Bay Area Council Blog



A misguided lawsuit seeking to dismantle one of the Bay Area’s most important water storage and clean energy supplies was dismissed Thursday in a court ruling that brought cheers from the Bay Area Council, which for years has fought back numerous attempts by the group behind the legal action to tear down Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir supplies pristine water to 2.6 million people in the Bay Area and generates clean greenhouse-gas-free hydroelectric power for San Francisco’s electricity customers and others. The group Restore Hetch Hetchy filed the lawsuit in Tuolumne County after the Bay Area Council led a campaign in 2012 that badly throttled a San Francisco ballot measure the group fronted to do away with the reservoir. Proposition F failed by almost 77 percent. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.




housinggrafResults from the 2016 Bay Area Council Poll began rolling out this week with some disconcerting views from residents around the region about how to address the Bay Area housing shortage and growing traffic.

On housing, 60 percent of residents say it should be built outside the region, with 84 percent saying they support stronger transportation networks between the Bay Area, Sacramento and other areas in the Central Valley to take pressure off regional housing supply.

“This is an understandable reaction to decades of failing to keep pace even minimally with the Bay Area’s housing needs and the transportation to support it,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “There’s now an entrenched misperception that our region doesn’t have the capacity to add the housing we need. What’s unfortunate is that pushing housing outside the region still doesn’t solve the problem of supply and affordability in the Bay Area. It simply means that fewer working families and workers in lower-income jobs can afford to live here. It hurts the diversity of our region and our economy. It also means workers are commuting longer and longer distances in their cars, which pushes up damaging carbon emissions.”

On traffic, a staggering 83 percent of residents now believe it will never improve. The frustration is reflected in the more than tripling of residents, from 6 percent in 2014 to 20 percent in 2016, who say the region’s badly congested highways and crowded mass transit systems are making it much harder to get around.

See 2016 Bay Area Council Poll results>>

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Key Housing, Water Data Bills Move Forward

Two bills the Bay Area Council is sponsoring to remove barriers to an untapped source of affordable housing and improve how California uses data to better manage water cleared a first round of Legislative committees this week (April 21). Creating more workforce housing and improving California’s water system are among the Council’s top policy priorities.

SB 1069 by State Sen. Bob Wieckowski of Fremont would make it easier for homeowners to add second units, also known as accessory dwelling units (ADU), to single family homes. If ADUs were added to just 10 percent of Bay Area homes, this region alone would gain 150,000 new housing units. Council Housing Committee Co-Chair Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners testified in support of the bill, which is also backed by diverse coalition the Council has assembled including the AARP, California Chamber of Commerce, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Kaiser Permanente and Facebook, among many others. “Bay Area companies are having a tough time hiring employees because they cannot find housing in today’s tight market without having to drive two to three hours a day,” Pinkston said. “This common-sense bill makes modest changes, but will have huge impacts on the supply of affordable secondary units.” To engage in our housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Read the support letter for SB 1069>>

AB 1755 by Assemblymember Bill Dodd of Napa also moved forward this week with a bipartisan 12-1 vote of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee.  Developed with the help of the Council’s Water Committee under the leadership of Co-Chairs Jim Levine of Montezuma Wetlands and Andy Ball of Suffolk Construction, AB 1755 would create an open, publicly accessible online clearing house for critical water data that would improve water conservation, reduce waste and ensure greater reliability in times of shortages. Policy Director Adrian Covert testified before the committee about the importance of an open and transparent water market in helping California make better and smarter decisions about how we use water. Water data currently is fragmented across various state departments and agencies. This is an important success on the pathway to establishing a functioning statewide water market. To engage in our water policy work, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.

Read an OpEd supporting AB 1755>>


World’s Top Energy Ministers Converge on Bay Area

Leaders from around the globe have gathered in New York today to sign an historic climate agreement negotiated at United Nations climate change talks in Paris last December. The enactment of the COP21 accords is a major milestone in the lead-up to the 2016 Clean Energy Ministerial, the upcoming summit between the 24 largest economies around the world, to be held on May 31 – June 3 in San Francisco. Over 1000 of the world’s foremost visionaries in clean energy plan to converge on the Bay Area for the Ministerial, including the likes of Breakthrough Energy Coalition founder Bill Gates, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official and current Apple executive Lisa Jackson, climate change evangelist Governor Jerry Brown, environmental philanthropists Tom Steyer and John Doerr, and the energy ministers of the US, China, and India, the largest emitters of carbon on the planet. Energy experts predict that the market for clean energy technology will continue to grow as these world leaders take these big steps towards the 2016 Ministerial talks and beyond. These trends bode well for the Bay Area, a world leader on innovation and investment on advanced transportation, energy storage, and renewable energy sourcing.

The Bay Area Council is co-hosting the 2016 Clean Energy Ministerial in Partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy.  For more information on sponsorship opportunities and tickets, please contact Policy Manager Genevieve Herreria or call (415) 946-8734, and visit

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Winning the Clean Energy Transformation

With passage of its new federal energy bill, the U.S. Senate has acknowledged what the Bay Area Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure Initiative has been saying:  the transformation to a reliable and affordable energy system built on clean and renewable energy will require a new approach to electricity grids, energy demand management, and energy research. The Senate bill follows the lead of states like California that are planning for more flexible energy distribution grids and for large scale energy storage. It’s all part of the Council’s agenda of “winning the clean energy transformation,” and it’s encouraging to see the federal government joining the cause. Bay Area Council members are invited to join its 21st Century Infrastructure Energy Committee and to participate in its meetings and dialogues on advanced and clean energy technology, economics, and policy. To join the Committee, contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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Member Spotlight: Reed Smith LLP

One of the largest law firms in the world, Reed Smith LLP recognizes that diversity at all levels of an organization creates a successful enterprise. “We have an unwavering commitment to diversity, with principles of fairness and inclusion permeating our culture,” said Deborah Broyles, Reed Smith’s Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion.

The firm showcases the talent of its diverse attorneys and partners with organizations in the legal sector and the community to ensure the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts benefit more than just the firm. “We connect the diversity leaders of tomorrow with the business leaders of today,” Broyles said.  Under her leadership, the firm is steadfast in its commitment in 26 offices across three continents toward creating a diverse global workforce operating in an inclusive environment.  And their efforts have paid off.  This week, two Reed Smith associates were chosen to be members of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (LCLD) 2016 class of “Pathfinders,” a new program series designed by LCLD to train high-potential, early-career attorneys in critical career development strategies. Founded in 2009, LCLD is a growing organization of more than 240 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners who are personally committed to creating a truly diverse legal profession.

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Demand for the Bay Area Council’s 2016 Outlook Conference: Bigger Better Bolder presented by Wells Fargo on May 17 has been robust with full table sponsorships nearly sold out. And it’s no wonder with all the excitement around the rock-star lineup of speakers.

This is one of the premier thought leader events of the year exploring the major trends and innovations shaping business and the economy. Kicking off an electrifying day is Wells Fargo CEO and Chairman John Stumpf. Former New York Mayor and 2008 Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, now chair of Greenberg Traurig’s cybersecurity and crisis management practice, will talk about the growing global threat of cyberattacks. Attendees will also be treated to lively talks by Mozilla Corporation Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, The Representation Project CEO Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Xerox Innovation Group President Sophie Vandebroek, Nexenta CEO Tarkan Maner and JPMorgan Chase Managing Director Chancy Lennon.

The Outlook Conference, which will be held at the Park Central Hotel in downtown San Francisco, annually attracts more than 700 CEOs, top executives and civic leaders, making it an extremely valuable platform for promoting your company’s brand, building relationships with your existing customers and clients and finding new relationships. If you are interested in joining some of the Bay Area’s top companies as a sponsor, there are just a few tables left. Click here to become a sponsor today>>

While there are limited tables available, individual tickets are now on sale. Purchase individual tickets>>

Special thanks to Presenting Sponsor Wells Fargo; Pioneer Sponsor Kaiser Permanente; and Innovator Sponsors Dignity Health, JPMorgan Chase, PG&E, San Francisco Chronicle and TMG Partners.

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Rising Tide for Expanding Regional Ferry Service

There’s a rising tide for efforts to expand regional water transit service, which is among the Bay Area Council’s leading policy priorities. The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) this week (April 14) announced a $4 million grant from the Federal Transportation Authority to expand its downtown San Francisco ferry terminal. The expansion project, which is scheduled to begin construction in summer 2017, includes construction of up to three new ferry gates and vessel berthing facilities to support new ferry services from San Francisco to Richmond and Treasure Island, as well other potential locations currently under study, both in the East and South Bay.

The project will improve landside conditions at the ferry terminal by providing new amenities, such as weather-protected canopies, the construction of a new plaza area south of the Ferry Building, the extension of pedestrian promenade areas, and other public access improvements. The expansion will also enable WETA to stage emergency water transit services in the event of a regional transportation disruption or disaster, part of its state charter.

See WETA’s SF ferry terminal expansion plans>>

“This grant is due to the great leadership we received from 13 members of Congress, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Mark DeSaulnier,” said Nina Rannells, executive director of WETA. “We thank each of them for their support, and for helping WETA realize our strategic, long-term goal of bringing additional ferry service to the Bay Area, while executing on our emergency response commitments.”

To engage in our water transit policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.


BART Takes Positive Step Toward November Bond Measure

Bay Area commuters got some encouraging news this week (April 11) when BART announced a tentative agreement that for five years would effectively avoid a possible repeat of the messy and disruptive worker strikes that crippled the regional commute for eight days in 2013. The agreement, if approved by the BART Board and ratified by union workers, would extend the current contract from 2017 to 2021. Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman called the agreement “a necessary, rider-centric move” that helps return focus to passing a proposed November bond measure that would pay to overhaul BART’s failing 50-year-old infrastructure.

“Recent malfunctions have brought into focus the fact that if BART catastrophically fails – by a worker strike or equipment failure – current riders will spill out onto our jammed freeways and roadways creating unprecedented gridlock.  We cannot afford that,” Wunderman said. “Our top priority is to help bring BART’s machinery, rails, electric systems, stations, cars and other infrastructure into a state of good repair to ensure safe and reliable service for the system’s more than 400,000 daily passengers.”

The Bay Area Council remains actively engaged with the BART’s elected leadership and management as the agency works to address labor and other operating costs. The agency also this week announced that it is facing a projected budget deficit of $477 million over the next 10 years, including $77 million associated with pay increases from the proposed contract extension. The Council’s Transportation Committee expects to hear more about these issues during a discussion we’re hosting on April 27 with BART Executive Director Grace Crunican. To engage in our transportation policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.


Exciting News for Regional Water Transit Service

Efforts to grow regional water transit service, a top policy priority for the Bay Area Council, got a big boost Thursday (April 7) when the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA) unanimously approved an agreement for expanding ferry operations in Alameda. Under the agreement, WETA will partner with the City of Alameda to develop the expansion Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal to meet future demand. Alameda Point Partners would build the terminal as part of a mixed-use development that would be served by the expanded ferry service. The agreement came during a packed-house meeting in Alameda where residents and others offered input about water transit expansion.

Equally exciting was approval by the WETA Board, on which Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman serves as vice chair, of a $54.7 million contract to build a new Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility that will serve as the future home of WETA’s central San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet. Construction of the facility is a key step in realizing WETA’s larger vision of expanding ferry service region-wide to provide an important transportation alternative for commuters bedeviled by clogged highways and overcrowded buses and trains. The facility will also include an Operations Control Center for service dispatch and Emergency Operations Center for emergency response coordination.

“WETA is developing both short-and long-term plans to address the increased need for ferry service, while simultaneously ensuring that we have the proper infrastructure in place to care for our assets and serve a greater number of Bay Area residents in the coming years,” said WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells in a press release announcing the decisions. “We are pleased to engage in these partnerships with the City of Alameda as well as the private sector to address our fleet and infrastructure needs for the future.”

Expanding regional water transit service is a top goal of the Council under the leadership of Transportation Committee Co-Chairs Rosemary Turner of UPS and Jeffrey Heller of Heller Manus. To engage in the Council’s water transit policy work, please contact Policy Manager Emily Loper.