Bay Area Council Blog

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: BACK TO SCHOOL AT ORACLE

If you visit Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, you’ll see a new building under construction at the north end of campus. In early 2018, Design Tech High School (d.tech) will move into this facility — its purpose-built home — and become the first public high school in the U.S. to be located on a tech company’s campus, while remaining fully autonomous. d.tech—a free public charter school— has occupied temporary spaces in existing education facilities since it was founded in 2014. In October 2015, Oracle CEO Safra Catz announced plans to construct the school a permanent home at the company’s headquarters. The new school facility was designed to meet the specialized needs of the school’s forward-thinking education model, which emphasizes extreme personalization and putting knowledge into action. The 64,000-square-foot, two-story building will also enable the school to grow to full capacity (550 students). The building is targeting LEED for Schools Gold with an efficient building form/envelope, a healthy interior environment, and low-impact landscaping. Visit Oracle’s d-tech to learn more.

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BAY AREA JOBS-HOUSING IMBALANCE GROWS

The Bay Area’s jobs-housing imbalance is getting worse, adding to the region’s affordability crisis and threatening to undermine the region’s strong economy. An analysis of regional housing and employment data by the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area shows that since 2011 the region has added 531,000 jobs while creating just 124,000 new housing units. This amounts to a ratio of 4.3 jobs per housing unit, a rate well in excess of a healthy balance of 1.5 jobs per housing unit. The Council has been working aggressively to advocate for statewide policy reforms that will encourage more housing production. Gov. Brown recently signed legislation the Council sponsored that will allow for up to 20,000 units of new housing near BART stations. The Council is also working to implement legislation we sponsored last year that has the potential to add hundreds of thousands of affordable granny or in-law units. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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FERRY RIDERSHIP SOARS TO NEW HIGHS

Ridership on San Francisco Bay Ferry is soaring, highlighting the importance of the Bay Area Council’s continuing work to dramatically expand the role of water transit in helping address the region’s horrific traffic mess. A record 288,000 passengers traveled on SF Bay Ferry in July, according to the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which operates the service. Ridership increased on all four of SF Bay Ferry’s routes, and is up 78 percent overall since 2012.

The Council, whose CEO Jim Wunderman serves as vice chair of WETA, has been advocating for years for increasing funding to expand the number of boats and routes serving the region. Most recently, the Council has been working in Sacramento to maximize funding for ferries in legislation (SB 595) that would authorize a regional vote in 2018 on a bridge toll increase to pay for a wide range of projects to ease traffic and expand transit service. The additional funding is critical to realizing WETA’s plans to expand to 44 vessels, 16 terminals and 12 routes. To engage in the Council’s water transit work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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COUNCIL URGES CAUTION ON NEW PROPOSAL TO LIMIT IMMIGRATION

The Bay Area Council issued the following statement responding to legislation introduced Wednesday (Aug. 2) by President Trump and Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue that proposes to dramatically lower legal immigration levels.

“Immigrants are and have been a powerful source of ideas, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation helping drive the Bay Area’s world-leading knowledge-based economy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Our broken federal immigration system has long needed comprehensive reform, which in addition to other objectives must ensure that newcomers are making positive and productive contributions to our economy and our communities and not putting America workers at a disadvantage. It will be important that any reform legislation recognize the important role immigrants play in growing our economy, creating jobs and bolstering our global competitiveness.

“We must be extremely careful not to impose limits that hurt our ability to attract foreign workers to help employers meet a wide range of workforce needs, including high-skilled positions and lower-skilled jobs in such industries as agriculture and construction. High-skilled immigration is a bedrock of the Bay Area’s economy and we must keep the door open to people from around the world who are prepared to contribute. While there is room for reform – H-1B visas are an example – any process should be built on a considered, transparent process and bipartisan agreement.”

To engage in our federal policy work, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.

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Bernard J. Tyson Elected Bay Area Council Chair

The Bay Area Council Executive Committee and Board of Directors on Wednesday (July 26) welcomed new Chair Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, and applauded the immense legacy of his predecessor, TMG Partners Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias, for his two years of strong, focused leadership. The passing of the gavel occurred during a meeting generously hosted by member company and global investment firm BlackRock at their stunning San Francisco office.

During his tenure as Chair, Covarrubias led the organization through a period of significant growth and achievement marked by a series of historic wins in Sacramento to advance the Council’s robust policy agenda. Tyson, who takes the helm as the 38th Chair in the organization’s 72-year history, is a tremendous business leader recognized nationally and regionally. As a longtime member of Council’s Executive Committee and most recently as Vice Chair, he has provided important leadership and engagement across all of the Council’s policy areas.

Council Board Member and BlackRock Vice President Anthony Bassili and Managing Director Debbie McCoy warmly welcomed the group and kicked off the Board meeting. The Board also heard from Tipping Point CEO Daniel Lurie on fighting poverty and chronic homelessness in the Bay Area. Since 2005, Tipping Point has raised more than $150 million to educate, employ, house and support those in need in the Bay Area.

In a series of lively reports, the Board of Directors heard from policy committee chairs on the great progress the Council is making on its lead priority issues. Heller Manus President Jeffrey Heller reported on Commute Improvement; Genentech Vice President Carla Boragno on Workforce Housing; and Union Bank Managing Director Julius Robinson on Workforce of the Future. Special thanks again to BlackRock for hosting us.

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Council Scores Another Housing Win with New TOD Law

Legislation the Bay Area Council sponsored that could bring 20,000 units of new housing to the region got Gov. Brown’s signature last Friday (June 21). SB 680 authored by Senator Bob Wieckowski extends the radius within-which BART can pursue transit-oriented development (TOD) projects from ¼ mile from BART stations to ½ mile. The legislation garnered broad support by various groups across the Bay Area, including The Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, SPUR, North Bay Leadership Council, SAMCEDA, Transform, among others.

“In the face of a severe housing and affordability crisis, constructing dense housing near main transit hubs will be key to our region’s continued prosperity,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “SB 680 is a much-needed, common sense solution that uses public lands for public good. It will add an estimated 20,000 new housing units near BART stations, keeping jobs in the Bay Area, reducing commutes and moving our region toward a more sustainable future.”

The Bay Area Council is thrilled to help pass this commonsense solution that will add thousands of units near public transportation. We want to thank Sen. Wieckowski for his leadership on housing. The Council worked with Sen. Wieckowski last year to pass legislation that removes major barriers to creating affordable granny units. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

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Addressing Gender Bias in Workplace Communications

Gender differences in communications styles can often adversely affect women in the workplace, as men are more likely to talk more and suggest ideas in meetings while women are more likely to be interrupted and given less credit for their ideas. In fact, male executives who speak more are viewed as 10 percent more competent, while women who do the same are viewed as 14 percent less competent by their peers. To address this issue, the Bay Area Council’s Gender Equity Committee hosted an interactive Executive Presence Workshop led by member company Mandel Communications. The workshop focused on communication skills that will help women cut through this bias and position themselves as confident leaders within their companies. The Council’s Best Practices Resources Guide, released last year, highlighted executive presence and other training programs as important strategies for building gender equity within companies.

The Committee also heard about San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell’s new legislative proposal to boost female representation in elected office, on corporate boards, in public art, and anywhere else in public view. Only 2 out of 87 public statues in San Francisco represent real women, and this ordinance would enact a new statue of Maya Angelou as a first step in getting to 30 percent female representation by 2020. To engage in the Council’s Gender Equity work, please contact Policy Director Emily Loper.

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Sen. Monning Addresses Water Committee on Clean Water Fund

It’s estimated that as many as one million Californians (10 times the population of Flint, Michigan) lack access to safe, clean drinking water, mostly in rural, economically disadvantaged areas. This troubling statistic undergirded the Bay Area Council Water Committee’s conversation with Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) hosted by member company Cargill on Tuesday (July 25). Senator Monning’s bill, SB 623, would create a new clean drinking water fund capitalized through a combination of new fertilizer taxes and fees on water utility bills. The Council took the issue under advisement until the precise bill language becomes available. The Committee also received a briefing from the Department of Water Resources’ Erin Mellon on the race against time to repair the Oroville Dam Spillway, which was destroyed during last years’ record rainfall. To engage with the Council’s Water Committee, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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Advancing U.S.-China Cooperation on Financial Services Innovation

On Tuesday, the Council was joined by Fiona Ma, member of the California Board of Equalization, to honor 14 top banking officials from China’s central government. The Chinese delegation, participating in Visa’s annual training and exchange immersion program in the US financial system, was welcomed by the Bay Area business community and engaged in cross-discussions on California-China initiatives and collaborations.

Economic & Commercial Counselor Yang Yihang, from the Chinese Consulate-General’s Office in San Francisco, offered welcoming remarks, commending the delegates for their participation in the program. Boasting of California’s significant trade and investment ties with China, Fiona Ma highlighted the innovation and financial activities happening on the individual-state level and underscored the mutual benefits in continued cross-exchanges.

The event concluded with open discussion between the delegation and California businesses on topics ranging from China’s foreign direct investment in California to California’s potential involvement in China’s One Belt One Road Initiative. Fostering dialogue and the sharing of opportunities in the unique cross-border relationship is a key focus for the Council operating the California-China Office of Trade and Investment. To learn how the Council can help businesses maneuver amidst China’s changing political and economic environment, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley

On July 25 the Economic Institute released its newest report—Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley, at the Runway accelerator in San Francisco. The report, which was supported by the European Union and other international and Bay Area partners, looks at the dynamic process that every year brings hundreds of European startup and early stage companies to the Bay Area, many of which stay and grow in the region. It particularly assesses the environment for starting and growing young technology companies in Europe and the region Bay Area.  The conclusions document the unique role that the region plays as the world’s leading innovation and entrepreneurial platform. More than two-hundred participants came to listen to the report’s findings and to engage with a distinguished panel of investors, technologists, innovation directors, and leaders in the startup community, who provided their own perspectives. The report is available on the Economic Institute’s website www.bayareaeconomy.org.