Bay Area Council Blog: Storm & Flood Protection Archive

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Bay Restoration Campaign Gets a Big Boost

A regional ballot measure campaign that the Bay Area Council is helping lead to raise funding for San Francisco Bay restoration got a major boost today (Feb. 25) with a generous commitment from member PG&E. As part of its commitment to public safety and serving the community, PG&E Corporation made a $250,000 shareholder-funded commitment to the People for a Clean and Healthy Bay Coalition. With this contribution, PG&E joins a growing list of local leaders—including the Bay Area Council, Save the Bay, The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, San Mateo County Economic Development Association, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy and Audubon California—in support of environmental restoration, pollution reduction and critical flood protection around the San Francisco Bay.

“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,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman and CEO Tony Earley, who serves on the Council’s Executive Committee. “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.”

If approved by voters in June, “Yes on Measure AA for a Clean and Healthy Bay” would raise $500 million over 20 years to fund critical conservation and flood protection projects, including the restoration of 15,000 acres of wetlands and creation of 25 miles of new Bay trails. Co-Chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the campaign has received endorsement from local elected officials, and business, environmental, labor, philanthropic and civic leaders.

“Wetland restoration pencils out,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Not only do wetlands provide vital habitat for the fish, birds and other wildlife the Bay needs to thrive, but they also act as a natural sponge, absorbing storm surges and adapting to rising sea levels. This is especially important given recent estimates from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that the region could suffer more than $10 billion in economic damages during a 150-year extreme storm event. I applaud PG&E and Tony Earley for exhibiting the corporate leadership necessary to keep our Bay clean, healthy and safe.”

“Our wetlands are integral to our way of life in the Bay Area. If we want to keep this a desirable place to live and work, we need to eliminate the trash and pollution that has built up from years of neglect and restore the natural environment. It will not only enhance the bay, but also help protect us from the risks associated with climate change,” said Dave Cortese, President, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay will benefit the community for generations by reducing trash and pollution and restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife along the Bay and its shoreline. Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California, said, “A healthy San Francisco Bay is vital for the millions of birds that rely upon this ecosystem. But it is also a prerequisite for Bay Area communities and businesses to thrive, as well. I am pleased PG&E understands the connection that we all have to the Bay and am grateful for their contribution to the Measure AA campaign.”

Studies have shown that should an extreme storm hit and trigger flooding, much of the Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, is at risk of suffering significant damage. This includes potential impacts to homes and businesses, as well as critical infrastructure, such as ports, airports, water, sewer, transportation and energy facilities. San Mateo County Economic Development Association President and CEO Rosanne Foust said, “If the Bay Area gets hit with an extreme storm and we experience severe flooding, the damages associated with it would reach into the billions, greatly impacting the business community. Supporting ‘Yes on Measure AA’ is a critical step in reducing that risk.”

Silicon Valley Leadership Group President and CEO Carl Guardino said, “It’s rare to see such a diverse group of business, environmental, corporate and civic leaders unite for the same cause. It’s happening today because this initiative impacts each and every one of us who lives and works in the area. And because of the important innovation that happens here, its effects are far reaching.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, “The Bay is the lifeblood of our region. Wetlands on its shoreline are critical for climate resilience in the decades ahead, and our future vitality as a region requires robust investment in their restoration.”

“Measure AA will provide funds for an integrated response to climate change that protects habitat around the Bay and enhances flood protection for people,” said Jay Ziegler, Director of Policy and External Affairs at The Nature Conservancy. “In its work around the Bay, The Nature Conservancy has partnered with public agencies, local activists, and land owners around the Bay to conserve ecological hotspots on the verge of development. Through these actions, today these lands and waters are part of the Bay Area’s renowned urban parklands.”

PG&E’s commitment to the environment, which includes providing its customers with some of the nation’s cleanest energy—with more than 55 percent coming from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources—has grown to include a focus on adapting to changing climate conditions, and ensuring its system is more resilient to extreme weather conditions. This ranges from modernizing infrastructure with new technologies to collaborating on emergency response plans and procedures to address near-term risks such as storms, heat waves and wildfires. PG&E also maintains a team of scientists who monitor sea level rise, temperature increases and other factors to assess the likelihood of potential impacts in the future.

The San Francisco Bay is challenged by trash, toxins and sea-level rise among other threats. For the Bay to be healthy and sustainable, it ultimately needs 100,000 acres of wetlands to filter pollution from its waters and increase habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife that make up its rich and diverse ecosystem. These wetlands will also allow for further expansion of public access to the shoreline, and protect low-lying communities and critical infrastructure from the increased risk of flooding due to extreme weather and rising seas brought about by climate change.

Each year, rising seas swamp more and more of the shoreline, leaving less wetlands to restore and making restoration of those that remain more expensive to complete. The recently completed Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Update, a report that represents the consensus of scientists who study the San Francisco Bay, concluded that only 20 to 30 years remain for restoration that had previously been planned to take place over a period of 50 years.

Right now, the Bay has only 44,000 acres of tidal wetlands, and while more than 30,000 shoreline acres have been preserved from development and are awaiting restoration, lack of funding has slowed progress. Yes on Measure AA will generate sorely needed funding for the restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands, benefiting the people, wildlife, and economy of Bay Area communities. This local funding will also help the region leverage the additional state and federal funding necessary to finish the job.

About Yes On Measure AA for a Clean and Healthy Bay

People for a Clean and Healthy Bay is a coalition of business, labor, and environmental leaders working together to pass a $12 per year, 20-year parcel tax on the June 2016 ballot in all nine Bay Area counties. It would raise $500 million for Bay wetlands restoration and shoreline protection. We hope that you will attend to learn more about our campaign and how to get involved. For more information, please visit http://peopleforacleanandhealthybay.org.

U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Senator Feinstein speaks about START Treaty on Capitol Hill in Washington

Sen. Feinstein Announced as Co-Chair of Bay Restoration Campaign

The regional campaign (Yes on Measure AA) that the Bay Area Council is helping lead to protect and restore San Francisco Bay got a significant boost Thursday (Feb. 18) when it was announced that Senator Dianne Feinstein agreed to be an honorary co-chair. The June 2016 measure proposes a $12 per year parcel tax that would raise $500 million over 20 years to fund critical conservation and flood protection projects, including the restoration of 15,000 acres of wetlands and creation of 25 miles of new Bay Trails.

“Measure AA is an unprecedented opportunity for all Bay Area residents to unite in support of the Bay we love, and improve it a lot for very little cost,” Sen. Feinstein said. “The Bay is the very heart of our region’s identity, and is vital to the economic and ecological future of California. It is up to us to protect and restore it for the benefit of our children and our children’s children.”

Feinstein joins civic leader Bob Fisher as honorary co-chair of the campaign, which has received broad support from local elected officials, environmental, business, labor, and philanthropic groups, and civic leaders, more than 70 of whom have already endorsed the measure. Feinstein, a lifelong Bay Area resident, has been a consistent voice on behalf of protecting the San Francisco Bay. In 2003, she led the effort to secure 16,500 acres of salt ponds and shoreline property for wetlands restoration to clean the Bay’s waters, expand wildlife habitat, build miles of new Bay Trails, and provide flood protection for threatened communities and critical public infrastructure.

Yes on Measure AA will generate sorely needed funding for the restoration of San Francisco Bay wetlands, benefiting the people, wildlife, and economy of Bay Area communities. This local funding will also help the region leverage the additional state and federal funding necessary to finish the job. Learn how you can support Measure AA>>

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COUNCIL ENGAGING WITH NEW LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON REGIONAL PLANNING

East Bay Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (Richmond) this week was appointed chair of a new Select Committee on Regional Planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Bay Area Council is moving quickly to engage with him and the committee to provide input. The committee is being formed to address the planned merger of the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The Council is a leading proponent of merging the two agencies to better address the region’s pressing housing and transportation challenges.

Read the Council’s position on the MTC-ABAG merger>>

Thurmond said in a statement that he “also intends for the select committee to address other regional issues, including the lack of affordable housing; environmental issues, such as sea-level rise; strengthening the local economy; and improving public transportation systems. These facts tell me that if we don’t take a regional approach to these issues, there is no way we can appropriately allocate resources to fix the problems.” An initial hearing of the committee is scheduled for Feb. 19 in Oakland and the Council is looking forward to participating. To engage in our regional planning work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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ENERGY SEC. MONIZ ANNOUNCES DETAILS OF CLEAN ENERGY MINISTERIAL IN SF

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz this week (Jan. 26) visited San Francisco and announced details of the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7), which will be hosted by the United States on June 1-2 and which the Bay Area Council is honored to be helping organize. During a talk at the Commonwealth Club on Tuesday (Jan. 26), Sec. Moniz said CEM7 will play a critical role in helping to implement the clean energy goals that are part of the climate commitments put forward by countries at COP21.

The Clean Energy Ministerial is a historic global forum of the energy ministers of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The upcoming CEM7 will emphasize the critical role of the private sector in technology investment, development and deployment, and policy guidance, and will be part of a broader “Clean Energy Week” and will include a series of public private events and announcements. To learn about opportunities for participating in CEM7 and becoming a sponsor, contact Policy Manager Genevieve Herreria.

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MEASURE FOR CLEAN AND HEALTHY BAY SURGES TOWARD JUNE BALLOT

As reported on the front page of Thursday’s (Jan. 14) San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority voted unanimously to place the Clean and Healthy Bay regional parcel measure on the June 7 ballot. The measure would raise $500 million over 20 years through a flat $12 parcel tax across the nine-county Bay Area to fund critical environmental restoration and flood protection improvements along the San Francisco Bay shoreline.

Learn more and support the campaign for a clean, healthy bay>>

The measure is the culmination of years’ worth of work by the Bay Area Council, Save the Bay, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and has been endorsed by the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. Last April, a report from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute report that estimated a major storm event could cause over $10 billion in economic damage to the region’s economy. To engage on the Council’s Water Committee, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.

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NEW WEBSITE FOR BAY RESTORATION CAMPAIGN

Defending the Bay Area against extreme weather, flooding and sea level rise just got a bit easier with the launch of a new website to support a June 2016 regional San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority campaign. In April, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released a study estimating that the region could suffer more than $10 billion in economic damages from a 150-year megastorm. However, for $1.5 billion, much of the Bay could be defended through a network of new levees and 30,000 acres of restored wetlands, work that would also improve public access and the Bay ecosystem. The Bay Area Council has joined forces with Save the Bay and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to pass a 20-year, $12 regional parcel tax to get this work started before it’s too late. To learn more about the effort to defend the Bay, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.

Support the Bay Restoration campaign>>

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CLIMATE CHANGE ACCORD: NEXT STOP, THE BAY AREA

As world leaders reached an historic global climate change accord this week (Dec. 12) in Paris, the Bay Area Council continues its work on regional solutions that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable a new generation of clean energy technologies. The Council also welcomed an announcement from Paris this week by U.S. Energy Sec. Ernest Moniz and Gov. Jerry Brown that the Bay Area will host energy ministers from the world’s 23 largest economies and the European Commission as they work on implementing any agreement from the Conference of Parties 21 talks. The 7th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7) will be held June 1-2 in San Francisco, and the Council is honored to be working with a variety of partners to organize the meetings.

Through our robust housing and transportation policy agenda, the Council is leading efforts regionally to prioritize higher-density infill development near transit and increase investment in clean, efficient transportation systems – including Caltrain electrification, expansion of energy-efficient ferries on the Bay, and usage of commuter shuttles that remove 2 million single-passenger car trips per year from our roads and highways.

Earlier this year, our Bay Area Council Economic Institute released a report – 21st Century Infrastructure: Keeping California Connected, Powered and Competitive – that is guiding our work to enhance energy and communications networks to support increased use of renewable energy and promote greater efficiency and conservation. We’re also focused on reducing the potential impacts of climate change. Another report the Economic Institute released this year – Surviving the Storm – outlined the huge economic costs of extreme storms and helped set the stage for a 2016 regional parcel tax campaign we are leading to increase the Bay Area’s resilience against extreme storms and the threat of sea-level rise.

For information about the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial, contact Genevieve Herreria.

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COUNCIL’S 2016 POLICY AGENDA TAKES DEAD AIM AT REGION’S TOP CHALLENGES

The Bay Area Council is taking dead aim at solving the region’s crisis-level housing and traffic problems with a 2016 policy agenda adopted this week (Dec. 3) by the Executive Committee that also targets critical water and drought issues and the growing challenge employers are facing in attracting talent across a range of skills. Under the leadership of Council Chair Michael Covarrubias, Chairman and CEO of TMG Partners, the Executive Committee developed the policy agenda over the past two months with input from the Council’s 275 member companies.

“The Council and this region are extremely fortunate to have the dedicated and visionary leadership that our Executive Committee and Board are bringing to bear against these difficult challenges,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The priorities they have identified rightly reflect the major issues of our time, and we are confident that with their collective action the Council will start bending the curve to solve them.”

The Council’s 2016 Focus Policy Priorities include:

Workforce Housing. The Bay Area’s historic failure to build housing sufficient to meet employment and population growth is fueling an epic affordability crisis that could have long-term consequences for the region’s economic success. The Housing Committee, Co-Chaired by Lennar Urban President Kofi Bonner and TMG Partners Managing Partner Denise Pinkston, is working to significantly increase the supply of housing units and commercial space throughout the region by mitigating regulatory barriers to development of all kinds. To engage in our Workforce Housing work, contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Commute Improvement. Traffic has reached crisis levels, and our public transportation systems are bursting at the seams. Under the leadership of Heller Manus Architects President Jeffrey Heller and UPS Northern California District President Rosemary Turner, the Transportation Committee is working on a range of innovative solutions that include expanding carpool and toll lanes, leveraging new traffic management technologies, emphasizing overall transportation corridors and developing new financing tools and local revenue sources for investing in maintaining and expanding capacity. To engage in our transportation policy work, contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Water Supply and Security. Our economy relies on access to clean, reliable and affordable supplies of water. With historic drought, competing demands and a historic lack of investment in our water system, the Bay Area faces major questions about its water future. The Water Committee, Co-Chaired by Montezuma Wetlands Managing Partner Jim Levine and Suffolk Construction Company West Coast President Andrew Ball, is uniting the region’s diverse water stakeholders around these issues, working to prioritize critical investments and educating policy makers in Sacramento and Washington on the region’s needs. Ball is also leading the Council’s effort to generate support for a regional ballot initiative in 2016 that would raise $500 million from a parcel tax to fortify the region’s defenses against extreme storms and sea-level rise. To engage in our Water Supply and Security work, contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.

Workforce of the Future. The Bay Area’s fast-changing, high-value innovation economy requires highly skilled graduates for today’s in-demand jobs. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Teresa Briggs of Deloitte and Glenn Shannon of Shorenstein Properties, the Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is building stronger connections between the region’s employers and the universities and colleges that are educating the region’s future workforce. To engage in our Workforce of the Future work, contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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COUNCIL MOURNS LOSS OF DOUGLAS SHORENSTEIN

Council Chair Michael Covarrubias called for a moment of silence at yesterday’s (Dec. 3) Board of Directors meeting to honor beloved Bay Area business and philanthropic titan Doug Shorenstein, who passed away Nov. 25 after a long battle with cancer. Shorenstein was Chairman and CEO of Shorenstein Properties, a real estate development company founded by his late father Walter Shorenstein. He previously served on the Council’s Board of Directors and was a 2011 inductee into the Council’s Bay Area Business Hall of Fame – Walter was a member of the 1998 Hall of Fame. After taking over the company in 1995, Shorenstein transformed it from a local developer to one of the largest and most-respected real estate development and management companies in the nation. He will be sorely missed.

Read about Doug Shorenstein’s life in the San Francisco Chronicle>>

Watch the Hall of Fame video of honoring Doug Shorenstein>>

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NO DROUGHT OF THINKING ON STATE’S WATER WOES

California’s increasingly volatile climate is the new normal, and Bay Area businesses and water agencies are coming up with innovative ways to adapt. That was the message from the Bay Area Council’s Wednesday forum, The New Normal: Climate, Water and the Economy, hosted by Morrison Foerster and sponsored by the California Water Foundation, AECOM and Arup. With an agenda that combined differing perspectives from business, Bay Area water agencies, Southern California, the Sierra Nevada and environmentalists, the forum yielded several key takeaways to be examined by the Council’s Water Committee to guide 2016 advocacy:

  • California’s water system is beleaguered by climate change, aging infrastructure, ecosystem decline, and groundwater overdraft
  • New investments are needed to fund a diverse portfolio of solutions, including water recycling, stormwater capture, and both surface and groundwater storage
  • Bay Area employers are taking up water conservation as a measure of corporate social responsibility
  • Data and sensor technology can cheaply and effectively help businesses and water agencies add supply by reducing waste and leaks
  • State leaders should create minimum data reporting standards on water bills to improve the ability of business to track use
  • The Bay Area Council has identified 19 water recycling, desal, flood, data, and storage projects needed to improve regional climate resiliency. These projects are being pursued by four of the region’s largest water agencies, including the San Francisco Public Utilities District, Santa Clara Valley Water District, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Contra Costa Water District
  • The state should move towards more nuanced conservation targets that reflect the diversity of water use rates and sources found across the state
  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin delta is oversubscribed, and an update to the delta’s water quality standards are long overdue
  • More floodplains in delta can help recover endangered species
  • Improved forest management and meadowland restoration in the Sierra’s can improve water quality and storage downstream.

Special thanks to Assemblymember Marc Levine (San Rafael) for providing opening remarks, and to California Water Foundation Executive Director Lester Snow for setting the tone with his presentation on the statewide challenge. See the agenda for full the list of full speakers, and here for the full presentation. To engage with the Bay Area Council Water Committee, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.