Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive

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Key Council-Backed Housing Legislation Advances

Legislation (SB 1227, Skinner) the Bay Area Council sponsored to address a critical statewide shortage of affordable student housing is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature, along with another bill (AB 2923, Chiu and Grayson) the Council supported that could produce an estimated 20,000 units of new housing ideally situated near the BART mass transit system. The bills were among a handful the Council either sponsored or supported this year to address California’s historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. Another important housing bill (SB 828) by Sen. Scott Wiener that the Council co-sponsored also appeared poised for the Governor’s signature following an Assembly vote today that sends it to the Senate for concurrence.

“It’s starting to sink in that California has a devastating housing crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We applaud the legislature for approving these bills and we strongly encourage Gov. Brown to sign them. While this represents a good step forward in addressing a problem that is hurting millions of Californians and threatening our economy, we really need a big leap forward to remove the myriad regulatory and other barriers that are a huge obstacle to building the millions of new housing units we need. We’re not done, yet.”

SB 1227 authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner allows housing built for students to receive a 35 percent density bonus as long as 100 percent of the units are dedicated to students, a minimum 20 percent of the units are reserved for very low-income students, and students experiencing homelessness get priority. The legislation is aimed at bringing relief for the estimated 800,000 college students statewide that recent studies have found are either homeless or housing insecure.

“College students are increasingly priced out of California’s extraordinary housing prices, threatening the Golden Goose of our economy,” said Matt Regan, Senior Vice President in charge of housing policy for the Bay Area Council. “If the world’s most promising students can’t afford to study here, they’ll go someplace else. This bill gives colleges and universities new tools to build affordable off-campus housing. We want than Sen. Skinner for her leadership in addressing our housing crisis.”

“SB 1227 will encourage the construction of more housing and more affordable housing for college students up and down the state,” said Senator Skinner. “Students deserve to focus on learning instead of worrying about whether they have a place to live.”

The Council also hailed the passage of AB 2923 by Assemblymember David Chiu (San Francisco) that would require the elected BART Board of Directors to establish guidelines for transit-oriented development for BART-owned land at or around BART stations. Cities would then update their local zoning to be consistent with these standards while retaining control over community design standards and final permitting authority. It’s estimated that BART-owned land could support as much as 20,000 new housing units. The Council made passing AB 2923 a major priority during this legislative session.

“This bill kills two birds with one stone, producing badly needed housing near transit that encourages commuters to leave their cars behind,” said Wunderman.

With the legislative session coming to a close, the Council was still working to win passage of SB 828 (Wiener), which would reform the state’s housing allocation system and hold cities more accountable for meeting their local housing obligations. Another bill (SB 831, Wieckowski) the Council sponsored this year to promote construction of accessory dwelling units, also known as granny or in-law units, previously fell short of the votes needed for passage.

The Council on Tuesday also cheered the passage of AB 2596 (Cooley). The bill, which the Council co-sponsored with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, would authorize the creation of a statewide economic development strategy. It would help improve the state’s economic competitiveness, bolster California’s resilience to an economic downturn and expand economic opportunity.

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About the Bay Area Council

The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here. Founded in 1945, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the voice of Bay Area business. Today, more than 300 of the largest employers in the region support the Bay Area Council and offer their CEO or top executive as a member. Our members employ more than 4.43 million workers and have revenues of $1.94 trillion, worldwide. Learn more at www.bayareacouncil.org.

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Council CEO Calls for Regional “Mutual Aid” Response for BART

Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman today (Aug. 8) called for an immediate regional “mutual aid” response by Bay Area law enforcement agencies to boost public safety on BART following a recent string of violent and deadly attacks on a transit system that serves an average of almost 420,000 riders daily.

“We need swift, forceful and sustained action to avoid future violent attacks and restore public confidence in the Bay Area’s largest mass transit system,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which was instrumental in the creation of BART. “Like we do in cases of natural disasters and other extreme emergencies, we must mobilize local law enforcement to partner with BART as it works to address a troubling spike in violent crime in the system.”

News reports have highlighted a string of deadly and violent knife and other attacks on trains and in stations in recent weeks, which come as BART is experiencing a significant overall jump in violent crimes over the past 10 years. Reports have also highlighted the challenges BART is facing in maintaining its own police force as the system and ridership grow.

“BART riders deserve to feel safe when they enter a station or board a train and not providing for their safety will push them into their cars and cripple our already congested highways and bridges,” Wunderman said.  “Not addressing this problem will have huge and negative implications for every city and county that BART serves, and for our entire region. A shock and awe show of force by law enforcement will send a direct and powerful message to commuters that we’re looking out for their safety and to criminals and other offenders to stay away from BART. New York has had great success with its Operation Impact in staunching all types of crimes. It’s a model we should explore for responding not only to the recent spike in violent crimes but to the ongoing litany of other smaller offenses, from drug use to loitering, that make riders feel unsafe and unwelcome on BART.”

Wunderman said police chiefs, sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies whose cities and counties are served by BART should convene a task force to discuss with BART how they can deploy officers to help increase patrols on trains and stations, among other enforcement and public safety activities. He noted that fire protection agencies regularly employ mutual aid agreements to share resources, provide for stronger, faster response in times of disaster and emergency and even to conduct training.

Wunderman commended an announcement Monday by BART that it is taking steps to bolster patrols by using overtime shifts and other safety enhancement techniques. The BART Board of Directors is scheduled to consider the additional enforcement efforts and Wunderman urged its quick approval. Wunderman also applauded police officials in San Francisco and Oakland for contributing officers to help BART, but said more needs to be done and that the dozens of other cities and counties whose residents use BART have a role to play.

“The Bay Area and its 101 cities and nine counties have a wealth of public safety resources available to us if only we can get past some of the historic territorial and other obstacles that so often get in the way of such a mutual aid response,” Wunderman said. “There are many examples of this sort of mutual aid response working effectively in other cities and regions and there’s no reason it can’t work here if we set our mind and will to doing it.”

“Violent crime doesn’t abide jurisdictional or city boundaries and we shouldn’t let those boundaries get in the way of using all available resources to make BART safe for all riders,” Wunderman said. “And there are many other benefits to public safety beyond protecting BART riders that we can realize by working together and creating flexible, scalable regional law enforcement mechanisms for addressing local crimes and other public safety needs.”

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Responding to New Threat to Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System

The Bay Area Council today (July 24) issued the following statement following a recent visit by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Yosemite National Park where he signaled that the Trump administration may consider a misguided and dangerous plan to tear down the Hetch Hetchy clean water and energy system serving 2.6 million California residents and businesses.

“Spending $10 billion tearing down perfectly good water storage infrastructure would merely be a monumental waste of time and money, if it wasn’t also a cynical and nefarious plot to steal the region’s water supply under the patina of environmentalism,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Hetch Hetchy is the primary water source for 2.6 million Bay Area residents and businesses. Eliminating water storage at a time of increased drought is economic suicide, but dehydrating the leading nation’s innovation economy is economic sabotage. We invite Sec. Zinke to meet with us and learn why this disastrous proposal has been defeated over and over again in the courts and at the ballot box and why we would be better served investing to expand our water storage infrastructure rather than getting rid of it.”

The Bay Area Council for decades has been the leading advocate for maintaining the regional Hetch Hetchy system, which provides reliable, clean drinking water to 2.6 million people and businesses in 30 cities across four counties, and generates 1.6 billion kilo-watt hours of carbon free energy each year. According to estimates from the California Department of Water Resources, draining and replacing the reservoir would cost $10 billion, and result in a less reliable, lower quality, and more expensive water supply and increased carbon emissions.

Sixty percent of California’s managed water supplies, including Hetch Hetchy, originate in the Sierra Nevada as snowpack. State water officials estimate the Sierra snowpack will shrink between 25 and 40 percent by 2050, and a recent UCLA study estimates that the snowpack could be entirely gone by 2100. In 2012, the Bay Area Council led the opposition against a San Francisco ballot measure that would have forced the city to spend $8 million studying draining and replacing Hetch Hetchy. The measure was rejected by 77 percent of city voters.

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Statement Denouncing Misguided Regional Measure 3 Lawsuit

The Bay Area Council today (July 10) issued the following statement responding to a lawsuit seeking to invalidate Regional Measure 3 (RM3), an initiative approved by almost 54 percent of Bay Area voters on June 5 to invest $4.5 billion to ease the region’s worsening traffic and expand and improve mass transit. The Bay Area Council partnered with Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR to run the successful campaign for RM3.

“This misguided lawsuit is a little bit like someone arguing that fixing a leaky pipe has nothing to do with saving water,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Bay Area bridges are swamped with some of the worst traffic we’ve seen in generations, traffic that is largely the result of the 70 percent and more of commuters who every day drive alone to work. Getting commuters and others out of their cars and into mass transit, including BART, Caltrain, local buses and ferries, provides a direct and powerful benefit to everyone who uses the region’s seven state-owned bridges. Regional Measure 3 draws a clear and indisputable nexus between tolls and traffic by addressing some of the most critical bottlenecks in the bridge approaches. In addition, RM3 effectively will add greater capacity to our bridges by directing 75 percent of funding to improving and expanding critical regional mass transit systems and providing other good alternatives like bicycling and walking. We’re confident this lawsuit will be quickly dismissed or defeated.”

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ADVISORY: Bay Area Council Economic Institute to Unveil New Regional Economic Profile

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – This Tuesday the Bay Area Council Economic Institute will release its biannual comprehensive analysis of the regional economy with exclusive data and insights on different industry sectors, the overall regional economic performance and jobs, and more. The tenth in a series of Profile reports, this latest edition examines a new period of immense growth and innovation, benchmarking the Bay Area’s performance against other knowledge-based economies to assess the region’s national and global competitiveness. One of the key findings in the analysis is that the Bay Area has moved into the top 20 of the world’s largest economy with a GDP of $748 billion.

It also examines the economic and policy challenges that continue to confront the region and megaregion, even in a period of extraordinary growth, and looks to uncover the next wave of innovation and renewal. There is extensive focus on how the tech/innovation industry is continuing to shape and lead the regional economy.

The Economic Institute will host a forum on Tuesday, July 10 from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. to unveil the profile and review the findings. Please contact Virginia Drake at vdrake@bayareacouncil.org or 415-946-8716 to RSVP.

WHAT: Bay Area Economic Profile Release

WHEN:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
8:30am – Registration & Breakfast
9:0am – Program

AGENDA:
8:30am
Welcome Remarks
Jim Wunderman
President and CEO, Bay Area Council

8:40am
Regional Competitiveness in
A Global Context
Alexis Krivkovich
Managing Partner Silicon Valley
McKinsey & Company

Kunal Modi
Associate Partner
McKinsey & Company

9:05am
Bay Area Economic Profile:
Continuing Growth and Unparalleled Innovation
Dr. Micah Weinberg
President
Bay Area Council Economic Institute

10:00am  Q & A

WHERE:
Bay Area Council Headquarters
353 Sacramento Street, 10th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111

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STATEMENT: COUNCIL IN SUPPORT OF GOVERNOR’S ESTABLISHMENT OF A WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

The Bay Area Council applauds Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislative Leadership’s decision to convene a conference committee dedicated to Wildfire Preparedness and Response. We are pleased that the Governor and Legislature are actively following up on the commitments made in January to ensure a solution focused approach to the critical climate change and weather disaster-related issues facing California. While this response is a major step for the state, we cannot understate the need to address the issue of 2017’s wildfire season liability.

While remaining solution oriented is critical, we need to ensure that those solutions are encompassing of the complex nature surrounding this issue. With the recent addition of Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s securitization bill, AB 33, we believe that the legislature is moving in the right direction to address the broader implications associated with wildfire-related climate risk.

The proposed legislation would enable the state to assist those directly impacted by wildfire through the issuance of low-cost, long-term utility-backed bonds to ensure compensation. The bill would modernize current legislation to address the financial demands resultant from the catastrophic wildfires. Most importantly, this approach would minimize costs on the customer while holding utilities accountable for any involvement in the fires.

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Council Urges Immediate Action on Comprehensive Federal Immigration Reform

The Bay Area Council today (June 20) issued the following statement on the urgent need for enacting comprehensive immigration reform and ending the practice of separating children from parents.

“The Bay Area Council joins with the growing number of business organizations, companies and other leaders across the country in urging the Trump Administration and Congress immediately to enact long overdue immigration reform and to end the “zero tolerance” policy that is causing the inhumane, painful and unnecessary separation of children from their parents along our borders. We need clear, comprehensive and fair immigration laws and policies that recognize the importance of immigrants to our country, our communities and our economy. These reforms should permanently address the fate of so-called Dreamers, and we strongly advocate for an expansion of visas for foreign workers and others who play a vital role in addressing employment needs and contributing to our economy.”

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2018BACPoll: Voters Hold Dim View of Tax Reform, Immigration Crackdown

As the national debate on immigration rumbles – from banning or punishing so-called sanctuary cities, fortifying borders, ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, restricting H-1B visas, to travel bans – Bay Area voters are drawing clear battle lines, according the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll.

According to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll released today, 55 percent of Bay Area voters disagree with the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Another 28 percent favor the stronger actions under the Trump Administration on those here illegally and 17 percent aren’t sure what to think.

“Regardless of what side of the immigration debate you’re on, there’s just one thing to know: our immigration system is broken,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “What we need and what we’ve been calling on Congress to do for years is comprehensive immigration reform. Immigrants have and continue to be valuable contributors to our economy and our communities. But we also need to recognize that we need a better, more accountable system for securing our borders, enforcing our laws and making sure that people are treated fairly and humanely.”

Republicans and Democrats are highly polarized in their opinions on immigration. The poll found 80 percent of Republicans think cracking down on undocumented immigrants is a good thing while 76 percent of Democrats disagree. Geographically, San Francisco led the nine-county region in opposition to the crackdown at 70 percent, followed by Alameda County at 59 percent. At 47 percent, Contra Costa County registered the least opposition to the harder stance against undocumented immigrants.

On another unrelated federal issue, Bay Area voters also weighed in on the tax reforms Congress approved last year and President Trump signed. The poll found 45 percent of voters anticipate their taxes will go up as a result of the reforms, while 19 percent said their taxes will go down and 21 percent expect them to stay the same. The results were similar across incomes. Republicans as a group was the only demographic to say their taxes would go down.

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, 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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2018 BACPoll: 4 of 10 Have Witnessed Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Almost four out of 10 Bay Area voters say they have witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace and a quarter say they’ve personally experienced sexual harassment on the job, according to results of the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which explored attitudes on a range of workplace issues.

Noticeable differences emerged among men and women. The poll found 41 percent of women say they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace compared to just 11 percent of men. And 44 percent of women voters say they have witnessed bad behavior compared to 32 percent among men.

“The #MeToo movement has helped end the silence on sexual harassment and discrimination, but we have a lot of work to do to stamp it out completely,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The disparity between how men and women experience the issue is very concerning and shows that our work remains ahead of us.”

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Still, an overwhelming 91 percent said they feel safe from sexual harassment at their current job and another 82 percent trust their employer to handle sexual harassment complaints appropriately, the poll found.

See the results>>

And while high numbers of both men and women say they feel safe from sexual harassment in their current job and trust that their employer will handle complaints in the right way, women are more likely than men to feel threatened and believe their complaints won’t be handled appropriately.

It is difficult to draw any conclusions from the results about the prevalence of sexual harassment within industries given the smaller sample size of each group. The poll found 16 percent of workers in the presumably male-dominated tech industry reported experiencing sexual harassment, the second lowest behind trade workers and much lower than the 35 percent in education and nonprofit fields.

On pay equity, the poll found 82 percent agree their employer attempts to pay fairly regardless of gender or ethnicity. There was only a small difference between the sexes, with 79 percent of women saying pay is handled fairly and 85 percent of men. Along ethnic lines, 88 percent of Latinos agree their employers attempt to pay fairly regardless of gender or ethnicity while 82 percent of whites and 81 percent of Asians believe that.

Findings among voters on several other workforce related questions include:

  • 33 percent expect a significant labor shortage in the next three years while 31 percent say there will be no shortage.
  • 66 percent have a favorable view of the business community
  • 83 percent say they are happy in their current job
  • 80 percent say they plan to remain in their current industry for at least the next five years

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, 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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2018 BACPoll: Can Transportation Tech Solve Bay Area Traffic?

Bay Area voters are embracing new automobile and transportation technologies, from ride-hailing apps to responsive traffic signals, drones and electric and self-driving cars, to combat the region’s awful traffic, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll.

The poll found a significant 69 percent of voters want traffic signals upgraded with technology that makes them responsive to actual traffic conditions, even if that means diverting money from other transportation priorities. Such technology has been tested in recent years in several Bay Area cities, including San Jose, Palo Alto, Santa Rosa and Hayward, but hasn’t been put into widespread use.

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Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft continue to be a popular choice for commuters. The Bay Area Council Poll found that from 2015 to 2018 those who have never used a ride-hailing application dropped from 68 percent to 39 percent, although there was little change from last year. Still, 74 percent said these services are an important part of the Bay Area’s transportation system and 56 percent say they have made it easier to get around.

“We need to put the pedal to the metal in developing and deploying new advanced transportation technologies that can improve our region’s mobility,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “It may be a number of years before some of these new technologies are fully proven, but that should not delay us in continuing to invest, experiment and learn how they can help solve one of our most intractable problems. With companies like Tesla and Proterra, the Bay Area has quickly become a leading global center for innovation in the automobile and transportation industry. It’s extremely exciting to think about how these technologies will transform the ways in which we get around.”

See the results>>

Many Residents Not Ready for Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars is one of those early-stage technologies, and they continue to intrigue Bay Area voters. The poll found 46 percent of voters willing to relinquish control of the steering wheel, down from 52 percent in 2017, but consistent with the previous two years. Almost a quarter of voters said self-driving cars can solve the Bay Area’s traffic problem, but the poll found 65 percent of voters remain unconvinced about their traffic-busting ability.

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That may have something to do with the fact that many voters in the survey still think it will be awhile longer before self-driving cars outnumber human drivers on the road. While 31 percent say self-driving cars will be the majority plying the roads within the next 10 years, 45 percent say self-driving cars won’t rule the roads for 11 to 50 years or more and 8 percent don’t see them ever taking over. The overall average time is 16.36 years.

Electric Vehicles Gain Traction

As California pushes to meet an aggressive goal set this year by Gov. Jerry Brown of putting 5 million zero emission vehicles on the streets by 2030, voters appear willing to spend a little bit more to help make that happen. The Bay Area Council Poll found that 55 percent would dig a little deeper to drive an all-electric vehicle. Still, voters harbor concerns about the range of electric vehicles, with 40 percent saying they wouldn’t use an all-electric car because they don’t go far enough on a single charge.

The support for all-electric vehicles is mirrored in voters’ attitudes about a proposal to ban all fossil-fuel powered cars in California by 2040. The poll found 52 percent of voters agree California should do away with gas-powered vehicles.

On several of the questions involving self-driving, ride-hailing and electric vehicle technologies, younger voters generally showed higher support.

Voters Embrace Ferries and Flying Drones

Ferries may not meet the strict definition of advanced technology transportation, but voters see them as a popular alternative to the region’s clogged roadways and other overburdened mass transit systems. The poll found that 66 percent of voters would take a ferry if it took them where they wanted to go. That should be strong encouragement for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which operates the regional SF Bay Ferry service, as it works on an ambitious plan to dramatically expand regional ferry service along traditional east-west routes and new routes connecting with Silicon Valley and Richmond.

Flying drones may not carry commuters (yet), but they offer the chance to remove cars and trucks from the roads. That’s appealing to voters in the Bay Area Council Poll, which found 54 percent support the use of drones if it means delivering packages faster, cheaper and with fewer carbon emissions.

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The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, 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.