Bay Area Council Blog: Transportation and Land Use Archive

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Bad Roads Costing Bay Area Commuters Thousands

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.

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New Report: Overcoming CA’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Deficit

With California facing a $1 trillion infrastructure deficit between now and 2050, a new Bay Area Council Economic Institute report explores how public-private partnerships (P3) can accelerate infrastructure delivery. According to the report, P3 methods are extremely effective in mobilizing private capital, speeding project delivery and better maintaining public infrastructure through life-cycle management. Read the report>>

The report – the latest in a series – assesses how the P3 model has evolved, analyzes projects completed in the last five years, assesses upcoming projects, and identifies future projects that could benefit from P3 delivery in the future. It also looks at steps state and federal governments, as well as the private sector, can take to build a larger pipeline of P3 projects.

One major promising project featured in the report is the potential redevelopment of the Sonoma County and Santa Rosa City civic centers, which could represent up to 700,000 square feet of government offices, as well as mixed-use retail and housing development on approximately 100 acres. Following last November’s devastating wildfires, the Economic Institute is working closely with public and civic leaders in the North Bay to build more resilient and inclusive communities and this project is key to achieving that goal. Developers and financiers who are interested in learning more should fill out this survey>>

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Bay Area Cities Approve, Deny New Taxes on Business

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.

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Voters to Decide on Housing at Brisbane Baylands

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.”

What's Next for the Tri-Valley? Tri-Valley Rising Report Rollout Event

New Report: Tri-Valley Rising 2018

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>>

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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.