Bad roads and highways cost many Bay Area commuters upwards of almost $3,000 a year in wasted time, vehicle repairs and other costs, according to a new study by TRIP, a national transportation research group. The report highlights the reason why the Bay Area Council is working hard to oppose Proposition 6 on the November ballot that would eliminate billions in funding for repairing state and local roads, bridges highways. And, why the Council opposes a lawsuit filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association that seeks to overturn Regional Measure 3, a ballot measure voters approved in June that provides $5.6 billion for easing traffic and expanding regional mass transit. The Council helped lead the RM3 campaign.
Despite a spasm of violent and deadly attacks on BART, wavering confidence in the system and a depleted police force, the mass transportation agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday (Aug. 9) rejected key elements of a plan presented by BART General Manager Grace Crunican to bolster public safety and security. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman in a letter and in testimony to the Board urged BART to adopt the full package of security measures. Wunderman also urged the Board to request a regional mutual aid response from other local law enforcement agencies to increase patrols on trains and in stations.
In response to Wunderman’s request, the Board said only that it would direct agency officials to research mutual aid options. However, it was unclear exactly what that meant. The union representing BART police had previously rejected the idea of mutual aid, even as BART grapples with a shortage of officers. Union officials indicated that contract provisions blocked other law enforcement from the system.
Watch Jim Wunderman testify at BART Board meeting>>
“It’s hard to believe in the face of growing public fear and anxiety about safety on BART that the Board wouldn’t act swiftly and aggressively to adopt the full slate of strong measures for restoring confidence in the system,” Wunderman said. “The Board’s decision is a disservice to the more than 420,000 BART riders who rely on the system daily and presents an open invitation to criminals and others who flagrantly ignore system rules and regulations to continue to act with impunity.”
A Twitter survey the Council launched today and targeting users in San Francisco and much of the East Bay where BART operates found 81 percent support more police patrols on BART trains and in stations. A total of almost 400 had responded to the survey as of 1 p.m.
The Council is continuing to advocate for a stronger police response to avoid future deadly attacks on the system and address ongoing public safety concerns that threaten to push passengers away from the system and onto already congested roads and highways.
Tariffs of 20% the Trump administration imposed last year on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, and more recent tariffs of 15% and 10% on steel and aluminum imports, are starting to impact the local economy – including construction and housing. Beyond land cost, the region’s high housing costs are primarily driven by a lack of inventory caused by resistance to development and fees imposed by local governments. The cost of construction materials can now be added as another obstacle to meeting the region’s housing goals – not the primary one, but an issue that’s additive and is likely to be significant.
Lumber accounts for the largest material cost of building homes. This may push builders to focus more on high-end homes where buyers can absorb the increased costs, instead of the low and middle income housing the region needs most. Higher steel prices are also starting to impact commercial high-rise construction. The marginal cost of materials, particularly when increases are double digit, can stall or stop a project. Some towers are being reduced in scale in order to lower costs, reducing the number of units produced. Residential projects have also been stopped or stalled as developers recalculate the higher costs and how design around them. The potential impact of tariffs is likely to grow with time, as more products (tools, fixtures, appliances) used in the building process or incorporated into new structures are added to the list. To engage in the Council’s housing advocacy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Matt Regan.
A number of cities across the Bay Area have been pursuing initiatives to increase taxes on businesses with stated goals of generating revenue amid mounting housing affordability, transportation, and homelessness crises. This week, the City Councils of Mountain View and East Palo Alto passed measures going on November 2018 ballots to place a head tax and parcel tax, respectively, on businesses meeting certain parameters. Meanwhile, San Francisco and Cupertino withdrew their measures to increase business taxes following collaboration with affected companies. In San Francisco, Supervisor Aaron Peskin replaced his ballot measure to tax gross receipts of ride-hailing and autonomous vehicle companies with a per-ride fee that will be introduced through state legislation. Cupertino agreed to delay consideration of a head tax measure until 2020 after more thorough planning is completed.
The Bay Area Council shares the concerns of these cities to find solutions to our region’s problems. However, we are concerned that in an attempt to be seen as taking action on a timely issue, cities are increasingly turning to taxing businesses without sufficient analysis or stakeholder engagement. Without a thoughtful process, cities risk reducing employment and wage growth, affecting employees and constraining the region’s economic success. The Bay Area’s housing and transportation problems are regional in nature and a myriad of heavy-handed taxes on businesses across multiple cities discourages the potential for a coordinated, regional strategy needed to solve these major challenges. The Bay Area Council has written letters and testified at numerous City Council meetings on these issues, and has offered to partner with City Councilmembers and their staff to assist with their analysis. We are encouraged by the actions of San Francisco and Cupertino to work with affected companies and take the time to analyze the impact of the proposed taxes before sending measures to voters for approval.
The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has adopted positions on a range of state and local ballot measures that voters will decide in November.
Proposition 1: Authorizes $4 billion in bonds for affordable housing programs and veterans’ home loans.
Proposition 2: Authorizes state to use revenue from Proposition 63 (2004) for $2 billion in bonds for homelessness prevention housing.
Proposition 3: Authorizes $8.9 billion in bonds for water-related infrastructure and environmental projects.
Proposition 4: Authorizes $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals.
Proposition 5: Amends Proposition 13 to allow homeowners 55 and older to transfer their property tax assessments from their current home to a new home anywhere in California.
Proposition 11: Allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call during breaks paid.
Oakland Children’s Initiative: Proposed measure would support early childhood education programs and services through $198 annual parcel tax.
San Mateo County transportation: Funds wide range of traffic relief and transportation improvement projects over 30 years with ½-cent sales tax increase.
Marin County transportation: Extends existing voter-approved ½-cent sales tax to fund wide range of traffic relief and transportation improvement projects.
Proposition 6: Repeals 2017 fuel tax and vehicle fee increases (SB 1) to fund road, bridge and highway repairs and requires public vote on future increases.
Proposition 10: Repeals the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and allows local governments to enact rent control.
The Bay Area would add 2,200 units of badly needed housing at an idle former industrial property located near transit under a proposal the Brisbane City Council approved this week that voters will now decide. The decision was a victory for the Bay Area Council and other groups that for years have been advocating for including housing as part of an overall project that would include 7 million square feet of commercial office space and significant open space and recreational amenities. The city previously had said it wouldn’t allow any housing on the 684-acre site, a position that drew strong condemnation from many housing advocates as the region confronts an epic housing shortage and affordability crisis. Whether voters in the small city will agree to add housing that would about double the size of Brisbane remains to be seen. UPC General Manager and Director of Development Jonathan Scharfman said “we are encouraged by Brisbane’s courageous decision to double the housing stock in their city.”
Amid San Jose’s warm and sunny weather Tuesday afternoon, roughly 70 job seekers, educators, and talent trainers on Tuesday (July 17) attended Working@SJC at Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) – an aviation career fair the Bay Area Council co-hosted with Alaska Airlines and SJC. The event attracted a wide array of job seekers ranging from aviation students and recent-college graduates to adults looking for new opportunities to transfer their skills.
Employers in attendance included Alaska Airlines, McGee Air Services, SJC, TSA and airport concessionaries, providing job seekers with a taste of the wide variety of career opportunities available at the airport and across the aviation industry. Attendees also had the unique chance to hear remarks from aviation trailblazers such as Secretary Norman Y. Mineta (via a recorded video), Alaska Airlines Regional Vice President Marilyn Romano and SJC’s Assistant Director of Aviation Judy Ross among other representatives from British Airways, Hainan, LinkedIn, and the FAA.
Tuesday’s event continues the Workforce of the Future’s efforts to connect local talent, regional educators and employers together to build and strengthen sustainable career pathways. For more information on how to get involved with the Workforce of the Future’s initiatives, contact Senior Vice President, Policy, Linda Bidrossian.
There’s a valley in the Bay Area that has been leading the region in job creation over the past 12 years, but it’s not the valley you might be thinking of. A new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released Wednesday (July 18) examines the economic juggernaut that is the Tri-Valley, an area encompassing the cities of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman led a discussion at the release event in Pleasanton with a panel of the Tri-Valley’s business and community leaders.
This isn’t a story, however, about competition with the other valley just across the Bay. It’s a story about connections, the Tri-Valley’s continuing ascendance as a technology and innovation powerhouseand its place at a key intersection of the growing Bay Area megaregion. With a GDP of $42 billion, the Tri-Valley economy is larger than the states of Wyoming and Vermont. The Tri-Valley’s 35 percent increase in jobs since 2006 exceeds San Francisco (31 percent), Silicon Valley (19 percent) and California (8 percent).
The report, which was produced in partnership with Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group, analyzes the incredible jobs and economic growth in the Tri-Valley, the factors that are fueling it—including the most educated workforce in the Bay Area—and the challenges that it faces as the region’s housing and traffic crises worsen. The report also highlights the important role of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories in creating a rich ecosystem of investment, entrepreneurs and talent around which the local innovation economy is thriving. It also highlights how employers like Bishop Ranch, which has launched its own technology accelerator and is piloting autonomous shuttles, are leading the charge in embracing the valley’s growing technology sector.
The report also highlights the Tri-Valley’s key role as a job and population center for the Northern California megaregion, and it provides recommendations to ensure the future sustainability of megaregional growth, such as a focus on transit-oriented development and creating new clusters of innovation.
Read Tri-Valley Rising 2018>>
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.
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.”