Bay Area Council Blog: Newsroom Archive

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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.

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Restricting Immigration Hurts the Bay Area, Council Members Say

Recent actions and statements by President Trump and his administration on immigration, including an executive order ostensibly banning citizens and others from certain predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S., have sparked strong reaction and debate nationwide and here in the Bay Area. The Bay Area Council joins with many others that are expressing serious policy concerns about the ban and its impacts – social, human and economic.

A survey this week (Feb. 1) of our members – while not unanimous – highlighted the depth of those concerns, with 79 percent saying that the immigration ban will have a negative impact on the Bay Area and 13 percent saying the impact will be positive. A larger 88 percent of the 183 companies that responded said draft proposals to limit or do away with H1-B visas, which allow U.S. employers and others to temporarily employ workers in specialty occupations, would negatively impact our region as we compete for talent in a global economy, while 9 percent said the Bay Area would benefit from restrictions.

As a member-driven, nonpartisan organization that has focused for more than 70 years on making the Bay Area the most innovative, globally competitive, and sustainable region in the world, the Bay Area Council knows well the incredible value and importance of both home-grown and immigrant talent to our region, and nation.

The Bay Area is the thriving, diverse and economically productive region it is today because of the immense contributions that immigrants have made over many, many generations. Our many strong connections with the global community interweave natives and immigrants into the business, social and cultural fabric and history of the Bay Area, a region that firmly embraces the values of inclusion, diversity and freedom.

Many of our greatest companies have been founded by former immigrants – and the children and grandchildren of immigrants — who came here seeking opportunity and the freedom to realize their dreams. Some are here temporarily. Most become regular American citizens. They have been responsible for some of our greatest discoveries—discoveries that have made the United States and the world a better place for millions of people. They have been a tremendous source of ideas, innovation, investment and leadership. And, immigrants have been a great source of talent for our many employers.

Protecting our national interests and the safety of our citizens is extremely important, but we must be equally careful not to infringe on the civil and human rights for which we stand. The Bay Area Council has long advocated for federal action on immigration reform, and we continue to believe that such reform should be developed comprehensively and thoughtfully.

 

Sample of anonymous pro and con comments from the survey

“California is the manifestation of immigrant ingenuity and investment. This state is held as an example across the world of what an economy looks like when we unleash boundless opportunity. These [Executive Orders] will damage the talent pool, thereby limiting the source of new ideas and energy. Growth always suffers when we shut the door on immigrants.”

“I believe we needed to do something. We will adjust and adapt as we always have. Citizens first. Immigrants 2nd, so long as they follow the proper rules to become citizens.”

“These executive orders are extremely damaging, in terms of inhumane treatment of people, violation of civil liberties, economic health of the region, state and nation, and national security.”

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TOP ECONOMISTS, BUSINESS LEADERS GIVE ECONOMIC FORECASTS ON INAUGURATION DAY

As the world watched the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 10th Annual Economic Forecast presented by McKinsey & Company and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco convened leading economists and top experts to give their economic forecast for the Bay Area, California, and the nation.

The prognosis was clear. As we usher in the new administration, we are on stable footing. Dr. Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and a leading expert on the California economy, presented on a set of economic indicators, showing that much of the national political rhetoric around stagnant wages, the impact of trade, and unemployment is not borne out in the economic data. Labor markets are tight and becoming tighter across most of the United States. This is particularly true in California where the housing supply problem is one of the biggest challenges to continued growth. He also assessed that, while GDP is growing relatively slowly, it is growing and economic fundamentals, such as consumer spending, remain strong. Among the challenges cited for slow growth were self-inflcted wounds and political gridlock, a weak global economy, and the shift to an information economy among others.  And, while there is little chance for a recession (for now), uncertainty surrounding the new administration’s policy agenda clouds the view forward. There are broad ramifications for potential change in policy in healthcare, immigration, social insurance, trade, manufacturing, and more.

San Francisco Fed President and Council Executive Committee member John Williams offered an exclusive perspective on the U.S. economy and federal monetary policy. Williams talked about the dynamics surrounding the U.S. labor market and how the Fed is likely to gradually increase its interest rate targets over time so that the economy grows without risking a bubble. Williams emphasized how the central bank is not influenced by partisan politics, staying politically independent, data-driven and focused on its narrow goals to promote low inflation, full employment and financial stability.

Bay Area Council Economic Institute Chair and McKinsey & Company Western Region Managing Partner Kausik Rajgopal and Aspen Institute Fellow Natalie Foster explored the “Future of the Worker” in the new age of automation and the growing gig economy. In the Bay Area, the independent workforce is 30 percent of the working age population with most digital independents working in order to earn when traditional jobs falter, to provide extra income for high cost of living or to buffer uneven income streams. One of the key points discussed was how automation is focused on specific activities rather than entire jobs, and can spur more job growth.

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Council Secures Grant for New, Innovative Workforce Program

A regional initiative the Bay Area Council is leading to increase employment opportunities for young men of color in the Bay Area got a major boost with the award of a $150,000 grant from California Workforce Development Board. The funding will enable the Council and its partners, including LeadersUp, PolicyLink and the Urban Strategies Council, to launch an innovative hiring and training pilot program that leverages our considerable network of large Bay Area employers. The Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership (BAYEP) was created last year to address the yawning gap between employers’ urgent need for entry- and middle-skills jobs and the large number of young men of color that are seeking work. Under the pilot program, five Bay Area employers will be recruited to work with BAYEP in developing a seamless process for training and hiring young men of color and building pathways within companies to enable workers to move up the employment ladder. Using findings and results from the pilot project, the program would later be scaled to include more employers and workers. To engage in the Council’s workforce policy, please contact Policy Associate Rachele Trigueros.

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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>>

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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

HUB STUDY

  • 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

PROGRESS REPORT

  • $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%
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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.

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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.

 

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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.