Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive

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Study: 20 Strategies for Improving (or Worsening) Housing Crisis

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute today (May 29) released a study showing how 20 different strategies – from fast tracking mega projects to eliminating certain parking requirements – can help improve (or worsen) housing affordability for thousands of households in Alameda County.

Although Alameda County has added 125,000 jobs since 2012, the number of new housing units permitted over that period has totaled just 27,505. The lack of supply has pushed home prices and rents steadily upward, with the median home price now standing at $800,000 and average rents near $2,500.

The housing shortage and upward pressure on prices that has resulted means 40 percent of Alameda County households – or almost 224,000 households – are considered housing cost burdened. That means they are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. The problem is even more severe for the county’s lower and middle income households, with those making $75,000 or less annually comprising 76 percent of the households defined as housing cost burdened.

The study analyzed how the addition of thousands of new housing units in transit-rich areas and the completion of large housing developments in several cities can boost supply and put downward pressure on prices and rents. For example, a plan to add 4,000 housing units in Fremont near the Warm Springs BART station can improve affordability for 2,821 households.

Read Solving the Housing Affordability Crisis>>

Strengthening requirements on cities to meet their housing obligations would improve affordability for more than 7,000 households. Collectively, cities across Alameda County permitted just 44 percent of the housing units they were required to approve. Legislation (SB 828, Wiener) that the Bay Area Council supports would bolster the requirements on cities to keep pace with housing demand.

While many of the strategies the study examined involved building new housing, some looked at how certain policies can worsen housing affordability. Expanding rent control to cities across Alameda County would worsen housing affordability for 10,353 households, the study found, largely by discouraging investment in new housing construction.

The study also looked at a number of novel approaches. Reducing parking requirements in Oakland by 10 percent across the city can improve housing affordability for 1,339 households. Maximizing the number of accessory dwelling units, also known as granny or in-law units, in Berkeley under statewide legislation approved in 2016 to streamline approvals of these units would reduce the housing cost burden for 604 households.

An earlier report by the Economic Institute looked at how similar strategies change affordability in San Francisco. Read the San Francisco housing affordability study>>

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Bay Area Council Poll: Newsom Holds Strong Lead in Governor’s Race

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom holds a firm lead among Bay Area voters in the June primary to become California’s next Governor, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, with two Republicans locked in a tie to advance to the November general election.

More than a third of Bay Area voters are still undecided about their choice for California’s next governor, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll. With absentee ballots starting to arrive in mailboxes, 36 percent of Bay Area voters say they don’t know who among seven candidates should replace Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento. There’s a little more certainty among just those voters who are most likely to cast ballots in June—based on their past voting history—with 26 percent saying they are undecided.

Voters who have made up their mind overwhelmingly pick Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, with 31 percent of voters putting the former San Francisco mayor at the top of their ballots. The next highest finishers might be a surprise in the deep blue Bay Area. Republicans Travis Allen and John Cox each tallied 7 percent, followed by Democrats Delaine Eastin at 5 percent, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang at 4 percent each and last-minute Democratic entry Amanda Renteria at 2 percent. 5 percent chose ‘someone else’.

Among likely June voters, Newsom’s support increases to 39 percent, with Allen and Cox each capturing 9 percent, Chiang getting 5 percent, Eastin and Villaraigosa each logging 4 percent and Renteria gathering less than 1 percent.

The results come as the election enters a critical stage as absentee ballots have been mailed and the candidates are pushing to get their message out to voters.

“It’s not over until it’s over, and Bay Area voters, while definitely showing strong support for Lt. Governor Newsom, still harbor a lot of uncertainty about this race,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council.

See the poll results for the Governor’s race>>

Women and younger voters are the most undecided. The Bay Area Council Poll found 43 percent of women don’t know who will get their vote, while 28 percent of men aren’t sure who to pick. For those that have decided, Newsom again is the clear favorite with 34 percent of men and 28 percent of women casting their ballot for him. Among men that have decided, 10 percent say they’ll vote for Cox and 9 percent for Allen. Next in line for women, however, is Eastin with 8 percent saying they’ll vote for the former state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Young women, in particular, are unsure about who to cast their vote for. The poll found 50 percent of Bay Area women aged 18-49 are undecided on who should lead California, with just 22 percent saying they back Newsom for the job. Women aged 50-64 back Newsom by 30 percent while women 65 years and older back the Lt. Governor by 42 percent.

Clear generational differences, regardless of gender, also emerged in the results, with older voters showing greater support for Newsom. The poll found that 44 percent of voters aged 18-49 remain undecided, with 26 percent backing Newsom. Second place is a statistical toss up among this age group, with none of the other candidates getting more than 7 percent of votes. Among voters aged 50-64, 33 percent put Newsom at the top of their ballot and among those 65 and older Newsom grabs 38 percent.

Silicon Valley voters registered the lowest level of support at 22 percent for Newsom among the Bay Area’s different subregions. The Bay Area Council Poll found 39 percent support Newsom in the town where he served as mayor and 40 percent support him in the North Bay where Newsom resides. The only other candidate to break double digit support in any county was Travis Allen, getting the nod from 12 percent of Contra Costa County voters.

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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New Study Will Explore Opportunities for Expanding, Deepening Bay Area, Fresno, Central Valley Megaregion Connections

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Central Valley Community Foundation today announced the launch of an in-depth study to examine Fresno’s important role in the fast-emerging Northern California megaregion and how the arrival of high speed rail over the next decade will dramatically accelerate economic connections between Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area and the state’s fifth largest city.

High speed rail is expected to shrink the time it takes to travel between the Bay Area and the Central Valley from more than three hours to less than one hour when it is scheduled to begin service in 2025 between Fresno and San Jose. That has huge implications for housing, transportation and workforce development across the megaregion and promises to bring exciting new economic opportunities to Fresno and other parts of the Central Valley. “Fresno and the broader Central Valley are key players in developing a broader megaregion strategy,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “As county and other regional boundaries blur with the emergence of the megaregion, it’s imperative that we get a handle on what that future looks like and the infrastructure we’ll need to put in place to support it. We can act now to address these issues or confront chaos later. The Central Valley Community Foundation is an important and indispensable partner in making that happen.”

The study will focus in particular on strategies Fresno and other Central Valley cities can pursue to leverage high speed rail and other economic and demographic changes within the megaregion to boost their own economic prospects. While the 10 percent economic growth that Fresno has enjoyed since 2011 matches the national average, it has lagged cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles where the rate has reached 26 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Expanding the Central Valley’s participation in the megaregion economy, attracting new business and elevating its workforce to meet the needs of employers will also be a focus of the study.

“Improved economic and infrastructure connections between the Silicon Valley/Bay Area and the Central Valley is good, not just for our regions, but for the entire state,” said Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation. “We are pleased to launch this work with the Bay Area Council and to explore meaningful ways to create new economic opportunities for Central Valley residents, businesses and communities and relieve pressure on the congested Bay Area.”

Swearingen kicked off the project on Friday, April 24 at a meeting in Fresno to identify the issues that would be addressed. The study is part of a much broader, long-term effort the Bay Area Council is leading to bring together top business, government and other civic leaders from the Bay Area, Central Valley, Sacramento and Monterey regions to develop a unified, integrated vision for guiding future planning for the megaregion around such issues as housing, transportation and workforce development.

Driving the Council’s intense focus on the megaregion is the Bay Area’s meteoric economic growth over the past decade combined with an historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. In search of more affordable housing, record numbers of Bay Area workers are being forced into longer and longer commutes from the Central Valley and Sacramento that are putting increasing pressure on an already overburdened and congested transportation system. At the same time, the Central Valley is eager to accelerate economic development opportunities that the megaregion offers and prepare its workforce.

The study with the Central Valley Community Foundation and support from Wells Fargo, UC Merced, Fresno State University, City of Fresno, and Lance Kashian & Co., is one of several activities the Council is leading to bring greater attention to megaregion planning. The Council is also working closely with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council on megaregion issues, including investing in better rail connections along the I-80 corridor and promoting the capitol city as a destination for businesses looking to start and expand outside the Bay Area.

The Council will be convening a series of meetings in 2018 to begin a dialogue with government, business, nonprofit and academic leaders on the future of the megaregion.

 

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About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives. Learn more at www.bayareaeconomy.org.

 

About the Central Valley Community Foundation

Central Valley Community Foundation has been a trusted partner in philanthropy in the Central Valley for more than 50 years. Our mission is to cultivate smart philanthropy, lead, and invest in solutions that build stronger communities. Learn more at www.centralvalleycf.org.

 

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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New Report: Early Childhood Care and Education Key to Advancing Gender Equity in the Workplace

Workplace cultures that promote and even reward crazy long hours are doing more than causing baggy, blood-shot eyes and caffeine addictions. They’re also seriously undermining efforts to improve gender equity. That is among the findings of a new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today (April 24) examining how long hours, inflexible scheduling, lack of access to quality early childhood education and childcare and other seemingly innocuous workplace practices can create an environment where women have less opportunity to advance and succeed. The report comes as the #MeToo and TIME’s Up movements are sparking a powerful national debate on gender equity and how both new and old workplace practices may be enabling a culture of inequity.

The report, in particular, explores how workplace policies and practices are often adopted piecemeal and in isolation from each other and how this fragmentation misses the crucial insight that gender equity, family-friendly policies, and early childhood care and education are intertwined. Employers who care about gender equity in the workplace, according to the report, need to understand the importance of high-quality childcare and early childhood education programs in the communities in which their businesses are based. Policymakers who care about providing universal early childhood care and education because of their impacts on child development and learning must also care about paid parental leave and other family-friendly workplace policies.

“We can’t begin to tackle unconscious bias, help women climb the corporate ladder, or close the pay gap until we develop policies and benefits that enable working women—and men—to reconcile the pervasive work-family conundrum” says Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Long gone are the 1960s where only 20 percent of mothers worked outside the home and the American family included a male breadwinner and a stay-at-home mother. This anachronistic model no longer fits today’s economy and modern workforce where 70.5 percent of U.S. mothers with children under the age of 18 are participating in the labor force.”

Read Workplace Connections: Gender Equity, Family-Friendly Policies, and Early Childhood Care and Education>>

The report is the focus of a conference on Tuesday, April 24 hosted by Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Oakland that will bring together leaders from the business, public policy, early education and healthcare communities to discuss strategies to help employers better connect various workplace policies and practices around gender equity, early education and childcare. A separate report by the Rand Corporation will also be presented that looks at how investing early education can pay huge economic dividends.

The cost of not adopting a well-integrated set of gender equity, family-friendly and early education workplace practices and policies is considerable, for employers, for women, for men and families, according to the report. An alarming gender gap in median annual earnings of 19.5 percent continues, with inequalities becoming even more acute for mothers in the workforce. New mothers in their prime career-building years between the ages of 25 and 35 will experience the most significant earnings shock. The analysis shows that mothers are still assuming twice as much unpaid caregiving and household work than their male counterparts, causing stalled careers and lack of opportunity to advance in leadership positions.

The report offers a robust set of recommendations for addressing not only the lack of specific workplace policies and practices around gender equity and families and their connections to each other.

Modernizing employer work models that integrate family-friendly policies is critical to advancing gender equity in the workplace. Generous paid parental leave, more flexible work time, telecommuting, and providing access to affordable early childhood care and education are critical to working families and supporting mothers in the labor force. Important early childhood care and education strategies for employers outlined in the report include on-site childcare, subsidizing employee childcare expenses, providing referral resources, partnerships with neighboring businesses and more.

What Stakeholders Are Saying:

“Currently, the burden of paying for quality early childhood care and education falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and particularly women who are sometimes forced to leave the workforce because they can’t afford quality care.  Increased public and private sector investments in this area will not only help businesses retain qualified talent, they’ll be helping to foster tomorrow’s workforce, since quality interactions between teachers and young children are linked to increased acquisition of social and cognitive skills.”

Patricia Lozano, Executive Director, Early Edge California

“When we think about now people are perceived for taking advantage of the policies that we have, it really is a question of how normal is it. Do you become the outlier when you decide to take the full eight weeks parental leave as a male employee who didn’t give birth to the child? Or are you seen as somebody who’s leading the charge to role model the types of behaviors that leadership said they wanted to have at the firm? And I think that starts with leadership not just endorsing the policies, but taking advantage of it themselves, but also recognizing that when employees do that, it actually is a commitment to the type of employee that the firm wants. It’s not an outlier that shows lack of commitment.”

Keith Bevans, Partner, Chicago Global Head of Consultant Recruiting, Bain & Company

“We actually give moms and dads both 12 weeks of paid parental leave. We do believe that the father has a huge role to play in the child’s life, and we don’t want them to feel different than the mom. So we give them both that baby bonding time, and we’re seeing more and more dads take advantage of it. We also want moms to ease back into the workforce, and so we give them an additional 4 weeks of part-time so that they can get used to the new childcare arrangement that they have and feel comfortable leaving their baby.”

Nina McQueen, Vice President – Employee Experience & Global Benefits, LinkedIn

“We believe that it’s an employer’s responsibility in these times to put forward family-friendly policies that provide flexibility, that encourage men as well as women to become caregivers, and to allow people to work remotely at times if that works for the organization. So that with those kinds of policies in place, we’ll truly see women be able to do all the things that men have historically been able to do when it comes to making commitments to their companies and organizations.”

Jim Wunderman, President & CEO, Bay Area Council

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New Report: California’s Healthcare Sector Key to Meeting State Climate Action Goals

New Report: California’s Healthcare Sector Key to Meeting State Climate Action Goals

Sector Uniquely Positioned to Take Lead On and Accountability For
Sustainable, Low-Carbon Transformation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Despite the recent 10th anniversary of California’s landmark climate change legislation SB 375 targeting global warming pollution, the state is currently falling short of its ambitious targets set to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2030 and 2050. Meanwhile, the devastating public health and economic consequences of climate change are ever-present in the wake of California’s deadliest wildfires, increased respiratory diseases and extended droughts. A new report unveiled today by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, California Clean Energy Fund and Health Care Without Harm – Building a Climate-Smart Healthcare System for California – assesses how the healthcare sector is uniquely positioned to play a critical role in helping the state meet its GHG reduction goals.

Read the report>>

California’s healthcare sector accounted for 13 percent of the state economy as total spending reached $292 billion dollars in 2016. However, this booming sector is also one of the most energy intensive, responsible for an estimated 10 percent of all GHG emissions nationwide. Hospitals represent the lion’s share of those emissions at 36 percent requiring significant energy to support operations, and unique heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs. Other key contributors to increased levels of GHG emissions generated by healthcare include employee and patient travel, facilities built,  products and equipment, food procured and served, and waste generated. The analysis estimates that California’s carbon-intense health sector could be responsible for between $1.6 and $9.5 billion in long-term damages each year.

“Transitioning away from fossil fuels and toxic chemicals is the most important public health intervention we can make to support healthy people and healthy communities,” says Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm.

With its mission to protect and improve health, combined with the huge economic costs of inaction, California’s healthcare industry is taking important steps to advance climate-smart strategies. Diving into case studies across the state, the report explores the cutting-edge innovations, strategies and investments being led by some of the top industry leaders like Kaiser Permanente, UC San Francisco, Dignity Health, Palomar and UC San Diego.

“Meeting state goals of bringing GHG emissions to 1990 levels will require the entire healthcare industry to act and transform,” says Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Just as California is a leader for the nation in taking action on climate change, healthcare can serve as a role model for all private and public sectors as it transitions to a sustainable, low-carbon future.”

“We know that when a sector seizes such an opportunity in its entirety, great transformation can happen that will improve the bottom line, build jobs and provide solutions to climate change,” says Danny Kennedy, Managing Director of the California Clean Energy Fund. “We want to start a race of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs driving the innovations and new business models to do this in healthcare.”

The report outlines key sector recommendations necessary to achieve long-term sustainability and resiliency. Energy audits of facilities, investing in on-site and off-site renewable energy, waste reduction, conserving water and purchasing local, sustainably-grown food are among the key industry recommendations. Advancing smart policy on local, state and national levels will also be crucial, including streamlining the approval process of energy-saving technologies, creating an enforcement arm for the Solar Rights Act, continued state funding for renewables and energy storage, expanding Zero Waste Principles, and creating a sustainable water supply, among others.

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About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives.

About the California Clean Energy Fund
The California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) is optimizing the clean energy transition by connecting money to investments, ideas to support and issues to solutions. Driven by the opportunity to accelerate climate protection, CalCEF is committed to creating 100%+ clean energy to benefit all. CalCEF’s family of initiatives seek to bring about the energy transition already underway, but sooner and better.

About Health Care Without Harm
Health Care Without Harm seeks to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. Health Care Without Harm works to reduce health care’s carbon footprint, foster climate resilient health systems, mobilize the health sector to address climate change as a public health issue, and advocate for solutions that accelerate a transition to clean, renewable energy.

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Voters to Decide $4.5 Billion Traffic Relief, Transit Improvement Plan

The Bay Area Council today (Jan. 24)  loudly cheered a decision by the Bay Area Toll Authority to seek voter approval in June 2018 for Regional Measure 3 (RM3), a comprehensive plan to invest $4.5 billion to attack the region’s record traffic by fixing bottlenecks along key freeway corridors and improving and expanding transit services. The Bay Area Council is partnering with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR to lead a campaign to pass RM3, which requires majority voter approval of all nine Bay Area counties.

“RM3 gives us a fighting chance to get a handle on Bay Area traffic,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The significant investments RM3 will make in all nine counties will hit directly at our worst congestion problems and add major capacity to existing mass transit systems like BART, ferries and Caltrain. We applaud the Toll Authority for giving voters the chance to take control of their transportation future. Traffic and overcrowded transit systems are costing commuters hundreds of dollars a year in lost time and fuel and robbing them of time better spent with family and other activities. The fixes that RM3 will make to ease traffic and improve transit will also help ensure we maintain our strong economy.”

Legislation by state Sen. Jim Beall last year authorized the Toll Authority to place RM3 on the ballot. RM3 would increase tolls on state-owned bridges by $3, with $1 increases made over six years. A recent poll by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission found sufficient support to pass RM3, but that an aggressive campaign would be necessary to educate and inform voters about the many benefits it would bring.

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Bay Area Leads Nation in Squeezing Most Economic Value from Water

The Bay Area not only is one of the stingiest water users in the country it also squeezes more economic value out of every precious drop than any major metropolitan area in the nation, according to a new analysis the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today. The findings come as state officials consider cutting water flows to the Bay Area.

San Francisco led U.S. counties with over $1.32 million of gross domestic product (GDP) generated per acre-foot of water consumed, while Silicon Valley led US metropolitan regions with almost $504,000 in GDP per acre-foot of water consumed, the study found. One acre foot equals 325,851 gallons or about the amount of water used by 11 Californians per year.

“Nobody gets more bang per gallon than Bay Area residents and businesses” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Public policy should encourage population and economic growth in the most water efficient ways possible, including supporting development in areas with a proven track record of economic efficiency with our limited water supplies.”

The findings come as the State Water Resources Control Board discusses a plan to reduce water diversions from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, including the Tuolumne River. In an average year, approximately 48 percent of Tuolumne River water is diverted to the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts, 38 percent remains in the river, and 14 percent serves the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and its 2.6 million customers in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and the East Bay. Residents in the SFPUC service area use an average 54 gallons per day, compared to the California state average of 82 gallons.

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California Businesses Launch Major New Climate Resilience Initiative

The Bay Area Council today launched the “California Climate Challenge,” a major new initiative to strengthen California’s resilience to climate change. The statewide challenge will attract resources from across the business community to support research, planning, and implementation of community-level resilience projects and policies focused on California’s water, energy and telecommunications infrastructure, as well as its natural ecosystems and the wildland-urban interface.

The effort is being jumpstarted with a $1 million contribution from PG&E Corporation to the Bay Area Council Foundation. The total amount raised through the challenge – and final details on its scope – will be announced in concert with the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September 2018. PG&E’s contribution will come from its shareholders, not its customers.

“California’s business climate is inseparable from its actual climate,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Much of California’s infrastructure was built under a colder, wetter, more predictable climate than we have today. Protecting our homes and employment centers from extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and wildfires, requires a top-to-bottom assessment of our existing resilience, and fresh thinking on how to best adapt.”

“We are already experiencing the reality of climate change in California,” said Geisha Williams, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation. “PG&E is incorporating this ‘new normal’ into how we manage risks, plan, and invest our resources. But our collective response to extreme events such as the tragic North Bay firestorms must go beyond the immediate work of rebuilding what was lost. A focus on resilience will strengthen our communities for the future.”

“We applaud this initiative to fund a public-private partnership for climate resilience in California,” said Mindy Lubber, CEO of Ceres, a leading sustainability non-profit organization. “Businesses are concerned about climate risks, which have the potential to cause wide-ranging disruptions to their operations and supply chains. Corporate support for tackling climate change is only growing stronger, and companies clearly see the benefit of staying ahead of the game and doing their part.”

Need for Action

Climate change will push California’s already volatile weather system to further extremes, increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, heat waves, flooding, and wildfires, and drive longer-term changes such as rising sea levels. California’s recent drought included the driest three-year period in the state in 1,200 years, including the hottest year ever recorded. Conversely, Northern California just experienced the wettest “water year” in its recorded history, resulting in severe infrastructure damage at California’s largest reservoir. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than 100 million trees have died in California since 2010 and Cal Fire’s budget has increased by 45 percent since 2014 to address successive record wildfire seasons.

The California Department of Water Resources predicts the Sierra snowpack, which accounts for over a third of California’s total water supply, will decline by up to 65 percent by the end of this century, straining California’s farms, cities and ecosystems. On our coastlines, sea levels at the Golden Gate are projected to rise 6-13 inches by 2050, on top of the eight-inch rise measured in the 20th century. According to a study from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the Bay Area alone could suffer over $10 billion in damages (about the same as Loma Prieta earthquake) during an extreme storm under current sea levels.

These and other changes have the potential to negatively impact the health and safety of communities throughout the state, and undermine California’s economic prosperity. California companies are integral to the sustainability of the communities they serve — and have a unique responsibility to help them prepare for, withstand and recover from extreme events caused by climate change.

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Council Announces $3.3 Million for North Bay Fire Relief

The Bay Area Council raised more than $3.3 million for North Bay fire relief during its Annual Dinner and Bay Area Business Hall of Fame event on Nov. 9, including a $2 million contribution announced by Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson on behalf of the Oakland-based healthcare giant. Another $1.3 million, including a $500,000 matching grant by Verizon Wireless, was tallied during a live Raise a Paddle fundraising auction at the dinner, where Tyson was formally installed as new Chair of the Council. A gift package donated for the auction by the Golden State Warriors that included two courtside tickets, a pre-game dinner with owner Joe Lacob and a briefing with Coach Steve Kerr alone raised $65,000.

“The Bay Area is a close knit community that looks after its own and we’re proud of the generous response by our member companies to the awful tragedy in the North Bay,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Kaiser Permanente and Bernard Tyson set the tone for the amazing outpouring of support we have received. These contributions will go directly to community organizations in the North Bay that are working tirelessly to help thousands of residents, businesses and others recover from the horrific fires and rebuild their lives.”

The Council is partnering with non-profit Tipping Point on the Band Together Bay Area fire relief campaign along with Council members Salesforce, San Francisco Giants and Google, among others. The support raised at the Annual Dinner is part of an estimated almost $20 million in overall contributions and in-kind support donated by Council member companies to the fire relief effort so far, including groups not affiliated with Band Together.

List of Council members contributing to fire relief>>

As soon as Tipping Point announced several weeks ago that it would hold a Band Together benefit concert on the same night (Nov. 9) as the Council’s Annual Dinner, the Council quickly shifted the focus of its annual event to include a major fundraising push for fire relief.

In announcing Kaiser Permanente’s contribution, Tyson talked about the incredible bravery and sacrifice of the many first responders, residents and others in battling the historic blazes and working on the recovery. In a particularly moving story, Tyson told about a Kaiser Permanente doctor who continued to treat fire victims even as the flames demolished his own home.

The Council is working with local North Bay officials and legislators on ways to help speed the recovery and rebuilding. Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman is serving on the advisory board of Rebuilding North Bay, an organization established to lead long-term recovery efforts.

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Regional Coalition Submits Bid for Amazon HQ2

Leveraging a highly skilled and educated talent pool, a renowned innovation culture unmatched in the world and a slew of large transit-rich development sites located near top universities and airports, a Bay Area Council-led coalition of cities including Concord, Fremont, Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco today (Oct. 19) submitted a proposal to bring Amazon’s second corporate headquarters to the Bay Area. The Bay Area Council worked with the cities and other partners to coordinate the development of the bid.

“The Bay Area offers the whole package and is a natural and perfect fit for an innovation leader like Amazon,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We are the world’s innovation capitol. We offer top talent, top universities and large development sites connected by a rich network of mass transit and other transportation systems. Our competitive advantages are unparalleled, including our strong connections to the huge Asia-Pacific region.”

The coalition of cities working with the Bay Area Council has identified numerous sites which together offer Amazon an unmatched level of flexibility to create a world-class headquarters that embraces new models of dispersed but highly connected workplaces.

Read the Bay Area Amazon HQ2 proposal>>

The proposal includes more than 60 million square feet of high-quality office and research and development space, far exceeding Amazon’s requirement for up to 8 million square feet needed to house 50,000 workers. All of the sites provide seamless connections to robust transportation and mass transit networks, including BART and a fast-growing ferry system, and easy access to both regional and international airports.

Among the sites featured in the proposal are the Concord Naval Weapons Station in Concord, Coliseum City and numerous downtown locations in Oakland, the Warm Springs Innovation District in Fremont, SF Shipyard in San Francisco and the Richmond Field Station and Hilltop Mall in Richmond. All the cities are served by BART, which is undergoing a massive upgrade to expand its capacity and speed in the coming years, as well as by nearby international and regional airports and freeways. The proposal includes a combined 45,000 units of new housing that cities envision being built in the coming years.

“We are extremely confident that steps we are taking now as a region to improve our housing and transportation infrastructure will address Amazon’s needs for its workforce and future growth,” Wunderman said. “Our housing production has increased three fold in just the past six years and numerous residential development sites throughout the region envision adding tens of thousands of more units in the next five to 10 years.”

Amazon already knows the value of being located in the Bay Area, with current operations occupying more than 3 million square feet around the region.

A major draw for tech employers like Amazon is the access to some of the world’s best talent. Not only does the Bay Area produce its own highly educated and highly skilled workforce from top tier universities and colleges like UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, UC San Francisco, California State University East Bay and St. Marys attracts the best and brightest workers from around the globe. More than 75 percent of the Bay Area population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, with more than 40 percent of those coming from science and engineering-related fields.

The proposal also outlines a range of state and local tax credits and other incentives along with commitments to streamline permitting and environmental review and work with Amazon on various workforce training and similar programs.