Bay Area Council Blog: Newsroom Archive


What the President-Elect Should Know about Trade, Manufacturing & Jobs

A wave of working-class anger and discontent over lost manufacturing jobs is credited by many with helping Donald Trump win the White House, but a Bay Area Council Economic Institute analysis released this week (Dec. 14) suggests that a protectionist response on foreign trade and pulling back from free trade agreements, in particular, could have serious economic downsides for the U.S. and California. The analysis argues instead for boosting domestic competitiveness through aggressive worker retraining to adapt to an increasingly knowledge-based economy, reforming tax policy to incentivize new business investment and doubling down on free trade expansion. The analysis was released the same day President-elect Trump met with a number of leading tech titans for a conversation that was expected to cover many of the same issues. The Economic Institute is sharing the analysis with the Trump transition team.

Read the full report>>


Commuter Shuttles “Hub” Approach Means More Traffic, Emissions, Accidents

Replacing the successful system that private commuter shuttles use to pick up and drop off riders with fewer centralized “hub” locations would devastate an important mass transit system and choke San Francisco streets with traffic and pollution, according to a new study by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority. SFMTA estimates a hub system could result in an additional 3,300 cars on city streets every day, resulting in an additional 23,000 tons of carbon and 65 million additional vehicle miles traveled every year, and putting commuters and pedestrians at increased risk of traffic accidents. The study was conducted as part of an agreement that the Bay Area Council helped broker in February with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to regulate commuter shuttle operations.

“Less is more with the hub approach—more traffic, more emissions, more accidents,” said Adrian Covert, Vice President of Policy for the Bay Area Council. “This study confirms that the current system, which was developed thoughtfully over many, many months, is working well and getting better. Jamming commuter shuttles into fewer locations will drive down ridership, pushing thousands of riders into their cars and onto our already congested streets.”

The study examined four different scenarios for replacing the current system of 109 shuttle stops distributed along mostly large arterial streets with between one and up to 17 centralized “hubs.” Fewer stops would decrease shuttle ridership by up 54 percent, the study found, pouring as many as 3,300 more cars onto city streets and almost doubling greenhouse gas emissions. The “hub” approach would also mean the elimination of up to 230 parking spaces.

“This study was extremely valuable in showing that the current system for regulating commuter shuttles is the most effective in keeping down traffic, keeping streets safe and keeping our air clean,” Covert said.

The study findings are scheduled to be presented at the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, November 15 at 1 p.m. along with a mid-year review of the existing Commuter Shuttle Program. See the full report>>

SFMTA’s Board will also receive a mid-year review of the Commuter Shuttle Program, which clearly shows the city’s current regulations are working, and that shuttles are getting cleaner, more efficient, and moving away from non-arterial streets. The SFMTA found 76 percent of the fleet now meets 2012 emissions standards or better, up from 59 percent during the pilot program. Shuttles have become more efficient by adding over 1,000 riders using the same number of stop-events. In addition, use of non-arterial streets is down from 26 percent to 9 percent.

Quick Facts


  • Shuttle ridership predicted to drop by up to 54 percent
  • Equivalent of up to 3,300 more cars on the road
  • Up to an additional 65 million VMTs added to city streets
  • Up to 40,000 tons of CO2
  • “Increased risk of collisions in general”
  • Significant removal of parking
  • More competition for parking


  • $2.1 million in permit fees through August 2016
  • Ridership is up from 8,500 (pilot) to 9,800
  • Stop events are the same (3,200) so efficiency is increasing
  • Complaints have remained stable
  • Use of shared MUNI zones is down from 72% (pilot) to 57% (shift to white zones).
  • Use of non-arterial streets is down from 26% (pilot) to 9% of current shuttle stops
  • Use of vehicles that meet 2012 emissions standards or better is up from 59% (pilot) to 76%
IMG_0472 copy

Council Honors John Chambers and Jane Shaw

The Bay Area Council on Wednesday held its 71st Annual Dinner and Bay Area Business Hall of Fame presented by Union Bank, inducting Cisco Executive Chair John Chambers and former Intel Chair Jane Shaw into the newest class of business and philanthropic leaders. The evening opened with an announcement of a $100,000 grant by Union Bank in support of the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Project (BAYEP), which the Council is leading in partnership with several key regional and national workforce development groups to expand career and employment opportunities for a segment of the population that has been historically underserved and underrepresented in the workforce. Julius Robinson, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Americas for Union Bank, announced the grant and recognized Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Community Foundation, and James Head, CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation, for their partnership in the effort.

Watch a video describing BAYEP>>

More than 700 business and civic leaders applauded the induction of Chambers and Shaw into the 2016 Hall of Fame class. In his acceptance remarks, Chambers spoke about the importance of the award in highlighting the urgency for business leaders to embrace a new era of digital technology. Chambers said the U.S. is badly lagging the world in preparing to lead in a digital world that is rapidly transforming. He said that while the Bay Area is unquestionably the innovation center of the world, our success does not entitle us to relax. Shaw emphasized how proud she was to accept the award as a female business leader, reflecting how it sends a strong signal that the efforts many have undertaken to ensure equal opportunity for women in the workplace and in the boardroom is making an impact.

Watch John Chambers’ acceptance remarks>>

Watch Jane Shaw’s acceptance remarks>>

The Bay Area Council extends its deepest gratitude to Union Bank for serving as Presenting Sponsor, and to Premier Sponsors Kaiser Permanente and PG&E.


Council Explores Legal Options on Brisbane NIMBY Plan

The city of Brisbane made its claim for NIMBY of the year with its audacious proposal to accept 8 million square feet of commercial and industrial development on almost 700 acres of vacant urban land and not a single unit of housing for the thousands of jobs that would come with it. The city’s stunning rejection of any housing as part of the Brisbane Baylands project brought a quick and sharp response from the Bay Area Council, which on Thursday urged the city Planning Commission during a community study session to reconsider the no-housing plan and began exploring legal options for challenging any final decision on the project that doesn’t include a residential component. A state Supreme Court ruling from the 1970s found that local planning and development decisions must also consider broader regional impacts.

The Council believes that failing to provide any housing for thousands of new workers would have significant regional impacts, adding to the Bay Area’s already historic housing shortage, its choking traffic, growing megacommutes and overcrowded mass transit. Indeed, the Brisbane Baylands site owned by Council member Universal Paragon Corporation is identified in regional plans as a Priority Development Area because of the housing it can support right next to regional mass transit systems. The Council has long advocated for including housing at Brisbane Baylands. Legal action would represent an unprecedented last resort for the Council, but there is too much at stake not to prepare for a Brisbane decision that wholly rejects the city’s responsibility to consider the region’s public welfare. In addition to a legal challenge, an idea has been floated to annex the land to another jurisdiction that would be more amenable to accepting housing. Additional study sessions are scheduled for November and December and the Council will be following closely. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.


Aerial view San Francisco

Misguided Tech Jobs Tax Fails in San Francisco

A misguided proposal to tax San Francisco tech companies for creating jobs — a proposal we vigorously opposed — failed this week at the Board of Supervisors. The proposal called for levying an additional 1.5 percent tax on payroll expenses of many large tech employers. An analysis by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that was provided to the Board’s Budget and Finance Committee estimated that the tax would chill tech hiring and result in the loss of almost 3,700 jobs, including tech jobs and a wide range of other jobs across incomes that they support.


Bay Restoration Funding to Start Flowing in 2017

Fresh from the historic passage of Measure AA by voters this June, the San Francisco Baylands Steering Committee convened at the Bay Area Council on Tuesday (Aug. 2) to discuss next steps to improve the health and safety of the bay. Measure AA will raise $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration, flood protection, pollution prevention, and public access projects along the bay shoreline. The Council, with the support of member companies like PG&E, was a lead group in passing the measure. The steering committee estimates grant funding for projects will be available in late 2017, and discussed strategies for obtaining state and federal matching dollars to make Measure AA funds go even further.

In the near-term, the committee is focused on encouraging Congress to pass the Water Resources and Development Act of 2016, and streamlining regulations to expedite wetland restoration. The Baylands Steering Committee was formed at the urging of Senator Dianne Feinstein to help identify and create a regional funding mechanism to restore bay wetlands and improve regional flood protection, and is comprised of leaders from the Bay Area Council, Resources Legacy Fund, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Save the Bay, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

affordable housing

Council Battles Stiff Opposition on Fast Track Housing Bill

It’s do or die time for legislation the Bay Area Council is championing to help combat California’s epic housing crisis. As legislators returned from summer recess this week, the Council stepped up its advocacy for a bill to spur new urban infill housing close to transit that is affordable for working Californians. The bill includes reforms proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown to remove a largely redundant and often time-consuming layer of local review, allowing cities to give simple administrative or “by right” approval of housing developments that meet all existing local planning, building and zoning regulations and that set aside either 20 percent of new homes for middle- and lower-income residents or 10 percent when the development is located close to transit.

The bill is facing stiff opposition from powerful state building trades unions that use the local housing approval process as a negotiating tool to force union contracts. The state’s historic housing shortage is the main reason for skyrocketing rents and home prices that consume up to 60 percent of household income for middle class and working families and give California the dubious distinction of having the nation’s highest poverty rate. The problem has become even more acute as the state adds more jobs than housing units. A report this week by a prominent global real estate services firm found that the Bay Area added five times more jobs in 2015 than housing units. Without enough housing in the Bay Area, a growing number of workers are commuting longer distances and undermining California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the state’s aggressive climate change goals.

We need your help to keep the pressure on in Sacramento as the Legislature wraps its work in the next few weeks. Here’s what you can do:

Sign and share our online petition in support of “right to build” housing>>

Download our housing advocacy toolkit>>

GE Cover

First-of-its-Kind Workplace Gender Equity Guide Unveiled

Advancing gender equity in the workplace, especially at the C-suite and Board level, continues to be a major challenge for employers nationwide. The good news is that addressing this challenge would have a tremendous economic payoff as fully implementing gender equity best practices would increase US GDP by 10 percent by 2025 according to McKinsey & Co. To address the systemic underrepresentation of women in the workplace, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in partnership with Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s The Representation Project today unveiled a first-of-its-kind online strategy guide for businesses - Building Gender Equity in the Workplace – assessing the economics of gender equity and providing actionable practices for businesses to meet the challenge head on.

“We’ve made progress, but it has been too slow,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute “Gender equality in the workplace is not just a moral and social imperative; it’s a fiscal necessity to a stronger, more competitive economy.”

At today’s launch event in San Francisco, Bay Area Council Gender Equity Committee Co-Chair Peg McAllister of Lee Hecht Harrison welcomed a packed house. Following a presentation of findings by Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg, The Representation Project Founder and CEO Jennifer Siebel Newsom delivered remarks on some of the underlying issues blocking women from advancing as leaders, including unconscious bias and socialization of gender stereotypes.

The cutting-edge practices and strategies included in the guide enable businesses to take a holistic approach in evaluating their hiring practices, evaluation policies, compensation transparency, career development programming, HR policies, leadership diversity and workplace culture needed to grow the talent pool and advance women professionally. Special thanks to project lead partner The Representation Project and regional sponsors San Francisco 49ers, Intel, San Francisco International Airport, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Lee Hecht Harrison, Deloitte, Wells Fargo, and Suffolk Construction.

Read Building Gender Equity in the Workplace>>

To get involved in the Council’s Gender Equity policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.


All Aboard on Caltrain Electrification

The Caltrain Board of Directors drove the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project forward this week by approving $1.25 billion in contracts to begin design and construction of the electrification infrastructure as well as the manufacture of high-performance electric trains. The modernization project will double available capacity in response to skyrocketing ridership growth, serve stations more frequently, and reduce travel time.  It will also restore weekday service to Atherton, drastically reduce diesel noise, pollution, and daily traffic congestion on Highway 101 and local streets, and lay the groundwork for the future high speed rail service.

The Bay Area Council has led the charge to electrify and upgrade Caltrain, which serves one of the country’s most economically productive corridors linking San Francisco and San Jose through Silicon Valley. The contracts are now waiting on the completion of a funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration in order to proceed, and Council will continue to advocate for the necessary funding to keep this project rolling forward.

See Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wundermanand community partners talk about the benefits of Caltrain modernization HERE:

To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, contact Senior Vice President of Public Policy Michael Cunningham.



Can Megaregion Approach Help Solve Megaproblems?

The Northern California megaregion is one of the largest and fastest-growing in the United States, but the rapid speed and scale at which it is taking shape is creating megaproblems that highlight the urgent need for greater collaboration, investment and planning in the areas of housing, transportation, education and economic development, and goods movement, according to a new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released Thursday (June 30).

Read The Northern California Megaregion: Innovative, Connected, Growing>>

Encompassing the Bay Area, Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys and Monterey Bay Area, the NorCal megaregion is home to a complex network of job centers, neighborhoods and transportation corridors in 21 counties and 164 cities. The many rail, road, labor, goods movement, and innovation connections that currently exist between these once-independent regions provide evidence of a growing integration among them.

At the report launch event, University of the Pacific Provost Maria Pallavicinip provided opening remarks to an audience that included state legislative staff, city managers, and economic development professionals from across the megaregion. UOP provided data and research that helped inform the report. A presentation of report findings was followed by a discussion between Sacramento Area Council of Governments CEO Mike McKeever; Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome; UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor Dr. Dushyant Pathak; and City of Tracy Councilmember Nancy Young. The panelists explored the issues of transportation, housing, and job creation, and agreed that coordinated advocacy from megaregional leaders would provide a first step in securing more funding from state and federal governments.

By examining the economic and demographic changes occurring within the NorCal megaregion, the report offers an alternative vision for rethinking existing political, demographic and economic boundaries in a way that can suggest new solutions for some of our most intractable problems. To learn more about the Northern California Megaregion report, please contact Senior Research Associate Jeff Bellisario at