Bay Area Council Blog: Transportation Archive

TRAFFIC RELIEF MEASURE HEADING TO SAN MATEO COUNTY BALLOT

Worsening traffic plagues the Bay Area, and San Mateo County commuters suffer from some of the worst of it. A 2017 Metropolitan Transportation Commission report found that “eight of the 10 most crowded commutes (in the Bay Area) are routes to or from the Bay Bridge or Silicon Valley.” San Mateo County voters soon may be able to do something about it.

This week, the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) Board of Directors voted to place a measure on the November ballot that will reduce traffic congestion on Highways 101, 280, and others in the county; repair potholes and address local traffic; improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities; expand regional transit connections; and construct grade separations where Caltrain tracks intersect with local streets. If voters pass the measure, the half-cent sales tax would generate $2.4 billion in revenue dedicated to improving transit for years to come. The county Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to meet July 24, still must approve the plan before it goes on the November ballot. The Council worked with a coalition of companies the corridor to help develop the measure, and we applaud the SamTrans Board of Directors for its efforts to relieve congestion and address transit challenges in the region.

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Statement Denouncing Misguided Regional Measure 3 Lawsuit

The Bay Area Council today (July 10) issued the following statement responding to a lawsuit seeking to invalidate Regional Measure 3 (RM3), an initiative approved by almost 54 percent of Bay Area voters on June 5 to invest $4.5 billion to ease the region’s worsening traffic and expand and improve mass transit. The Bay Area Council partnered with Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR to run the successful campaign for RM3.

“This misguided lawsuit is a little bit like someone arguing that fixing a leaky pipe has nothing to do with saving water,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Bay Area bridges are swamped with some of the worst traffic we’ve seen in generations, traffic that is largely the result of the 70 percent and more of commuters who every day drive alone to work. Getting commuters and others out of their cars and into mass transit, including BART, Caltrain, local buses and ferries, provides a direct and powerful benefit to everyone who uses the region’s seven state-owned bridges. Regional Measure 3 draws a clear and indisputable nexus between tolls and traffic by addressing some of the most critical bottlenecks in the bridge approaches. In addition, RM3 effectively will add greater capacity to our bridges by directing 75 percent of funding to improving and expanding critical regional mass transit systems and providing other good alternatives like bicycling and walking. We’re confident this lawsuit will be quickly dismissed or defeated.”

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BART HOUSING BILL ADVANCES

The Bay Area would add 20,000 units of new transit-oriented housing, including 7,000 units designated as affordable for lower and middle income residents, under legislation the Bay Area Council is supporting that passed key state Senate committee votes on Tuesday (June 26). AB 2923 authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (San Francisco) and Assemblymember Tim Grayson (Concord) would require BART to adopt zoning standards for transforming more than 200 acres of parking lots and other land the mass transit agency controls within a half mile of its stations into a mix of housing and commercial developments. The bill comes on the heels of legislation by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) that the Council supported that extended from a quarter mile to a half mile the distance from stations that BART could undertake transit-oriented development on its properties. AB 2923 next moves to Assembly Appropriations. To add your company to our list of supporters, please contact Senior Director of Government Relations Cornelious Burke.

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COUNCIL’S THREE HOUSING BILLS ADVANCE

All three of the bills the Bay Area Council is sponsoring to address California’s housing crisis advanced this week. The Council is sponsoring more housing-related bills this session than any other organization in the state. SB 1227 by Sen. Nancy Skinner would allow student housing builders that meet certain affordability and other requirements to exceed local limits on the number of units allowed by 35 percent and exempt them from costly parking requirements. SB 831 by Sen. Bob Wieckowski would build on the huge success of his earlier legislation the Council sponsored in 2016 to make it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to add accessory dwelling units, aka granny units. SB 831 would eliminate most of the fees that add tens of thousands of dollars to each unit. SB 828 by Sen. Scott Wiener would strengthen accountability rules for cities to meet their local housing obligations. All three bills still have a couple legislative committee stops in the coming weeks. To find out how you can help in advocating for passage of these bills, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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CONDOLEEZZA RICE, DAVID BROOKS & #METOO LEADERS WOW PACIFIC SUMMIT

The timing was ideal. As President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, guests at the Bay Area Council’s 2018 Pacific Summit on Tuesday were sitting down to hear from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on what it all meant. In a lengthy conversation with Andrew Westergren, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Strategy and Corporate Development for Visa, in front of almost 200 top executives and other leaders, Rice candidly acknowledged the unconventional way in which the summit came together but also said it was worth a try given the failure of past efforts. Rice also gave her insights and analysis about the tumultuous G7 meeting in Canada, talked about U.S.-China relations as a trade war looms and provided insights into the motives and agenda of Russia President Vladimir Putin.

With national attention intensely focused on the issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, the timing was also perfect for a lively conservation with two leaders of the #MeToo movement. Janet Liang, President of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, moderated the discussion with Adama Iwu, Vice President of State Government and Community Relations for Visa, and Tina Tchen, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and Partner at Buckley Sandler. Iwu was honored as a Time magazine Person of the Year for her work in founding We Said Enough, a group focused on exposing and changing a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination in the California legislature. Tchen is a leader of Time’s Up, which works to support women who have suffered sexual harassment or discrimination. The three gave their personal insights on the #MeToo movement and the cultural and institutional changes that must occur in order to end sexual harassment and discrimination.

The audience also was treated to sobering and humorous remarks from renowned New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks, in his comments and in a Q&A with McKinsey & Co. Senior Director and West Coast Regional Manager Kausik Rajgopal, talked about cultural and political divides in the U.S. and how a sense of community that has united people in the past has been replaced by tribalism, which by its nature divides people.

See photos of the Pacific Summit>>

The conversations continued later in the afternoon in smaller group discussions, with PwC Managing Partner Jeanette Calandra moderating a conversation with Tchen, UPS Northern California District President Rosemary Turner leading a discussion with Dr. Rice and TMG Partners leader Denise Pinkston guiding a talk with Brooks. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman opened the summit with insights about the Bay Area’s run of economic success and the housing and transportation challenges that threaten to pull the rug out from under it.

The Bay Area Council extends its thanks to Visionary sponsor Kaiser Permanente and the many other sponsors whose support is critical to funding our public policy and advocacy. See a full list of all Pacific Summit sponsors. Our thanks also to the Kohl Mansion for hosting us.

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2018 BACPoll: Can Transportation Tech Solve Bay Area Traffic?

Bay Area voters are embracing new automobile and transportation technologies, from ride-hailing apps to responsive traffic signals, drones and electric and self-driving cars, to combat the region’s awful traffic, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll.

The poll found a significant 69 percent of voters want traffic signals upgraded with technology that makes them responsive to actual traffic conditions, even if that means diverting money from other transportation priorities. Such technology has been tested in recent years in several Bay Area cities, including San Jose, Palo Alto, Santa Rosa and Hayward, but hasn’t been put into widespread use.

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Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft continue to be a popular choice for commuters. The Bay Area Council Poll found that from 2015 to 2018 those who have never used a ride-hailing application dropped from 68 percent to 39 percent, although there was little change from last year. Still, 74 percent said these services are an important part of the Bay Area’s transportation system and 56 percent say they have made it easier to get around.

“We need to put the pedal to the metal in developing and deploying new advanced transportation technologies that can improve our region’s mobility,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “It may be a number of years before some of these new technologies are fully proven, but that should not delay us in continuing to invest, experiment and learn how they can help solve one of our most intractable problems. With companies like Tesla and Proterra, the Bay Area has quickly become a leading global center for innovation in the automobile and transportation industry. It’s extremely exciting to think about how these technologies will transform the ways in which we get around.”

See the results>>

Many Residents Not Ready for Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars is one of those early-stage technologies, and they continue to intrigue Bay Area voters. The poll found 46 percent of voters willing to relinquish control of the steering wheel, down from 52 percent in 2017, but consistent with the previous two years. Almost a quarter of voters said self-driving cars can solve the Bay Area’s traffic problem, but the poll found 65 percent of voters remain unconvinced about their traffic-busting ability.

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That may have something to do with the fact that many voters in the survey still think it will be awhile longer before self-driving cars outnumber human drivers on the road. While 31 percent say self-driving cars will be the majority plying the roads within the next 10 years, 45 percent say self-driving cars won’t rule the roads for 11 to 50 years or more and 8 percent don’t see them ever taking over. The overall average time is 16.36 years.

Electric Vehicles Gain Traction

As California pushes to meet an aggressive goal set this year by Gov. Jerry Brown of putting 5 million zero emission vehicles on the streets by 2030, voters appear willing to spend a little bit more to help make that happen. The Bay Area Council Poll found that 55 percent would dig a little deeper to drive an all-electric vehicle. Still, voters harbor concerns about the range of electric vehicles, with 40 percent saying they wouldn’t use an all-electric car because they don’t go far enough on a single charge.

The support for all-electric vehicles is mirrored in voters’ attitudes about a proposal to ban all fossil-fuel powered cars in California by 2040. The poll found 52 percent of voters agree California should do away with gas-powered vehicles.

On several of the questions involving self-driving, ride-hailing and electric vehicle technologies, younger voters generally showed higher support.

Voters Embrace Ferries and Flying Drones

Ferries may not meet the strict definition of advanced technology transportation, but voters see them as a popular alternative to the region’s clogged roadways and other overburdened mass transit systems. The poll found that 66 percent of voters would take a ferry if it took them where they wanted to go. That should be strong encouragement for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which operates the regional SF Bay Ferry service, as it works on an ambitious plan to dramatically expand regional ferry service along traditional east-west routes and new routes connecting with Silicon Valley and Richmond.

Flying drones may not carry commuters (yet), but they offer the chance to remove cars and trucks from the roads. That’s appealing to voters in the Bay Area Council Poll, which found 54 percent support the use of drones if it means delivering packages faster, cheaper and with fewer carbon emissions.

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The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

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BACPoll: Voters Say They’d Pay to End Awful Traffic

Bay Area voters are so frustrated with the region’s horrific traffic that they are willing to dig deep—really deep—into their pockets to solve the problem, according to 2018 Bay Area Council Poll released today (June 4).

The poll found that 42 percent of voters would pay from $3 up to $11 a day to eliminate traffic completely from their daily commute. With an estimated 3.4 million automobile and mass transit commuters in the region and 261 business days in the year, that hypothetically would translate into between $10.2 million and $37.4 million a day or up to $9.76 billion a year to do away with gridlock.

“Traffic is taking a huge toll on our quality of life, our economy, our environment, and voters are fed up,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Voters want solutions and they are willing to pay for it, to get back valuable time to spend with their families, in their careers and doing other activities that is being stolen from them as they sit in stop-and-go congestion.”

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See the results>>

Some voters were willing to pay even more. The poll found 9 percent of voters would pay from $11 up to $21 a day to do away with traffic and another 4 percent said they’d fork over from $21 up to $51 for clear sailing on the Bay Area’s roads and highways.

Of course, voters also wouldn’t mind getting paid to help solve the problem, according to the Bay Area Council Poll. Asked how much it would take for them to give up their car and join a carpool, the poll found 44 percent of drivers who commute alone would give it up for carpooling if the price is right. And that price appears to be about $5, with the poll finding that 55 percent of all commuters say they would switch to carpooling for a little more than the cost of a couple gallons of gas.

It’s little wonder voters are willing to open their wallets. The poll found 64 percent of voters say getting around the Bay Area has gotten more difficult over the past year. That’s up from 25 percent in 2014. Voters also mentioned the Bay Area’s notoriously bad traffic as the region’s second biggest problem behind high housing costs.

While Bay Area voters may be willing to pay to end traffic, they were also very clear on who they think is most responsible for fixing the region’s transportation travails. The poll found that 66 percent say government agencies bear primary responsibility for improving traffic and transportation.

Negative views about the worsening commute were generally consistent across county lines, although San Francisco saw a considerable spike in voters who say the city’s traffic is making it harder and harder to get around. The percentage of voters who said San Francisco’s traffic is getting worse jumped from 47 percent in 2017 to 61 percent in 2018, the biggest increase among the region’s nine counties.

The region’s congested roadways and public transit systems are also taking a big bite out of commuters’ time. According to the Bay Area Council Poll, 50 percent of voters say their daily commute to and from work consumes from one to two hours, with one third of voters saying their two-way commute sucks 90 minutes out of their day. Contra Costa County voters spend more time than others stuck in traffic, reporting that their daily commute can stretch to 48 minutes each way.

“Our freeways are packed on a regular basis, not just at commute times. The overflow into our communities during commute periods have (sic) impacted local residents from moving around in their own communities,” said one poll respondent.

The poll results will be tested on June 5, when voters will decide on Regional Measure 3. RM3 will appear on ballots in nine Bay Area counties and asks voters to approve a plan for investing $4.5 billion on a variety of projects to ease traffic and improve mass transit. The projects would be paid for by a $3 toll increase phased in over six years on seven of the region’s state-owned bridges. The Bay Area Council is helping lead the campaign with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR to pass RM3 and advocated for the state legislation that authorized putting it on the ballot.

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

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BACPoll: More People Looking to Leave Bay Area as Housing, Traffic Problems Mount

Growing pessimism among voters about the overall direction the Bay Area is heading has more and more people thinking about heading for the doors. Bay Area Council Poll results released today (June 3) found that 46 percent of voters are ready to leave in the next few years, up from 40 percent last year and 34 percent in 2016.

And once again, millennials are leading the charge for the doors with 52 percent saying they will be seeking greener pastures in the next few years, up from 46 percent in 2017. Renters, people without college degrees and those spending 50 percent and more of their income on housing also want out.

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Where They’re Headed

Where people are headed drew a range of destinations. Of 461 voters who said they plan to leave, the poll found 24 percent plan to move elsewhere in California while 61 percent said they would look outside the Golden State. Texas was a popular destination, according to the poll, with 10 percent saying they would mosey on down to the Lone Star State.

Oregon, Nevada and Arizona also can expect to see a bump in former Bay Area residents in the next few years, the poll found. Another 6 percent said they would go just about anywhere that was more affordable and has lower taxes.

“These results are tough to report, but we can’t let this growing pessimism become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “There’s still time to get a handle on our housing and transportation problems, but it will require strong leadership and partnership across the region to do it combined with bold thinking and decisive action. We can’t wait until our economy tanks to fix these problems and letting our economy tank is not a solution.”

Housing, Traffic, Homelessness Top Issues

The Bay Area’s stratospheric housing costs, overall high cost of living and bumper-to-bumper traffic are the main culprits behind the region’s worsening grumpiness. The housing crisis topped the list of most nettlesome issues for the fourth straight year, according to the Bay Area Council Poll, with 42 percent mentioning it in an open-ended question as the region’s leading problem. Traffic was the second most-mentioned problem. Homelessness followed closely behind. Fewer mentioned concerns over development, over population and gentrification.

Read the poll results>>

Who’s Responsible for Fixing the Problems?

Bay Area voters are clear on who they think is most responsible for fixing the region’s housing and transportation travails. The poll found that 56 percent of voters think cities, counties and other public agencies are most responsible for making housing more affordable while an even bigger 66 percent say government agencies bear primary responsibility for improving traffic and transportation.

And while much blame has been heaped on the booming tech industry for the region’s problems, the poll found that just 19 percent of voters think it is the responsibility of tech companies to solve the housing affordability problem while 18 percent said it’s the job of tech employers to fix the region’s worsening traffic.

Economic Outlook on Sharp Descent

While Bay Area voters continue to be mostly optimistic about the regional economy, their outlook has dimmed dramatically over the past four years. Just 25 percent of voters surveyed say the Bay Area is headed in the right direction, a precipitous drop from just four years ago when 57 percent held a favorable outlook for the region. That pessimism is also creeping into voters’ attitudes about the Bay Area’s seemingly invincible economy, even as unemployment reaches record lows.

In 2014, 50 percent of voters surveyed in the Bay Area Council Poll expected the economy to improve. In 2018, that figure has plunged to just 25 percent. Just as troubling, the poll found 47 percent of voters expect a significant economic downturn sometime in the next three years.

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Voters’ view of their own financial outlook has also slipped. Since 2016, the poll found a considerable narrowing between the number of voters who see happy days ahead for themselves and those who expect to things to get worse financially. Echoing concerns about the region’s soaring cost of living, those with lower incomes harbor the greatest pessimism about how they are doing financially.

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

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VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN FOR REGIONAL MEASURE 3

Absentee ballots began arriving this week in Bay Area mailboxes ahead of the June election and the Bay Area Council is urging early voters to support Regional Measure 3 to invest $4.5 billion to ease traffic and improve mass transit systems around the region. The Council is partnering with the Silicon Valley Leadership and SPUR on a multi-million dollar campaign that is ramping up now to spread the word about this important measure targeting the region’s horrific traffic and overburdened mass transit system. The Council was also instrumental in passing the legislation by state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. that authorized the RM3 vote. An estimated 75 percent of the money will go to public transit, replacing and expanding the aging BART fleet and extending BART to San Jose and Santa Clara, a fleet of ferries, electrifying and modernizing Caltrain and extending the SMART train in the North Bay. Another big chunk will go to unclogging some of the region’s worst traffic chokepoints at key highway interchanges in Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and completing the widening of Highway 101 between Marin and Sonoma counties. The funding would come from a $3 toll increase on seven state-owned bridges that would be phased in over six years with $1 increases in 2019, 2022 and 2025. Learn more about RM3>>

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New Study Will Explore Opportunities for Expanding, Deepening Bay Area, Fresno, Central Valley Megaregion Connections

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Central Valley Community Foundation today announced the launch of an in-depth study to examine Fresno’s important role in the fast-emerging Northern California megaregion and how the arrival of high speed rail over the next decade will dramatically accelerate economic connections between Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area and the state’s fifth largest city.

High speed rail is expected to shrink the time it takes to travel between the Bay Area and the Central Valley from more than three hours to less than one hour when it is scheduled to begin service in 2025 between Fresno and San Jose. That has huge implications for housing, transportation and workforce development across the megaregion and promises to bring exciting new economic opportunities to Fresno and other parts of the Central Valley. “Fresno and the broader Central Valley are key players in developing a broader megaregion strategy,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “As county and other regional boundaries blur with the emergence of the megaregion, it’s imperative that we get a handle on what that future looks like and the infrastructure we’ll need to put in place to support it. We can act now to address these issues or confront chaos later. The Central Valley Community Foundation is an important and indispensable partner in making that happen.”

The study will focus in particular on strategies Fresno and other Central Valley cities can pursue to leverage high speed rail and other economic and demographic changes within the megaregion to boost their own economic prospects. While the 10 percent economic growth that Fresno has enjoyed since 2011 matches the national average, it has lagged cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles where the rate has reached 26 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Expanding the Central Valley’s participation in the megaregion economy, attracting new business and elevating its workforce to meet the needs of employers will also be a focus of the study.

“Improved economic and infrastructure connections between the Silicon Valley/Bay Area and the Central Valley is good, not just for our regions, but for the entire state,” said Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation. “We are pleased to launch this work with the Bay Area Council and to explore meaningful ways to create new economic opportunities for Central Valley residents, businesses and communities and relieve pressure on the congested Bay Area.”

Swearingen kicked off the project on Friday, April 24 at a meeting in Fresno to identify the issues that would be addressed. The study is part of a much broader, long-term effort the Bay Area Council is leading to bring together top business, government and other civic leaders from the Bay Area, Central Valley, Sacramento and Monterey regions to develop a unified, integrated vision for guiding future planning for the megaregion around such issues as housing, transportation and workforce development.

Driving the Council’s intense focus on the megaregion is the Bay Area’s meteoric economic growth over the past decade combined with an historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. In search of more affordable housing, record numbers of Bay Area workers are being forced into longer and longer commutes from the Central Valley and Sacramento that are putting increasing pressure on an already overburdened and congested transportation system. At the same time, the Central Valley is eager to accelerate economic development opportunities that the megaregion offers and prepare its workforce.

The study with the Central Valley Community Foundation and support from Wells Fargo, UC Merced, Fresno State University, City of Fresno, and Lance Kashian & Co., is one of several activities the Council is leading to bring greater attention to megaregion planning. The Council is also working closely with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council on megaregion issues, including investing in better rail connections along the I-80 corridor and promoting the capitol city as a destination for businesses looking to start and expand outside the Bay Area.

The Council will be convening a series of meetings in 2018 to begin a dialogue with government, business, nonprofit and academic leaders on the future of the megaregion.

 

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About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives. Learn more at www.bayareaeconomy.org.

 

About the Central Valley Community Foundation

Central Valley Community Foundation has been a trusted partner in philanthropy in the Central Valley for more than 50 years. Our mission is to cultivate smart philanthropy, lead, and invest in solutions that build stronger communities. Learn more at www.centralvalleycf.org.

 

About the Bay Area Council

The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here. Founded in 1945, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the voice of Bay Area business. Today, more than 300 of the largest employers in the region support the Bay Area Council and offer their CEO or top executive as a member. Our members employ more than 4.43 million workers and have revenues of $1.94 trillion, worldwide. Learn more at www.bayareacouncil.org.