Bay Area Council Blog

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Council Supports Landmark CA Investment to Fix Roads and Highways

The Bay Area Council today (March 29) issued the following statement on the announcement by Governor Jerry Brown and top Legislative leaders of a 10-year, $52 billion funding package to fix California’s badly broken roads and highways. Council CEO Jim Wunderman attended the announcement with the Governor.

“In the Bay Area, we are either jammed in traffic or having our teeth rattled by pothole-infested roads and highways,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We need this bill.  It doesn’t just fix potholes, it has essential funds for traffic relief in our region on places like Highway 101 and 680. Our elected leaders should vote yes.”

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Statement on NFL OK for Raiders to Las Vegas Move

The Bay Area Council issued the following statement in response to a vote today (March 27) by NFL owners approving plans by the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas. The Council had worked closely with the City of Oakland, NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and Raiders’ supporters to advocate for keeping the team in Oakland.

“This is a heartbreaking decision for Oakland and the entire Bay Area,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We wish the Raiders well, but it’s extremely difficult to accept. There is no question there were many complexities in making a deal work in Oakland, and we wish the NFL could have been more supportive and more helpful in providing additional time to work through those issues. We think it was possible to get a deal done here that would have met everyone’s needs and avoided the painful disruption of a community losing its team.

“We applaud the determination and fight of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the dogged efforts of Ronnie Lott and his team, including Fortress Investment Group, to craft a strong, $1.3 billion plan for keeping the Raiders here,” Wunderman continued. “That plan would have ensured the Raiders got the modern stadium they deserve, met Oakland’s need for financial responsibility and avoided the loss of a great source of local pride and community engagement. This will leave a dark hole in our hearts for many, many years.”

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Council Helps Forge New UCBerkeley-China R&D Partnership

The Bay Area Council today (March 27) applauded the announcement of a new partnership between the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute at UC Berkeley and Zhejiang University (ZJU) in Hangzhou, China, that marks the first step in an exciting new research and development collaboration focused on cutting-edge technology innovations.

An agreement signed by CITRIS and ZJU was made possible with a $1.2 million gift from an alumnus of UC Berkeley, who is the Director of Zhejiang Zerong Network Technology Co. Ltd. This first phase of funding will be used to generate a vision and plan for the new ZJU-CITRIS Research Innovation Center in Hangzhou and attract support for a collaboration of much larger scale and impact on both regions. This global innovation and incubation hub will support the development of technology solutions in the areas of health; sustainable infrastructures; people and robots; and connected communities.

The Council, through its China Global Initiative, was proud to work with the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Office of Government and Community Relations and under the leadership of CITRIS Director Costas Spanos in developing the partnership by leveraging our strong relationships in China.

“This new partnership has the potential be a game-changer in fostering cooperation on research and development that can benefit both the Bay Area and China,” said Del Christensen, Chief of the Council’s China Global Initiative. “When the Council entered China 10 years ago, it was specifically with the purpose of helping create opportunities like this. It’s gratifying to see this new collaboration between our region and one of China’s fastest-growing and most innovative capital cities begin to take shape.”

The Council operates offices in Hangzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing China, to support business access and cooperation between California and China. To learn about the Council’s China Global Initiative, please contact Del Christensen.

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SOLVING ENERGY STORAGE PUZZLE KEY TO RENEWABLES FUTURE

California’s continuing efforts to shift to renewable energy will depend to a large degree on solving the challenge of how to store that energy. The Bay Area Council’s Energy Committee under the leadership of PG&E CEO Tony Earley is taking on that challenge and this week hosted an engaging discussion on the various and complex policy, regulatory and market mechanisms that are involved. A major issue involves coming up with the business case for the various energy storage approaches, including lithium-ion batteries, pumped water, thermal storage, flow batteries and flywheel storage, available and how to deploy them in such a way to ensure they are economically feasible and reliable. To engage with our Energy Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute currently is drafting a report on energy storage. To contribute to that research, please contact Senior Director Sean Randolph.

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FINAL DECISION NEAR FOR INNOVATIVE COMMUTER SHUTTLES PROGRAM

A commuter shuttles program that the Bay Area Council was instrumental in developing on behalf of regional employers is poised to be made permanent when the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority meets next Tuesday (Feb. 21). The Council will be there to advocate for final approval of the program, capping an intensive five-year effort to craft sensible and reasonable regulations for allowing the shuttles to operate. The innovative shuttles program serves an estimated 10,000 workers and residents, eliminating 2 million single passenger car trips annually from the region’s congested roads and highways, and 2,000 metric tons of carbon from our air. The program has been wildly successful in reducing the impact of shuttles on local streets and improving safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. And, it is serving as a model for managing commuter shuttles in other cities throughout the Bay Area. To engage in our commuter shuttles work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert at acovert@bayareacouncil.org.

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COUNCIL ADVOCATES FOR FINAL CALTRAIN ELECTRIFICATION FUNDING

After years of hard work and advocacy, the Bay Area Council is making a final push to secure the remaining funding needed to electrify and modernize Caltrain. The project will increase speed and capacity on the overcrowded commuter rail line and help ease traffic congestion along one of the nation’s most economically important and productive corridors serving San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Jose. Local, regional, and state funds have been secured, environmental clearances and preliminary engineering are done, and construction crews are ready to begin work. All that’s left is U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) approval of a $647 million Core Capacity Grant (comprising about one third of total project costs).

Electrifying Caltrain has been one of the Council top priorities, and a study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in 2012 found that the project would support 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate $2.5 billion in economic benefits. DOT approval was expected later this month, at which point contractors in the Bay Area and across the country would begin work, but some last minute confusion in Congress about what the project is, and what it is not, has now put that federal funding in jeopardy. The Council is rallying business leaders to let U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao know how important this project is to the Bay Area’s economy and that it has the full support of the Bay Area business community.

If you’d like your company to appear on a joint letter urging Sec. Chao to greenlight the grant, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham at mcunningham@bayareacouncil.org.

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FORUM FOCUSES ON DISRUPTIVE APPROACHES TO SOLVING BAY AREA TRAFFIC

An overflow audience of Bay Area business and transportation leaders met today at the Bay Area Council for a riveting forum on innovative approaches for solving the region’s economy-sapping traffic congestion and mass transit overload. Council Executive Committee member and Commute Improvement Committee Chair Rosemary Turner of UPS led the discussion – The New Commute: Disrupting Bay Area Traffic – with leaders from Google, LinkedIn, Lyft, MVgo, PROP SF, Scoop, Tideline, UC Berkeley, Waze Carpool, Chariot, Zoox and Bishop Ranch. As part of its 2017 agenda, the Council has committed to doubling down on solving one of the region’s most vexing problems. Speakers shared thinking on driverless cars, high-speed ferries, the future of carpooling and ride-sharing, first and last mile connections, and private commuter regional services, among others. One speaker said that commute considerations are second only to salary in whether employees chose to work in the Bay Area. Special thanks to Council Executive Committee member Morrison & Foerster for sponsoring this important discussion and to WeDriveU for providing a delicious breakfast. Check back next week for a video of the forum. To engage in the Council’s Commute Improvement Committee, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper at eloper@bayareacouncil.org.

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Restricting Immigration Hurts the Bay Area, Council Members Say

Recent actions and statements by President Trump and his administration on immigration, including an executive order ostensibly banning citizens and others from certain predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S., have sparked strong reaction and debate nationwide and here in the Bay Area. The Bay Area Council joins with many others that are expressing serious policy concerns about the ban and its impacts – social, human and economic.

A survey this week (Feb. 1) of our members – while not unanimous – highlighted the depth of those concerns, with 79 percent saying that the immigration ban will have a negative impact on the Bay Area and 13 percent saying the impact will be positive. A larger 88 percent of the 183 companies that responded said draft proposals to limit or do away with H1-B visas, which allow U.S. employers and others to temporarily employ workers in specialty occupations, would negatively impact our region as we compete for talent in a global economy, while 9 percent said the Bay Area would benefit from restrictions.

As a member-driven, nonpartisan organization that has focused for more than 70 years on making the Bay Area the most innovative, globally competitive, and sustainable region in the world, the Bay Area Council knows well the incredible value and importance of both home-grown and immigrant talent to our region, and nation.

The Bay Area is the thriving, diverse and economically productive region it is today because of the immense contributions that immigrants have made over many, many generations. Our many strong connections with the global community interweave natives and immigrants into the business, social and cultural fabric and history of the Bay Area, a region that firmly embraces the values of inclusion, diversity and freedom.

Many of our greatest companies have been founded by former immigrants – and the children and grandchildren of immigrants — who came here seeking opportunity and the freedom to realize their dreams. Some are here temporarily. Most become regular American citizens. They have been responsible for some of our greatest discoveries—discoveries that have made the United States and the world a better place for millions of people. They have been a tremendous source of ideas, innovation, investment and leadership. And, immigrants have been a great source of talent for our many employers.

Protecting our national interests and the safety of our citizens is extremely important, but we must be equally careful not to infringe on the civil and human rights for which we stand. The Bay Area Council has long advocated for federal action on immigration reform, and we continue to believe that such reform should be developed comprehensively and thoughtfully.

 

Sample of anonymous pro and con comments from the survey

“California is the manifestation of immigrant ingenuity and investment. This state is held as an example across the world of what an economy looks like when we unleash boundless opportunity. These [Executive Orders] will damage the talent pool, thereby limiting the source of new ideas and energy. Growth always suffers when we shut the door on immigrants.”

“I believe we needed to do something. We will adjust and adapt as we always have. Citizens first. Immigrants 2nd, so long as they follow the proper rules to become citizens.”

“These executive orders are extremely damaging, in terms of inhumane treatment of people, violation of civil liberties, economic health of the region, state and nation, and national security.”

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MENLO PARK HOUSING PROJECT ENDORSED BY COUNCIL APPROVED

A transit-oriented housing, retail and office development that the Bay Area Council endorsed won unanimous approval by the Menlo Park City Council this week. Station 1300 will create 183 high quality apartment units, including 20 below market rate units, within blocks of Caltrain. Building transit-oriented housing is critical both for helping address the region’s historic housing shortage and reducing dependency on traffic-causing automobiles. The Bay Area Council was proud to attend the meeting Tuesday and testify in support as we advocate for building more housing faster and at less cost to make the Bay Area more affordable for workers and residents.

The Workforce Housing Committee recently endorsed Gateway at Millbrae, which will provide 376 new homes with a large number set aside as affordable units for military veterans. A second project the Council endorsed at MacArthur Transit Village in Oakland will provide 402 sorely needed new homes, 40 of which will be below market rate. To engage in our housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Read about Station 1300 here>>

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THE NEW COMMUTE: DISRUPTING BAY AREA TRAFFIC

In response to the Bay Area’s traffic crisis, emerging private transportation companies are offering new, innovative solutions for a comfortable, convenient commute. Disrupting the Bay Area’s congestion-stricken status quo, these budding technologies and services are filling gaps in the region’s current transit systems and reinventing how people get around. Join the Bay Area Council for a series of interactive discussions with the nation’s leading movers and shakers in private transportation. Topics will explore driverless cars, high-speed ferries, the future of carpooling and ride-sharing, last mile connections, and revolutionary regional commute services. Panelists include speakers from Bishop Ranch, Chariot, Google, LinkedIn, Lyft, MVgo, PROP, Scoop, Tideline, UC Berkeley, Waze Carpool, and Zoox. For the full agenda and to register, click here.