Bay Area Council Blog


Council Names Bernard J. Tyson Vice Chair

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee has elected Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson Vice Chair of the organization, positioning the Council for continuing strong leadership in addressing the region’s major challenges. Tyson joins Chair Michael Covarrubias, Chairman and CEO of TMG Partners, in filling out the Executive Committee’s top two leadership roles.

“Bernard’s appointment will ensure the Council continues a powerful legacy of business leadership in the Bay Area and California,” said Covarrubias, who is in the middle of a two-year term as Chair that ends in 2017. “I’m glad he said yes. It’s comforting to know that a visionary like Bernard is waiting in the wings to carry the Council forward. I’m excited to work with him during my term as Chair to achieve the Council’s important policy goals and make sure that the voice of business is heard loud and clear – here, in Sacramento and D.C.”

As chief executive of a $61 billion a year organization that serves 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, and employs 180,000 workers and 18,000 physicians, Tyson is widely considered one of the nation’s most influential health care leaders. Tyson has played an instrumental role in shaping the Council’s health care policy agenda and its focus on providing high-quality care, controlling costs and making health care accessible for more Californians. And he has provided important leadership on the Council’s Executive Committee of CEOs and other top executives in setting and achieving the Council’s overall policy priorities.

“The Bay Area Council is working across the entire region and across industries to create positive dialogue intended to solve our region’s toughest challenges,” Tyson said. “I’m honored by the appointment, and I look forward to working with Mike Covarrubias and the entire Council leadership to create an even stronger economy and more vibrant communities for everyone who lives and works here.”

Tyson’s selection as Vice Chair adds momentum to the progress the Council is making on its lead policy priorities under Covarrubias. The Council is waging an aggressive campaign to expand workforce housing in California, working to win passage in the state Legislature of a proposal by Governor Jerry Brown to fast track local approval of affordable housing. The Council is also focused on reducing traffic congestion and increasing investment in regional transportation systems, ensuring the Bay Area has a reliable water supply and building stronger connections between employers and higher education institutions to close the middle skills employment gap.

In addition to his role at Kaiser Permanente, Tyson is also an outspoken voice nationally on addressing and improving race relations, and for increasing economic opportunities for boys and men of color. His 2014 essay following Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO – It’s Time to Revolutionize Race Relations – described his experience as an African American CEO and contributed to the national conversation on the status of race in the U.S. Under his leadership, Kaiser Permanente is serving as an early champion of a new regional pilot project launched in Oakland on July 22 that will work to provide jobs for hundreds of Bay Area youths, with specific focus on boys and men of color.

“Bernard J. Tyson is a leader’s leader,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Bernard brings to the Council Executive Committee an incredible background of business acumen, knowledge and experience. And while his professional career has been in healthcare, Bernard readily grasps the bigger picture of issues – from housing, to transportation, to workforce opportunity – affecting employers, workers and the broader community. The Council looks forward to thriving with his leadership.”

Read Bernard J. Tyson’s full biography>>


Council Works to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color

On Thursday, in partnership with LeadersUp, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Urban Strategies Council, PolicyLink and the City of Oakland, the Bay Area Council participated in the much awaited Invest in Youth: Pathways to Success, Boys & Men of Color Career Summit. Nearly 50 companies participated in the event, hiring youth on the spot and offering career pathway exposure. Bay Area Council members Kaiser Permanente, AT&T, East Bay Municipal Utility District, BART, San Francisco Giants, United Airlines and many more were represented at the Summit.

An estimated 325 youths walked away from the BMoC Career Summit with a job offer and the Summit provided 1,000 young people of color between the ages of 18 to 29 opportunities to interview with employers, connect to community resources, and participate in career preparation and leadership development training.

This high impact kickoff event will act as a catalyst for the long term regional hiring strategy developed by the Bay Area Council and our partners to create a sustainable and coordinated approach to training, hiring, and retaining young men of color in sustainable wage careers across the Bay Area. To learn more about the strategy, Creating an Inclusive Economy: A Strategy for Hiring Bay Area Boys and Men of Color, please contact Policy Manager Rachele Trigueros.


No Summer Recess in Work to Win Landmark Housing Reform

The Legislature may be on summer recess, but the Bay Area Council isn’t taking a break from its continuing work to win approval of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to speed production of affordable housing. The Council is working with a growing statewide network of partner organizations to educate the public and policy makers about the urgent need to create more workforce housing in California and how the Governor’s proposal can accomplish that. The message is starting to sink in. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee this week vetoed a misguided resolution by the Board of Supervisors opposing the Governor’s sensible reforms. And the Los Angeles Times delivered a rousing endorsement urging the Governor to hold fast against opposition. The Council’s Matt Regan was featured in a San Jose Mercury article highlighting the housing issue.

Gov. Brown’s proposal would remove a largely redundant and often time-consuming layer of local review, allowing cities to give simple administrative or “by right” approval of housing developments that meet all existing local planning, building and zoning regulations and that set aside either 20 percent of new homes for lower-income residents or 10 percent when the development is located close to transit. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Responding to the California Transportation Commission’s action earlier this year to defund $754 million of transportation improvement projects, the Bay Area Council Transportation Committee focused its meeting this morning on stabilizing and growing state funding for transportation.  The Committee hosted Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Jim Beall, who described his ongoing efforts to rally legislative support for his SBX1-1. The legislation would increase several different transportation sources and would produce billions of dollars of new money for highway maintenance and rehabilitation; in turn, this would allow funding to be restored to the defunded congestion-relief projects. In the Assembly, Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Frazier is carrying a separate bill, and time is dwindling in this session for the two bills to be reconciled, gain two-thirds support, and be signed by the Governor.  With the end-zone in sight and the clock ticking down, the Council will be applying concentrated pressure on the Legislature to complete the overdue work of adequately funding transportation.


Council Housing Committee Co-Chair Kofi Bonner Highlights Governor’s Streamlining Affordable Housing Bill on “Market Makers”

Bay Area Council Housing Co-Chair and Regional President of Five Point Holdings Kofi Bonner was featured this week on The Registry’s “Market Makers” to discuss the consolidation of Lennar Urban into Five Point Holdings. Bonner took the opportunity to emphasize the crisis level cost of housing in the Bay Area, highlighting the Council’s advocacy efforts in support of Governor Jerry Brown’s right to build proposal that would fast track approval of affordable housing that meets existing local planning rules. Watch the interview>>

The Governor’s Streamlining Affordable Housing bill would allow cities to give simple administrative approval of housing developments that are consistent with existing local planning, building and zoning regulations and that set aside either 20 percent of new homes for lower-income residents or 10 percent when the development is located close to transit. A top priority, the Council launched a major campaign in support of passing the landmark reforms that would speed approval of new affordable housing statewide. With negotiations on final bill language extended until August 30, the Council is working closely with the Governor’s office and legislative leaders to ensure meaningful legislation passes. To get involved in the Council’s right to build advocacy efforts, please contact Matt Regan.


All Aboard on Caltrain Electrification

The Caltrain Board of Directors drove the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project forward this week by approving $1.25 billion in contracts to begin design and construction of the electrification infrastructure as well as the manufacture of high-performance electric trains. The modernization project will double available capacity in response to skyrocketing ridership growth, serve stations more frequently, and reduce travel time.  It will also restore weekday service to Atherton, drastically reduce diesel noise, pollution, and daily traffic congestion on Highway 101 and local streets, and lay the groundwork for the future high speed rail service.

The Bay Area Council has led the charge to electrify and upgrade Caltrain, which serves one of the country’s most economically productive corridors linking San Francisco and San Jose through Silicon Valley. The contracts are now waiting on the completion of a funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration in order to proceed, and Council will continue to advocate for the necessary funding to keep this project rolling forward.

See Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wundermanand community partners talk about the benefits of Caltrain modernization HERE:

To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, contact Senior Vice President of Public Policy Michael Cunningham.



First-of-its-kind Regional Online Tool Will Connect Educators, Employers

Helping students enter the workforce with the education, skills and training that employers want is the goal of a first-of-its-kind regional online tool that the Bay Area Council is developing under the leadership of its Workforce of the Future Committee chaired by Teresa Briggs of Deloitte and Glenn Shannon of Shorenstein Properties. With seed funding from the California Workforce Development Board as part of the Workforce Accelerator Fund 3.0, the Council has launched development of the tool working with the Bay Area Community Colleges Consortium and the Council’s Economic Institute. The tool will aggregate workforce needs data from employers and provide it directly to educators, including at community colleges and among community-based organizations that provide job training, who can adapt and adjust their curriculum to ensure students are getting the training and education they need. The Council expects to launch the tool in the coming months and believes it can serve as a model for developing similar tools statewide. To engage in the Council’s Workforce of the Future work, contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian at


Council Scores Big Wins this Week in Sacramento

The Council’s two sponsored bills SB 1069 and AB 1755 were both passed by Legislative Committees this week in Sacramento. SB 1069 authored by  Senator Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) will increase the supply of housing by easing the permitting of accessory dwelling units was passed by the Assembly Local Government Committee on Wednesday. This bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 1755 authored by Assemblymember Bill Dodd (Napa) seeks to establish the Open and Transparent Water Data Act to better track and manage our water resources was passed by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on Tuesday. This bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Additionally, the Bay Area Council saw success in the passage of bills that it supports. AB 2664 authored by Assemblywoman Irwin (Thousand Oaks) requires the University of California to expand or accelerate economic development to support innovation and entrepreneurship was passed by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. AB 2763 authored by Assemblymember Mike Gatto (Glendale) expands ride-sharing by providing access to vehicles through leases and rental arrangements for qualified drivers was passed by the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee on Monday.

The Council was also highly effective in its budget advocacy for key policy priorities. With Governor Brown signing the 2016-2017 state budget into law last week, the Council was successful in helping to secure over $100 million for early childhood education, $10 million for precision medicine research and $3 million to fund the Institute for Transportation Studies. To engage in the Council’s Government Relations efforts, please contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke at


Can Megaregion Approach Help Solve Megaproblems?

The Northern California megaregion is one of the largest and fastest-growing in the United States, but the rapid speed and scale at which it is taking shape is creating megaproblems that highlight the urgent need for greater collaboration, investment and planning in the areas of housing, transportation, education and economic development, and goods movement, according to a new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released Thursday (June 30).

Read The Northern California Megaregion: Innovative, Connected, Growing>>

Encompassing the Bay Area, Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys and Monterey Bay Area, the NorCal megaregion is home to a complex network of job centers, neighborhoods and transportation corridors in 21 counties and 164 cities. The many rail, road, labor, goods movement, and innovation connections that currently exist between these once-independent regions provide evidence of a growing integration among them.

At the report launch event, University of the Pacific Provost Maria Pallavicinip provided opening remarks to an audience that included state legislative staff, city managers, and economic development professionals from across the megaregion. UOP provided data and research that helped inform the report. A presentation of report findings was followed by a discussion between Sacramento Area Council of Governments CEO Mike McKeever; Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome; UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor Dr. Dushyant Pathak; and City of Tracy Councilmember Nancy Young. The panelists explored the issues of transportation, housing, and job creation, and agreed that coordinated advocacy from megaregional leaders would provide a first step in securing more funding from state and federal governments.

By examining the economic and demographic changes occurring within the NorCal megaregion, the report offers an alternative vision for rethinking existing political, demographic and economic boundaries in a way that can suggest new solutions for some of our most intractable problems. To learn more about the Northern California Megaregion report, please contact Senior Research Associate Jeff Bellisario at

megaregion report

New Report: As Northern California Megaregion Takes Shape, Megaproblems Intensify

The Northern California megaregion is one of the largest and fastest-growing in the United States, but the rapid speed and scale at which it is taking shape is creating megaproblems that highlight the urgent need for greater collaboration, investment and planning in the areas of housing, transportation, education and economic development, and goods movement, according to a new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today.

Encompassing the Bay Area, Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys and Monterey Bay Area, the NorCal megaregion is home to a complex network of job centers, neighborhoods and transportation corridors in 21 counties and 164 cities. The many rail, road, labor, goods movement, and innovation connections that currently exist between these once-independent regions provide evidence of a growing integration among them.

Read The Northern California Megaregion: Innovative, Connected, Growing>>

The 12.2 million residents that call the megaregion home represent nearly one-third of California’s population, with 1.5 million being added since 2000 and another 1.9 million expected by 2030. And, the megaregion’s 2014 gross regional product of $875 billion was 5 percent of the nation’s GDP and the highest per capita in the country.

“The blurring lines among these four regions means we need to sharpen our focus on megaregional collaboration,” said Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “The Northern California megaregion is like an engine powered by multiple cylinders. You get the most power and the most efficiency when all the cylinders are finely tuned and firing together. Increasing the connections and coordination among the different parts of the megaregion will create an unstoppable economic powerhouse and ensure a high quality of life.”

Home to three of California’s fastest-growing counties, the NorCal megaregion has also been one of the nation’s leading job creators across multiple industries, particularly in technology. Much of the job growth has been concentrated in the Bay Area, where rising demand and an historic housing shortage has resulted in a perfect storm of skyrocketing rents and home prices. Priced out of the Bay Area, growing legions of workers are increasingly seeking less expensive options in distant communities to the east.

As a result, although the megaregion’s workforce increased by 17 percent between 1990 and 2013, the number of commuters crossing “traditional” regional boundaries grew by 78 percent. More than two-thirds of them or nearly 175,000 employees, including from areas immediately outside the megaregion, commute into the Bay Area for work, resulting in clogged freeways and commutes that take hours, contribute to regional air pollution and stymie the state’s efforts to meet aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasing investment in megaregion commuter rail systems like Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins services and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) can create stronger and more efficient transportation connections, expand ridership capacity and reduce pressure on already congested roads and highways, according to the report. Today, the three megaregional rail services serve a combined 3 million passenger trips a year, with Amtrak recently announcing the expansion of its San Joaquin service to address growing ridership.

Improving coordination among passenger and commercial freight rail carriers that share the same tracks can also help expand the capacity for both and support the megaregion’s important trade and goods movement industry. That will be important as projections show that by 2020 the major rail segments in the megaregion will be operating very near capacity.

Better distributing job growth within the megaregion across a range of industries could also hold the answer to nagging housing and transportation problems, the report suggests, while also helping spread greater prosperity.

The Bay Area technology industry has been a chief driver of new jobs in Northern California, fueled largely by the heavy concentration of highly educated workers and a strong network of public and private universities, state and community colleges and research laboratories. Raising education levels throughout the megaregion by increasing investment in state and community colleges and building better connections with employers can make regions outside the Bay Area more attractive for companies looking to start a business or grow. That can also help attract more venture capital investment to inland regions as entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing companies look for less expensive alternatives to the Bay Area, including outside the state.

There’s evidence this is already happening. Since 1990, the Sacramento area has seen the greatest increase of workers on a percentage basis in the high-tech sector of any California region. A thriving innovation and tech sector in the Tri-Valley area is leading to strong connections with bordering San Joaquin County.

“There’s no reason to cede our thriving tech economy to places like Boston, Austin and Seattle when the NorCal megaregion offers plenty of room, connections and opportunity,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We can have our cake and eat it, too, but we need mega-planning to stay ahead and address our housing, transportation and workforce challenges. It means breaking down traditional geographic and other barriers and working together.”

Among the specific recommendations for the megaregion that are included in the report:

  • Make a substantial investment in education outside the Bay Area to spread businesses and workforce talent across a broader geography. Investments in California State University system, the community college network, and apprenticeship programs in inland areas can prepare residents for jobs in growing industries, including technology, health care, business services and logistics.
  • Create economic development structures that cross county lines. Currently, economic development efforts are locally-oriented.  Enhanced information sharing across the megaregion can help companies expand operations in places such as Davis and Sacramento instead of in competitive regions such as Portland or Austin with similar workforce profiles and affordability.
  • Prioritize improved and expanded service of megaregional rails lines. Intra-regional transit systems, particularly passenger rail, need to be expanded to move millions of commuters more efficiently throughout the region. That means supporting expanded service on ACE, San Joaquins and Capitol Corridor routes and prioritizing investment in megaregional rail hubs in Livermore, San Jose, and Oakland in the 2018 California State Rail Plan.
  • Streamline housing approval processes across the megaregion, especially those that are served by transit. Governor Jerry Brown proposes that cities and counties require only “by-right” approval for certain types of housing projects. By-right approval can help to spur housing development across the Northern California megaregion and facilitate higher density building near existing or planned rail stations, giving residents greater choice in where they live and work.
  • Institute a statewide tax credits to incentivize new business development and job creation in inland areas. The package of tax credits issued at the state level, including a venture capital investment tax credits, a geographically targeted R&D tax credit, and a New Markets Tax Credit, would promote the movement of more capital to other parts of the megaregion.

What Others Are Saying

“This report describes a scale of connectedness that reflects the service Capitol Corridor provides today and we need to be ready for tomorrow.”

—Jim Allison, Manager of Planning, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

“This research helps prepare our neighboring regions and local communities to be competitive and maximize economic opportunities with vibrant places, jobs and housing options closer together, and travel options that help us get out of traffic. Collectively, we have a better chance of bringing new jobs and a higher quality of life to our communities.”

 —Mike McKeever, CEO, Sacramento Area Council of Governments

“The report confirms and expands upon our research about the increasingly integrated Megaregion labor market.  The Bay Area Council’s recommendations for Megaregion policy and planning efforts are important and timely.”

—Dr. Jeff Michael, Executive Director, Center for Business and Policy Research, University of the Pacific

“As the communities within the Northern California Megaregion continue to grow, we must meet their needs by striving to offer additional train service throughout the megaregion. Riders need frequent, convenient scheduling options to choose from in order to incorporate train travel into their business or leisure trips.  Increasing the frequency of Amtrak San Joaquins will greatly improve the connectivity between the San Joaquin Valley, the Bay Area, and Sacramento”

—John Pedrozo, Chair of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority; Merced County Supervisor

“There are over 65,000 commuters traveling daily from the Northern San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area – most of which are coming over the Altamont Pass. We are very pleased this study of the Northern California Megaregion highlights the importance of improving and expanding the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service to help meet the growing transportation demands between the Northern San Joaquin Valley, the Tri-Valley, and the Silicon Valley.”

Bob Johnson, Chair of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission; Lodi City Councilmember

“California’s state capital is a big part of the solution. Sacramento is already the #2 choice for people leaving the Bay Area. Sacramento’s costs are 67 percent those of San Francisco. Businesses that relocate to Sacramento have access to a young and educated workforce, enjoy a significant cost savings, and remain within the Megaregion.”

—Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council

“We are in a good place as one of the fastest growing areas in the world, but that good place can collapse under the weight of its own success unless we choose to do something about the inadequate production of housing and the resulting rising unaffordability of housing. This creates transportation systems that are clogged with commuters and employees who have to make long commutes to their jobs diminishing their quality of life. And because of Nimbyism, communities now have no place for the young or middle class. Only through collaboration and embracing the big idea can we solve these problems. The Bay Area Council has always been a catalyst for collaboration and this report and its findings can bring us closer to a solution. But we have to act.”

— Dale Eldridge Kaye, CEO, Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group

“This important study sets the stage for increasing dialogue, planning and defining opportunities to collectively work together to  our mega-regional needs.”

Arthur L. Dao, Alameda CTC Executive Director


Council Cramming for Legislative Finals Ahead of Summer Recess

With the Legislature’s summer recess looming, the Bay Area Council is cramming to get strong grades on its legislative agenda. So far, so good. Key Senate committees this week overwhelmingly approved two bills the Council is supporting. AB 1665 by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (Concord) will help clear the way for Contra Costa County to place a measure on the November ballot to invest in the county’s transportation system. AB 2329, also by Assemblymember Bonilla, will establish a strategic implementation plan for the California Department of Education to expand student access to quality computer science education.

Next week, the Council will be aggressively advocating for the passage of its two sponsored bills: SB 1069 and AB 1755. SB 1069 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) will increase the supply of housing by easing the permitting of accessary dwelling units. AB 1755 by Assemblymember Bill Dodd (Napa) will establish the Open and Transparent Water Data Act to better track and manage our water resources. SB 323 by Senator Ed Hernandez (West Covina) will help reduce healthcare cost for employees and employers by allowing full practice authority for nurse practitioners. The Council is also continuing its advocacy in support of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to fast track approval of affordable housing that meets existing local planning rules. To engage in the Bay Area Council’s Government Relations work, please contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke at