Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive

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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
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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.”

Read the press release>>

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.