Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive

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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.”

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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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By the Numbers: Solving the Housing Affordability Crisis

A groundbreaking analysis of San Francisco’s housing crisis released this week (Oct. 19) by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute identified which solutions work to make housing more affordable and those that make it worse. The study compares 20 different strategies – from eliminating parking requirements to fast-tracking four major developments to imposing moratoria on market-rate housing – and puts a number on the households that would move above or below a 30 percent housing cost-to-income ratio, the conventional measure of housing cost burden. It shined a glaring light on some policies, like inclusionary zoning, that actually do the opposite of what they’re intended to do.

Among the findings, boosting the number of in-law units in the city would improve housing affordability for 12,933 households. Expediting completion of major housing development, including the Hunters Point Shipyard and Treasure Island, would improve affordability for 19,154 households. On the flip, requiring builders to make 25 percent of units in a new housing development below market rate, would worsen affordability citywide for 5,408 households. Outlawing homesharing and the income it provides would make the city less affordable for 1,556 households. A 2014 ballot measure that limits waterfront development makes the city less affordable for 4,005 households.

Adding them together, the strategies that would improve affordability would reduce the housing cost burden for 74,895 households or half of those whose housing costs exceed the accepted 30 percent threshold. Strategies that would worsen affordability would increase the housing cost burden for 42,418 households.

Read Solving the Housing Affordability Crisis>>

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Election 2016: Bay Area Council Positions

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee approved positions on various state, regional and local ballot measures and propositions appearing on the November 2016 ballot.

County, Local and Regional Measures
Measure RR (Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco counties): Support
Provide $3.5 billion to fix and modernize BART mass transit system. (Pass: 70.1%)

Measure B (Santa Clara County): Support
Provide $6.5 billion over 30 years to improve mass transit, fix local roads and reduce congestion. (Pass: 70.8%)

Measure X (Contra Costa County): Support
Provide $2.9 billion over 30 years to improve mass transit, fix local roads and reduce congestion. (Fail: 62.54%)

Measure A1 (Alameda County): Support
Provide $580 million for various affordable housing and rental assistance programs. (Pass: 72.3%)

Measure A (Santa Clara County): Support
Provide $950 million for various affordable housing and rental assistance programs. (Pass: 67.2%)

Measure KK (City of Oakland): Support
Provide $600 million for affordable housing, road repair and vital city services. (Pass: 82.4%)

Statewide Propositions (all require majority vote)
Proposition 51 (School bonds): Support
Authorize $9 billion in general obligation bonds to address California’s multi-billion dollar backlog of school construction and modernization projects. (Pass: 54%)

Proposition 52 (Healthcare): Support
Ensure that the fees paid by hospitals to the state maximize the available federal matching funds and are used for their intended purpose of providing healthcare. (Pass: 69.6%)

Proposition 53 (Voter approval for infrastructure bonds): Oppose
Require voter approval before the state could issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds that would require an increase in taxes or fees for repayment. (Fail: 48.55%)

Proposition 54 (Government transparency): Support
Prohibit any bill from being passed by either house of the Legislature until it has been printed and posted online for at least 72 hours. Other open government reforms. (Pass: 64.3%)

Proposition 55 (Prop. 30 extension): Oppose
Extend the personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000 approved in 2012 for 12 years, allowing the tax increase to expire in 2019. (Pass: 62.1%)

Proposition 56 (Cigarette tax increase): Support
Increase cigarette tax by $2 per pack to fund existing healthcare programs, tobacco use prevention/control programs, and tobacco-related disease research. (Pass: 62.9%)

Proposition 58 (Non-English language in schools): Support
Allow non-English languages to be used in public education in California. (Pass: 72.4%)

Proposition 67 (Ban single-use plastic bags): Support
A referendum on whether to uphold or overturn the 2014 California law (SB 270) to ban single-use plastic bags. (Pass: 51.9%)

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Council Forms Megaregion Partnership with Sacramento to Keep Jobs, Grow Economy

The Bay Area Council today  announced a new partnership with the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council  as part of a campaign promote the integration of the Bay Area and the Capital Region into a single high-performing economy by developing and leveraging a joint civic, business, and policy platform. The #CaliforniaJobsMatter campaign will focus on the Sacramento area, the Central Valley, and the mega-region. Sacramento Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg and Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman will lead the mission.

“Our regions will come together and compete on a national stage to host some of the most innovative companies,” Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman said. “Connecting these regions through the Capitol Corridor will help drop commute times to under an hour and further bolster this competitive advantage.”

“The Northern California mega-region strategy will provide communities in the Greater Sacramento area access to opportunities in the most innovative market in the world, and vice versa,” Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council CEO Barry Broome said. “California is the world’s 6th largest economy and is the most innovative and profitable state for business – but we lack a placemaking strategy for communities that are without jobs.”

The Sacramento region is the competitive response against alternative economies including Texas, Utah, and Colorado, which are regularly targeting our key industries. The region has access to high-demand talent with 308,000 actively enrolled college students in the area who are adding to the already talented workforce. In the Sacramento region 31.1% of the residents have at least a 4-year degree and 49.4% of them are in STEM fields, the 4th highest amount nationally.

Connecting these jobs to the mega-region will stabilize the state’s economy, create employment opportunities, and keep tax dollars in California’s education and health systems, which will also help alleviate high levels of youth unemployment, decrease economic distress in neighborhoods, and support middle class employment for California residents.

“This is a great opportunity for us to partner with the Bay Area region and create a corridor for businesses to come and thrive in the Sacramento region,” Sacramento Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg said. “Choose Sacramento over Texas, our region offers talent and resources that can help facilitate the Bay Area’s rapid growth in a more innovative and sustainable way.”

Greater Sacramento will launch an office in Sunnyvale to further interconnect the Capital region with the Bay Area as one high-performing market, creating the Sac-Bay innovation corridor within the Northern California mega-region.

A growing rate of job loss in the state is masked by the strong job creation in the Bay Area. Such reliance on a single economic market puts into question the long-term economic sustainability of California as a whole. Robust, diverse, economies depend on a mix of advanced and legacy industries.

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the research arm of the Bay Area Council, in July released a report examining the emerging megaregion, including the need for stronger transportation and workforce development connections.

Read The Northern California Megaregion>>

The Northern California mega-region strategy will connect communities such as Sacramento, Tracy, Vacaville, Stockton, and others to the Bay Area region.  Greater Sacramento will work with the Bay Area Council to defend California-based jobs against out-of-state competitors.