Bay Area Council Blog: Transportation Archive

KQED

NEW POLL HIGHLIGHTS URGENCY FOR HOUSING SOLUTIONS

Results of a new statewide poll gave added urgency to the Bay Area Council’s efforts in securing Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on legislation to address California’s epic housing crisis. The survey by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that 25 percent of voters are considering leaving California because of skyrocketing rents and home prices fueled by a massive housing shortage. The poll found that 92 percent of Bay Area voters think that housing affordability is a serious problem, exceeding the 84 percent level statewide. Council CEO Jim Wunderman was a featured guest on KQED Forum on Thursday to talk about the Berkeley poll results and the solutions on which the Council is focused.

The Council is urging Gov. Brown to sign SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall), which would authorize a statewide vote in 2018 on a $4 billion bond measure for affordable housing and a $75 real estate transaction fee to support local housing, respectively. The Council also is urging the Governor’s signature on two bills by Sen. Nancy Skinner (SB 166 and SB 167) that add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve housing.

Listen to the KQED Forum segment with Jim Wunderman>>

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LEGISLATURE TAKES FIRST STEP IN ADDRESSING HOUSING CRISIS

The state legislature late Thursday (Sept. 15) took a first step in addressing California’s epic housing crisis by approving a package of bills aimed at providing new funding for affordable housing and easing regulatory hurdles. Two funding bills the Bay Area Council was supporting—SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall)—won passage along with two other bills—SB 166 (Skinner) and SB 167 (Skinner)—that add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve new housing. SB 2 creates a $75 real estate transaction fee that is estimated to generate $250 million annually for affordable housing, while SB 3 authorizes a statewide $4 billion bond measure for housing that is expected to appear on the ballot in 2018. The bills, which still need Gov. Brown’s signature, represent a welcome opening salvo against the state’s massive housing shortage and affordability problem, but much more must be done to close an ongoing housing shortfall of 80,000 units a year. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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Bay Area Coalition Hails Assembly Passage of Traffic Busting Bill

A coalition representing many of the Bay Area’s largest employers and millions of workers and residents today hailed the state Assembly passage of legislation (SB 595—Beall) that promises major investments across the region to ease traffic congestion, fix nagging highway bottlenecks and dramatically expand mass transit services. The Keep the Bay Area Moving coalition, which is led by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Alliance for Jobs and SPUR, has been working for over a year with Bay Area legislators and transportation planners to craft the bill and is now urging the state Senate to give its approval and Gov. Brown to sign it into law.

“The Bay Area has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a big whack at traffic congestion,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Worsening traffic is ruining our quality of life, damaging our environment and hurting our economy, but this bill gives Bay Area voters the chance to turn the tables on highway congestion and overcrowded transit. We are calling on the Senate to approve and Gov. Brown to sign SB 595 and give voters the chance to approve a visionary regional traffic relief plan.”

The bill, which authorizes a regional ballot measure in June 2018, outlines a bold, balanced plan that focuses on making big fixes to the Bay Area’s transportation system with the primary goals of reducing or eliminating some of the region’s worst highway backups, getting cars off congested roads and highways and creating a modern, seamless public transit network that addresses overcrowding and better connects cities and employment hubs.

“Working with key stakeholders allowed this coalition the opportunity to find balance and fairness within SB 595. A compromise between the entire Bay Area on how these funds are invested is integral to our success,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a Governor Brown appointee to the California Transportation Commission. “Our ability to work collaboratively towards a common goal – easing gridlock on our Bay Area roads in order to improve quality of life for our workers and their families spells success for everyone in the Bay Area. It is through this lens that we support Senate Bill 595 by Chairman Beall.”

The bill includes unprecedented levels of public oversight and accountability to guarantee that all investments are made according to the overall plan, known as Regional Measure 3 (RM3) following two previous measures that voters have approved over the past 30 years. Specifically, RM3 would establish an independent oversight committee to review all investments, including making regular reports to the state Legislature, and create a new Inspector General position to serve as a watchdog for investments on BART.

Among the centerpiece projects included in the RM3 plan are:

  • Increasing the BART fleet and completing an extension from the East Bay to Silicon Valley
  • Improving key highway interchanges in Contra Costa County at Interstate 680 and Highway 4 and in San Mateo County along Highway 101 to ease traffic bottlenecks
  • Extending Caltrain to connect with other regional mass transit systems in San Francisco
  • Expanding regional water transit service to meet skyrocketing demand
  • Accelerate planning for a second transbay rail crossing
  • Adding express lanes along major highway corridors to move cars faster, including the Highway 101 Novato Narrows connecting Marin and Sonoma counties
  • Improving transit access in the Tri-Valley and North Bay areas
  • Reducing truck traffic that clogs highways and pollutes the air

“RM3 will fund a set of transformative investments that will start to get our region’s transportation system working again,” said Gabriel Metcalf, President and CEO of SPUR.

Polling done in June 2017 shows strong voter support for Regional Measure 3. The survey by FM3 of nearly 9,500 voters found 56 percent support for RM3, exceeding the 50 percent threshold needed for passage.

“Not only will motorists see significant improvement in alleviating traffic bottlenecks and improving transit service for everyone throughout the nine Bay Area counties, they can rest assured that their money will be spent only on voter approved projects thanks to strict accountability, financial safeguards and citizen oversight. By implementing accountability measures, such as the creation of a new Inspector General position, SB595 will ensure that the financial commitment to voters is honored and projects are delivered in a timely manner.” said California Alliance for Jobs Executive Director Michael Quigley.

RM3 would raise up to $4.2 billion and would be paid for by a bridge toll increase of between $1 and $3. The final amount of any toll increase included in RM3 will be decided in the coming months by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

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MAJOR TRANSPORTATION FUNDING MEASURE CLEARS CRITICAL HURDLE

After months of the Bay Area Council’s intense advocacy in Sacramento, a bill that could lead to major transportation improvement projects to ease traffic and transit woes throughout the region passed a critical hurdle in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week and heads to the Assembly Floor in a few days. SB 595 (Beall) would authorize Regional Measure 3, a nine-county ballot measure asking voters to decide whether to raise tolls on the state-owned bridges and generate $4.2 billion for critical transit investments and congestion relief projects.

The Bay Area Council has been advocating for a comprehensive expenditure plan that would address the biggest challenges in each county and massively enhance BART, ferry, and bus capacity across the region. We applaud the hard work of the Bay Area legislators for crafting a commendable plan that will make transformative investments throughout the region and provide widespread benefit to residents across the nine-county Bay Area. This is our only shot at significantly adding transit capacity and reducing traffic gridlock in the foreseeable future.

With approval on the Assembly Floor next week, the bill would go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and then to the Governor’s desk later this month. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a region-wide vote in June 2018, which the Council plans to take a lead role in organizing. To learn more about Regional Measure 3 and the Council’s transportation work, contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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TALKING WORKFORCE, HOUSING & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES WITH ASSEMBLYMEMBER BERMAN

How California and the Bay Area prepare for rapidly changing workforce needs was a major focus of a conversation today (Aug. 11) that the Bay Area Council’s Government Relations Committee convened with Assemblymember Marc Berman. Aligning higher education curriculum with current and future employer needs is critical to ensuring students entering the workforce have the skills and training they need to compete. As Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, Berman is hosting a series of regional meetings with industry, educators and other stakeholders to update the state’s Higher Education Master Plan, originally written in 1960. The Council has committed to work closely with the Select Committee on this important work.  The discussion also covered the region’s transportation and housing challenges and Berman’s focus on advancing autonomous vehicles technology and testing.

Berman comes from Palo Alto and represents the 24th Assembly District which includes Southern San Mateo and northern Santa Clara counties. He serves on several committees that are important the Council’s policy work, including Transportation; Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy; and Privacy and Consumer Protection. He also chairs the Elections and Redistricting Committee. The Government Relations Committee is led by Co-Chairs Andrew Giacomini, Managing Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP and Peter Brightbill, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo and Company. To learn more how your company can engage in the Council’s Government Relations advocacy efforts, please contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke.

affordable housing

BAY AREA JOBS-HOUSING IMBALANCE GROWS

The Bay Area’s jobs-housing imbalance is getting worse, adding to the region’s affordability crisis and threatening to undermine the region’s strong economy. An analysis of regional housing and employment data by the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area shows that since 2011 the region has added 531,000 jobs while creating just 124,000 new housing units. This amounts to a ratio of 4.3 jobs per housing unit, a rate well in excess of a healthy balance of 1.5 jobs per housing unit. The Council has been working aggressively to advocate for statewide policy reforms that will encourage more housing production. Gov. Brown recently signed legislation the Council sponsored that will allow for up to 20,000 units of new housing near BART stations. The Council is also working to implement legislation we sponsored last year that has the potential to add hundreds of thousands of affordable granny or in-law units. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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FERRY RIDERSHIP SOARS TO NEW HIGHS

Ridership on San Francisco Bay Ferry is soaring, highlighting the importance of the Bay Area Council’s continuing work to dramatically expand the role of water transit in helping address the region’s horrific traffic mess. A record 288,000 passengers traveled on SF Bay Ferry in July, according to the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which operates the service. Ridership increased on all four of SF Bay Ferry’s routes, and is up 78 percent overall since 2012.

The Council, whose CEO Jim Wunderman serves as vice chair of WETA, has been advocating for years for increasing funding to expand the number of boats and routes serving the region. Most recently, the Council has been working in Sacramento to maximize funding for ferries in legislation (SB 595) that would authorize a regional vote in 2018 on a bridge toll increase to pay for a wide range of projects to ease traffic and expand transit service. The additional funding is critical to realizing WETA’s plans to expand to 44 vessels, 16 terminals and 12 routes. To engage in the Council’s water transit work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

Houses

Council Scores Another Housing Win with New TOD Law

Legislation the Bay Area Council sponsored that could bring 20,000 units of new housing to the region got Gov. Brown’s signature last Friday (June 21). SB 680 authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski extends the radius within-which BART can pursue transit-oriented development (TOD) projects from ¼ mile from BART stations to ½ mile. The legislation garnered broad support by various groups across the Bay Area, including The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, SPUR, North Bay Leadership Council, SAMCEDA, Transform, among others.

“In the face of a severe housing and affordability crisis, constructing dense housing near main transit hubs will be key to our region’s continued prosperity,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “SB 680 is a much-needed, common sense solution that uses public lands for public good. It will add an estimated 20,000 new housing units near BART stations, keeping jobs in the Bay Area, reducing commutes and moving our region toward a more sustainable future.”

The Bay Area Council is thrilled to help pass this commonsense solution that will add thousands of units near public transportation. We want to thank Sen. Wieckowski for his leadership on housing. The Council worked with Sen. Wieckowski last year to pass legislation that removes major barriers to creating affordable granny units. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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Historic Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

Following years of hard work and advocacy, the Bay Area Council today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the historic groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.

“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”

The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project. Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Statement: Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

MILLBRAE, CA— Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.  The Bay Area Council released the following statement attributable to Jim Wunderman.
“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”
The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project.
Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.