Bay Area Council Blog: Storm & Flood Protection Archive

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COUNCIL CHINA CLEAN ENERGY DELEGATION WITNESS TO HISTORY

The Bay Area Council’s delegation of business leaders accompanying Gov. Jerry Brown this week to Beijing, China, for a global conference on climate change were witness to history as the Governor enjoyed a rare meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and signed several key agreements on clean energy and climate change cooperation. The trip, which was led by Council CEO Jim Wunderman, took on added significance with President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate change accord, a move which elevated California’s global leadership on clean energy and efforts to address climate change. Council delegates enjoyed dinner with Gov. Brown following his meeting with President Xi.

Also during the trip, the Council delegation met with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to discuss the important role of California’s national research labs, including Berkeley National Lab and Lawrence Livermore Lab, in advancing clean energy technology. Perry called California’s labs “crown jewels.”

The Council joined Gov. Brown as he signed an agreement establishing a new California-Beijing Clean Technology and Innovation Partnership and launching a new fund to support it. And later, our delegates attended a forum at renowned Tsinghua University with Gov. Brown and participated in a discussion with China’s lead negotiator on climate change issues. To engage in the Council’s China work, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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BAY AREA COUNCIL LEADS DELEGATION ACCOMPANYING GOV. JERRY BROWN TO CHINA FOR GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT

On Monday, June 5, the Bay Area Council will lead a high-level business delegation to Beijing, China, to accompany Gov. Jerry Brown for an annual meeting of the world’s top energy ministers and to strengthen ties between China, California and the Bay Area on clean energy and other economic opportunities. The trip takes on added significance coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision on Thursday (June 1) to withdraw the U.S. from a major international climate change accord around which the China meetings are centered.

“The Bay Area and California are charging ahead to strengthen our growing partnership with China on expanding the use of clean energy and developing exciting new clean energy technologies,” said Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council President and CEO. “Under Gov. Brown’s bold leadership, California has become a global beacon for addressing climate change and leveraging the power of economic innovation to develop the clean energy technologies that are critical to reducing carbon emissions. California and China have much to share and much to gain from working together to advance our clean energy and clean technology objectives. This trip will be significant in highlighting the importance of cooperation and partnership among regions, states and nations in addressing the threats of climate change.”

The Clean Energy Ministerial 8 (CEM8) gathering from June 6-8 brings together energy ministers from the world’s top 23 economies and the European Union to discuss implementing the historic 2015 U.N. Convention of Parties climate change agreement (COP21) from which President Trump decided to withdraw U.S. participation. The Bay Area Council played a leading role last year in organizing and hosting CEM7 in San Francisco.

Detailed agenda and delegate information on the Bay Area Council CEM8 trip>>

As part of CEM8, the Bay Area Council delegation will join Gov. Brown and other state leaders for a forum on June 7 of the Under 2 Coalition, which represents 170 cities, states and countries from six continents that have signed on to the Under 2 MOU committing to actions that will limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. California and Gov. Brown have been instrumental in the creation and expansion of the Under 2 Coalition. And the June 7 “Under2 Clean Energy Forum” expands on the event Governor Brown launched last year in San Francisco to highlight regional clean energy and climate action and collaboration, in conjunction with CEM7.

Through its three offices in China, the Council for more than 10 years has served an important role in facilitating California’s growing relationship with China on clean energy, including helping organize Gov. Brown’s 2013 trade and investment mission when he signed another landmark climate change agreement with that country’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Read the Council’s statement on President Trump’s Paris accord decision>>

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BAY AREA COUNCIL HELPS LAUNCH INTERNATIONAL RESILIENT BY DESIGN COMPETITION

The Bay Area Council on Wednesday (May 31) joined with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and other Bay Area leaders to announce the launch of an exciting design competition to solicit innovative solutions to address the effects of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes in communities around the San Francisco Bay. Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge is a collaborative research and design initiative that brings together local, national, and international design experts with community members and local leaders.

The competition is largely funded through a $4.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, and is based off of the successful Rebuild by Design contest in New York-New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. In his comments at the announcement, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Sam Carter credited the region’s passage of Measure AA, last year’s Bay Area Council-backed $12 parcel tax to fund Bay resiliency projects, for the Foundation’s decision to choose the Bay Area over other competing regions in the U.S. For more information, please contact Vice President of Public Policy, and Resilient by Design Executive Board member, Adrian Covert.

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Statement on President Trump’s Decision to Withdraw U.S. from Paris Climate Accord

The Bay Area Council today (June 1) issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawing the United States from the landmark 2015 U.N. Convention of Parties climate change agreement (COP21). The Council has long supported California’s global leadership on clean energy and was the first major business group to endorse the historic California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. In 2016, the Council hosted energy ministers from the world’s largest 23 economies and the European Union for the Clean Energy Ministerial 7 (CEM7) in San Francisco—a follow-up to the COP21 talks—and next week is leading a delegation to Beijing for CEM8 along with Governor Jerry Brown.

“California and the Bay Area remain on an irreversible course forward to lead the world into a sustainable clean energy future,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Addressing climate change is not just an environmental or moral imperative, it is an economic imperative and an economic opportunity. California’s ambitious assault on climate change has spawned a vibrant and fast-growing clean technology industry that is creating new jobs, attracting investment and new businesses and producing innovative new products. It has also given us a strong competitive advantage in a sector we believe will continue to grow and thrive as more and more companies embrace a clean energy future.”

The Bay Area Council is working on a variety of initiatives focused on addressing the climate change challenge, including:

  • Promoting urban infill and transit-oriented housing development that reduces long, polluting commutes
  • Building stronger connections with China and other countries to expand the development and use of clean energy technologies
  • Championing investment in the expansion and modernization of mass transit systems, including BART, ferries and Caltrain
  • Leading an innovative regional effort to restore wetlands and build infrastructure to protect against the threat of rising seas and extreme storms
  • Advocating for investment and policies that support the creation of a new, modern energy grid to better integrate and manage growing renewable energy sources
  • Modernizing and expanding our water storage and delivery system to prepare for future droughts
  • Supporting business in adopting corporate renewable energy goals and strategies
  • Advancing the deployment and adoption of electric and other zero emission vehicles
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Proposed Water Cuts Could Be Devastating for Bay Area

The Bay Area Council voiced strong concerns at a State Water Resources Board hearing Tuesday (Jan. 3) on proposed changes to how water is allocated for urban, agricultural and environmental uses that could mean 50 percent cuts for 2.6 million of our region’s residential and commercial users. The Council said in testimony that the proposed changes could be devastating for a region that generates a huge portion of the state’s economic activity and that already has the lowest per capita water use rates in the state. The changes would take a disproportionate share of water that the Bay Area receives from the Tuolumne River to increase flows for native salmon and other aquatic species. About 48 percent of the Tuolumne river is diverted for agriculture in the Central Valley and 38 percent is left for the environment. Just 14 percent of the river is diverted for the Bay Area, but that 14 percent accounts for 85 percent of San Francisco’s drinking water and 55 percent of the drinking water used overall in Silicon Valley and by the Alameda County Water Agency. The Council is urging the state to take whatever measures necessary to make up the cuts through voluntary settlements, or purchases, among existing water rights holders that would pose less threat to our region’s water reliability. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 11 Percent From 2009

Council Doubling Down on Solving Regional Commute Mess

The Bay Area Council just loves a good challenge, and there is perhaps no bigger challenge for the region than bringing some relief to the congested mess that is our transportation system. The Council’s Executive Committee, meeting at member company Facebook in Menlo Park, on Thursday endorsed a 2017 policy platform that will direct significantly more time, energy and resources to finding and implementing both short-term and longer-term solutions to the region’s grinding traffic and overwhelmed mass transit systems. The Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners also renewed the Council’s priority policy areas from 2016 that include expanding housing, closing the workforce skills gap and securing the region’s long-term water supply in the face of continuing drought and increased competition among urban, environmental and agricultural interests.

The message was clear, however, that the highest priority must be on fixing the region’s dysfunctional commute, which ranks among the worst in the country and threatens to undermine the Bay Area’s economic success. Michael Matthews, Director of California Public Policy for Facebook, emphasized the importance of commute improvement in his remarks welcoming the Council to the social media giant’s campus, saying it is a key issue for the company along with housing (just today, Facebook announced a $20 million commitment to help local nonprofit housing and rental assistance programs).

Longer commutes, slower traffic and congested mass transit are choking the region’s economic productivity and putting us at growing competitive disadvantage with other states and regions. The Council has already begun laying the groundwork for a bold and aggressive regional transportation improvement vision that will be unveiled in the coming months. In addition, the Council will be exploring new technologies that can help manage the demand side of the transportation equation, promoting the development of autonomous vehicles and continuing our work to increase the use of private commuter shuttles. Expanding public and private water transportation services will figure prominently, and builds on great progress the Council has already made to increase public ferry service around the entire bay and promote fast-emerging private water taxi services.

Housing, of course, is another area on which the Council will continue to put heavy focus. Our leadership and advocacy this year helped win passage of the only significant housing bill in Sacramento – SB 1069 to expand accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law units) — and elevate the housing issue among elected leaders who as a result are now pointing to 2017 as the year of housing. The Council also backed affordable housing measures in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that both passed last month.  Stay tuned for further details on planning for our work on housing, transportation, workforce and water policy. 2017 is going to be a big year.

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Major Win for Council’s Transformative Water Data Bill

Legislation the Bay Area Council is sponsoring to revolutionize how California uses data technology to better manage the state’s water system is headed to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature. After months of intense advocacy by the Council in support of AB 1755, the state Assembly on Thursday (Aug. 26) approved The Open and Transparent Water Data Act authored by Assemblymember Bill Dodd of Napa.

With the Governor’s signature, AB 1755 would enable the Department of Water Resources to take a wealth of disparate and disconnected data about the state’s water and put it all in one place online. Such an online platform is a vital step towards building a functioning water transfer market across California that can help improve conservation efforts and allow water agencies to more efficiently and effectively buy and sell water to meet local demands. We need your voice to tell the Governor to sign AB 1755. To add your name to a letter of support, please contact Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros at rtrigueros@bayareacouncil.org.

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Council Cheers Historic Regional Measure AA Win

Bay Area voters made history on Tuesday (June 7) by passing Measure AA, the region’s first ever nine-county ballot measure. The measure will raise $500 million over the next 20 years to clean, restore and protect the Bay and enhance its resilience against extreme storms and rising seas. The Yes-on-AA campaign demonstrated the awesome power of regional collaboration, as the coalition lead by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Resources Legacy Fund and Save the Bay crossed the finish line with an impressive 69 percent margin.

Success would not have been possible without the leadership of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the committed support of many Bay Area Council members, including PG&E, Facebook, TMG Partners, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Hanson Bridgett, Dignity Health, Wells Fargo, AECOM, Recology and Dick and Barbara Rosenberg. Thanks also to San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, which will oversee the many important projects funded by Measure AA.

“Absolutely nothing is more important to us than keeping the public safe. Joining efforts like this will protect our communities and enable PG&E to continue to provide the reliable service our customers count on to power their lives. We are a company with a strong and enduring commitment to the environment and combating climate change. It’s rooted in a commitment to our customers and to doing our work in a way that protects the vital species and habitats that call our service area home and that’s why we’re pleased to be joining this important effort.” Tony Earley, PG&E Chairman and CEO; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee 

“This was a tremendous multi-year team effort by business leaders, politicians, non-profits, environmental groups and media. A very satisfying victory, and the big winner is our San Francisco Bay. Thanks to all!” Andy Ball, President & CEO, Suffolk Construction West Region; Member, California Water Commission; Co-Chair, Bay Area Council Water Committee

Read more reaction to the Measure AA victory>>

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Council, Strategic Partners Cheer Regional Measure AA Win

Bay Area voters made history on Tuesday by passing Measure AA, the region’s first ever nine-county ballot measure. The measure will raise $500 million over the next 20 years to clean, restore and protect the Bay and enhance its resilience against extreme storms and rising seas. The Yes-on-AA campaign demonstrated the awesome power of regional collaboration, as the coalition lead by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Resources Legacy Fund and Save the Bay crossed the finish line with an impressive 69 percent margin.

Success would not have been possible without the leadership of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the committed support of many Bay Area Council members, including PG&E, Facebook, TMG Partners, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Hanson Bridgett, Dignity Health, Wells Fargo, AECOM, Recology and Dick and Barbara Rosenberg. Thanks also to San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, chair of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, which will oversee the many important projects funded by Measure AA.

“Absolutely nothing is more important to us than keeping the public safe. Joining efforts like this will protect our communities and enable PG&E to continue to provide the reliable service our customers count on to power their lives. We are a company with a strong and enduring commitment to the environment and combating climate change. It’s rooted in a commitment to our customers and to doing our work in a way that protects the vital species and habitats that call our service area home and that’s why we’re pleased to be joining this important effort.” Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President, PG&E; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee

“This was a tremendous multi-year team effort by business leaders, politicians, non-profits, environmental groups and media. A very satisfying victory, and the big winner is our San Francisco Bay. Thanks to all!” Andy Ball, President & CEO, Suffolk Construction West Region; Member, California Water Commission; Co-Chair, Bay Area Council Water Committee

“Measure AA provides critical funding to clean and restore San Francisco Bay, protecting and enhancing this irreplaceable and invaluable natural asset for generations to come. We were honored to partner with the Bay Area Council and other groups to pass Measure AA and continue a legacy of environmental stewardship.” Michael Mantell, President, Resources Legacy Fund

“The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors has long understood the need for the protection of Silicon Valley from tidal flooding. Our $1.5 million dollar investment in placing Measure AA on the ballot was to ensure that we continue to step up to protect Silicon Valley from the significant economic damage that would result from a tidal flood and cripple the region. Obviously, the voters agreed that tidal flood protection and restoration is something they should also invest in. On behalf of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, I want to congratulate the voters and all whom made this possible.” John Varela, Vice Chair, Santa Clara Valley Water District

“Facebook appreciates the Bay Area Council’s great work in leading the charge to pass this very important measure.” Juan Salazar, Public Policy Manager, Facebook

“Hanson Bridgett was proud to support Measure AA because it provides much needed funding to preserve our most precious asset, the Bay, while at the same time taking important measures to guard against the impact of climate change. That kind of long term thinking and acting is critical to making sure our region continues to thrive. The measure was also an important precedent for taking regional action at the ballot box for important projects that would not happen if we did not come together as a region.” Andrew Giacomini, Partner, Hanson Bridgett; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee

“Climate change represents perhaps the greatest challenge to human health and well-being that humanity has ever faced. Increasingly we must take practical steps toward managing many inevitable impacts. The Bay Area has now recognized the imperative of preparing for rising ocean levels.” Lloyd Dean, President & CEO, Dignity Health; Member, Bay Area Council Executive Committee

“As San Francisco’s hometown community bank since 1852, we were proud to support the campaign to protect and restore the bay. The Bay Area proved that when we come together, we can accomplish a lot.” Jim Foley, EVP and President, Pacific North Region, Wells Fargo Community Banking

“Recology was proud to stand with the Bay Area Council, to support and restore the San Francisco Bay.” Mike Sangiacomo, President & CEO, Recology; Member, Bay Area Council Board of Directors

A brief history of Measure AA
Measure AA was decades in the making. Prior to the Gold Rush, the San Francisco Bay had about 250,000 acres of thriving wetland habitat. By the 1960s, barely 20,000 acres survived. Then in 1966, with the support of the Bay Area Council, Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation creating the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) to halt the rampant destruction of Bay wetlands. In 1999, the San Francisco Estuary Institute released its landmark Baylands Goals report, detailing how the Bay needed 100,000 acres of wetlands to improve water quality and habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife. In 2003, Senator Dianne Feinstein negotiated the transfer of about 15,000 acres of salt ponds from Cargill for future wetland restoration.

In 2009, the California legislature created the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, a special regional body tasked with raising local funds to restore the former Cargill Salt Ponds and other restoration opportunities across the nine county region. Meanwhile, mega storms in New Orleans and the Atlantic Coast highlighted the dangers of extreme storms and sea level rise, and the ability of green infrastructure, such as wetlands, to provide cost-effective flood defenses. These storms prompted a 2015 Bay Area Council Economic Institute study, Surviving the Storm, which estimated the region could suffer over $10 billion in economic damages during a 150-year storm event. The passage of Measure AA means millions will now be available to actively invest in and improve the health and security of the Bay shoreline for people and wildlife in all nine Bay Area counties.

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Council Leads High-Level Executive Delegation to D.C.

The Bay Area Council this week (May 24-26) led a high-level business delegation to Washington, D.C. for meetings with top White House and legislative leaders on a range of critical issues, including water, transportation, housing, trade and healthcare. The delegation, led by Council Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners and Government Relations Committee Co-Chairs Andrew Giacomini of Hanson Bridgett and Peter Brightbill of Wells Fargo, met with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz and Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others.

Senator Feinstein was thrilled to hear Bay Area Council is advocating for a second southern crossing across the Bay and was interested in the Water Committee’s request to include language in her drought bill to streamline federal regulatory approvals. Delegates got a briefing from White House and Health and Human Services officials on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The meetings with Leader Pelosi centered on the Bay Area’s traffic and housing problems and the delegation updated her on the Council’s support of legislation to ease barriers for creating second living units and fast tracking approval of affordable housing developments.

At a dinner generously hosted by the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center, delegates enjoyed speaking with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and hearing from both Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Congressman Honda about trade, water transportation, and the current political landscape. In meetings with Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez, Chair Covarrubias and Transportation Committee Co-Chair Jeff Heller of Heller Manus talked about the dire need for increased transportation investment and briefed Mendez on the Council’s work to expand regional ferry service. The Council looks forward to participating in a follow up meeting with DOT and a transportation strategy task force team of long term transportation planners for Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.

To end the trip, delegates sat down with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Department of Energy Officials to discuss next week’s 7th Clean Energy Ministerial hosted in partnership with the Bay Area Council. Secretary Moniz and DOE thanked the Bay Area Council for their work organizing this major event and were very excited to use this event to empower citizens and businesses to sustain and enhance quality of life while forwarding clean energy goals.

The Council extends its deepest thanks to major trip sponsors Intel, Oracle, Microsoft, and DLA Piper. To engage in our federal policy work, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.