Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive

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Bay Area Coalition Hails Assembly Passage of Traffic Busting Bill

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

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

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

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

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

Among the centerpiece projects included in the RM3 plan are:

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

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

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

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

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

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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 Report: Underdevelopment of Urban Infill Jeopardizes Bay Area’s Economically Significant Open Space


Key Business, Environmental Groups Unite in Unprecedented Partnership Around Sustainable, Responsible Growth

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Failure to produce housing in the Bay Area’s urban core and near transit represents a serious threat to the region’s open space, according to a new study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that makes the economic case for preserving natural and working lands and identifies opportunities for responsible development in the region.

Despite the vast opportunity and need – let alone a requirement by law to help meet California’s ambitious GHG reduction targets – the Bay Area has made glacial progress realizing only 57% of the full potential for infill housing development of its urban core. More, a recent sample of 65 Priority Development Areas (PDAs) conducted for Plan Bay Area found that only 235,000 of 337,600 allocated housing units were likely to be built by the 2040 deadline. Developing every infill parcel to its fullest potential would yield 4 million new housing units statewide.

The analysis estimates the Bay Area greenbelt’s value to be as high as $14 billion per year – with direct and indirect benefits stemming from food, recreation, clean air, natural resources and protection against sea level rise. “The Bay Area’s incredible natural and working lands are an essential part of our regional identity,” says Bay Area Open Space Council Executive Director Deb Callahan. “Our parks, open spaces and agricultural lands provide myriad benefits that are highly valued by our region’s residents – including the billions of dollars of economic benefits outlined in this important report.”

Read the full report>>

Building more housing and protecting open space are not mutually exclusive. “We need to develop responsibly and actually fulfill state-mandated requirements to build within PDAs, meeting transit-oriented, infill housing goals,” says Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg. “Smart growth will spare our open space and keep the Bay Area economically resilient, sustainable, and equitable.”

The Bay Area’s booming economy and record job growth, which show no sign of slowing down, are not being adequately matched by the right type of development. In 2015, the Bay Area added 133,000 jobs to only 16,000 units of housing. Inability to fulfill PDA housing development targets is forcing development further away from job centers, jeopardizing the region’s immensely valuable open space and undermining state climate change goals. Since 2012, open lands in the region have dropped from 322,800 to 293,100 acres. Continuous pressure to develop puts at least 63,500 acres at a high probability of development within the next 10 years.

Amid today’s extreme housing shortage causing skyrocketing rents and driving the median price of a single-family home to $700,000, over 100,000 commuters travel 90 minutes or more every day to their jobs from more affordable areas. As Bay Area workers relocate to less expensive areas in the neighboring regions of Central Valley, Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley, a fast-emerging megaregion necessitates new policies for sustainable growth that preserve valuable open space, as well as significant investment in our transportation systems.

“This report makes the case that protecting the Bay Area’s open spaces is an economic imperative and that by building new homes in the right places within our cities and towns we can meet our housing needs without jeopardizing our critical natural and agricultural landscapes,” says Greenbelt Alliance CEO Jeremy Madsen.

In addition to beginning more serious and immediate planning to address growing megaregional sprawl, the report provides a roadmap for responsible housing development through policy recommendations and strategies that protect and fund natural lands, streamline PDA project approvals, and reduce excessively high-costs of housing production, among others.

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Council-backed Housing Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

The Bay Area Council today (July 6) cheered the passage by the California Legislature of a bill by state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) that clears the way for the construction of up to 20,000 new housing units near BART stations. Introduced at the Council’s request, the bill would extend from a quarter mile to a half mile the distance at which BART can engage in transit-oriented housing developments on land it controls. BART estimates that the change could result in 20,000 units of new housing, including 7,000 designated as affordable, and reduce carbon emissions by 680,000 pounds daily. The bill now heads to Gov. Brown’s desk, where the Council will be advocating for his signature.

“Building new housing near mass transit is a no brainer,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We are facing a massive housing shortage and affordability crisis and this bill smartly leverages public land to serve the public good. Putting more housing near BART will keep jobs and workers in the Bay Area, reduce commutes and cut greenhouse gas emissions. We applaud Sen. Wieckowski for his leadership in authoring this bill and we encourage Gov. Brown to sign it.”

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Member Spotlight: DLA Piper Launches Global Scholarship Initiative

DLA Piper has awarded 21 scholarships to students from some of the world’s least developed countries including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia. Students will receive substantial financial support towards studies in their home countries, robust career mentoring from DLA Piper lawyers, and a series of global placements. The students selected are both high-achieving and ambitious to improve the rule of law in their countries.

DLA Piper Partner and Bay Area Council Board Member Dean Fealk said, “This project epitomizes our many efforts to serve as engaged and responsible stakeholders in our communities and around the world.”

DLA Piper Global Co-Chairman Juan Picón said, “Whilst the firm has a long history of supporting student lawyers and promoting social mobility, this program increases the depth of our work with a smaller pool of students, making it truly transformative…We hope that the students will use their experiences to strengthen the infrastructure within their home countries.” DLA Piper will award further scholarships in December this year. This initiative is part of the Break into Law program. Read the full press release>

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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