Bay Area Council Blog


Statement on Gov. Brown’s Proposed 2017-18 Budget

The Bay Area Council issued the following statement on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2017-18 budget:

“Gov. Brown’s proposed budget wisely reflects the uncertain economic conditions ahead, while also emphasizing the urgent need to invest in transportation and address the state’s massive housing crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The housing principles the Governor spelled out in his budget rightly focus on making reasonable, sensible reforms that offer us the best hope of addressing our epic housing shortage in a meaningful way for all Californians. For the sake of our economy and for the well-being of millions of residents struggling to afford housing in our state, we urge the Legislature to work now with the Governor to bring these reforms to reality this year. We can’t put off this problem any longer. The Governor’s proposals for investing $43 billion in our deteriorating transportation infrastructure also deserve immediate action by the Legislature as our congested roads and highways continue to crumble and our mass transit systems reach the breaking point.”

JBL State Water Board Meeting 2

Proposed Water Cuts Could Be Devastating for Bay Area

The Bay Area Council voiced strong concerns at a State Water Resources Board hearing Tuesday (Jan. 3) on proposed changes to how water is allocated for urban, agricultural and environmental uses that could mean 50 percent cuts for 2.6 million of our region’s residential and commercial users. The Council said in testimony that the proposed changes could be devastating for a region that generates a huge portion of the state’s economic activity and that already has the lowest per capita water use rates in the state. The changes would take a disproportionate share of water that the Bay Area receives from the Tuolumne River to increase flows for native salmon and other aquatic species. About 48 percent of the Tuolumne river is diverted for agriculture in the Central Valley and 38 percent is left for the environment. Just 14 percent of the river is diverted for the Bay Area, but that 14 percent accounts for 85 percent of San Francisco’s drinking water and 55 percent of the drinking water used overall in Silicon Valley and by the Alameda County Water Agency. The Council is urging the state to take whatever measures necessary to make up the cuts through voluntary settlements, or purchases, among existing water rights holders that would pose less threat to our region’s water reliability. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

(Photo: Modesto Bee)

affordable housing

Council Pushes for Legislative Action on Housing Crisis

As the Bay Area Council gears up to drive action in the Legislature this year on California’s housing crisis, a new report out this week provides more damning evidence about the depth and breadth of the problem. The California Housing and Community Development report – California’s Housing Future: Challenges and Opportunities – found that the state on average is producing 100,000 fewer housing units annually than we need, a problem that has persisted for decades. Millennials and lower-income households have been hit hardest, as the scarcity of housing has pushed home prices and rents into the stratosphere and brought home ownership to its lowest level since World War II. The report found that the housing crisis has reduced economic opportunity, contributed mightily to the state’s nation-leading poverty rate and undermined California’s climate goals by pushing workers further from job centers. It came on the heels of an opinion piece by Council CEO Jim Wunderman that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and called for political leadership to make 2017 the year California’s solves its housing shortage.

The Council is meeting now with key legislators on several bills aimed at speeding the creation of new housing, which is the only solution that can address the problem at scale over the long haul. The Council is looking to build on the momentum it gained in sponsoring major housing legislation approved last year that eases the path for homeowners to build in-law units. That law authored by state Sen. Bob Wieckowski took effect on Jan. 1, and the Council estimates that it could generate 150,000 affordable units in the Bay Area alone. To engage in our housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.


Council in the Mix as Affordable Care Act Repeal Plans Debated

Anxieties are running high as the new Administration and Congress are signaling imminent changes to the Affordable Care Act if not a full repeal. California and its healthcare industry are heavily invested in the ACA — the law supports over 200,000 jobs in the state, over 1.5 million individuals are enrolled in coverage through Covered California and over 13 million residents now rely on Medi-Cal — and dismantling it would have significant economic as well as human impacts. As such, the Council is actively engaging with lawmakers and experts on both sides of the aisle to ensure pragmatic solutions moving forward.

Additionally, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute will be developing a series of policy briefs to be released throughout the year analyzing policy proposals and their potential impact to California’s economy, its healthcare system, and its citizens. The Council’s Healthcare Committee has assembled a task force to help inform which policy proposals to evaluate and will continue to host regular convenings and discussions. To engage in the Council’s Healthcare Committee, please contact Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg.


What the President-Elect Should Know about Trade, Manufacturing & Jobs

A wave of working-class anger and discontent over lost manufacturing jobs is credited by many with helping Donald Trump win the White House, but a Bay Area Council Economic Institute analysis released this week (Dec. 14) suggests that a protectionist response on foreign trade and pulling back from free trade agreements, in particular, could have serious economic downsides for the U.S. and California. The analysis argues instead for boosting domestic competitiveness through aggressive worker retraining to adapt to an increasingly knowledge-based economy, reforming tax policy to incentivize new business investment and doubling down on free trade expansion. The analysis was released the same day President-elect Trump met with a number of leading tech titans for a conversation that was expected to cover many of the same issues. The Economic Institute is sharing the analysis with the Trump transition team.

Read the full report>>


Help End the Scourge of Family Homelessness

The Bay Area Council is urging its members to help secure a $10 million challenge grant from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, to fund an ambitious campaign that aims to end homelessness for 800 San Francisco families by 2019, including almost 2,000 school children. The Benioffs have pledged personally to match contributions dollar for dollar up to a total of $10 million to help the Heading Home campaign, which was launched in 2015 to respond to a dramatic spike in family homelessness following the Great Recession. Heading Home is run by nonprofit Hamilton Families as part of a collaboration led by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee between the city and San Francisco Unified School District with major financial support from private philanthropists like the Benioffs and companies like Google, Zendesk and others.

Heading Home uses a unique approach to rapidly re-house homeless families. The early results have been nothing short of remarkable, with 237 families being successfully moved into permanent housing over the past 18 months. Heading Home case managers remain in regular touch with families about their situation and help them get services they need, which has resulted in more than 90 percent remaining in their housing. The matching grant from Benioff will enable Heading Home to scale up its program to reach its goal of serving 800 families, and bringing down the number of days that a family is living in homelessness before they get help from the current average of 414 to no more than 90. Heading Home has enormous benefits for children, who because of homeless are twice as likely as other children to suffer from hunger, three times more likely to have behavioral issues, four times more likely to get sick, and twice as likely to repeat a grade, be suspended or drop out.

Make a donation today to the Heading Home Campaign>>

Learn more about Hamilton Families and the Heading Home Campaign>>

Listening Session logo

Bay Area Water Leaders Give Input to National Policy Agenda

Forty of the Bay Area’s top water leaders convened at Google on Thursday (Dec. 15) to map out federal water advocacy in the Trump-era. The meeting was a partnership between the Bay Area Council and the U.S. Water Alliance, a national water infrastructure advocacy group, as part of the Alliance’s 13 water stakeholder “listening sessions” held across the country. The discussion in Silicon Valley elevated several common themes, including regulatory reform, the water sector’s aging workforce, public-private partnerships, tax incentives, and issue framing. The Alliance will be comparing the notes from each of the listening sessions and distilling them into a comprehensive policy platform early in 2017. To engage with the Bay Area Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.


Council Joins President Obama for Final My Brother’s Keeper White House Convening

This week, Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg attended the final White House convening for President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.  This effort is focused on improving outcomes for Young Men of Color (YMOC), and five Bay Area cities have taken up the president’s challenge to work on everything from education to criminal justice to economic opportunity for these populations.  The convening highlighted the Oakland Opportunity Fair that was a part of the work that we’ve done through our Bay Area YMOC Employment Partnership (BAYEP).  Our partner in that effort, the non-profit organization My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, will be carrying this work forward after January 20th, and the President, who spoke to the group, emphasized that he sees this as his life’s work and is going to remain engaged going forward.  To get involved in BAYEP, please contact Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros.


Taking Action to Address Workforce Needs

The Bay Area Council recently hosted Van Ton-Quinlivan (Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development, California Community Colleges) and Jim Mayer (Executive Director, California Forward), as well as numerous Bay Area business and civic leaders, for an engaging discussion on the allocation of $41.6 million to Bay Area community colleges in support of the Strong Workforce Program.  Ton-Quinlivan highlighted the importance of business and civic input regarding the use of the funds, stating that industry feedback is critical to informing community college actions. Recommendations provided by attendees included investing in community college curriculum and instructor preparation, and developing clear career pathways in partnership with business that would then be shared with students. “If you want a talent pool instead of a talent puddle, now is the time to shape how public dollars are invested,” Ton-Quinlivan said. “We want the career technical education (CTE) graduates of our community colleges to be equipped with both the soft and hard skills you need for a strong workforce.”

During the meeting, Rock Pfontenhauer of the Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC) also described efforts being undertaken by BACCC and the Bay Area Council in relation to Occupational Councils. These Occupational Councils convene occupation by occupation, with the goal of examining and adjusting curriculum to fit job requirements, establishing career pathways into middle-skill jobs, and aligning the region’s 28 community colleges, 16 adult education consortia, and 14 workforce development boards with industry needs.

Participants also explored the complex relationship between employers, community colleges, and other workforce training organizations in the Bay Area region. Many in the room detailed the hiring needs of their respective constituents, and proposed various ways to specifically tap into underserved, low-income, and minority populations to meet hiring needs for well-paying but hard to fill middle-skills jobs. To engage in the Council’s workforce policy, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.



Decision Time: Keeping the Raiders in Oakland

A deal to build a modern, new stadium for the Oakland Raiders is headed to the Oakland City Council next Tuesday, and the Bay Area Council is working overtime to urge elected officials to reach an agreement that would be critical to keeping the Silver and Black in the Bay Area. Details of the agreement are not public, but generally involve a plan to finance building a new stadium that would be part of a larger development on the site. Former Raiders and 49ers star and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott is leading a group of investors that is seeking to purchase and redevelop the property the Raiders now call home. The plan would offer a counter to a gambit by Las Vegas to lure the Raiders to Sin City with promises of huge public subsidies. NFL leadership has said several times they would like to see the Raiders remain in Oakland. The Bay Area Council has been proud to be working directly with Lott on assembling business community support. To add your name to a support letter the Council has drafted, please contact Special Assistant to the CEO Suzanne Robinson.