Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive

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Governor Signs Council-Sponsored Housing Bill

The Bay Area Council today (Sept. 27) applauded Governor Jerry Brown for signing legislation it sponsored that will make it easier, faster and less expensive for homeowners statewide to develop in-law or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on their property.

The Council sponsored SB 1069 (Sen. Bob Wieckowski – Fremont) as an important first step to ease California’s epic housing crisis.  The Council estimates that if the legislation encourages just 10 percent of homeowners to build in-law units, the Bay Area region could gain 150,000 new affordable housing units. The bill was co-authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom and Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins. The new law could lop months off the approval of ADUs and tens of thousands of dollars off the cost of fees and permits.

“The Governor’s action is an important step in addressing California’s massive housing shortage,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The success of SB 1069 represents a major victory for thousands of Californians who are struggling under the weight of skyrocketing rents and home prices.  This will create housing for teachers, nurses, family members, elders or others who want to live in a community but have been priced out. We thank Senator Wieckowski and the broad coalition of environmentalists, teachers, housing leaders, cities, social justice and business advocates who worked together to remove this small – but significant – regulatory barrier to affordable housing.”

“SB 1069 will help millions of families and seniors remain in their homes, house family and community members who would otherwise be priced out, and create gentle, affordable, and invisible infill,” said Denise Pinkston, Co-Chair of the Council’s Workforce Housing Committee and a Partner of TMG Partners. “The Legislature and Governor have empowered homeowners to help ease California’s housing shortage. By easing regulatory barriers and allowing ADUs with a simple building permit, SB 1069 allows homeowners to easily and economically carve out a separate space in their home or upgrade a garage or shed to create livable space that we so badly need.”

SB 1069 follows recommendations from UC Berkeley and UCLA to reduce barriers that prevent homeowners from legally adding ADUs.  The bill will allow the utilization of existing homes and structures to provide fast and affordable housing invisibly in existing neighborhoods by limiting requirements for setbacks, parking, sprinklers, utility fees, and a protracted process with a building permit. Expanding in-law units also can help the state achieve its climate change goals by avoiding sprawl and the long automobile commutes that come with it.

With housing among its top 2016 policy priorities, the Bay Area Council over many months mounted an aggressive advocacy campaign in support of SB 1069 as it worked its way through the Legislature. The Council assembled a large and diverse coalition of groups to urge support for the bill—groups and employers not often seen in support of the same piece of legislation– including: AARP, California Teachers Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield, UPS, Virgin America, Facebook, Yelp, MTC, SPUR, Bridge Housing, California Infill Builders Federation, the Greenbelt Alliance, and the mayors of Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and dozens more groups and individuals.

SB1069 Floor Alert>>

SB1069 Support Letter>>

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Shovel Ready: Leaders Mark Key Milestone for Regional Ferry Expansion

The Bay Area Council on Thursday (Sept. 15) hailed the ground breaking for a new Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) operations and maintenance facility that will serve as a hub for the future expansion of regional ferry service. Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman joined a group of water transit leaders, including WETA Chair Jody Breckenridge, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, among other dignitaries, at a ceremony in Alameda to mark the occasion and announce the naming of the facility after water transit visionary Ron Cowan.

The construction of the Ron Cowan Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility (RCF) marks a major step in WETA’s near- and longer-term ferry expansion plans, and will serve as a consolidated maintenance base and operations control center for WETA’s Central Bay fleet, serving Alameda/Oakland, Alameda Harbor Bay, and South San Francisco, and future services to Richmond and Treasure Island. The $49.5 million investment is located near Pier 3 of the former Naval Air Station, now known as Alameda Point. The ceremony comes just weeks after WETA commissioned the construction of three new ferry boats that move WETA closer to almost tripling the size of its fleet by 2035.

In naming the facility after Ron Cowan, WETA recognized his leadership and vision in driving the creation of modern regional ferry service.

“Ron saw the potential for bringing back ferries as critical elements in our transportation system,” Wunderman said. “His dream – a comprehensive regional water transit system – will be reality, due in large part to his vision and dedication to the people of Alameda and commuters throughout the greater Bay Area. We are grateful to Ron for adding significantly to transbay ferry capacity and for being a fierce advocate for WETA’s role in both transportation and emergency response.”

Expanding regional ferry service is among the Council’s lead policy priorities. To engage in the Council’s water transit work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.

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Council Calls for Strong Regional Effort to Keep Raiders

The Bay Area Council responded quickly to a decision by the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee on Thursday (Sept. 15) approving $750 million in public funding for a new stadium as part of an effort by Nevada and Las Vegas to lure Council member the Oakland Raiders away from the Bay Area. In a statement, the Council called for a strong regional response to keep the Raiders.

“We need to fight like crazy to keep the Raiders in Oakland,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Raiders are as much a part of the East Bay and the Bay Area as the Bay Bridge, Mount Diablo or any other iconic fixture from our region. They were born here, they belong here and we should keep them here. The Raiders are an important part of the Bay Area’s rich professional sports history and they contribute immensely to the cultural fabric of our region, to our communities and to our economy. They’ve won three championships here and they’re poised for a resurgence. The Raiders deserve a modern stadium like many other professional teams here that have succeeded in building 21st century facilities. We watched the Raiders leave once and we shouldn’t let them go again without fighting our hardest to keep them.”

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New Report: $15.4 Billion in Economic Impacts from Santa Clara County Transportation Plan

Santa Clara County is forecast to realize at least $15.4 billion in new business and economic activity from a 30-year transportation investment plan – Envision Silicon Valley — that calls for completing BART to San Jose, fixing local roads and highways, enhancing transit services for seniors and the disabled and making bicycle and pedestrian improvements, according to a new study the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today. The transportation plan is also forecast to support almost 4,000 jobs across a wide range of industries, skills and income levels.

The full economic impacts from Envision Silicon Valley are expected to be significantly larger. Improving roads, highways and transit will help ease traffic congestion that puts a major drag on worker productivity. From 2010 to 2014, San Jose experienced the fastest growing traffic congestion of any metropolitan area in the U.S. with the annual number of hours of traffic delay per commuter soaring from 37 to 51 hours, or a 36.8 percent increase. Investing in the county’s transportation system will also help attract new businesses and investment and encourage existing employers to expand locally.

“Investing in transportation is good business and good for the economy,” said Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Employees benefit from faster, more convenient commutes. Employers benefit from more productive employees. And the entire county benefits from increased economic activity and investment.”

Read Economic Impacts of Envision Silicon Valley>>

Funding for the plan would come from Measure B, which the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) unanimously placed on the November ballot to address the county’s need for additional investment in its roads, highways and transit systems as the population grows and state and federal funding shrink. The measure, which requires two-thirds voter approval, is estimated to generate $6.3 billion over its 30-year lifetime and will help Santa Clara County attract additional state and federal matching grants and other funding that can further extend its reach.

Envision Silicon Valley calls for investing $1.5 billion to complete the extension of BART to San Jose and Santa Clara, returning $1.2 billion to the county’s 15 cities to do local road and street repairs and upgrades and spending $1.5 billion to improve expressways and highways throughout the county. The plan will put $1 billion toward improving Caltrain, $500 million toward enhancing transit for seniors and the disabled and $250 million to bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Envision Silicon Valley was developed n 18-month public process conducted by the VTA to identify residents’ transportation priorities. Funding for Measure B would come from a half-cent sales tax.

The Economic Institute study found that Envision Silicon Valley is expected to support a total of 118,263 job years over its 30-year duration. That’s the equivalent of 3,942 full-time jobs. Those jobs would come across a wide range of categories, including direct employment in construction, manufacturing and business and professional services. The ripple effect of investment will also support jobs among suppliers, local business and other vendors and extend to jobs that workers support with their spending.

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Legislature Passes Council-backed Second Unit Housing Bill

The Bay Area Council today (Aug. 30) hailed the passage of SB 1069, legislation authored by state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) that clears the way for creating tens of thousands of new affordable housing units statewide, and urged Governor Jerry Brown’s speedy signature. Sponsored by the Bay Area Council and co-authored by Assemblymembers Richard Bloom and Toni Atkins, SB 1069 responds to California’s massive housing crisis by easing steep barriers homeowners face in building second units, also known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs). In the Bay Area alone, the Council estimates that if the legislation encouraged just 10 percent of homeowners to build second units the region could gain 150,000 new affordable housing units over time.

“SB 1069 allows homeowners with too much house help those who have too little by removing unreasonable barriers to second units” said Denise Pinkston, Co-Chair of the Bay Area Council’s Housing Committee and Partner of TMG Partners. “In an historic housing shortage that is causing immense financial hardship for millions of residents, reusing unused spaces as small homes has broad support to help families, facilitate intergenerational living, and create more housing options.”

The remedies included in SB 1069 are sensible and remove the most extreme barriers to second units making it easier to house residents otherwise pushed out of the community.  SB 1069’s provisions allow accessory dwellings in existing structures with building permits without requiring more parking or new utility connections.  The bill also eases requirements for sprinklers and parking, and reduces fees. The bill now must get the signature of Governor Jerry Brown, who signaled his support for the legislation in his revised state budget released in May as one practical way to ease the housing shortage.

“Second units enable us to get more out of our existing housing stock,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “SB 1069 taps a hidden and valuable source of housing that can help meet the needs of millions of Californians who are struggling to find an affordable place to live. ADUs also provide an important source of income for many homeowners. We are grateful to Sen. Wieckowski for his tremendous leadership in drafting this legislation to address one of California’s most serious challenges. Our diverse coalition of supporters now strongly urges the Governor to sign SB 1069.”

The Bay Area Council worked with a broad coalition of groups to urge support for the bill—groups not often seen in support of the same piece of legislation, including: AARP, California Chamber of Commerce, Natural Resources Defense Council, California Teachers Association, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield, UPS, Virgin America, Facebook, Yelp, MTC, SPUR, Bridge Housing, California Infill Builders Federation, the Greenbelt Alliance, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco and many others.

Read the Floor Alert for SB 1069 describing its provisions and providing a full list of the bill’s supporters>>

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Council Welcomes New Chief Financial Officer

The Bay Area Council today (Aug. 18) announced the hiring of Jeanine Hawk as its new chief financial officer. Hawk will carry out the financial, fiduciary and operational responsibilities for the organization that drive a robust policy agenda focused on producing more affordable housing, improving commutes, building a reliable water system and closing the workforce skills gap among other issue areas.

A veteran financial planning executive in the public and non-profit sectors, Hawk comes to the Council from Napa Valley Community College District where she served as Interim Vice President and Chief Financial/Operations Officer. Prior to that, Hawk was CFO of Alliant International University where she was responsible for the leadership and administration of its seven California-based and three international universities’ operations. She also oversaw the administrative and fiscal services for San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, De Anza College and Santa Monica College.

“Hawk’s experience and expertise with multi-campus and multi-college business management is an ideal fit for supporting the strategic growth of the Council,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Council is fortunate to have a leader with her know-how to help develop and achieve the financial goals of our multi-entity organization—including the Economic Institute, Foundation, Political Action Committee, Science and Innovation Consortium, and offices in Sacramento and China.” Hawk will work closely with the Council’s leadership, including Chair and TMG Partners CEO Michael Covarrubias, Council Treasurer and Wells Fargo Head of Commercial Banking Perry Pelos, and the Finance Committee.

In welcoming Hawk, the Council recognizes retiring CFO Ken Regalia for his 10 years of tremendous service. During his tenure, Regalia provided invaluable financial leadership during a period of unprecedented growth and transformation for an organization that has existed for over 70 years. As the organization more than tripled in size and revenue, Regalia was instrumental in establishing the fiscal, legal, and operational structure necessary to manage the Council’s dramatic expansion.

“The Bay Area Council has a bold vision not only for the Bay Area’s economic growth, but also for continuing its successful development as an organization in order to meet the needs and challenges of the region it serves,” said Hawk. “I am excited to join the Council’s talented management team and help assure financial viability as the organization advances it’s mission to make the Bay Area the most innovative, globally competitive, and sustainable region in the world.”

Download a headshot of Jeanine Hawk>>

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New Report: UC Supports Immense, and Growing, Start-Up Culture

Entrepreneurial activity and innovation has been rapidly accelerating across the University of California in recent years, spurring a significant number of jobs, companies and economic activity for the state economy, according to a study released Aug. 17 by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

The study, which analyzed startup formation at each campus and across the UC system, found that university research has formed the basis for hundreds of new companies, employing tens of thousands of workers and adding $20 billion to the California economy.

Read Entrepreneurs, Startups and Innovation at the University of California>>

While UC’s role in seeding economic activity extends back many decades, the report found that the pace and number of new companies started by UC graduates and faculty has accelerated over the past 15 years.

Of the roughly 1,300 start-ups that have come out of UC since 1968, three-quarters were launched between 2000-2015.

UC-affiliated companies directly employ 38,056 workers and indirectly support 108,460 other jobs across a wide range of industries and incomes, from suppliers to restaurants.

– Those same companies generate total economic activity totaling $20.1 billion and contribute $503.8 million in federal tax revenue and another $88 million in state and local tax revenue.

– UC-affiliated start-ups also have been an important magnet for investment, attracting more than $16 billion in private venture funding since 1968 and hundreds of millions of dollars more in public grants.

The growth of economic activity spinning out of UC reflects a new level of entrepreneurial energy among students and faculty that is driving a broader cultural shift within the system, said Dr. Sean Randolph, lead report author and Senior Director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Traditional areas like academics and research remain a primary focus, but increasingly students and faculty are looking to apply that work and their knowledge in ways that solve real-world problems and translate directly into economic opportunity.

“The University of California and its 10 campuses are a dynamic and valuable force for the state’s economy,” Randolph said. “UC’s strategic work in harnessing the power of its emerging entrepreneurial culture is providing enormous benefits for the state economy and for the economies of the diverse regions where UC campuses are located.”

Those benefits come in the form of new companies, new jobs, new investment and new revenue for the state, the university and cities.

The report offers a conservative snapshot of what UC-affiliated start-ups and other entrepreneurial activities contribute to California’s economy. Of the total start-ups formed since 1968, the report analyzed the 603 that are headquartered in California and remain active today and the 447 of those for which public data is available.

The report also looked at the ways in which entrepreneurial activity is supported and promoted at both a system-wide level – through the University of California Office of the President – and through robust campus-based programs and initiatives.

One example cited by the report is the Innovation and Entrepreneur Initiative launched by current UC President Janet Napolitano in 2013 that aims to give scale and structure to the fast-emerging start-up culture.

Download the press release>>

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Council Urges Continued Talks on By-Right Housing Reforms

The Bay Area Council and Southern California Leadership Council, which are leading a statewide coalition of employers, affordable housing advocates, home builders and public policy groups in support of Gov. Jerry Brown’s by-right housing reforms, today (Aug. 12) issued the following statement urging continued negotiations on legislation to enact the Governor’s proposal. The bill would fast track approval of urban infill housing developments that meet affordability requirements and conform with all locally approved land use and zoning laws.

“California’s historic housing crisis won’t go away on its own, and it’s slamming the state’s door shut to future generations – sons, daughters, grandchildren – who can’t afford skyrocketing rents and home prices brought about by an epic shortage. In the final weeks of the current legislative session, we call on our legislative leaders to roll up their sleeves and negotiate with Governor Brown to craft workable, sensible reforms that speed the construction of all types of new housing statewide, especially affordable and urban infill housing that conforms with approved local land use and zoning laws. And we offer whatever assistance we can, including sitting down at the negotiating table, to help reach an agreement on this critical and forward-looking policy. 

“We can’t allow a few special interests that care more about preserving the status quo to undermine responsible and needed housing reforms aimed at helping millions of Californians — working families, seniors, young people, teachers and public servants, shop owners and workers, lower and middle class families with good jobs—who are being forced out, living in overcrowded conditions and battling grueling megacommutes. Californians who are spending up to 60 percent of their income on housing costs that are the main reason for the state’s nation-leading poverty rate.

“The problem could not be more clear. For decades, California has come up short in providing the housing that residents need. And while California has some of the strongest and most innovative land use and environmental protection laws in the world, those laws are too-often hijacked to keep out new residents and block new housing for reasons that have nothing to do with environmental protection. The results are equally clear: poverty, gentrification, displacement and growing commutes that threaten the state’s world-leading efforts to combat climate change.

“The state must act now to adopt reforms that will spur more housing and ensure that future generations have the same opportunity as those living here now to call California home.”

More than 2,200 Californians have signed the Council’s petition in support of the Governor’s by-right housing reform plan. Sign the petition>>

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New Report: Housing Crisis Threatens CA Climate Change Goals

California’s epic housing crisis is hurting more than lower- and middle-income working families struggling to find housing they can afford. It’s also threatening to derail landmark greenhouse gas reduction laws that for a decade have made California a global leader in the battle against climate change, according to a white paper released today by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

The report – Another Inconvenient Truth – finds that a raft of regulatory and community barriers is blocking new urban infill housing near transit and job centers, forcing large and growing numbers of workers and others to commute longer and longer distances in exhaust-spewing automobiles. More than 100,000 Bay Area megacommuters travel 90 minutes or more every day to reach their jobs, contributing to a 78 percent increase since 1990 in the number of megacommuters crossing county and regional boundaries to get to work.

“The math is simple. Without more housing near urban centers and jobs, California can’t achieve its historic climate change goals,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Fortunately, the tools are available to change this equation if the political will exists to follow through on the state’s commitments. California has made great strides in addressing climate change and has shown tremendous resolve in doing the difficult things necessary to reduce carbon emissions. There’s no reason we can’t do the same thing with housing.”

The report offers 10 strategies for addressing the problem, including adopting a so-called “right to build” proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown that would fast track urban infill housing projects that include a percentage of units that are affordable for lower- and middle-income residents. The legislation has met with withering opposition from labor groups that see it as a threat to their ability to press home builders for higher wages.

With automobiles accounting for a significant portion of California’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, reducing commutes is one of the key strategies for meeting the state’s climate change goals. However, the report cites California Air Resources Board data that shows California failed to meet recent emissions reduction targets and is far off track in hitting ongoing annual targets needed to reach the state’s overall 2050 climate change goals.

To reduce commutes, metropolitan regions like the Bay Area were charged under state climate change policies with putting a majority of new housing in urban infill locations near transit and job centers known as priority development areas (PDAs). In the Bay Area, regional planners working with local communities identified 200 PDAs where 80 percent of the region’s new housing could be placed.

However, the Economic Institute report found that the Bay Area has come up well short of that goal, placing just 54 percent of new housing in PDAs. The problem is compounded by the fact that large metropolitan regions across the state like the Bay Area, including Los Angeles and San Diego, have failed over many decades to meet ongoing demand for new housing. In 2015, the Bay Area added 133,000 jobs but only 16,000 new housing units.

This ongoing shortage has pushed rents and home prices to the stratosphere – four of the Bay Area’s nine counties have registered median home prices above $1 million — and pushed a growing number of commuters to find less expensive housing further from their jobs in places like the Central Valley and Sacramento. Of the nearly 200,000 commuters crossing regional boundaries in 2013, the report found, 69 percent were commuting into the Bay Area for work. With higher housing costs taking a bigger and bigger bite out of household income, the state’s housing shortage also is cited as a primary driver of California’s nation-leading poverty rate.

There a number of key reasons that regions like the Bay Area haven’t kept pace with housing demand, according to the report, particularly for lower- and middle-income households. Myriad land use and zoning regulations drive up land costs, making almost any form of affordable housing infeasible without massive public subsidies. Local resistance to new housing is also a major factor, with opponents often abusing state environment laws to delay or stop projects. Onerous local fees on new housing can also add tens of thousands of dollars to each new housing unit.

The report identifies 10 strategies for addressing the problems, among them:

  • Adopting “right to build” legislation that fast tracks urban infill housing projects that include a guaranteed level of affordable units.
  • Giving cities incentives to meet their housing obligations.
  • Easing restrictions on creating second units.
  • Changing state fiscal policy to prioritize residential development.

Read the report: Another Inconvenient Truth>>

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First-of-its-Kind Workplace Gender Equity Guide Unveiled

Advancing gender equity in the workplace, especially at the C-suite and Board level, continues to be a major challenge for employers nationwide. The good news is that addressing this challenge would have a tremendous economic payoff as fully implementing gender equity best practices would increase US GDP by 10 percent by 2025 according to McKinsey & Co. To address the systemic underrepresentation of women in the workplace, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in partnership with Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s The Representation Project today unveiled a first-of-its-kind online strategy guide for businesses - Building Gender Equity in the Workplace – assessing the economics of gender equity and providing actionable practices for businesses to meet the challenge head on.

“We’ve made progress, but it has been too slow,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute “Gender equality in the workplace is not just a moral and social imperative; it’s a fiscal necessity to a stronger, more competitive economy.”

At today’s launch event in San Francisco, Bay Area Council Gender Equity Committee Co-Chair Peg McAllister of Lee Hecht Harrison welcomed a packed house. Following a presentation of findings by Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg, The Representation Project Founder and CEO Jennifer Siebel Newsom delivered remarks on some of the underlying issues blocking women from advancing as leaders, including unconscious bias and socialization of gender stereotypes.

The cutting-edge practices and strategies included in the guide enable businesses to take a holistic approach in evaluating their hiring practices, evaluation policies, compensation transparency, career development programming, HR policies, leadership diversity and workplace culture needed to grow the talent pool and advance women professionally. Special thanks to project lead partner The Representation Project and regional sponsors San Francisco 49ers, Intel, San Francisco International Airport, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Lee Hecht Harrison, Deloitte, Wells Fargo, and Suffolk Construction.

Read Building Gender Equity in the Workplace>>

To get involved in the Council’s Gender Equity policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.