Bay Area Council Blog

affordable housing

LEGISLATURE TAKES FIRST STEP IN ADDRESSING HOUSING CRISIS

The state legislature late Thursday (Sept. 15) took a first step in addressing California’s epic housing crisis by approving a package of bills aimed at providing new funding for affordable housing and easing regulatory hurdles. Two funding bills the Bay Area Council was supporting—SB 2 (Atkins) and SB 3 (Beall)—won passage along with two other bills—SB 166 (Skinner) and SB 167 (Skinner)—that add teeth to existing laws requiring cities to approve new housing. SB 2 creates a $75 real estate transaction fee that is estimated to generate $250 million annually for affordable housing, while SB 3 authorizes a statewide $4 billion bond measure for housing that is expected to appear on the ballot in 2018. The bills, which still need Gov. Brown’s signature, represent a welcome opening salvo against the state’s massive housing shortage and affordability problem, but much more must be done to close an ongoing housing shortfall of 80,000 units a year. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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MAKING THE BAY RESILIENT BY DESIGN

Against the backdrop of record-breaking flooding in Houston and the Caribbean, the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge on Sunday (Sept. 10) announced 10 winning design teams to propose innovative resiliency projects along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The winning teams were selected by an independent jury from a pool of over 50 applicants, and include several Bay Area Council member companies, including AECOM, Arup, Gensler, and Andy Ball. The winning teams are now spending the next few weeks taking whirlwind tours of the entire Bay shoreline, meeting with local officials and community groups along the way to get a better understanding of the Bay’s diverse needs, culminating in the unveiling of 10 project proposals in May 2018.

The Rockefeller Foundation selected the Bay Area to host the first Resilient by Design challenge following the region’s approval of Measure AA, the June 2016 parcel tax measure that raises $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and flood protection improvements along the San Francisco Bay shoreline. The Bay Area Council played a leading role in the Measure AA campaign, and serves on the Executive Board of Resilient by Design. To learn more about the Council’s resiliency work, or about the Resilient by Design challenge, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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MAJOR NEW BAY AREA INNOVATION CENTER IN CHINA ANNOUNCED

The Bay Area Council this week joined leaders from the Chinese district of Gulou to announce the launch of an exciting new Bay Area Innovation Center in Nanjing. Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Dr. Micah Weinberg traveled to Nanjing to serve as a keynote speaker at the Golden Autumn Trade Festival where the new center was announced. The center will offer companies resources to access the region’s top tier talent and establish a bridge for startups to navigate between the Yangtze Delta region, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Discussions focused on Nanjing’s efforts to transition to an innovation economy through its connections with the Bay Area. With the help of the Economic Institute, as the leading think tank focusing on the key issues affecting the Bay Area economy, the Bay Area Innovation Center will serve as the platform connecting key resources such as training, services, capital and institutions to realize this vision. Over the past 10 years, the Bay Area Council has published seminal reports explaining the components of how our innovation ecosystem works at a global scale, and worked to guide Chinese investors looking to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. To learn about the Economic Institute’s upcoming report on Chinese Innovation or to get involved with Council’s China Initiative, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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Bay Area Coalition Hails Assembly Passage of Traffic Busting Bill

A coalition representing many of the Bay Area’s largest employers and millions of workers and residents today hailed the state Assembly passage of legislation (SB 595—Beall) that promises major investments across the region to ease traffic congestion, fix nagging highway bottlenecks and dramatically expand mass transit services. The Keep the Bay Area Moving coalition, which is led by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, California Alliance for Jobs and SPUR, has been working for over a year with Bay Area legislators and transportation planners to craft the bill and is now urging the state Senate to give its approval and Gov. Brown to sign it into law.

“The Bay Area has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a big whack at traffic congestion,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Worsening traffic is ruining our quality of life, damaging our environment and hurting our economy, but this bill gives Bay Area voters the chance to turn the tables on highway congestion and overcrowded transit. We are calling on the Senate to approve and Gov. Brown to sign SB 595 and give voters the chance to approve a visionary regional traffic relief plan.”

The bill, which authorizes a regional ballot measure in June 2018, outlines a bold, balanced plan that focuses on making big fixes to the Bay Area’s transportation system with the primary goals of reducing or eliminating some of the region’s worst highway backups, getting cars off congested roads and highways and creating a modern, seamless public transit network that addresses overcrowding and better connects cities and employment hubs.

“Working with key stakeholders allowed this coalition the opportunity to find balance and fairness within SB 595. A compromise between the entire Bay Area on how these funds are invested is integral to our success,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a Governor Brown appointee to the California Transportation Commission. “Our ability to work collaboratively towards a common goal – easing gridlock on our Bay Area roads in order to improve quality of life for our workers and their families spells success for everyone in the Bay Area. It is through this lens that we support Senate Bill 595 by Chairman Beall.”

The bill includes unprecedented levels of public oversight and accountability to guarantee that all investments are made according to the overall plan, known as Regional Measure 3 (RM3) following two previous measures that voters have approved over the past 30 years. Specifically, RM3 would establish an independent oversight committee to review all investments, including making regular reports to the state Legislature, and create a new Inspector General position to serve as a watchdog for investments on BART.

Among the centerpiece projects included in the RM3 plan are:

  • Increasing the BART fleet and completing an extension from the East Bay to Silicon Valley
  • Improving key highway interchanges in Contra Costa County at Interstate 680 and Highway 4 and in San Mateo County along Highway 101 to ease traffic bottlenecks
  • Extending Caltrain to connect with other regional mass transit systems in San Francisco
  • Expanding regional water transit service to meet skyrocketing demand
  • Accelerate planning for a second transbay rail crossing
  • Adding express lanes along major highway corridors to move cars faster, including the Highway 101 Novato Narrows connecting Marin and Sonoma counties
  • Improving transit access in the Tri-Valley and North Bay areas
  • Reducing truck traffic that clogs highways and pollutes the air

“RM3 will fund a set of transformative investments that will start to get our region’s transportation system working again,” said Gabriel Metcalf, President and CEO of SPUR.

Polling done in June 2017 shows strong voter support for Regional Measure 3. The survey by FM3 of nearly 9,500 voters found 56 percent support for RM3, exceeding the 50 percent threshold needed for passage.

“Not only will motorists see significant improvement in alleviating traffic bottlenecks and improving transit service for everyone throughout the nine Bay Area counties, they can rest assured that their money will be spent only on voter approved projects thanks to strict accountability, financial safeguards and citizen oversight. By implementing accountability measures, such as the creation of a new Inspector General position, SB595 will ensure that the financial commitment to voters is honored and projects are delivered in a timely manner.” said California Alliance for Jobs Executive Director Michael Quigley.

RM3 would raise up to $4.2 billion and would be paid for by a bridge toll increase of between $1 and $3. The final amount of any toll increase included in RM3 will be decided in the coming months by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

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MAJOR TRANSPORTATION FUNDING MEASURE CLEARS CRITICAL HURDLE

After months of the Bay Area Council’s intense advocacy in Sacramento, a bill that could lead to major transportation improvement projects to ease traffic and transit woes throughout the region passed a critical hurdle in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week and heads to the Assembly Floor in a few days. SB 595 (Beall) would authorize Regional Measure 3, a nine-county ballot measure asking voters to decide whether to raise tolls on the state-owned bridges and generate $4.2 billion for critical transit investments and congestion relief projects.

The Bay Area Council has been advocating for a comprehensive expenditure plan that would address the biggest challenges in each county and massively enhance BART, ferry, and bus capacity across the region. We applaud the hard work of the Bay Area legislators for crafting a commendable plan that will make transformative investments throughout the region and provide widespread benefit to residents across the nine-county Bay Area. This is our only shot at significantly adding transit capacity and reducing traffic gridlock in the foreseeable future.

With approval on the Assembly Floor next week, the bill would go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and then to the Governor’s desk later this month. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a region-wide vote in June 2018, which the Council plans to take a lead role in organizing. To learn more about Regional Measure 3 and the Council’s transportation work, contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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OVER 80% OF COUNCIL MEMBERS OPPOSE RESCINDING DACA

The Bay Area Council joins with many others nationwide that are expressing serious policy concerns about the Trump Administration’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The depth of those concerns were reflected in a survey issued this week of our members, with the majority of 81% indicating “strong opposition” to the President’s overturning of the Obama-era immigration policy, and 13% in favor. Those Bay Area Council members that supported the overturn often stated that they think this matter should be handled by legislation, not an Executive Order, and therefore hope President Trump “forces the hand of Congress” to pass permanent legislation. They also felt DACA was a way “around legal immigration.” Opponents of the President’s move frequently spoke to America being a nation of immigrants, and that the people left in limbo are ” just the sort of people we need in this country: highly motivated, educated and determined to make their mark in America.”

The Trump Administration will delay implementation for six-months giving Congress a window to develop a legislative fix. A large 88% of members support the passing of permanent legislation that would make the policies expressed in DACA permanent, such as the DREAM Act co-sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC).

The DACA program was enacted in June 2012 through executive order and provides a level of amnesty to undocumented, law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children through a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit if they are in, or have graduated from, high school. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, approximately 800,000 young people – known as DREAMers – have been approved for the program. Specifically, individuals eligible for DACA must have been under the age of 31 when the program was enacted, entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Many DREAMers have lived in the U.S. longer than the country they were born in.

California is home to over 223,000 DREAMers who now live in fear of deportation. A significant number live in the Bay Area, and many work for our members. “The Bay Area and nation have long depended on global talent,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “Though the DREAMers may not have been born in America, they grew up here and became colleagues, students, entrepreneurs, neighbors, friends, parents and more. They are the lifeblood keeping our economy and communities competitive, diverse and thriving. Upending hundreds of thousands of young, innocent lives raised and educated here will have deep social, political and economic impacts.” The Council has long advocated for thoughtful, comprehensive immigration reform and urges Congress to reach a fair, bi-partisan legislative solution. We invite interested members to engage in further strategic discussions around federal action on immigration by contacting Senior Advisor George Broder.

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SUPERVISOR TANG TALKS NEW LOCAL DENSITY PROGRAM FOR MISSING MIDDLE

The missing middle has become an increasing problem in the Bay Area, with affordable housing production aimed at low and very low income residents and market rate production taking care of higher income residents. This week (Sept. 6) San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang spoke with the Bay Area Council Housing Committee about her solution to this, a new program called Home-SF. Home-SF is a new density bonus program focused on increasing housing for middle income families. It is estimated to generate about 5,000 new units of housing for middle income families, helping close the gap for the missing middle in San Francisco.

The Housing Committee also heard from Committee Co-Chair Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners regarding the huge uptick in ADU permits across the state now that Bay Area Council sponsored SB 1069 (Wieckowski) has taken effect. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, among others, have experienced a significant upsurge in ADU permits. In addition, the committee learned about the benefits of modular development from new Bay Area Council member Jason Laub of RAD Urban. Modular manufactured housing can reduce both cost and time of building housing by 20%, making it a key cost reduction strategy for the Bay Area Council. To engage with the Bay Area Council Housing Committee, please contact Senior Vice President of Public Policy Matt Regan.

DEVELOPING STRONG TALENT PIPELINES TO MEET GROWING WORKFORCE DEMANDS

“Casting a wide net” was agreed upon as a top priority by Bay Area Council member participants at the Workforce of the Future Committee’s third Employer Best Practices Workshop this week (Sept. 6) focused on Talent Pipeline Partnerships. Participants agreed that in order to connect with the talent they need to fill their open jobs, expanded outreach and relationship-building with a wide array of training and education partners would be required on their part. Best practices regarding partnership models, internal organization of pipelines, and long-term investment in future workers bubbled up as key takeaway items. Companies across industries, including utilities, transportation, and banking are facing growing needs for diverse, qualified, and loyal workers and must get creative in their workforce planning strategies. To learn more about how the Bay Area Council is supporting this creativity through our various programs such as the Best Practices Workshop series, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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Statement on Charlottesville Tragedy, Bay Area Rallies

The Bay Area Council today (Aug. 17) issued the following statement in response to reported plans by a white nationalist or similar group to hold a rally in San Francisco in the coming days on the heels of the deadly and painful events in Charlottesville, Virginia:

“In the wake of the tragic and awful events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, the Bay Area Council is calling on public safety and other officials in San Francisco and throughout our region to do everything in their power and to take every precaution available to prevent similar violent confrontations here,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Bay Area Council condemns in the clearest, strongest terms possible the hatred, bigotry and racist beliefs being promoted by the white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and other hate groups that ignited and fueled the horrific events in Charlottesville.

“As the Charlottesville tragedy aptly demonstrated, with Nazi sympathizers bringing weapons, these “rallies” would be expected to incite a strenuous reaction from the overwhelming majority of Americans who reject these hateful views and believe they deserve no place in our public discourse, politics, business, society or anywhere else,” Wunderman said. “Uncontrolled, these rallies are unpredictable and disruptive, threaten public safety and put the general public in harm’s way, cost considerable taxpayer dollars and often can result in considerable damage to public property, and local businesses.

“Expression of political views must be done without weapons and the intent to physically confront those who hold opposing views, and we call upon local police to make sure that bullies carrying weapons are not a part of political demonstrations of any kind,” Wunderman said. “For anyone planning to attend any such events in the Bay Area, we urge you to exercise extreme caution and even greater restraint.

“Violent white supremacy rallies damage the American brand, and those communities that foment and tolerate this kind of behavior will not fare well in the worldwide competition for jobs and economic growth,” Wunderman said.

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TALKING WORKFORCE, HOUSING & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES WITH ASSEMBLYMEMBER BERMAN

How California and the Bay Area prepare for rapidly changing workforce needs was a major focus of a conversation today (Aug. 11) that the Bay Area Council’s Government Relations Committee convened with Assemblymember Marc Berman. Aligning higher education curriculum with current and future employer needs is critical to ensuring students entering the workforce have the skills and training they need to compete. As Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, Berman is hosting a series of regional meetings with industry, educators and other stakeholders to update the state’s Higher Education Master Plan, originally written in 1960. The Council has committed to work closely with the Select Committee on this important work.  The discussion also covered the region’s transportation and housing challenges and Berman’s focus on advancing autonomous vehicles technology and testing.

Berman comes from Palo Alto and represents the 24th Assembly District which includes Southern San Mateo and northern Santa Clara counties. He serves on several committees that are important the Council’s policy work, including Transportation; Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy; and Privacy and Consumer Protection. He also chairs the Elections and Redistricting Committee. The Government Relations Committee is led by Co-Chairs Andrew Giacomini, Managing Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP and Peter Brightbill, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo and Company. To learn more how your company can engage in the Council’s Government Relations advocacy efforts, please contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke.