Bay Area Council Blog: Water Archive

Ambitious Bay Delta Plan Unveiled for Public Review

Following seven years of planning and one of the driest years ever recorded, state and federal agencies this week released the public draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which includes Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan for building two massive water conveyance tunnels. The Bay Area Council, under the leadership of our Water Committee Co-Chairs Jim Levine of Montezuma Wetlands LLC and Suffolk Construction West Coast President Andy Ball, has been working closely with state and federal officials as the plan has moved forward. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan was conceived with the intent to meet the co-equal goals of ecosystem recovery and water supply reliability relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the backbone water supply for 25 million Californians. The delta is a critical resource for the Bay Area, through which flows about 33 percent of the region’s overall water supply. In Silicon Valley, that figure jumps to 50 percent. Everybody agrees that the status-quo in the delta – which has resulted in ecosystem decline and unreliable water supplies – is unsustainable. The Bay Area Council is grateful for the hard work of the Brown and Obama administrations to advance the process to a formal public draft which initiates the official 120-day comment period this Friday. The Bay Area Council looks forward to reviewing the documents and engaging with the many stakeholders involved to finalize the plan. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

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EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE SETS 2014 POLICY AGENDA

Sustaining the Bay Area’s economic growth, broadening it and positioning the region and the state for future prosperity were central to the policy agenda the Bay Area Council Executive Committee adopted this week under the leadership of new Chair David Cush, CEO of Virgin America. The agenda reflects several issues on which the Council has long provided leadership, but whose urgency has intensified as the regional economy continues on a fast upward trajectory. The Council’s policy priorities include:

Build more housing. The Bay Area has come up short over the past several decades in creating sufficient housing across a range of incomes to keep pace with demand. The shortage has become painfully apparent over the past 24 months with surging economic and job growth and spiking demand. Attracting the best talent to our region requires having sufficient housing. Under the leadership of Mike Ghielmetti, CEO of Signature Development Group, and Mike Covarrubias, CEO of TMG Partners, the Council’s Housing and Sustainable Development committee will focus on how we can create more housing and address some of the immediate issues related to the current shortage. To engage in our housing policy work, contact Policy Manager Catherine Lyons.

Improve transportation system. With economic growth has come increased demand on the region’s transportation system, including growing traffic congestion. From our bridges, roads and highways, to BART and other mass transit systems, we must find creative and actionable ways to increase the capacity of our transportation network to allow our economy to grow. John Eddy of Arup and Caroline Rodman of T.Y. Lin will lead this important effort. To engage in our transportation policy work, contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.

21st Century Infrastructure. California’s stature and prosperity are founded on decades of visionary investments in the state’s infrastructure—highways, college and university campuses, aqueducts and reservoirs—without which, California as we know it would not exist. But the new economic, environmental and technological realities of this century require a new understanding of essential infrastructure, one that includes and prioritizes the 21st Century Infrastructure of energy and communications networks. To engage in our 21st Century Infrastructure work, which is being led by PG&E CEO Anthony Earley and AT&T California President Ken McNeely, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

Early childhood education. The Bay Area Council is a statewide leader in advocating for investment in early childhood education. Research is absolutely clear that there is no better investment for preparing our future workforce than investing in preparing children to enter kindergarten. Under the leadership of George Halvorson, former Chairman of Kaiser Permanente and Chair of the California First 5 Commission, the Council is readying a major statewide initiative aimed at raising awareness about the importance of early childhood education and increasing access in under-served communities. To engage in our early childhood education work, contact Policy Vice President Matt Regan.

China trade and investment. China is expected soon to move from third to second as California’s largest trading partner. The Bay Area Council is partnering with Governor Jerry Brown and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to operate the California-China Office of Trade and Investment, and we are looking forward to dramatically expanding that work in 2014. To engage with the CA-China Trade Office, contact state Director Genevieve Herreria. To engage in the Council’s global initiatives, contact Vice President Bing Wei.

Healthcare. The Bay Area Council has led the business community in preparing for the rollout of healthcare reform and ensuring that the new system prioritizes controlling costs and improving care. The Council will step up its work in this critical area of our economy in 2014 as many of these changes go into effect. To engage in our healthcare policy work, contact Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg.

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Statement on Release of Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Following seven years of planning and one of the driest years ever recorded, state and federal agencies this week released the public draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The Bay Area Council, which has been working closely with state and federal officials as the plan has moved forward, issued the following statement:

“The Bay Delta Conservation Plan was conceived with the intent to meet the co-equal goals of ecosystem recovery and water supply reliability relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the backbone water supply for 25 million Californians. The delta is a critical resource for the Bay Area, through which flows about 33 percent of the region’s overall water supply. In Silicon Valley, that figure jumps to 50 percent. Everybody agrees that the status quo in the delta – which has resulted in ecosystem decline and unreliable water supplies – is unsustainable. The Bay Area Council is grateful for the hard work of the Brown and Obama administrations to advance the process to a formal public draft which initiates the official 120-day comment period this Friday. The Bay Area Council looks forward to reviewing the documents and engaging with the many stakeholders involved to finalize the plan.”

Bay Flooding by Michael Filippoff

Bay Area Council Economic Institute Embarks on Sea-Level Rise Study

The unfolding tragedy in the Philippines is an unsettling reminder of a global trend towards more frequent extreme weather events. Following recent devastation on America’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and with sea levels at the Golden Gate projected to rise by four-and-a-half feet by 2100, how vulnerable is the San Francisco – San Jose – Oakland Bay Area? With the generous support of Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and the California Coastal Conservancy, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute on Wednesday began undertaking a two-part study to analyze the physical and economic vulnerability of the Bay Area to a likely extreme weather event. Joining the conversation were representatives from some of the Bay Area’s most critical transportation and economic infrastructure, including BART, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Port of San Francisco and San Francisco International Airport – and engineering firms Parsons and URS. To learn how to support these efforts, please contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

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Progress on Bills Related to CEQA, Taxes and Healthcare

The Bay Area Council scored several legislative victories this week related to our focus policy work. We gave lead testimony before the Committee on Governance and Finance on SB 209, a bill by Sen. Ted Lieu that would block the collection of retroactive taxes from entrepreneurs and small business investors and reinstate the Qualified Small Business tax credit going forward. The bill cleared the committee on a 6-1 vote. The Bay Area Council has been at the front of this issue since it surfaced last year following unfortunate rulings by a state appeals court and the Franchise Tax Board. To join us in advocating for this bill and engaging in our other tax policy work, contact Policy Manager Emily Finkel.

Our work as part of a statewide coalition to reform CEQA gained traction this week when a bill authored by Sen. Steinberg passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Thank you to Sen. Steinberg for his leadership on this issue. The Bay Area Council was among the groups testifying in favor of SB 731, and we will remain closely engaged in the coming debate over its final language. To engage in our CEQA reform work, contact Government Relations Vice President Matt Regan.

On the healthcare front, the Bay Area Council joined with a broad coalition of providers and health plans to testify in support of three bills authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez – SB 491, 492 and 493 – that seek to expand the scope of practice for non-physician medical providers, such as pharmacists, optometrists and nurse practitioners. All three bills made it out of the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development in spite of stiff resistance from opponents.

On Wednesday, we joined members Safeway and SeeChange Health to provide lead testimony in opposition to SB 189, a proposal to limit the use of employer wellness incentive programs. While the bill made it out of committee, the author has taken significant amendments due to the pressure we have applied, and we are confident that we will either stop the bill or transform it into a reasonable measure we can support.  We also testified, alongside Small Business Majority and Bay Area Council members Kaiser Permanente and Blue Shield, in favor of SB 161, which would limit the use of self-insurance by very small businesses.  The trend toward purchasing stop-loss coverage is causing an exodus of employers with younger and healthier employees from traditional coverage, disrupting the market on which all small businesses rely. To engage in our healthcare policy work, contact Senior Policy Advisor Micah Weinberg.

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NATURAL RESOURCES SEC. LAIRD BRIEFS MEMBERS ON KEY WATER ISSUES

Members of the Bay Area Council Water Committee were briefed last week by state Natural Resources Secretary John Laird on the latest details of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The discussion, led by Water Committee Chair Jim Levine, Managing Partner of Montezuma Wetlands LLC, at our Sacramento office, provided members an inside look at the scope, goals, and calendar of the state’s most ambitious habitat restoration and water conveyance project in a generation. However, BDCP alone won’t solve California’s water crisis, and there is continuing debate in Sacramento about reworking an $11.14 billion statewide bond measure that the Legislature had been approved for the 2014 ballot to help pay for it and other projects. Committee members also discussed how additional efficiency and reuse measures, along with improvements in groundwater and regional management structures represent a cost-effective way to add potentially millions of additional acre feet to the state’s overall supply. The Committee was also briefed on developing plans to restore thousands of acres of bay wetlands. To engage in our water policy work, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

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EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ADOPTS 2013 BAY AREA COUNCIL POLICY PLATFORM

With victories and major progress in 2012 on all of the Bay Area Council’s top policy priorities, the Executive Committee this week adopted its 2013 agenda. Thank you to all our members for their valuable and thoughtful input over the past two months in identifying our policy priorities, including:

21st Century Infrastructure. Economic growth and prosperity can’t be sustained without a modern infrastructure, not something California would immediately be accused of having. We will work to identify investment in transportation, energy, water, broadband, airports and other parts California’s vital infrastructure. We’ll also continue our important work on CEQA, which affects all infrastructure.

Public Pensions. We got the ball rolling this year with reform legislation that will end some abuses and lower costs for new public employees, while requiring that all employees contribute toward their retirement benefits in the future.  But there remains massive unfunded liability across many parts of the system, and the work continues, which if unchecked will threaten to continue bankrupting cities and consume ever-growing share of taxpayer dollars.  The work continues.

Healthcare. The state is less than one year away from launching its health benefit exchange. The Bay Area Council will be on the front lines of this process, leading the business community and giving our members a strong voice in how reform rolls out.

China/Trade. We’re focused on opening California’s trade office in China in the coming months and building on our own successes in forging direct economic partnerships with some of China’s leading tech districts.

Higher education. With massive cuts to all levels of higher education over the past decade, California is at serious risk of diminishing one of our greatest competitive advantages and a major source of our high-skilled workers.  We’ll begin with a Bay Area Council Economic Institute white paper examining the state’s higher education Master Plan.

President and CEO Jim Wunderman praised Chair Janet Lamkin’s leadership in bringing sharp focus to the Bay Area Council’s 2012 policy priorities that he credited for our success in:

–Securing early investment to modernize and electrify the Caltrain corridor;
–Winning reforms to the public pension system that will make them more sustainable going forward;
–Helping shape the framework for healthcare reform that keeps the focus controlling costs and improving quality;
–Passing legislation to reopen California’s trade offices and being named to open the first office in China; and,
–Keeping pressure on the Legislature to reform CEQA.

Michael Covarrubias beseeched members to become engaged with Bay Area Council policy staff and committees, observing that it is only through the collective leadership and involvement of our members that we are able to produce the kinds of results we did in 2012.

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Momentum Building to Save Hetch Hetchy

Senator Dianne Feinstein generously opened her home last Friday for a gathering convened by the Bay Area Council to raise support for the campaign we’re leading to defeat Proposition F on the November ballot in San Francisco that aims to drain one of California’s largest sources of clean, reliable drinking water. Sen. Feinstein spoke eloquently about the history of Hetch Hetchy and the importance of Hetch Hetchy in supplying pristine water and clean energy to millions of residents and businesses not just in San Francisco, but throughout the Bay Area. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also attended and remarked about the deceptive and dangerous nature of Measure F, and joined Sen. Feinstein in encouraging the 120 assembled guests to contribute to the campaign. Among the many business and community leaders answering the call was the San Francisco Foundation, whose CEO Sandra Hernandez announced a $100,000 contribution to defeat Proposition F. Hernandez, in an article in the San Francisco Business Times this week, said “we want people to understand that water is an important public policy issue, and we think that Proposition F will have a disproportionate negative impact on low-income people to get access to something as simple as clean water.” The event was followed this week with good news from the San Francisco Superior Court, which rejected a challenge by Proposition F proponents who were seeking to change the ballot language to obscure the true intent of the measure to drain Hetch Hetchy. Law firm and Bay Area Council member Hanson Bridgett helped argue against any change. To participate in our Save Hetch Hetchy effort, contact Matt Regan.

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Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. Headlines Bay Area Council U.S.-China Collaboration Symposium on Smart Cities

Some of the world’s leading companies and foremost experts in designing and building the “smart cities’ of the future will be gathering for the Bay Area Council’s inaugural U.S.-China Collaboration Symposium on September 28 hosted by Marvell Technology in Santa Clara and featuring Governor and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. The all-day symposium will bring together industry leaders in infrastructure, technology, energy, healthcare, urban planning, and sustainable development along with top government officials from the U.S. and China to discuss the need and tremendous opportunities for building smart cities. Among the companies participating in panel discussions throughout the day are the Energy Foundation, GE, Seimens One, Chevron Energy Solutions, VMware, HP, Cisco, HSBC and AECOM. Joining them are government leaders from the Bay Area, including Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, along with top officials from some of China’s premier high-tech regions. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available.

See the full program of speakers.

See sponsorship and ticket opportunities.

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WINNING A WAR OF WORDS ON HETCH HETCHY BALLOT MEASURE

The Bay Area Council and other opponents of a costly and dangerous plan to dismantle the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System scored a significant victory at the San Francisco Ballot Simplification Committee. The Committee, whose job it is to ensure that any measure appearing on the ballot provides voters with a clear and honest description of what they’re voting on, sided with us in revising the ballot language. Supporters of draining Hetch Hetchy had sought to hide the measure’s true intent behind language implying that the Hetch Hetchy’s 2.5 million users are not careful stewards of this precious resource. With the expert legal help of Bay Area Council member HansonBridgett, we succeeded in convincing the Committee that the description should plainly state the intent of the measure to drain Hetch Hetchy. The Bay Area Council continues to work with Mayor Ed Lee, the Chamber of Commerce, the Committee on Jobs and other business, elected and community leaders in building a growing coalition to defeat the measure, which past polling has shown can win without a vigorous and well-funded campaign. To participate in the Council’s Hetch Hetchy work, contact Matt Regan.