The next meeting of the Bay Area Council Water Committee will feature special guest Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) to discuss SB 623. An estimated one million Californians, mostly in small rural areas, are currently served unsafe drinking water. SB 623 would generate about $110 million per year for clean drinking water infrastructure in small rural areas, and would be funded through increased fertilizer taxes and a monthly surcharge on water bills statewide. The bill is supported by a coalition of agriculture and environmental justice organizations, and has drawn opposition from the Association of California Water Agencies. In addition, Committee members will receive a presentation from the Department of Water Resources on the incredible construction project currently underway to repair the Oroville Dam spillway, which was heavily damaged during last winter’s record storms. To RSVP, please contact Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros.
Last month, the Bay Area Council joined with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and other Bay Area leaders to announce the launch of an exciting design competition to solicit innovative solutions to address the effects of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes in communities around the San Francisco Bay. In response, the Resilient by Design/Bay Area Challenge has received an amazing 51 applications from local, national and international teams competing to become one of ten finalists chosen to design innovative projects aimed at improving the health and resilience of Bay Area communities. The final teams will be chosen in the coming weeks, with the designs themselves to be unveiled May 2018. Resilient by Design is an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a spinoff of the successful Rebuild by Design efforts following Hurricane Sandy. The goal is to help communities become resilient before a natural disaster strikes, rather than after. Rockefeller considered many other regions to award to the Resilient by Design Competition, but chose the Bay Area following the 2016 passage of Measure AA, a Bay Area Council-supported ballot measure that creates $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and bay flood protection projects. To learn more about Resilient by Design, please contact Bay Area Council Vice President of Policy, and Resilient by Design Executive Board member, Adrian Covert
Failure to produce housing in the Bay Area’s urban core and near transit represents a serious threat to the region’s open space, according to a new study released yesterday by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that makes the economic case for preserving natural and working lands and identifies opportunities for responsible development in the region.
Despite the vast opportunity and need – let alone a requirement by law to help meet California’s ambitious GHG reduction targets – the Bay Area has made glacial progress realizing only 57% of the full potential for infill housing development of its urban core. Inability to build housing in the region’s core is forcing development further away from job centers, jeopardizing valuable open space and undermining state climate change goals. The analysis estimates the Bay Area greenbelt’s value to be as high as $14 billion per year – with direct and indirect benefits stemming from food, recreation, clean air, natural resources and protection against sea level rise.
“Building more housing and protecting open space are not mutually exclusive,” says Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg. “We need to develop responsibly and actually fulfill state-mandated requirements to build within Priority Development Areas, meeting transit-oriented, infill housing goals. Smart growth will spare our open space and keep the Bay Area economically resilient, sustainable and equitable.”
Read Bay Area Balance: Preserving Open Space, Addressing Housing Affordability>>
On Wednesday the Bay Area Council Workforce of the Future team and Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership (BAYEP) colleague LeadersUp toured the Coca Cola Bottling Plant in San Leandro to learn about available middle and entry level workforce opportunities. For years the Bay Area Council has worked with Coca Cola, a leader in sustainability, on water policy and conservation. The Council is thrilled to expand this work to the workforce space by including Coca Cola in our Occupational Councils to help close the middle skill gaps transportation and logistics companies face, as well as helping fill entry level roles with untapped young Bay Area talent through BAYEP. Given the excellent career pathways offered, Coca Cola is an extremely attractive opportunity for both entry and middle skill workers. To engage in the Workforce of the Future Committee, contact Senior Vice President Public Policy Linda Bidrossian.
A critical vote is scheduled for Monday, July 10 in the Assembly Transportation Committee on legislation (SB 595) to authorize a regional transportation funding ballot measure, and the Bay Area Council is urging lawmakers to approve it. The committee is chaired by East Bay Assemblymember Jim Frazier, who has been a champion of improving transportation and was co-author of SB 1, the landmark bill to invest $52.1 billion to fix the state’s roads, highways and bridges, fight congestion and enhance transit. On SB 595, the Council has been working directly with state lawmakers who are crafting a $3-$4.2 billion regional plan that would support a major expansion of regional ferry service; acquire new high capacity BART cars; break freeway bottlenecks; and invest in other critical improvements that will address the Bay Area’s transportation crisis.
These badly needed improvements would be funded by a gradual increase of tolls on state-owned bridges (Regional Measure 3) in the Bay Area that voters in all nine counties would be asked to approve in June 2018. Recent poll results found that Bay Area voters fed up with the region’s awful traffic and overcrowded transit systems would approve a toll increase of up to $3. The Council will be in Sacramento on Monday testifying in support SB 595. To learn more about the Council’s transportation policy work, contact Policy Director Emily Loper.
Our polling and traffic studies all confirm what you experience – traffic is the Bay Area is epically bad. The Bay Area Council is working directly with the Bay Area Caucus (our state Senators and Assemblymembers) on a $3-$4.2 billion regional plan that would massively increase ferry service throughout the region; get BART new, higher capacity cars; break critical freeway bottlenecks; improve freight movement; and secure other critical improvements our members and residents badly need (or really, needed “yesterday”).
Ferries, in particular, can play a huge role in addressing growing Bay Area traffic congestion. Ferries used to carry 55 million passengers a day. Dormant for decades, a new system was launched in 2004 behind the Council’s strong advocacy. Ridership has since skyrocketed, climbing 78 percent in just the last two years to 2 million riders a year. With terminals costing just $10 million apiece (on average) and boats costing between $1.5-$15 million depending on their size, it’s possible to get a “BART-on-the-Bay” armada crisscrossing the waters from Silicon Valley to the Carquinez Strait in a very short period of time, and at a low cost. New York City just brought a system of 20 boats online in nine months, and after 60 days the system is over capacity and the city is scrambling to get more boats built.
The improvements included in the regional plan would be paid for with a toll increase on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges, which early polling suggests voters would back in a June 2018 election. The legislation (SB 595) will have several critical votes in the next few months, and we will keep you updated. To engage in our transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.
Fresh from our successful trip with Governor Jerry Brown to China to promote climate change partnership, the Bay Area Council this week joined a first-ever summit to bring billions of dollars in Chinese clean energy investments to California. Organized by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development in partnership with the California-China Trade Network, the Select California Investment Summit in Sacramento included 22 Chinese investors seeking opportunities in clean tech, water innovation, sustainable development, zero emission vehicles, and more. Attracting foreign direct investment from China and elsewhere is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide Chinese and other investors as they look to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. Chinese investment represents a huge opportunity for California, which from 2000-2016 secured 415 investment deals valued at $25.5 billion from mainland China investors. Statewide, global investment in California employs 631,500 workers. To learn how the Council can help foreign investors find opportunities in California, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.
Transportation, housing, trade and healthcare were among the issues a Bay Area Council-led business delegation discussed this week in Washington, D.C., with top Congressional and White House leaders. Led by Council Chair Michael Covarrubias (Chairman and CEO, TMG Partners) and Council CEO Jim Wunderman, the delegation met with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among many other legislators, cabinet and administration officials.
Delegates highlighted the importance of investment in transportation, particularly as it relates to future Northern California megaregion planning. As a growing economy blurs historic Bay Area, Sacramento and San Joaquin regional boundaries, the Bay Area Council is taking action now to address the future transportation, housing and workforce needs of the emerging megaregion. Much of the immediate focus and a major topic in meetings this week was investing to expand megaregion rail capacity, including securing federal transportation dollars for the Amtrak Capitol Corridor service and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE Train).
The Council shared a sneak peek at new research by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that shows the strong and growing connections between Silicon Valley and other parts of the country and how those connections can be leveraged to expand knowledge-based economic opportunities and grow jobs nationwide. The Council also advocated for free and open global trade and immigration policies. Special thanks to our sponsors Microsoft, Oracle, and Alaska Airlines. To learn more about the Council’s federal policy agenda, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.
This week, the Bay Area Council’s Water Transit Committee met with Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who reported on opportunities to fund a rapid expansion of our region’s water transit system to help tackle our traffic crisis. He called on the committee – a broad and vocal constituency of companies pushing for expedited expansion – to further generate public support which will help with the political advocacy to secure new funds. Ridership on the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) has skyrocketed in recent years, and we’re also witnessing the emergence of the private commuter operator industry as BAC members Tideline and PROP SF are offering commute services to new locations around the bay.
Tideline announced this week that they are launching their new public commuter ferry service from Berkeley to San Francisco on Friday (today). The service provides a welcome commute alternative in the particularly strained I-80 corridor, which is consistently ranked the most congested freeway segment in the region. See the Tideline schedule>>
The committee also heard a presentation from Red and White Fleet and Sandia National Laboratories about the recent findings from their study examining the technical, regulatory, and economic feasibility of creating a zero-emission, high-speed passenger ferry powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells. The study concluded that it is possible to operate a zero-emission high speed passenger ferry on the bay, even on long routes to Vallejo and Redwood City. However, the technology would require more capital and fuel costs upfront, but a zero-emission vessel could qualify for public funds to promote the environmental health of the Bay Area. While it is currently expensive and energy-intensive to produce liquid hydrogen, an increased demand for hydrogen fuel would accelerate production and drive down the cost. The Bay Area Council has been a vocal advocate for integrating new clean propulsion technologies to improve the environmental sustainability of ferries. To engage in the Council’s Water Transit Work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.
The Bay Area Council voiced strong concerns at a State Water Resources Board hearing Tuesday (Jan. 3) on proposed changes to how water is allocated for urban, agricultural and environmental uses that could mean 50 percent cuts for 2.6 million of our region’s residential and commercial users. The Council said in testimony that the proposed changes could be devastating for a region that generates a huge portion of the state’s economic activity and that already has the lowest per capita water use rates in the state. The changes would take a disproportionate share of water that the Bay Area receives from the Tuolumne River to increase flows for native salmon and other aquatic species. About 48 percent of the Tuolumne river is diverted for agriculture in the Central Valley and 38 percent is left for the environment. Just 14 percent of the river is diverted for the Bay Area, but that 14 percent accounts for 85 percent of San Francisco’s drinking water and 55 percent of the drinking water used overall in Silicon Valley and by the Alameda County Water Agency. The Council is urging the state to take whatever measures necessary to make up the cuts through voluntary settlements, or purchases, among existing water rights holders that would pose less threat to our region’s water reliability. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.
(Photo: Modesto Bee)