Bay Area Council Blog: Storm & Flood Protection Archive

7th clean energy ministerial


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.



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.



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>>



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.



The San Francisco Bay took the spotlight this week (Sept. 14) at two major events focused on building greater waterfront resilience in the face of rising sea levels and extreme storms. On Wednesday (Sept. 16), the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), celebrated it’s 50th birthday at the Exploratorium with a full day event that highlighted the agency’s evolving approach to defending the Bay in the era of climate change. Bay Area Council Executive Committee member and Signature Development Group President Mike Ghielmetti spoke about sustainable bayfront housing projects, including Brooklyn Basin in Oakland, and the Council’s role in helping identify regional funding for restoration and flood protection work.

On Thursday and Friday (Sept. 17 & 18), the region’s top engineering, planning and environmental thinkers gathered in Oakland for the biennial State of the Estuary Conference. The conference received a presentation by Water Committee Co-Chair and Montezuma Wetlands LLP Managing Partner Jim Levine on findings from Surviving the Storm, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s recent report detailing the estimated $10.4 billion in damages the region would suffer during a 150-year storm event. For more information on the Council’s advocacy on storm and flood protection, visit our Storm and Flood Protection policy page or contact Policy Associate Rachele Trigueros.

botb video


The threat to the Bay Area of an overdue extreme storm comes into sharp, graphic focus in a new video released last week (Aug. 26) by a coalition of business, environmental and community leaders that includes the Bay Area Council. The video is part of a continuing effort to raise public awareness about the potentially devastating consequences of an extreme storm, which a report released in April by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimated would conservatively cause $10 billion in economic damage – equivalent to that of the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Watch the video>>

The Council is working with the coalition to ready a 2016 regional ballot measure that would generate $500 million over the next 20 years to restore and bolster waterfront-protecting wetlands and build 20 miles of new levees. To learn more about the vulnerability of our region to extreme storms and sea-level rise, visit The video was produced by issue advocacy firm