Bay Area Council Blog


New Data: Bay Area’s Roads Worst in the Country

With absentee ballots arriving in mailboxes and election day just a few weeks off, new data released this week on California’s deteriorating roads should motivate voters to turn out and cast their ballots against Proposition 6. A report by Washington, D.C.-based TRIP found that 71 percent of streets in San Francisco, Oakland and nearby cities are dilapidated and cost motorists an average of $1,049 annually in car repairs. San Jose wasn’t far behind and the Bay Area as a whole ranked as the worst nationally among metropolitan areas. Proposition 6 aims to repeal legislation (SB 1) approved in 2017 to invest $52.4 billion to fix bridges, roads and highways across the state and improve transit. The Council was a leading proponent of SB 1 and strongly opposes Prop. 6.

Also this week, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found a measure (Proposition 10) to allow the expansion of rent control across the state doesn’t have the votes it needs to pass. The Council strongly opposes Prop 10, which would chill investment in new housing and only worsen the state’s historic housing crisis. While the poll results were encouraging, they still signaled the importance of voters turning out and casting their ballots against it. A report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that expanding rent control in Alameda County alone would reduce housing affordability for more than 10,300 households. To engage in the Council’s government relations work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

See the Council’s positions on state and local ballot measures>>

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Leaders Share Ideas on Family-Friendly Workplaces

How do companies create family-friendly workplace policies to advance gender equity? The Bay Area Council on Wednesday (Oct. 17) hosted the Future of Work Roundtable to answer that very question. Panelists including Carmela Clendening of Salesforce, Chris Ruhl of PwC and Audrey Gallien of Catalyst, a national organization working to advance women in the workplace, discussed the importance of robust paid parental leave programs to attract and retain women, whose careers are often penalized after having a baby.

The group shared best practices around flexible scheduling, on-site childcare, encouraging men to take advantage of parental policies, and being inclusive of adoptive parents. The Council and our partners Panorama Global and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation are thrilled to continue our work to bring companies together around the intersection of gender equity, paid leave, and family friendly workplace policies. As stated at the meeting: advancing gender equity and family-friendly workplace policies is not just the right thing to do, it’s a business necessity. To engage in the Council’s gender equity work, please contact Senior Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros.

Read the Bay Area Council Economic Institute report on creating family-friendly workplaces>>


Employers Weigh In on Creating an Inclusive Workforce

Business giants Airbnb, Genentech, Nibbi Brothers General Contractors, and Salesforce joined the Bay Area Council on Monday (Oct. 15) at Airbnb to discuss their workforce growth and projected needs in 2019. In a panel discussion moderated by Workforce Committee Co-Chair Julius Robinson (Union Bank), participants Beth Axelrod (Airbnb), Bob Nibbi (Nibbi Brothers General Contractors), Ann Weeby (Salesforce Foundation) and Connie White (Genentech) shared details of their challenges and unique actions for creating an inclusive productive workforce.

Panelists underscored the importance of fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace and retaining diverse talent across economic cycles. Building mentoring programs for career-ready interns provided a strong example of how to better retain young talent. These programs build an intimate understanding of company culture while providing pathways to leadership as interns grow into their roles.

The final Workforce of the Future Committee meeting of the year highlighted the committee’s accomplishments in 2018, including impacting over 12,000 students and job seekers in the region, growing stronger bridges between local diverse talent and Bay Area Council employers. As the Workforce of the Future Committee looks forward towards 2019, it will continue to strengthen talent pipelines while building a more inclusive and representative workforce. To engage in the Council’s Workforce of the Future initiative, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.


As Ferry Ridership Grows, a New Vessel Commissioned

There’s more good news in the push to accelerate the expansion of regional ferry service. The Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) this month approved $13 million in funding to construct a new 300-passenger ferry that is scheduled to hit the water in 2020. The Council, whose CEO Jim Wunderman serves on the WETA board, has been a leading proponent of expanding regional ferry service to help ease grinding traffic on Bay Area roads and highways and take some pressure off other congested transit systems. The new ferry will be the eighth vessel added to the fleet since 2017. WETA has added three 400-passenger boats since April 2017 with four more scheduled to start producing wakes in 2019. The water transit agency is also preparing to open new service to Richmond in January 2019 and to the San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood and Alameda’s Seaplane Lagoon in the next few years.

The expansion comes as WETA experiences record ridership growth. The agency’s 20-year strategic plan calls for operating at 16 terminals with 44 vessels by 2035. Today, they operate at nine terminals with 14 vessels. The Council helped lead the campaign for Regional Measure 3, which will provide significant funding to enable WETA to meet its expansion plans. To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Chief Operating Officer John Grubb.


Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Dismantle Hetch Hetchy

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday (Oct. 17) pounded yet another nail in the coffin of a misguided effort to tear down the system that provides clean water and power to 2.7 million Bay Area residents and businesses. The Bay Area Council has been a leading champion of protecting and enhancing the Hetch Hetchy clean water and power system against a fringe Berkeley group that has fought for years to tear it down. The group vowed to take their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Council led the campaign with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and then-Mayor Ed Lee against a 2012 ballot initiative in San Francisco that would have opened the door to removing the Hetch Hetchy system. Dismantling Hetch Hetchy would cost an estimated $10 billion, wreak untold environmental damage and threaten the reliability of the region’s main water source. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.


Election 2018: Where the Council Stands

Political campaigns are heating up. Absentee ballots are arriving. Votes are being cast. There are critical issues on the November ballot that will significant implications for California, residents and businesses and the economy. The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has carefully studied many of the key state and local measures and propositions that voters will decide. We encourage you to get informed and consider the Council’s recommendations. And please, please make sure you vote!

See the Council’s ballot recommendations>>

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Trip Highlights Potential of Hovercraft on the Bay

The gate opened at the bow of the vessel, a black skirt draped around its hull. We boarded and took our seats. Within minutes, the boat rose quickly and effortlessly above the ground, the engines producing a dull thrumming sound and a cushion of air on which the boat gently hovered. The vessel glided smoothly away from the launch ramp, pivoted 180 degrees and accelerated. We were off.

You can be skeptical about hovercraft passenger service for the Bay Area, until you ride one. Then, you are changed. It was an awakening experience for a dozen water transit experts that the Bay Area Council and CEO Jim Wunderman led to Portsmouth, England, this week to do a deep-dive learning experience about hovercraft. The group rode a service that has 80-passenger crafts. They toured some recently retired hovercraft that carried 425 passengers and 60 cars across the English Channel. And, they heard from elected leaders and visited with hovercraft manufacturers.

Hovercraft offer a compelling opportunity to propel a dramatic expansion of regional water transit service that is already taking shape under the leadership of Council member Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA). Hovercraft could be a solution to accessing areas of the Bay where dredging costs, docks and environmental issues present obstacles to other vessels. The Council will be working with delegates from the trip, other officials in our region, with trip co-leader HOVR California, and many others to explore if next generation hovercraft have a place in the Bay Area. To engage in our water transit work, please contact Chief Operating Officer John Grubb.

One Year After Sonoma Complex Fires, Scars Remain In California Wine Country

Tracking Rebuilding Progress One Year after North Bay Fires

On the one-year anniversary of the horrible North Bay fires, Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg joined KQED Forum this week for an in-depth discussion with local leaders on the progress being made to recover and rebuild. The Economic Institute has been working closely with leaders from Sonoma County and Santa Rosa to assemble data and analysis related to the fire that will guide new policies that can track and speed the rebuilding and provide greater resilience against future fires.

Weinberg was joined on stage during the live broadcast at the Luther Burbank Convention Center by host Michael Krasny, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey, City Councilmember Julie Coombs and Santa Rosa Press Democrat reporter JD Morris. Much of the discussion focused on the urgent need for more housing. Even before the fire, which destroyed more than 4,600 homes, Sonoma County had the highest number of housing cost-burdened households in the Bay Area. City and county officials have set a goal of building 30,000 housing units to address the historic shortage and affordability crisis and replace the units lost to the blazes.

Listen to the full KQED Forum broadcast>>

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Career Fair Focuses on Highly Skilled Immigrants and Refugees

In the United States, two million skilled immigrants and refugees currently face under-employment or unemployment. In partnership with Upwardly Global, the Bay Area Council this week (Oct. 10) held a career fair connecting highly skilled immigrants and refugees with backgrounds in business operations and engineering to major employers in the Bay Area. The strategic hiring event was the last in series of 2018 Inclusive Economy Career Fairs facilitated by the Council’s Workforce of the Future initiative, which focuses on expanding workforce opportunity for underrepresented populations who experience barriers to employment.

Hosted by member company Wells Fargo, the event began with an educational session for employers to learn more about the vast array of backgrounds many immigrants and refugees have. An employer panel featuring Patty Dingle, Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion at VISA, Daryl Graves, Diversity Talent Acquisition Evangelist at Workday, and Jason Schwartz, Senior Director at TetraTech, further highlighted what these companies are doing in the diversity and inclusion spaces.

The career fair that followed connected 50 highly qualified candidates with 14 employers—including Bay Area Council members Alaska Airlines, Chariot, San Francisco International Airport, VISA, and Wells Fargo. To engage in the Council’s Workforce of the Future initiative, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.


SF Business Times Names Its Most Admired CEOs of 2018

You’ll never guess who was named one of the San Francisco Business Times outstanding CEOs of 2018? That’s right.  We are thrilled to announce that Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman will be honored at the 2018 Most Admired CEOs Awards, which will be held on Thursday, November 8 from 5:30-9:00pm at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. Since becoming CEO in 2004, Wunderman has tripled the size of the organization, elevated its influence, expanded the organization to Sacramento and China and honed the Council’s regionalist approach to advocacy in key areas that impact the Bay Area’s economy and competitiveness. With Wunderman at the helm, the Council has played a leading role on issues related to housing, transportation, water, climate change and energy, early education funding and healthcare reform. The event will also honor Council board members Jeff Hoopes, CEO of Swinerton, Rich Robbins, CEO of Wareham Development, and Jim Wallace, CEO of BPM.  Join us in celebrating some of our region’s most esteemed business leaders on Nov. 8>>