for years, and the win Thursday follows through on a pledge by the Executive Committee in early December to “double down” in our efforts to address California’s massive transportation needs, which have been estimated in excess of $136 billion. The funding has immense implications for the future of Bay Area transportation and mobility. With new funding to address the region’s long-standing maintenance needs, the Bay Area can now turn greater attention to growing the future capacity of the region’s transportation system, including extending BART and other rail lines, expanding regional ferry service and building out express lanes.

For the Bay Area, the funding package includes $284 million annually to repair local streets and roads, $135 million to improve local transit and $36 million for a variety of other major county transportation projects. As part of the negotiations for SB 1, Sen. Cannella secured more than $400 million in additional funding through the budget to improve the Altamont Corridor Express rail service that is a critical part of the Council’s work to build transportation capacity for the broader Bay Area megaregion. Under SB 1, the Bay Area is also eligible to compete for a share of $2.5 billion to address congestion on key transportation corridors, and the Council will be working hard to secure that funding. The Council will also be focused on enforcing strict accountability measures designed to ensure the funding is spent efficiently and responsibly.

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BAC POLL: ECONOMIC CONFIDENCE SLIPPING; GENERATIONS DIVIDED OVER HOUSING

The Bay Area Council is responding to recent results of our Bay Area Council Poll that show economic confidence slipping as the region’s epic housing and traffic crises take a serious and growing toll on residents. Confidence in the Bay Area economy sunk to its lowest level in four years, according to results released last Saturday (April 1). The Bay Area Council Poll found just 24 percent of those surveyed think the economy will be doing better six months from now, down from 50 percent in 2014. Millennials (18-39) showed less confidence in the economy than older generations.

See details of the Bay Area Council Poll results>>

Poll results released on Sunday (April 2) found that older Bay Area voters who have lived here the longest and own their home are far less likely to support building new housing compared with millennials (18-39), those who rent, and those who have lived here the shortest time and are feeling the worst pain from the region’s housing shortage and affordability crisis. Still, the poll found that 70 percent of millennials support building new housing in their neighborhood, compared with 57 percent of respondents aged 40-64 and a similar number aged 65 years and older. Overall, 62 percent of Bay Area residents support building new housing in their neighborhood.

The Council is working to leverage the growing angst over housing and traffic and changing attitudes about new housing to address these issues. The Council is building on the successful passage of legislation last year to ease the path for in-law units that we estimate could add up to 150,000 new affordable units. We’re working to grow awareness of the new opportunity to build in-law units and develop financing mechanisms to help homeowners pay for them. We’re also continuing our work at the statewide level to win broader housing streamlining reforms. To engage in our Workforce Housing Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.