Bay Area Council Blog: Press Releases Archive


Commuter Shuttles “Hub” Approach Means More Traffic, Emissions, Accidents

Replacing the successful system that private commuter shuttles use to pick up and drop off riders with fewer centralized “hub” locations would devastate an important mass transit system and choke San Francisco streets with traffic and pollution, according to a new study by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority. SFMTA estimates a hub system could result in an additional 3,300 cars on city streets every day, resulting in an additional 23,000 tons of carbon and 65 million additional vehicle miles traveled every year, and putting commuters and pedestrians at increased risk of traffic accidents. The study was conducted as part of an agreement that the Bay Area Council helped broker in February with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to regulate commuter shuttle operations.

“Less is more with the hub approach—more traffic, more emissions, more accidents,” said Adrian Covert, Vice President of Policy for the Bay Area Council. “This study confirms that the current system, which was developed thoughtfully over many, many months, is working well and getting better. Jamming commuter shuttles into fewer locations will drive down ridership, pushing thousands of riders into their cars and onto our already congested streets.”

The study examined four different scenarios for replacing the current system of 109 shuttle stops distributed along mostly large arterial streets with between one and up to 17 centralized “hubs.” Fewer stops would decrease shuttle ridership by up 54 percent, the study found, pouring as many as 3,300 more cars onto city streets and almost doubling greenhouse gas emissions. The “hub” approach would also mean the elimination of up to 230 parking spaces.

“This study was extremely valuable in showing that the current system for regulating commuter shuttles is the most effective in keeping down traffic, keeping streets safe and keeping our air clean,” Covert said.

The study findings are scheduled to be presented at the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, November 15 at 1 p.m. along with a mid-year review of the existing Commuter Shuttle Program. See the full report>>

SFMTA’s Board will also receive a mid-year review of the Commuter Shuttle Program, which clearly shows the city’s current regulations are working, and that shuttles are getting cleaner, more efficient, and moving away from non-arterial streets. The SFMTA found 76 percent of the fleet now meets 2012 emissions standards or better, up from 59 percent during the pilot program. Shuttles have become more efficient by adding over 1,000 riders using the same number of stop-events. In addition, use of non-arterial streets is down from 26 percent to 9 percent.

Quick Facts


  • Shuttle ridership predicted to drop by up to 54 percent
  • Equivalent of up to 3,300 more cars on the road
  • Up to an additional 65 million VMTs added to city streets
  • Up to 40,000 tons of CO2
  • “Increased risk of collisions in general”
  • Significant removal of parking
  • More competition for parking


  • $2.1 million in permit fees through August 2016
  • Ridership is up from 8,500 (pilot) to 9,800
  • Stop events are the same (3,200) so efficiency is increasing
  • Complaints have remained stable
  • Use of shared MUNI zones is down from 72% (pilot) to 57% (shift to white zones).
  • Use of non-arterial streets is down from 26% (pilot) to 9% of current shuttle stops
  • Use of vehicles that meet 2012 emissions standards or better is up from 59% (pilot) to 76%
Housing Affordability Impacts_Chart_10.17_web

By the Numbers: Solving the Housing Affordability Crisis

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

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

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

Read Solving the Housing Affordability Crisis>>


Election 2016: Bay Area Council Positions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read The Northern California Megaregion>>

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


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>>

WETA_shovel shot

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.


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.”

VTA econ study_web

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.


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>>


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>>