Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive

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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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BAC Poll: Millennials, Older Generations Divided Over Housing Problems, Solutions

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, according to Bay Area Council Poll results released today.

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. And while 76 percent of respondents who have lived in the Bay Area for five years or less and 75 percent who have lived here between six and ten years support building new housing in their neighborhoods, a much lower 55 percent of those who have called the region home for 20 years or more are willing to accept building more housing near them.

“We’re shutting the door on future generations—sons, daughters, grandchildren,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We need to do much, much more to make building housing easier, faster and less expensive. There’s no other solution to the scale of the problem.  We’re starting to see signs that the message is getting through in Sacramento, and results like these can help us keep policy makers focused on the real problem of dramatically boosting housing supply. We also need local leaders to summon the political courage to reject entrenched and self-interested opposition to new housing.”

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Read the topline poll results>>

Although there are clear generational differences over housing, there was also overall growing support for building new housing. The poll found 62 percent of respondents overall support building new housing in their neighborhood, up from 56 percent in 2014. Support for new housing was most pronounced in San Francisco, with 75 percent in favor.

Millennials are less satisfied with their current housing situation than older generations. The poll found that while 70 percent of respondents aged 40-64 and 78 percent of those 65 years and older are content with their current housing situation, just 56 percent of millennials are happy with their housing situation.

The poll found 40 percent of respondents say they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years, an increase from 34 percent in 2016. More than double that, or 86 percent, harbor concerns that their friends or family will not be able to find affordable housing in the Bay Area. Another 58 percent say they are concerned about being able to find an affordable place to live themselves. Millennials are the most likely to leave, with 46 percent eyeing the exits, compared to only 30 percent of those 65 and older who are considering bolting.

Meanwhile, older respondents and those who have lived here the longest appear to be enjoying more financial benefits from the rise in home prices than those who have arrived more recently.

The poll found 84 percent of those here for five years or less and 73 percent of those here six to ten years said they haven’t benefitted from the shortage-fueled run-up in prices. Among those who have lived here 20 years or more, a much smaller 59 percent say they haven’t benefitted. Those findings are not necessarily surprising given that home values and equity build over time, but in a similar question almost twice as many newcomers (62%) as old-timers (34%) said the housing shortage has hurt them personally.

The differences are a bit starker along generational lines, with 14 percent of millennials saying they have benefitted from the surge in home prices and 41 percent of respondents aged 65 and older saying high housing prices have been a financial boon.

“It used to be an American goal that we would provide a better life to our children,” said Wunderman.  “I fear the sentiments discovered in this poll reflect a different mindset.”

With a historic housing shortage and growing employment pushing home prices and rents to at or near record highs, many of these findings will not come as a huge surprise. But they highlight the urgency of a problem that both state and local officials have failed to adequately address. The Bay Area is creating just one unit of housing for every eight jobs and state officials say we’re producing far less than half of the housing we need to keep pace with demand.

Almost across the board, the numbers paint a dark picture:

  • 84 percent expect housing costs will continue to increase over the next two years
  • 78 percent say they know someone forced out of the Bay Area in the past two years by high housing costs
  • 66 percent don’t see themselves buying a home in the Bay Area in the near future, consistent with declining home ownership numbers statewide.

The poll found that 76 percent think the region’s housing shortage is threatening the Bay Area’s economy, which has led the state and nation in creating jobs and generating major revenue for public coffers.

The poll also highlights differences in attitudes between homeowners and renters, urban and suburban areas, by incomes, between counties, and a range of other criteria.

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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Economic Confidence Slipping as Housing, Traffic Woes Mount

The Bay Area’s epic housing and traffic crises are taking a serious and growing toll on economic confidence, according to results of the 2017 Bay Area Council Poll released today (April 1).

Confidence in the Bay Area economy sunk to its lowest level in four years. While 53 percent of respondents in 2014 said the economy was doing better compared to the previous six months, just 31 percent hold that view today. Looking ahead, the results are similarly dour. 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.

Housing and traffic once again rise to the top of the list of biggest problems in the region, just as they have consistently over time, except in 2015, when California’s then-historic drought supplanted those concerns. The region’s high cost of living, which is tied closely to housing costs, also ranked at the top of Bay Area concerns.

“We are playing a risky game with the Bay Area’s golden goose,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “There’s an unquestionable link between our housing, traffic and cost of living issues and plummeting confidence in our economy. We’re making it harder and harder for the next generation of leaders and workers to live here, and it will have serious consequences.”

The poll found that 76 percent think the region’s housing shortage is threatening the Bay Area’s economy, which has led the state and nation in creating jobs and generating major revenue for public coffers.

Millennials and those who have lived the fewest years in the Bay Area appear to be feeling the pinch the hardest. The Bay Area Council Poll found 33 percent of millennials ranked cost of living as the region’s top problem and 65 percent listed it in the top three, compared with 16 percent and 44 percent, respectively, for voters aged 65 and older.

Weakening confidence in the region’s economy is consistent with softening attitudes about the overall direction of the Bay Area. The poll found a significant drop since 2014 in the number of people who think the Bay Area is headed in the right direction.  In 2014, that number was 57 percent, compared to 42 percent today.

“We’ve had a tremendous run of economic success, a run that has made us the envy of many regions around the world,” said Michael Covarrubias, Chair of the Bay Area Council and CEO of TMG Partners. “A strong economy creates jobs, attracts investment and fills public coffers with tax dollars that support everything from schools to public safety and the many other vital services residents expect. A growing economy also needs housing and a free-flowing transportation system, but we’re only producing one unit of housing for every eight jobs and our backlog of transportation investment reaches to the tens of billions of dollars.

Concern about a future economic downturn also intensified this year, with 45 percent of voters saying that the Bay Area will experience a significant slowdown sometime in the next three years. That’s up 8 percentage points from 37 percent last year. A recent analysis of state jobs data by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute echoed the decline in confidence, with the Bay Area failing for the first time in five years to create more jobs than it lost. The analysis projects the region is on pace to create 86,000 jobs in 2017, a steep drop from 142,000 in 2016.

Bay Area voters have a little more confidence in how they’re doing personally. The poll found that 25 percent are doing better financially compared with six months ago, unchanged from last year, while 29 percent think their financial situation will improve over the next six months. Another 55 percent say their financial situation remains unchanged from six months ago.

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, 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.

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 11 Percent From 2009

Residents Say Declare Traffic Emergency; Fix It, Tax Me If Needed

With federal and state transportation funds dramatically falling off even as regional traffic reaches new records, Bay Area voters are ready to take matters into their own hands. Bay Area Council Poll results released (March 31) today found 70 percent of think the Bay Area needs a major regional investment in transportation, even if it means raising taxes to fund it.  They do not appear patient and they want a coordinated measure across the nine counties.  A very high 83 percent of voters say they want a traffic treated “like an emergency” and they want Bay Area leaders to “work together” on solutions to be implanted in the next few years, which stands in contrast to a county or city-by-city approach.

Poll results point to the growing intensity of concern. The number of Bay Area voters saying it is harder to get around now than a year ago has climbed 35 points from 2014 to 2017 (25% said it was harder to get around than a year ago in 2014 and 60% say so in 2017).  So it should come as no shock that 81 percent agree traffic has reached a crisis level, particularly since the vast majority drive alone to work.

“There is no cavalry we can call on to save us – it is time to take matters into our own hands,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “With declining state and federal support to address the problem, current plans and funding almost exclusively targeted at maintenance rather than new projects, and an economy that continues to grow, the pressure on our roads and highways and mass transits system is unbearable. It’s reflected in just about every national traffic ranking and packed-to-the-gills ridership numbers on BART, Caltrain, ferries and other systems. We’re well past the point of small patches and little fixes, we need to go big.  We will huddle with our region’s leaders to find a strategy we all can agree on, and act.”

Agreement about the severity of the problem is almost universal, regardless of age, gender, county and many other criteria. Since 2014, the percentage of voters listing traffic among their top three concerns from a list of issues in the region has jumped from 29 percent to 41 percent.

The disgust with traffic congestion comes even as more residents seem to be using other modes of transportation for commuting and other purposes like going to school and running errands. The Bay Area Council Poll found that 20 percent of residents use carpools at least two to three times a week, up from 12 percent in 2014, while those walking has increased from 27 percent to 43 percent over the same time period.

Ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber are also beginning to make headway, with 33 percent of poll respondents saying they use them a few times a month or more, compared to 15 percent in 2015. Further evidence that ridesharing is moving to the mainstream is reflected in the huge decline of people who say they’ve never used them, down from 68 percent in 2015 to 36 percent in 2017.

There’s also growing acceptance of driverless and electric vehicle technologies. The Bay Area Council Poll found that 52 percent of residents would ride in a driverless car, up from 46 percent in 2015. Still, there are doubters. The poll found that 21 percent strongly disagree they would be willing to ride in a driverless car, up slightly from 19 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the percentage who somewhat disagree has decreased, indicating that some of the increase in willingness to ride in a driverless car overall may have come from residents who had previously been lukewarm about the idea of relinquishing control of the wheel.

Not surprisingly, the biggest fans of driverless cars were millennials (18-39). The poll found that 60 percent of millennials would be willing to use a driverless car, compared to 50 percent among those aged 40-64, and 44 percent among those aged 65 years and up.

And while some automotive prognosticators had boldly said that driverless cars will be zooming around Bay Area roads in the next five years, the Bay Area Council Poll found that only eight percent agree with that timeline for having the majority of cars on the road be driverless, and the average prediction for having a majority driverless cars was in 16.25 years.

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 Supports Landmark CA Investment to Fix Roads and Highways

The Bay Area Council today (March 29) issued the following statement on the announcement by Governor Jerry Brown and top Legislative leaders of a 10-year, $52 billion funding package to fix California’s badly broken roads and highways. Council CEO Jim Wunderman attended the announcement with the Governor.

“In the Bay Area, we are either jammed in traffic or having our teeth rattled by pothole-infested roads and highways,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We need this bill.  It doesn’t just fix potholes, it has essential funds for traffic relief in our region on places like Highway 101 and 680. Our elected leaders should vote yes.”

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Statement on NFL OK for Raiders to Las Vegas Move

The Bay Area Council issued the following statement in response to a vote today (March 27) by NFL owners approving plans by the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas. The Council had worked closely with the City of Oakland, NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and Raiders’ supporters to advocate for keeping the team in Oakland.

“This is a heartbreaking decision for Oakland and the entire Bay Area,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We wish the Raiders well, but it’s extremely difficult to accept. There is no question there were many complexities in making a deal work in Oakland, and we wish the NFL could have been more supportive and more helpful in providing additional time to work through those issues. We think it was possible to get a deal done here that would have met everyone’s needs and avoided the painful disruption of a community losing its team.

“We applaud the determination and fight of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the dogged efforts of Ronnie Lott and his team, including Fortress Investment Group, to craft a strong, $1.3 billion plan for keeping the Raiders here,” Wunderman continued. “That plan would have ensured the Raiders got the modern stadium they deserve, met Oakland’s need for financial responsibility and avoided the loss of a great source of local pride and community engagement. This will leave a dark hole in our hearts for many, many years.”

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Council Helps Forge New UCBerkeley-China R&D Partnership

The Bay Area Council today (March 27) applauded the announcement of a new partnership between the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute at UC Berkeley and Zhejiang University (ZJU) in Hangzhou, China, that marks the first step in an exciting new research and development collaboration focused on cutting-edge technology innovations.

An agreement signed by CITRIS and ZJU was made possible with a $1.2 million gift from an alumnus of UC Berkeley, who is the Director of Zhejiang Zerong Network Technology Co. Ltd. This first phase of funding will be used to generate a vision and plan for the new ZJU-CITRIS Research Innovation Center in Hangzhou and attract support for a collaboration of much larger scale and impact on both regions. This global innovation and incubation hub will support the development of technology solutions in the areas of health; sustainable infrastructures; people and robots; and connected communities.

The Council, through its China Global Initiative, was proud to work with the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office of Government and Community Relations and under the leadership of CITRIS Director Costas Spanos in developing the partnership by leveraging our strong relationships in China.

“This new partnership has the potential be a game-changer in fostering cooperation on research and development that can benefit both the Bay Area and China,” said Del Christensen, Chief of the Council’s China Global Initiative. “When the Council entered China 10 years ago, it was specifically with the purpose of helping create opportunities like this. It’s gratifying to see this new collaboration between our region and one of China’s fastest-growing and most innovative capital cities begin to take shape.”

The Council operates offices in Hangzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing China, to support business access and cooperation between California and China. To learn about the Council’s China Global Initiative, please contact Del Christensen.

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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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Statement on Gov. Brown’s Proposed 2017-18 Budget

The Bay Area Council issued the following statement on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2017-18 budget:

“Gov. Brown’s proposed budget wisely reflects the uncertain economic conditions ahead, while also emphasizing the urgent need to invest in transportation and address the state’s massive housing crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The housing principles the Governor spelled out in his budget rightly focus on making reasonable, sensible reforms that offer us the best hope of addressing our epic housing shortage in a meaningful way for all Californians. For the sake of our economy and for the well-being of millions of residents struggling to afford housing in our state, we urge the Legislature to work now with the Governor to bring these reforms to reality this year. We can’t put off this problem any longer. The Governor’s proposals for investing $43 billion in our deteriorating transportation infrastructure also deserve immediate action by the Legislature as our congested roads and highways continue to crumble and our mass transit systems reach the breaking point.”