Bay Area Council Blog

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MAJOR TRANSPORTATION FUNDING MEASURE CLEARS CRITICAL HURDLE

After months of the Bay Area Council’s intense advocacy in Sacramento, a bill that could lead to major transportation improvement projects to ease traffic and transit woes throughout the region passed a critical hurdle in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week and heads to the Assembly Floor in a few days. SB 595 (Beall) would authorize Regional Measure 3, a nine-county ballot measure asking voters to decide whether to raise tolls on the state-owned bridges and generate $4.2 billion for critical transit investments and congestion relief projects.

The Bay Area Council has been advocating for a comprehensive expenditure plan that would address the biggest challenges in each county and massively enhance BART, ferry, and bus capacity across the region. We applaud the hard work of the Bay Area legislators for crafting a commendable plan that will make transformative investments throughout the region and provide widespread benefit to residents across the nine-county Bay Area. This is our only shot at significantly adding transit capacity and reducing traffic gridlock in the foreseeable future.

With approval on the Assembly Floor next week, the bill would go back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, and then to the Governor’s desk later this month. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a region-wide vote in June 2018, which the Council plans to take a lead role in organizing. To learn more about Regional Measure 3 and the Council’s transportation work, contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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OVER 80% OF COUNCIL MEMBERS OPPOSE RESCINDING DACA

The Bay Area Council joins with many others nationwide that are expressing serious policy concerns about the Trump Administration’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The depth of those concerns were reflected in a survey issued this week of our members, with the majority of 81% indicating “strong opposition” to the President’s overturning of the Obama-era immigration policy, and 13% in favor. Those Bay Area Council members that supported the overturn often stated that they think this matter should be handled by legislation, not an Executive Order, and therefore hope President Trump “forces the hand of Congress” to pass permanent legislation. They also felt DACA was a way “around legal immigration.” Opponents of the President’s move frequently spoke to America being a nation of immigrants, and that the people left in limbo are ” just the sort of people we need in this country: highly motivated, educated and determined to make their mark in America.”

The Trump Administration will delay implementation for six-months giving Congress a window to develop a legislative fix. A large 88% of members support the passing of permanent legislation that would make the policies expressed in DACA permanent, such as the DREAM Act co-sponsored by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC).

The DACA program was enacted in June 2012 through executive order and provides a level of amnesty to undocumented, law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children through a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit if they are in, or have graduated from, high school. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, approximately 800,000 young people – known as DREAMers – have been approved for the program. Specifically, individuals eligible for DACA must have been under the age of 31 when the program was enacted, entered the U.S. before the age of 16, and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Many DREAMers have lived in the U.S. longer than the country they were born in.

California is home to over 223,000 DREAMers who now live in fear of deportation. A significant number live in the Bay Area, and many work for our members. “The Bay Area and nation have long depended on global talent,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “Though the DREAMers may not have been born in America, they grew up here and became colleagues, students, entrepreneurs, neighbors, friends, parents and more. They are the lifeblood keeping our economy and communities competitive, diverse and thriving. Upending hundreds of thousands of young, innocent lives raised and educated here will have deep social, political and economic impacts.” The Council has long advocated for thoughtful, comprehensive immigration reform and urges Congress to reach a fair, bi-partisan legislative solution. We invite interested members to engage in further strategic discussions around federal action on immigration by contacting Senior Advisor George Broder.

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SUPERVISOR TANG TALKS NEW LOCAL DENSITY PROGRAM FOR MISSING MIDDLE

The missing middle has become an increasing problem in the Bay Area, with affordable housing production aimed at low and very low income residents and market rate production taking care of higher income residents. This week (Sept. 6) San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang spoke with the Bay Area Council Housing Committee about her solution to this, a new program called Home-SF. Home-SF is a new density bonus program focused on increasing housing for middle income families. It is estimated to generate about 5,000 new units of housing for middle income families, helping close the gap for the missing middle in San Francisco.

The Housing Committee also heard from Committee Co-Chair Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners regarding the huge uptick in ADU permits across the state now that Bay Area Council sponsored SB 1069 (Wieckowski) has taken effect. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, among others, have experienced a significant upsurge in ADU permits. In addition, the committee learned about the benefits of modular development from new Bay Area Council member Jason Laub of RAD Urban. Modular manufactured housing can reduce both cost and time of building housing by 20%, making it a key cost reduction strategy for the Bay Area Council. To engage with the Bay Area Council Housing Committee, please contact Senior Vice President of Public Policy Matt Regan.

DEVELOPING STRONG TALENT PIPELINES TO MEET GROWING WORKFORCE DEMANDS

“Casting a wide net” was agreed upon as a top priority by Bay Area Council member participants at the Workforce of the Future Committee’s third Employer Best Practices Workshop this week (Sept. 6) focused on Talent Pipeline Partnerships. Participants agreed that in order to connect with the talent they need to fill their open jobs, expanded outreach and relationship-building with a wide array of training and education partners would be required on their part. Best practices regarding partnership models, internal organization of pipelines, and long-term investment in future workers bubbled up as key takeaway items. Companies across industries, including utilities, transportation, and banking are facing growing needs for diverse, qualified, and loyal workers and must get creative in their workforce planning strategies. To learn more about how the Bay Area Council is supporting this creativity through our various programs such as the Best Practices Workshop series, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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Statement on Charlottesville Tragedy, Bay Area Rallies

The Bay Area Council today (Aug. 17) issued the following statement in response to reported plans by a white nationalist or similar group to hold a rally in San Francisco in the coming days on the heels of the deadly and painful events in Charlottesville, Virginia:

“In the wake of the tragic and awful events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, the Bay Area Council is calling on public safety and other officials in San Francisco and throughout our region to do everything in their power and to take every precaution available to prevent similar violent confrontations here,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “The Bay Area Council condemns in the clearest, strongest terms possible the hatred, bigotry and racist beliefs being promoted by the white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and other hate groups that ignited and fueled the horrific events in Charlottesville.

“As the Charlottesville tragedy aptly demonstrated, with Nazi sympathizers bringing weapons, these “rallies” would be expected to incite a strenuous reaction from the overwhelming majority of Americans who reject these hateful views and believe they deserve no place in our public discourse, politics, business, society or anywhere else,” Wunderman said. “Uncontrolled, these rallies are unpredictable and disruptive, threaten public safety and put the general public in harm’s way, cost considerable taxpayer dollars and often can result in considerable damage to public property, and local businesses.

“Expression of political views must be done without weapons and the intent to physically confront those who hold opposing views, and we call upon local police to make sure that bullies carrying weapons are not a part of political demonstrations of any kind,” Wunderman said. “For anyone planning to attend any such events in the Bay Area, we urge you to exercise extreme caution and even greater restraint.

“Violent white supremacy rallies damage the American brand, and those communities that foment and tolerate this kind of behavior will not fare well in the worldwide competition for jobs and economic growth,” Wunderman said.

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TALKING WORKFORCE, HOUSING & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES WITH ASSEMBLYMEMBER BERMAN

How California and the Bay Area prepare for rapidly changing workforce needs was a major focus of a conversation today (Aug. 11) that the Bay Area Council’s Government Relations Committee convened with Assemblymember Marc Berman. Aligning higher education curriculum with current and future employer needs is critical to ensuring students entering the workforce have the skills and training they need to compete. As Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, Berman is hosting a series of regional meetings with industry, educators and other stakeholders to update the state’s Higher Education Master Plan, originally written in 1960. The Council has committed to work closely with the Select Committee on this important work.  The discussion also covered the region’s transportation and housing challenges and Berman’s focus on advancing autonomous vehicles technology and testing.

Berman comes from Palo Alto and represents the 24th Assembly District which includes Southern San Mateo and northern Santa Clara counties. He serves on several committees that are important the Council’s policy work, including Transportation; Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy; and Privacy and Consumer Protection. He also chairs the Elections and Redistricting Committee. The Government Relations Committee is led by Co-Chairs Andrew Giacomini, Managing Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP and Peter Brightbill, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo and Company. To learn more how your company can engage in the Council’s Government Relations advocacy efforts, please contact Policy Manager Cornelious Burke.

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KEY CHINA PARTNER HONORED AS RISING INNOVATION STAR

A rising star in China’s fast-emerging technology and innovation sector that the Bay Area Council has been partnering with since our entry into the country 10 years ago has earned high praise from the country’s leadership. The Yangpu District of Shanghai has been named one of just three venues for China’s annual Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week conference in September. The Council is helping organize a delegation to participate in a Sino-US Incubator Green Innovation Forum on September 18 as part of the conference, which will be presided over by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Yangpu’s hosting of the conference comes on top of its designation as a “National Pilot Innovation District” in 2010 and an “Entrepreneur and Innovation Model Base” in 2016. The Green Innovation Forum will be attended by Chinese government leaders and local enterprises from Yangpu, Shanghai and the Bay Area, including various incubators and accelerators, and emerging and successful business leaders. To join the Council’s delegation and to learn more about our work to expand economic opportunities in China for Bay Area companies, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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FLYING IN TO CLOSE AVIATION INDUSTRY WORKFORCE GAP

An expected surge in aviation maintenance jobs in the Bay Area in the next few years has industry leaders scrambling to find qualified workers. Employers like Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, FedEx and Southwest are already starting to feel the pinch from a shortage of workers to fill hundreds of middle-skills jobs that are expected to come open in a wide range of aviation-related jobs. In response, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee this week (Aug. 7) convened a group of industry leaders to launch an Aviation Occupational Council focused on identifying the specifics jobs and partnering with Bay Area high schools and community colleges to build awareness about the opportunities in aircraft maintenance and other aviation-related jobs. The Aviation Occupational Council is just one of many similar councils we are forming to help meet demand in fields where there is a shortage of middle-skills workers. To engage in the Council’s Workforce of the Future efforts, and for more information on how to participate in occupational councils for your industry, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

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WORKING TO CAPTURE BIGGER SHARE OF CHINESE INVESTMENT

Chinese investment in the U.S. is booming and the Bay Area Council is working to attract as much as possible to our region. Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States reached $45.6 billion in 2016, triple the amount from 2015. Real estate development is one the biggest segments of Chinese investment, with deal volumes reaching a record high of $19.2 billion in 2016, according to a recent article in Forbes that put the Bay Area as the second largest recipient of incoming funds among major metropolitan areas.

Against that backdrop, the Council on Tuesday (Aug. 8) was honored to welcome executives from Agile Property Holdings Ltd., a leading real estate developer in the Chinese market considering expansion to the Bay Area. The discussion, which included executives from member companies Colliers International, Deloitte, Greenberg Traurig, and Hanson Bridgett, centered on the region’s housing need, market opportunities, and real estate challenges. To learn how the Council facilitates inbound business and investment and to capitalize on like business opportunities, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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BAY AREA WATER SUPPLIES DEPENDENT ON HEALTHY FORESTS

The impact of a century of fire suppression policies in the Sierra Nevada could have major implications for Bay Area water supplies, and the Bay Area Council is engaging with state water and forest managers to better understand what’s at stake and how best to address the challenge. The Council recently joined a tour of the Plumas National Forest organized by the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research to examine how fire suppression policies have reduced state water supplies and wreaked havoc on natural ecosystems. The Bay Area gets about half of its fresh water from watersheds in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

For centuries, native Californians managed large portions of Sierra Nevada forests with low-intensity fires that promoted biodiversity and reduced the risk of explosive wildfires. In response to heavy logging following the Gold Rush, aggressive forest conservation efforts focused on bolstering fire suppression to protect trees, timber production, and property. As a result, much of the Sierra Nevada is wildly overgrown. Increased snowfall that is captured in dense tree canopies evaporates before it reaches the ground, causing a big drop in water runoff that would otherwise fill rivers, streams and reservoirs. Hydrologists estimate that forest thinning, through a combination of precision logging and reintroduction of low-intensity fire management, could yield hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of additional water flows. The Council will continue to work with stakeholders to develop solutions for improving the health of California’s upper watersheds. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.