Bay Area Council Blog

BART housing

Council-Backed BART Housing Bill Clears Senate

Legislation the Bay Area Council is supporting that would usher in tens of thousands of new housing units near BART stations passed the Senate this week and appears headed for approval in the Assembly. Authored by Assembly members David Chiu (San Francisco) and Tim Grayson (Concord), the bill is a high priority for the Council, which is focused on expanding new housing near mass transit to provide commuters and others with an alternative to steering their automobiles onto the region’s already congested roads and highways. The bill, which San Francisco BART Director Nick Josefowitz has championed, now heads to the Assembly, where it is expected to get quick approval before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

Specifically, the bill would require the elected BART Board of Directors to establish guidelines for transit-oriented development for BART-owned land at or around BART stations. Cities would then update their local zoning to be consistent with these standards while retaining control over community design standards and final permitting authority. Meanwhile, the Assembly on Monday (Aug. 27) is scheduled to vote on legislation (SB 1227-Skinner) the Council is sponsoring to expand student housing.


Pushing Back on Business, Jobs Taxes

A number of Bay Area cities are teeing up new taxes on the November ballot aimed at jobs and business that will hurt the region’s economic competitiveness and make it vulnerable when the next recession rolls around. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined KQED Forum this morning (Aug. 24) to talk about why specialized, local taxes are the wrong answer for addressing problems like housing, traffic and homelessness whose scale and complexity require regional solutions. Taxing jobs will only discourage new investment in the Bay Area, drive companies to look elsewhere when they are expanding and make it far more difficult for the region to recover when the economy inevitably takes a turn for the worst. Wunderman also argued that none of the proposed taxes come with reforms aimed at regulatory barriers and other obstacles that often drive up the cost of addressing problems.

Listen to the KQED Forum discussion on jobs taxes>>



Member Spotlight: UC Merced Celebrates Completion of First Phase of ‘2020 Project’

The University of California, Merced — the newest campus in the 10-school University of California system — last week unveiled the first three structures arising from its unprecedented expansion effort, the Merced 2020 Project. The $1.3 billion plan, once completed, will add a total of 13 buildings and 1.2 million gross square feet of teaching, research, residential, and student-support facilities to accommodate up to 10,000 students.

The centerpiece of the project, and the site of last week’s unveiling, is the Pavilion – an iconic 600-seat dining facility overlooking Little Lake. The Pavilion is complemented by two new residence halls that have been strategically designed to form a pedestrian-friendly corridor that blends housing with classrooms, study lounges, and student activities.

“The capacity we are building right now will enable our future,” said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland, a member of the Bay Area Council’s Board of Directors. “We will provide world-class education to more of the best and brightest students from California and beyond. We will grow our faculty thoughtfully and strategically to have the greatest possible impact in our areas of research excellence. We will become a powerhouse of innovation and transformation for the San Joaquin Valley.”

UC Merced is leveraging the power of public private partnerships (P3) to realize its Merced 2020 vision, and the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute has provided ongoing research that has served as foundation for the university’s P3 approach.

The UC Merced campus first opened its doors in 2005 to a class of 875 students. Designed as a gateway to a world-class University of California education in a region that has long been underserved, UC Merced is now the fastest-growing public university in the nation, and boasts a student population of nearly 8,000. The university excels in cognitive science, unmanned aircraft research and biological engineering studies, and its proximity to Yosemite National Park provides opportunities for student leadership development and environmental research. It remains the only campus to host a research station in the park.

“We believe in the power of education to change lives and change the world for the better,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “There is no better example of that than UC Merced, and this step marks a new chapter in the expansion of that opportunity.”

Developed by Plenary Properties Merced and constructed by Webcor Builders — comprising a world-class team of architects, planners, engineers, and construction professionals — the 2020 Project is the largest public-private partnership of its kind in the U.S. higher education sector. Earlier this month, the project was featured prominently in the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s report, “Public-Private Partnerships in California.”

“We are well on our way to meeting our delivery and sustainability goals for the UC Merced 2020 Project, and this milestone marks a tremendous occasion for the university and our PPM team,” said Dale Bonner, Executive Chairman of Plenary Concessions. “We are incredibly proud to see this project setting the standard for P3 partnerships in the higher education sector.”

In keeping with UC Merced’s ambitious sustainability objectives, each building will achieve at least LEED Gold certification for energy efficiency. This groundbreaking undertaking serves as a model for expanding public research universities to meet 21st-century challenges, and is the first — and, to date, only — $1 billion social infrastructure public-private partnership project in the U.S.

The unique partnership has garnered numerous awards and recognition from across the country, including being named Social Infrastructure Project of the year at last year’s P3 Awards. The agreement provides UC Merced with contractual assurance that the buildings will be well-maintained for decades. With 600 employees on site every day, the project is expected to generate a total of $1.9 billion in regional economic impact and $2.4 billion in statewide impact through its completion.

“This momentous milestone for UC Merced brings to light the unwavering efforts of the design-build team and the success and innovation a true P3 partnership can bring,” Webcor President and CEO Jes Pedersen said. “This project is also a great example of how Webcor seeks to improve communities and local economies. We’ve made it our mission to utilize the regional subcontracting community, provide education and on-the-job training for UC Merced students, and assist local nonprofits with various projects and support throughout the region.”


JP Morgan Chase Grant Fuels Innovative Workforce Program

JPMorgan Chase & Co. continues its commitment to the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future program with a $100,000 grant. These funds will help accelerate programs already underway through our Occupational Councils and our Inclusive Economy work, which is focused on serving under-represented populations in the Bay Area. In addition, the funds will drive regional collaboration with workforce stakeholders across California, leveraging best practices from different regions to maximize results at large scale.

Corporate philanthropy dollars are the engine for workforce programs run by the Council and other non-governmental organizations serving under-represented populations. JPMorgan Chase & Co. funding over the years has supported the growth of the Occupational Councils in aviation, healthcare, and construction.  These employer-driven programs are systematically removing barriers to entry for our local diverse talent.  Curated career fairs, targeting youth of color, veterans, emigrants and refugees, through the Inclusive Economy work where the Council leverages the expertise of talent training partners Work2Future, Swords to Plowshares and Upwardly Global. The regional efforts have already started with partnerships across the megaregion and Southern California. To participate and benefit from the Workforce of the Future programs, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.

42 silicon valley

Partner Spotlight: 42 Silicon Valley

The Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future Committee is always looking for organizations to partner with that are committed to expanding access to education and career opportunities for local talent. One such example is 42 Silicon Valley. With a campus in Fremont, 42 Silicon Valley is a software engineering school that offers a revolutionary way of approaching education. The Bay Area Council is developing a partnership with 42 Silicon Valley that will help create a pipeline of talent for meeting the needs of our member companies in a range of technical, coding and software positions.

The demand for people with tech skills is on the rise and our educational system is struggling to keep pace with changing technology and industry demands. ​Recently, the school received a WISE Award that recognizes projects for innovative solutions to urgent education challenges. 42’s tuition-free, peer-to-peer learning structure and project-based curriculum is based on new access to knowledge, the future of the workplace and today’s digital world.

Just this month, 42 and Council member the SF 49ers partnered on a free-of-charge, innovative high school summer camp for experienced and beginning coders that gave students an opportunity to learn valuable coding skills with a focus on data science and sports.

Learn more about 42 Silicon Valley>>


Council Partners on Leading Tech Industry Conference

The Bay Area Council is partnering with TechCrunch on its biggest, most-anticipated event of the year. Disrupt SF 2018 will be held September 5-7 in San Francisco and you can expect the content on the main stage to represent emerging trends in the business of technology and bring the headlines of to life. Featured speakers include Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman, among others. See the lineup>>

The Council will be hosting a workshop, Solving The Crisis – How Our Business Community is Addressing the Bay Area’s Regional Challenges,” on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 9:30am – 10:30am. Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Dr. Micah Weinberg will present on the Regional Economic Profile, which will be followed by a discussion with industry leaders moderated by Council CEO Jim Wunderman that will address regional policy challenges and the innovative solutions we are driving to solve them.

Disrupt SF 2018 will feature conversations with TechCrunch editors the top players in the startup and technology world. Guests will enjoy programming across four stages, interactive workshops, networking and companies featured in Startup Alley from all aspects of tech.

Secure your spot today>>


Council Works the Capitol Halls as Legislative Deadlines Near

State lawmakers were working furiously this week to wrap up the current legislative session and the Bay Area Council was working furiously to ensure passage of a raft of bills that we are either sponsoring or supporting. Today (Aug. 17) is the deadline for bills to pass muster with appropriations committees in both the Assembly and Senate. Three bills the Council is sponsoring were still moving forward along with four other bills we are supporting.

The bills we are sponsoring include SB 828 (Wiener), which would increase accountability on cities to meet their housing obligations, SB 1227 (Skinner), which would expand student housing, and AB 2596, which we are co-sponsoring with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and would authorize the creation of a statewide economic strategy. The bills the Council is supporting include easing the path for building housing near BART, streamlining environmental review for a new Oakland A’s stadium, speeding up rebuilding in the wake of the devastating North Bay fires and easing restrictions on accessory dwelling units. To engage in the Council’s government relations work, please contact Senior Director Cornelious Burke.


Council CEO Again Named to Top 100 Influencers List

For the fourth straight year, Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman was named to the Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 Influencers list. Wunderman was quick to deflect any individual role in the honor and said it reflects the larger influence that the Bay Area Council has in working on a wide range of legislative and public policy issues in Sacramento. The Council’s Sacramento office, which is led by Policy Manager Cornelious Burke, was opened under Wunderman’s leadership and has become an important and effective platform for engaging with political, government and business leaders. The Council this year sponsored important legislation to address the state’s housing crisis, was instrumental in passing legislation last year that led to Regional Measure 3—the $5.6 billion traffic relief ballot measure Bay Area voters approved in June—and has played a leading role on issues related to water, climate change and energy, early education funding and healthcare reform.


New Report: Expanding Rent Control Hurts Local Coffers

Expanding rent control will chill investment in new and existing housing and reduce local tax revenues by tens of millions of dollars annually, according to a new report by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. The report adds to an already substantial body of research that has conclusively found rent control has a negative impact on the housing market. The LAO specifically focused on Proposition 10, a statewide ballot measure the Bay Area Council strongly opposes that would repeal a decades-old law restricting rent control. A recent report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute found that expanding rent control in Alameda County would reduce housing affordability for more than 10,300 households. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.


Bad Roads Costing Bay Area Commuters Thousands

Bad roads and highways cost many Bay Area commuters upwards of almost $3,000 a year in wasted time, vehicle repairs and other costs, according to a new study by TRIP, a national transportation research group. The report highlights the reason why the Bay Area Council is working hard to oppose Proposition 6 on the November ballot that would eliminate billions in funding for repairing state and local roads, bridges highways. And, why the Council opposes a lawsuit filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association that seeks to overturn Regional Measure 3, a ballot measure voters approved in June that provides $5.6 billion for easing traffic and expanding regional mass transit. The Council helped lead the RM3 campaign.