Bay Area Council Blog: Transportation and Land Use Archive

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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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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.

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GOOD NEWS, NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS ON HOUSING

It was a good news, bad news week in the Bay Area Council’s continuing fight to loosen the grip of the state’s historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. Legislation (SB 831) the Council is sponsoring to eliminate many of the fees that represent a financial obstacle to building accessory dwelling units (ADU), aka granny units, cleared a key Senate committee this week. The bill by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) builds on reform legislation the Council sponsored in 2015 that has unleashed a statewide surge in ADUs. Fees and other regulatory barriers can add many tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of building an ADU. The Council estimates that making it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to build ADUs could result in the addition of well over 150,000 affordable housing units in the Bay Area alone.

Not all the news was positive, however. Legislation by Sen. Scott Wiener (San Francisco) that the Council was backing was defeated in committee after building trades, social equity and city government groups loudly opposed it. SB 827 stoked a statewide debate and gained national attention for its bold approach to promoting transit-oriented housing development. The bill would have allowed more home building near transit-rich areas like BART and Caltrain, but opponents feared it would lead to displacement of existing residents and weakened local control over housing decisions. The Council is looking forward to working with Sen. Wiener to bring the legislation back next year and we applaud his leadership in addressing a crisis that is hurting millions of Californians and threatening to harm the state’s economy.

Coming up, the Council will be returning to the state capitol next Tuesday to advocate for legislation (SB 1277) by Sen. Nancy Skinner (Oakland) that we are sponsoring that would address a huge statewide shortage of student housing. An estimated 762,585 California college students experience housing insecurity or homelessness. SB 1227 would authorize 35 percent more units in student housing developments that meet a variety of affordability requirements and exempt them from costly parking requirements. To join our coalition in support or SB 1227 and engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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STATE ECONOMIC STRATEGY BILL ADVANCES

California is a global innovation and economic powerhouse, but currently does not have a statewide, comprehensive plan to grow its economy. That would change under legislation (AB 2596) that the Bay Area Council is sponsoring with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and Valley Vision. AB 2596, authored by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley, Kevin Kiley and Sharon Quirk-Silva, would authorize the creation a statewide economic development plan to grow jobs, better coordinate economic activities across counties and regions and boost the state’s competitiveness. Having a clear, unified strategy can also help protect the state against future economic downturns and ensure that economic opportunities are being spread more evenly across the entire state. AB 2596 on Tuesday won unanimous approval by the Assembly Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee and now heads to Assembly Appropriations. Just ahead of the vote, an OpEd by Council CEO Jim Wunderman and Greater Sacramento Economic Council CEO Barry Broome that ran in the Sacramento Bee argued for passage of the bill. To add your company to the growing list of our AB 2596 supporters, please contact Director for Government Relations Cornelious Burke.

Read the OpEd in support of AB 2596>>

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Charting a Course for Megaregion Coordination

A rising economy, a massive housing shortage and growing traffic in the Bay Area are causing major changes across the Northern California megaregion that represent both opportunities and challenges. The Bay Area Council is spearheading an effort to bring together business, government, academic and civic leaders from across the megaregion on planning to embrace the former and minimize the latter. The Council last week traveled to Stockton where CEO Jim Wunderman presided over a meeting that included mayors from Stockton, Merced, Modesto and Livermore, leaders from key rail and regional planning organizations, and business and academic leaders.

In addition to hearing about the foundational research on the Northern California megaregion put together by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and University of the Pacific, participants focused on the potential for future rail investments–in the ACE train and high speed rail–to spur economic development. The meeting, hosted by University of the Pacific in partnership with Valley Vision, was the first of a series of meetings the Council is convening across the megaregion in the coming months that will seek to produce a common policy advocacy agenda for megaregional stakeholders. To engage in the Bay Area Council’s work on the Northern California Megaregion, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.