The Bay Area Council applauded legislation introduced this week (Feb. 2) by Assemblymember Bill Dodd (D-Napa) that would create an open, publicly accessible online clearing house for critical water data currently held by various state departments and agencies. What gets measured gets managed, and with the state’s water data open and accessible, state and local water agencies will be able to more easily make management decisions on water transfers and exchanges. ”The state does not suffer from a lack of water data, but from a lack of usable water data needed to make smart decisions. The Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755) will create instant and accessible water information that will better enable water managers to cope with current and future drought conditions,” Assemblymember Dodd said. The Council’s water committee was closely involved in helping craft the bill, and looks forward to working with Assemblymember Dodd to improve California’s overall water management.
Said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman, “California’s current water transfer market is inefficient. With the right market signals, water agencies and private capital will want to invest in conservation and improvement of our water delivery system. California leads the world in developing new and innovative technologies. It’s time to take the first step and invest in a better water information system.”
Read the Council’s press release applauding AB 1755>>
Read a fact sheet on California water data>>
To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.
On Friday morning (Feb. 5), Bay Area Council Housing Chairs Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners and Kofi Bonner of Lennar Urban convened regional stakeholders to discuss the benefits and challenges to producing modular manufactured housing. Offsite construction has the potential to be considerably more cost effective than onsite, offering much needed relief to the rising cost of building housing. Other benefits include reduced construction waste, safer working conditions for laborers, more sustainable “green” units, and quieter construction sites. However, there are many challenges to scaling modular such as regulatory, financing, and weather constraints. Bonner will be updating the Housing Committee on the outcomes of this roundtable and discussing next steps at the next regular Housing Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 9 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. To attend the meeting and to engage in our housing policy work, please contact Policy Associate Rachele Trigueros.
A new report published by Bay Area Council member University of the Pacific points to the continuing emergence of a growing mega region encompassing the Bay Area and neighboring San Joaquin and Sacramento counties. The report by the Center for Business and Policy Research found that San Joaquin and Alameda counties led the state in population growth in 2014 and 2015, and largely as a result, researchers expect the Oakland and Stockton metropolitan areas to lead Northern California job growth in 2016 after five years of San Francisco and San Jose posting the fastest growth.
The Council is keenly aware of the growing economic connections linking these areas and a 2013 study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute documented the robust ties between the Tri-Valley area and San Joaquin County. The Council already has begun looking ahead to the many implications of this mega region and what it means for our housing, transportation and workforce infrastructure. Read the Economic Institute’s Tri-Valley Rising report>>
Read about the UOP research>>
When it comes to exploring the potential of autonomous vehicles in improving safety and reducing traffic, the DMV appears to be stuck in reverse. Regulations the DMV has unveiled would end testing of “unmanned” autonomous vehicles and going forward would require a licensed and specially trained driver to be in the vehicles at all times. In a letter to California Transportation Sec. Brian Kelly, the Bay Area Council joined other technology industry and business groups in expressing both bewilderment and “significant concern” about the regulations, which included over-reaching requirements on the gathering of personal information from vehicles, and calling for major amendments to the draft rules.
The Council embraces the promise of fast-emerging autonomous technology to reduce accidents and improve capacity of clogged highways through more efficient vehicle operation. It encouraged the DMV to do the same. The rules also could put California at a competitive disadvantage with Texas, where similar restrictions do not exist. To engage in our transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.
Read the letter to Sec. Kelly>>
Tideline Marine Group is a maritime transportation and logistics company providing commuter water shuttle and water taxi service, as well as maritime management and consulting services. Tideline Water Taxi’s success to date has been driven by an ever-increasing interest from commuters, public policy and business leaders, and property developers who are looking to water transportation on San Francisco Bay as a means of dealing with the region’s population growth and grinding traffic.
Signaling Tideline’s continuing growth, CEO and Founder Capt. Taylor Lewis recently announced the hiring of Nathan Nayman as President and Wayne Markowitz as Chief Financial Officer. Nayman for decades has been a powerful advocate for the business community and has contributed strong leadership in the Bay Area Council’s policy work. Tideline also announced a significant new investment from Blum Capital Partners that will help the company expand its fleet as it seeks regulatory permission to launch commuter shuttle service between Berkeley and San Francisco. Learn more about Tideline Marine Group>>
A new poll released this week (Jan. 29) offered very encouraging news for a possible BART bond measure in November, but the results also revealed that a vigorous campaign likely will be required to ensure victory. Poll results presented to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday (Jan. 29) measured support for three different bond amounts. Support was 71 percent for a $4.5 billion bond, 73 percent for a $3.5 billion bond and 76 percent for a $2.5 billion bond. After both pro and con messages were presented, support for the two lesser amounts slipped slightly but remained above the two-thirds thresholds necessary for passage and dropped below that level for the larger amount.
The Council, which was instrumental in the creation of BART and has long advocated for increased investment in the aging and overcrowded system, is in regular consultation with BART leaders as they deliberate on the question of moving forward with a bond measure. With what is expected to be a crowded ballot in November, the Council believes any measure will require a strong and well-funded campaign. To engage in our transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.
East Bay Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (Richmond) this week was appointed chair of a new Select Committee on Regional Planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Bay Area Council is moving quickly to engage with him and the committee to provide input. The committee is being formed to address the planned merger of the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The Council is a leading proponent of merging the two agencies to better address the region’s pressing housing and transportation challenges.
Read the Council’s position on the MTC-ABAG merger>>
Thurmond said in a statement that he “also intends for the select committee to address other regional issues, including the lack of affordable housing; environmental issues, such as sea-level rise; strengthening the local economy; and improving public transportation systems. These facts tell me that if we don’t take a regional approach to these issues, there is no way we can appropriately allocate resources to fix the problems.” An initial hearing of the committee is scheduled for Feb. 19 in Oakland and the Council is looking forward to participating. To engage in our regional planning work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz this week (Jan. 26) visited San Francisco and announced details of the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7), which will be hosted by the United States on June 1-2 and which the Bay Area Council is honored to be helping organize. During a talk at the Commonwealth Club on Tuesday (Jan. 26), Sec. Moniz said CEM7 will play a critical role in helping to implement the clean energy goals that are part of the climate commitments put forward by countries at COP21.
The Clean Energy Ministerial is a historic global forum of the energy ministers of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The upcoming CEM7 will emphasize the critical role of the private sector in technology investment, development and deployment, and policy guidance, and will be part of a broader “Clean Energy Week” and will include a series of public private events and announcements. To learn about opportunities for participating in CEM7 and becoming a sponsor, contact Policy Manager Genevieve Herreria.
A robust network of connections among top business executives, innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and investors is a major reason the Bay Area has been able to maintain its economic dominance over the past 40 years. That was among the interesting findings UCLA urban planning professor Dr. Michael Storper presented during a talk this week (Jan. 25) hosted by the Bay Area Council. Storper visited the Council to discuss his new book – The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies – which compares the economies of the Bay Area and Los Angeles and examines why LA has slipped from #1 to #25 nationally since the 1970s at the same time the Bay Area has remained at the top.
Storper specifically cited the Bay Area Council as a major driver of that connectedness or what he called “nBetweeness.” Leadership nBetweeness among the Council’s members, Storper said, is more than three times denser than that of any business group in the greater Los Angeles area and of any other similar group in the Bay Area. Those connections are critical in bringing together the necessary ingredients for creating innovation, supporting entrepreneurial activity and generating economic growth, he said. Hear Dr. Storper describe the Council’s nBetweeness>>
The Bay Area’s ability to mash together “hippy academics and crew cut engineers” to drive innovation is another big reason our region has been able to maintain its economic dominance over the past 40 years, Storper said. He cautioned, however, that the Bay Area’s success, particularly in the high tech sectors, could be a weakness. Los Angeles grew so comfortable with its massive government-supported aerospace and defense industries in the 1970s that it failed to diversify and pursue new and emerging industries.
Watch Dr. Storper’s full presentation>>
View slides from Dr. Storper’s presentation>>
Order The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies>>
On Wednesday (Jan. 27), the San Francisco Board of Appeals denied an appeal against 75 Howard Street, a residential development that the Bay Area Council endorsed. The 75 Howard Street proposal will replace an underused parking garage, creating 133 new market-rate units near public transit and about 44 offsite affordable units. This is a long overdue win, five years in the making, demonstrating the uphill battle to build housing in the Bay Area. Given the extreme housing crisis in the region, we need to be building housing at all affordability levels much faster rather than fighting for every individual housing project. To request Council review of a significant housing project, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.