Bay Area Council Blog

housing

BACPoll: Housing Frustration Spikes

Frustration over the Bay Area’s housing crisis intensified over the past year as the number of voters in the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll who say it’s gotten much harder to find a place to live spiked. The poll found 53 percent saying it’s gotten much harder to find housing compared to 36 percent last year, while the overall number of voters who say it’s gotten much harder or somewhat harder jumped from 64 percent to 76 percent.

housing

That certainly explains why Bay Area voters most frequently mentioned the region’s housing shortage and affordability crisis as its biggest problem and why, along with the high cost of living and epic traffic congestion, 46 percent say they are likely to leave in the next few years for presumably less expensive cities outside the region and outside the state, including Texas, Oregon and Nevada.

“Forcing people to leave the Bay Area is not the solution to our housing crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We have one of the world’s most envied economies and near full employment, but that won’t last unless we provide the housing our region so badly needs. Every housing unit we fail to build in the Bay Area is a brick in a big wall around the Bay Area.”

Voters share similar concerns, with 75 percent saying the housing shortage threatens to undermine a Bay Area economy that has led the nation in creating jobs. Overall support for building more housing is strong.

Almost 30 percent—up slightly from 2017—of Bay Area homeowners said they would consider adding an accessory dwelling unit (ADU)—aka granny or in-law unit. Legislation authored by Sen. Bob Wieckowski that the Bay Area Council sponsored two years ago to ease local restrictions on ADUs has spurred a statewide surge in applications and the Council is sponsoring another Wieckowski bill this year (SB 831) that would remove even more barriers. Translating homeowners’ intentions into reality would create an estimated 450,000 units of new housing in a region with an estimated 1.5 million detached, single family homes.

Voters also expressed overwhelming 73 percent support for policies that make building more housing near transit and commercial areas easier. That support, however, didn’t translate into passage of legislation (SB 827) authored this year by San Francisco Senator Scott Wiener and supported by the Bay Area Council that would have made it easier to do exactly that. The bill drew strong resistance from local government and some environmental and social equity groups, but is expected to return next year.

housing transit

Support for building housing in and around existing residential neighborhoods is also strong, but has largely stagnated in recent years. The poll found that 59 percent of voters support more housing near them, but the figure dipped slightly from 62 percent in 2017 and remains largely unchanged from 2014.

Newer residents are more supportive of housing than those who have lived it the Bay Area the longest. Among residents who have lived in the region 10 years or less, the poll found that 73 percent say they’d like to see more housing while 52 percent of those who have lived in the Bay Area for 20 years or more say they would support more housing in their neighborhood.

For those who don’t flee, the housing shortage comes with financial impacts. While a little over half of voters say they are spending up to 35 percent of their income to keep a roof over their head, one third are spending 40 percent and more. Renters are among the hardest hit financially by the region’s stratospheric housing costs, with 40 percent spending 40 percent or more of their income on housing compared with 26 percent of homeowners.

housing income

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

pay end traffic

BACPoll: Voters Say They’d Pay to End Awful Traffic

Bay Area voters are so frustrated with the region’s horrific traffic that they are willing to dig deep—really deep—into their pockets to solve the problem, according to 2018 Bay Area Council Poll released today (June 4).

The poll found that 42 percent of voters would pay from $3 up to $11 a day to eliminate traffic completely from their daily commute. With an estimated 3.4 million automobile and mass transit commuters in the region and 261 business days in the year, that hypothetically would translate into between $10.2 million and $37.4 million a day or up to $9.76 billion a year to do away with gridlock.

“Traffic is taking a huge toll on our quality of life, our economy, our environment, and voters are fed up,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Voters want solutions and they are willing to pay for it, to get back valuable time to spend with their families, in their careers and doing other activities that is being stolen from them as they sit in stop-and-go congestion.”

pay end traffic

See the results>>

Some voters were willing to pay even more. The poll found 9 percent of voters would pay from $11 up to $21 a day to do away with traffic and another 4 percent said they’d fork over from $21 up to $51 for clear sailing on the Bay Area’s roads and highways.

Of course, voters also wouldn’t mind getting paid to help solve the problem, according to the Bay Area Council Poll. Asked how much it would take for them to give up their car and join a carpool, the poll found 44 percent of drivers who commute alone would give it up for carpooling if the price is right. And that price appears to be about $5, with the poll finding that 55 percent of all commuters say they would switch to carpooling for a little more than the cost of a couple gallons of gas.

It’s little wonder voters are willing to open their wallets. The poll found 64 percent of voters say getting around the Bay Area has gotten more difficult over the past year. That’s up from 25 percent in 2014. Voters also mentioned the Bay Area’s notoriously bad traffic as the region’s second biggest problem behind high housing costs.

While Bay Area voters may be willing to pay to end traffic, they were also very clear on who they think is most responsible for fixing the region’s transportation travails. The poll found that 66 percent say government agencies bear primary responsibility for improving traffic and transportation.

Negative views about the worsening commute were generally consistent across county lines, although San Francisco saw a considerable spike in voters who say the city’s traffic is making it harder and harder to get around. The percentage of voters who said San Francisco’s traffic is getting worse jumped from 47 percent in 2017 to 61 percent in 2018, the biggest increase among the region’s nine counties.

The region’s congested roadways and public transit systems are also taking a big bite out of commuters’ time. According to the Bay Area Council Poll, 50 percent of voters say their daily commute to and from work consumes from one to two hours, with one third of voters saying their two-way commute sucks 90 minutes out of their day. Contra Costa County voters spend more time than others stuck in traffic, reporting that their daily commute can stretch to 48 minutes each way.

“Our freeways are packed on a regular basis, not just at commute times. The overflow into our communities during commute periods have (sic) impacted local residents from moving around in their own communities,” said one poll respondent.

The poll results will be tested on June 5, when voters will decide on Regional Measure 3. RM3 will appear on ballots in nine Bay Area counties and asks voters to approve a plan for investing $4.5 billion on a variety of projects to ease traffic and improve mass transit. The projects would be paid for by a $3 toll increase phased in over six years on seven of the region’s state-owned bridges. The Bay Area Council is helping lead the campaign with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and SPUR to pass RM3 and advocated for the state legislation that authorized putting it on the ballot.

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

leaving

BACPoll: More People Looking to Leave Bay Area as Housing, Traffic Problems Mount

Growing pessimism among voters about the overall direction the Bay Area is heading has more and more people thinking about heading for the doors. Bay Area Council Poll results released today (June 3) found that 46 percent of voters are ready to leave in the next few years, up from 40 percent last year and 34 percent in 2016.

And once again, millennials are leading the charge for the doors with 52 percent saying they will be seeking greener pastures in the next few years, up from 46 percent in 2017. Renters, people without college degrees and those spending 50 percent and more of their income on housing also want out.

leaving

Where They’re Headed

Where people are headed drew a range of destinations. Of 461 voters who said they plan to leave, the poll found 24 percent plan to move elsewhere in California while 61 percent said they would look outside the Golden State. Texas was a popular destination, according to the poll, with 10 percent saying they would mosey on down to the Lone Star State.

Oregon, Nevada and Arizona also can expect to see a bump in former Bay Area residents in the next few years, the poll found. Another 6 percent said they would go just about anywhere that was more affordable and has lower taxes.

“These results are tough to report, but we can’t let this growing pessimism become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “There’s still time to get a handle on our housing and transportation problems, but it will require strong leadership and partnership across the region to do it combined with bold thinking and decisive action. We can’t wait until our economy tanks to fix these problems and letting our economy tank is not a solution.”

Housing, Traffic, Homelessness Top Issues

The Bay Area’s stratospheric housing costs, overall high cost of living and bumper-to-bumper traffic are the main culprits behind the region’s worsening grumpiness. The housing crisis topped the list of most nettlesome issues for the fourth straight year, according to the Bay Area Council Poll, with 42 percent mentioning it in an open-ended question as the region’s leading problem. Traffic was the second most-mentioned problem. Homelessness followed closely behind. Fewer mentioned concerns over development, over population and gentrification.

Read the poll results>>

Who’s Responsible for Fixing the Problems?

Bay Area voters are clear on who they think is most responsible for fixing the region’s housing and transportation travails. The poll found that 56 percent of voters think cities, counties and other public agencies are most responsible for making housing more affordable while an even bigger 66 percent say government agencies bear primary responsibility for improving traffic and transportation.

And while much blame has been heaped on the booming tech industry for the region’s problems, the poll found that just 19 percent of voters think it is the responsibility of tech companies to solve the housing affordability problem while 18 percent said it’s the job of tech employers to fix the region’s worsening traffic.

Economic Outlook on Sharp Descent

While Bay Area voters continue to be mostly optimistic about the regional economy, their outlook has dimmed dramatically over the past four years. Just 25 percent of voters surveyed say the Bay Area is headed in the right direction, a precipitous drop from just four years ago when 57 percent held a favorable outlook for the region. That pessimism is also creeping into voters’ attitudes about the Bay Area’s seemingly invincible economy, even as unemployment reaches record lows.

In 2014, 50 percent of voters surveyed in the Bay Area Council Poll expected the economy to improve. In 2018, that figure has plunged to just 25 percent. Just as troubling, the poll found 47 percent of voters expect a significant economic downturn sometime in the next three years.

econ outlook

Voters’ view of their own financial outlook has also slipped. Since 2016, the poll found a considerable narrowing between the number of voters who see happy days ahead for themselves and those who expect to things to get worse financially. Echoing concerns about the region’s soaring cost of living, those with lower incomes harbor the greatest pessimism about how they are doing financially.

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

Housing-Burden-2016-332x266

Study: 20 Strategies for Improving (or Worsening) Housing Crisis

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute today (May 29) released a study showing how 20 different strategies – from fast tracking mega projects to eliminating certain parking requirements – can help improve (or worsen) housing affordability for thousands of households in Alameda County.

Although Alameda County has added 125,000 jobs since 2012, the number of new housing units permitted over that period has totaled just 27,505. The lack of supply has pushed home prices and rents steadily upward, with the median home price now standing at $800,000 and average rents near $2,500.

The housing shortage and upward pressure on prices that has resulted means 40 percent of Alameda County households – or almost 224,000 households – are considered housing cost burdened. That means they are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. The problem is even more severe for the county’s lower and middle income households, with those making $75,000 or less annually comprising 76 percent of the households defined as housing cost burdened.

The study analyzed how the addition of thousands of new housing units in transit-rich areas and the completion of large housing developments in several cities can boost supply and put downward pressure on prices and rents. For example, a plan to add 4,000 housing units in Fremont near the Warm Springs BART station can improve affordability for 2,821 households.

Read Solving the Housing Affordability Crisis>>

Strengthening requirements on cities to meet their housing obligations would improve affordability for more than 7,000 households. Collectively, cities across Alameda County permitted just 44 percent of the housing units they were required to approve. Legislation (SB 828, Wiener) that the Bay Area Council supports would bolster the requirements on cities to keep pace with housing demand.

While many of the strategies the study examined involved building new housing, some looked at how certain policies can worsen housing affordability. Expanding rent control to cities across Alameda County would worsen housing affordability for 10,353 households, the study found, largely by discouraging investment in new housing construction.

The study also looked at a number of novel approaches. Reducing parking requirements in Oakland by 10 percent across the city can improve housing affordability for 1,339 households. Maximizing the number of accessory dwelling units, also known as granny or in-law units, in Berkeley under statewide legislation approved in 2016 to streamline approvals of these units would reduce the housing cost burden for 604 households.

An earlier report by the Economic Institute looked at how similar strategies change affordability in San Francisco. Read the San Francisco housing affordability study>>

vote

Bay Area Council Poll: Newsom Holds Strong Lead in Governor’s Race

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom holds a firm lead among Bay Area voters in the June primary to become California’s next Governor, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, with two Republicans locked in a tie to advance to the November general election.

More than a third of Bay Area voters are still undecided about their choice for California’s next governor, according to the 2018 Bay Area Council Poll. With absentee ballots starting to arrive in mailboxes, 36 percent of Bay Area voters say they don’t know who among seven candidates should replace Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento. There’s a little more certainty among just those voters who are most likely to cast ballots in June—based on their past voting history—with 26 percent saying they are undecided.

Voters who have made up their mind overwhelmingly pick Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, with 31 percent of voters putting the former San Francisco mayor at the top of their ballots. The next highest finishers might be a surprise in the deep blue Bay Area. Republicans Travis Allen and John Cox each tallied 7 percent, followed by Democrats Delaine Eastin at 5 percent, Antonio Villaraigosa and John Chiang at 4 percent each and last-minute Democratic entry Amanda Renteria at 2 percent. 5 percent chose ‘someone else’.

Among likely June voters, Newsom’s support increases to 39 percent, with Allen and Cox each capturing 9 percent, Chiang getting 5 percent, Eastin and Villaraigosa each logging 4 percent and Renteria gathering less than 1 percent.

The results come as the election enters a critical stage as absentee ballots have been mailed and the candidates are pushing to get their message out to voters.

“It’s not over until it’s over, and Bay Area voters, while definitely showing strong support for Lt. Governor Newsom, still harbor a lot of uncertainty about this race,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council.

See the poll results for the Governor’s race>>

Women and younger voters are the most undecided. The Bay Area Council Poll found 43 percent of women don’t know who will get their vote, while 28 percent of men aren’t sure who to pick. For those that have decided, Newsom again is the clear favorite with 34 percent of men and 28 percent of women casting their ballot for him. Among men that have decided, 10 percent say they’ll vote for Cox and 9 percent for Allen. Next in line for women, however, is Eastin with 8 percent saying they’ll vote for the former state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Young women, in particular, are unsure about who to cast their vote for. The poll found 50 percent of Bay Area women aged 18-49 are undecided on who should lead California, with just 22 percent saying they back Newsom for the job. Women aged 50-64 back Newsom by 30 percent while women 65 years and older back the Lt. Governor by 42 percent.

Clear generational differences, regardless of gender, also emerged in the results, with older voters showing greater support for Newsom. The poll found that 44 percent of voters aged 18-49 remain undecided, with 26 percent backing Newsom. Second place is a statistical toss up among this age group, with none of the other candidates getting more than 7 percent of votes. Among voters aged 50-64, 33 percent put Newsom at the top of their ballot and among those 65 and older Newsom grabs 38 percent.

Silicon Valley voters registered the lowest level of support at 22 percent for Newsom among the Bay Area’s different subregions. The Bay Area Council Poll found 39 percent support Newsom in the town where he served as mayor and 40 percent support him in the North Bay where Newsom resides. The only other candidate to break double digit support in any county was Travis Allen, getting the nod from 12 percent of Contra Costa County voters.

The 2018 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 20 through April 3, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce.

THE COCA-COLA FOUNDATION TO HELP BAY AREA YOUTH “TASTE THE FEELING”

The Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Initiative received a big boost of support from the Coca-Cola Foundation with a year-long grant to advance the Council’s inclusive economy work with regional community-based organizations and employers to train and upskill youth of color. Despite booming economic growth in the Bay Area, certain communities, such as youth of color, have not been able to tap into this prosperity. This grant will address these disparities by further engaging youth of color in workforce development programs, beginning this week at SFO International Airport’s “Working at SFO: A Day of Career Exploration” on May 16th where over 400 students, parents, teachers, and trainers will learn and interview for aviation industry jobs. The Council is thrilled to be working with the Coca-Cola Foundation and its local North America Group to help give local youth opportunities to work with our member companies. For employers who want to participate in this effort, please contact Senior Vice President of Public Policy Linda Bidrossian to get involved.

RM3_TBW_Logo_RGB_web

VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN FOR REGIONAL MEASURE 3

Absentee ballots began arriving this week in Bay Area mailboxes ahead of the June election and the Bay Area Council is urging early voters to support Regional Measure 3 to invest $4.5 billion to ease traffic and improve mass transit systems around the region. The Council is partnering with the Silicon Valley Leadership and SPUR on a multi-million dollar campaign that is ramping up now to spread the word about this important measure targeting the region’s horrific traffic and overburdened mass transit system. The Council was also instrumental in passing the legislation by state Sen. Jim Beall Jr. that authorized the RM3 vote. An estimated 75 percent of the money will go to public transit, replacing and expanding the aging BART fleet and extending BART to San Jose and Santa Clara, a fleet of ferries, electrifying and modernizing Caltrain and extending the SMART train in the North Bay. Another big chunk will go to unclogging some of the region’s worst traffic chokepoints at key highway interchanges in Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, and completing the widening of Highway 101 between Marin and Sonoma counties. The funding would come from a $3 toll increase on seven state-owned bridges that would be phased in over six years with $1 increases in 2019, 2022 and 2025. Learn more about RM3>>

BAC_logo_EconomicInstitute_RGB600

New Study Will Explore Opportunities for Expanding, Deepening Bay Area, Fresno, Central Valley Megaregion Connections

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Central Valley Community Foundation today announced the launch of an in-depth study to examine Fresno’s important role in the fast-emerging Northern California megaregion and how the arrival of high speed rail over the next decade will dramatically accelerate economic connections between Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area and the state’s fifth largest city.

High speed rail is expected to shrink the time it takes to travel between the Bay Area and the Central Valley from more than three hours to less than one hour when it is scheduled to begin service in 2025 between Fresno and San Jose. That has huge implications for housing, transportation and workforce development across the megaregion and promises to bring exciting new economic opportunities to Fresno and other parts of the Central Valley. “Fresno and the broader Central Valley are key players in developing a broader megaregion strategy,” said Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “As county and other regional boundaries blur with the emergence of the megaregion, it’s imperative that we get a handle on what that future looks like and the infrastructure we’ll need to put in place to support it. We can act now to address these issues or confront chaos later. The Central Valley Community Foundation is an important and indispensable partner in making that happen.”

The study will focus in particular on strategies Fresno and other Central Valley cities can pursue to leverage high speed rail and other economic and demographic changes within the megaregion to boost their own economic prospects. While the 10 percent economic growth that Fresno has enjoyed since 2011 matches the national average, it has lagged cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles where the rate has reached 26 percent and 16 percent, respectively. Expanding the Central Valley’s participation in the megaregion economy, attracting new business and elevating its workforce to meet the needs of employers will also be a focus of the study.

“Improved economic and infrastructure connections between the Silicon Valley/Bay Area and the Central Valley is good, not just for our regions, but for the entire state,” said Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation. “We are pleased to launch this work with the Bay Area Council and to explore meaningful ways to create new economic opportunities for Central Valley residents, businesses and communities and relieve pressure on the congested Bay Area.”

Swearingen kicked off the project on Friday, April 24 at a meeting in Fresno to identify the issues that would be addressed. The study is part of a much broader, long-term effort the Bay Area Council is leading to bring together top business, government and other civic leaders from the Bay Area, Central Valley, Sacramento and Monterey regions to develop a unified, integrated vision for guiding future planning for the megaregion around such issues as housing, transportation and workforce development.

Driving the Council’s intense focus on the megaregion is the Bay Area’s meteoric economic growth over the past decade combined with an historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. In search of more affordable housing, record numbers of Bay Area workers are being forced into longer and longer commutes from the Central Valley and Sacramento that are putting increasing pressure on an already overburdened and congested transportation system. At the same time, the Central Valley is eager to accelerate economic development opportunities that the megaregion offers and prepare its workforce.

The study with the Central Valley Community Foundation and support from Wells Fargo, UC Merced, Fresno State University, City of Fresno, and Lance Kashian & Co., is one of several activities the Council is leading to bring greater attention to megaregion planning. The Council is also working closely with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council on megaregion issues, including investing in better rail connections along the I-80 corridor and promoting the capitol city as a destination for businesses looking to start and expand outside the Bay Area.

The Council will be convening a series of meetings in 2018 to begin a dialogue with government, business, nonprofit and academic leaders on the future of the megaregion.

 

# # #

 

About the Bay Area Council Economic Institute

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. The Economic Institute produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives. Learn more at www.bayareaeconomy.org.

 

About the Central Valley Community Foundation

Central Valley Community Foundation has been a trusted partner in philanthropy in the Central Valley for more than 50 years. Our mission is to cultivate smart philanthropy, lead, and invest in solutions that build stronger communities. Learn more at www.centralvalleycf.org.

 

About the Bay Area Council

The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here. Founded in 1945, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the voice of Bay Area business. Today, more than 300 of the largest employers in the region support the Bay Area Council and offer their CEO or top executive as a member. Our members employ more than 4.43 million workers and have revenues of $1.94 trillion, worldwide. Learn more at www.bayareacouncil.org.

connections

New Report: Early Childhood Care and Education Key to Advancing Gender Equity in the Workplace

Workplace cultures that promote and even reward crazy long hours are doing more than causing baggy, blood-shot eyes and caffeine addictions. They’re also seriously undermining efforts to improve gender equity. That is among the findings of a new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today (April 24) examining how long hours, inflexible scheduling, lack of access to quality early childhood education and childcare and other seemingly innocuous workplace practices can create an environment where women have less opportunity to advance and succeed. The report comes as the #MeToo and TIME’s Up movements are sparking a powerful national debate on gender equity and how both new and old workplace practices may be enabling a culture of inequity.

The report, in particular, explores how workplace policies and practices are often adopted piecemeal and in isolation from each other and how this fragmentation misses the crucial insight that gender equity, family-friendly policies, and early childhood care and education are intertwined. Employers who care about gender equity in the workplace, according to the report, need to understand the importance of high-quality childcare and early childhood education programs in the communities in which their businesses are based. Policymakers who care about providing universal early childhood care and education because of their impacts on child development and learning must also care about paid parental leave and other family-friendly workplace policies.

“We can’t begin to tackle unconscious bias, help women climb the corporate ladder, or close the pay gap until we develop policies and benefits that enable working women—and men—to reconcile the pervasive work-family conundrum” says Dr. Micah Weinberg, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. “Long gone are the 1960s where only 20 percent of mothers worked outside the home and the American family included a male breadwinner and a stay-at-home mother. This anachronistic model no longer fits today’s economy and modern workforce where 70.5 percent of U.S. mothers with children under the age of 18 are participating in the labor force.”

Read Workplace Connections: Gender Equity, Family-Friendly Policies, and Early Childhood Care and Education>>

The report is the focus of a conference on Tuesday, April 24 hosted by Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Oakland that will bring together leaders from the business, public policy, early education and healthcare communities to discuss strategies to help employers better connect various workplace policies and practices around gender equity, early education and childcare. A separate report by the Rand Corporation will also be presented that looks at how investing early education can pay huge economic dividends.

The cost of not adopting a well-integrated set of gender equity, family-friendly and early education workplace practices and policies is considerable, for employers, for women, for men and families, according to the report. An alarming gender gap in median annual earnings of 19.5 percent continues, with inequalities becoming even more acute for mothers in the workforce. New mothers in their prime career-building years between the ages of 25 and 35 will experience the most significant earnings shock. The analysis shows that mothers are still assuming twice as much unpaid caregiving and household work than their male counterparts, causing stalled careers and lack of opportunity to advance in leadership positions.

The report offers a robust set of recommendations for addressing not only the lack of specific workplace policies and practices around gender equity and families and their connections to each other.

Modernizing employer work models that integrate family-friendly policies is critical to advancing gender equity in the workplace. Generous paid parental leave, more flexible work time, telecommuting, and providing access to affordable early childhood care and education are critical to working families and supporting mothers in the labor force. Important early childhood care and education strategies for employers outlined in the report include on-site childcare, subsidizing employee childcare expenses, providing referral resources, partnerships with neighboring businesses and more.

What Stakeholders Are Saying:

“Currently, the burden of paying for quality early childhood care and education falls squarely on the shoulders of parents and particularly women who are sometimes forced to leave the workforce because they can’t afford quality care.  Increased public and private sector investments in this area will not only help businesses retain qualified talent, they’ll be helping to foster tomorrow’s workforce, since quality interactions between teachers and young children are linked to increased acquisition of social and cognitive skills.”

Patricia Lozano, Executive Director, Early Edge California

“When we think about now people are perceived for taking advantage of the policies that we have, it really is a question of how normal is it. Do you become the outlier when you decide to take the full eight weeks parental leave as a male employee who didn’t give birth to the child? Or are you seen as somebody who’s leading the charge to role model the types of behaviors that leadership said they wanted to have at the firm? And I think that starts with leadership not just endorsing the policies, but taking advantage of it themselves, but also recognizing that when employees do that, it actually is a commitment to the type of employee that the firm wants. It’s not an outlier that shows lack of commitment.”

Keith Bevans, Partner, Chicago Global Head of Consultant Recruiting, Bain & Company

“We actually give moms and dads both 12 weeks of paid parental leave. We do believe that the father has a huge role to play in the child’s life, and we don’t want them to feel different than the mom. So we give them both that baby bonding time, and we’re seeing more and more dads take advantage of it. We also want moms to ease back into the workforce, and so we give them an additional 4 weeks of part-time so that they can get used to the new childcare arrangement that they have and feel comfortable leaving their baby.”

Nina McQueen, Vice President – Employee Experience & Global Benefits, LinkedIn

“We believe that it’s an employer’s responsibility in these times to put forward family-friendly policies that provide flexibility, that encourage men as well as women to become caregivers, and to allow people to work remotely at times if that works for the organization. So that with those kinds of policies in place, we’ll truly see women be able to do all the things that men have historically been able to do when it comes to making commitments to their companies and organizations.”

Jim Wunderman, President & CEO, Bay Area Council

portland-ADU-1

GOOD NEWS, NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS ON HOUSING

It was a good news, bad news week in the Bay Area Council’s continuing fight to loosen the grip of the state’s historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. Legislation (SB 831) the Council is sponsoring to eliminate many of the fees that represent a financial obstacle to building accessory dwelling units (ADU), aka granny units, cleared a key Senate committee this week. The bill by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (Fremont) builds on reform legislation the Council sponsored in 2015 that has unleashed a statewide surge in ADUs. Fees and other regulatory barriers can add many tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of building an ADU. The Council estimates that making it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to build ADUs could result in the addition of well over 150,000 affordable housing units in the Bay Area alone.

Not all the news was positive, however. Legislation by Sen. Scott Wiener (San Francisco) that the Council was backing was defeated in committee after building trades, social equity and city government groups loudly opposed it. SB 827 stoked a statewide debate and gained national attention for its bold approach to promoting transit-oriented housing development. The bill would have allowed more home building near transit-rich areas like BART and Caltrain, but opponents feared it would lead to displacement of existing residents and weakened local control over housing decisions. The Council is looking forward to working with Sen. Wiener to bring the legislation back next year and we applaud his leadership in addressing a crisis that is hurting millions of Californians and threatening to harm the state’s economy.

Coming up, the Council will be returning to the state capitol next Tuesday to advocate for legislation (SB 1277) by Sen. Nancy Skinner (Oakland) that we are sponsoring that would address a huge statewide shortage of student housing. An estimated 762,585 California college students experience housing insecurity or homelessness. SB 1227 would authorize 35 percent more units in student housing developments that meet a variety of affordability requirements and exempt them from costly parking requirements. To join our coalition in support or SB 1227 and engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.