Bay Area Council Blog

8.13.10

After Tour of Peninsula Rail Corridor, Council Calls on Menlo Park and Atherton to Stop High-Speed Rail Lawsuit

By Joe Arellano

Today, I joined stakeholders and elected officials from Peninsula cities to tour the Peninsula rail corridor and discuss issues related to the future California High-Speed Rail.

The tour, hosted by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, was convened in response to a July 29, 2010 letter from Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman that expressed concerns about an attempt by five Peninsula cities to slow down the implementation of high-speed rail.

The tour also came on the heels of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declaring this week that California is, “…way ahead of the curve on high-speed rail,” and High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelef van Ark remarking that, “If you don’t get the environmental process done by September 2011, you won’t get the funding…”

After today’s tour, I issued the following statement:

“Those who oppose high-speed rail understand that delay is their best weapon to kill the project.  There are ways to resolve issues and there are ways to stop progress.  We greatly appreciate Assemblyman Hill’s effort to bridge the differences amongst his constituents.  However, the cities of Menlo Park and Atherton are continuing to move forward with a challenge to the environmental impact report of the San Francisco-San Jose portion of the high-speed rail line.

We refuse to stand by and let two small cities de-rail this historic multi-billion dollar project.  By slowing the environmental process down, Menlo Park and Atherton are trying to run out the clock on high-speed rail.

We understand the concerns of Peninsula residents and we are sensitive to their apprehension about having high-speed rail in their community.  But we need to remember that Prop 1A was supported by over 60 percent of San Mateo and Santa Clara County voters, and statewide it passed with over 53 percent support.  The people of California and the Peninsula are counting on all of us to deliver.

High-speed rail is the perfect opportunity to execute a bold, statewide vision to prove to the people of California that we are still capable of accomplishing big things.  However, doing big things takes big people.  Instead of filing their petition to stop the EIR, Menlo Park and Atherton should take a step back and work with the High-Speed Rail Authority to address the concerns of residents, find an agreeable resolution and continue to move the process forward.”

8.10.09

Press Release: Bay Area Council and USC Announce 2010 Ross Program in Real Estate

Today, the Bay Area Council and the University of Southern California (USC) announced the launch of the 2010 Ross Program in Real Estate.  The Ross Program is a comprehensive educational program designed to help participants gain technical expertise and expand their understanding of real estate development and investment, while building the networks necessary to succeed in urban renewal.  The nine-day program will be held between November 11 and December 4.

“The Ross Program is designed for people who want to break in to the fields of real estate, development, and investment but don’t know where to get started,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council.  “After going through the program and receiving instruction and mentoring from some of the Bay Area’s brightest minds and most successful executives, participants will have the knowledge and connections to succeed at the next level.”

Courses are taught by faculty from the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, Marshall School of Business, School of Policy Planning and Development, as well as local industry experts and professionals from the Bay Area. Through the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, the Ross Program in Real Estate has trained over 600 participants who have played key roles in significant commercial, mixed-use, and housing developments throughout the nation.

“The Ross Program was my ticket to the fast lane,” said Vince Gibbs, 2008 program participant and City of Oakland Planning Commissioner.

“The Ross Program provides critical real estate skills for future leaders who will shape exciting, new and adaptive re-use projects throughout the Bay Area,” said Ginger Bryant, CFO, Sares Regis Group.

The Ross curriculum combines education and practical application in topics such as:
• Real Estate Finance – Investment and Development
• Public Private Partnerships
• Opportunities and Challenges in Sustainable Development
• Bay Area Community Development Challenges and Successes

Past lecturers and speakers have included:
Kofi Bonner, Executive Vice President, Lennar Corporation • Carol Galante, Deputy Assistant Secretary, HUD • Jeff Heller, President, Heller Manus Architects • Linda Mandolini, Executive Director, Eden Housing • Fred Blackwell, Executive Director, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency • Tom Sullivan, Managing Partner, Wilson Meany Sullivan • Michael Covarrubias, Chairman & CEO, TMG Partners

Ross Program alumni are currently employed at:
Charles Schwab, Urban Habitat, Eden Housing Inc., Contra Costa County Redevelopment Agency, Morrison & Foerster, San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, Perkins + Will, Pacific Union Real Estate

A pdf overview of the program can be downloaded at: http://www.bayareacouncil.org/docs/RossProgramOverview.pdf

Info Session
August 24, 2010
6 PM to 8 PM
Bay Area Council
201 California Street, Fl 14
San Francisco, CA 94111

Info Session
September 2, 2010
12 PM to 1:30 PM
Bay Area Council
201 California Street, Fl 14
San Francisco, CA 94111

Info Session
September 21, 2010
6 PM to 8 PM
Bay Area Council
201 California Street, Fl 14
San Francisco, CA 94111
(Connie Moore, President & CEO of BRE Properties to speak)

Info Session
October 5, 2010
11 AM to 12:30 PM
Bay Area Council
201 California Street, Fl 14
San Francisco, CA 94111

All interested individuals can RSVP for an info session by e-mailing Bianca Flores, bflores@bayareacouncil.org

PDF Press Release

8.2.10

BAC Sends Pointed Letter to Peninsula Cities Consortium (PCC) About High Speed Rail

By Jim Wunderman

Last Friday, I sent a sharply-worded letter to a Peninsula group that poses a threat to the Bay Area’s plans for high speed rail. High speed rail is too important to let a small, vocal minority decide its fate.

Here’s the text of what I sent:

July 29, 2010

Mayor Cathy Baylock and Councilmembers, City of Burlingame
Mayor Patrick Burt and Councilmembers, City of Palo Alto
Mayor Richard Cline and Councilmembers, City of Menlo Park
Mayor Kathy McKeithen and Councilmembers, Town of Atherton
Mayor Christine Wozniak and Councilmembers, City of Belmont

Dear Mayors Baylock, Burt, Cline, McKeithen, and Wozniak, and Councilmembers:

I am writing to you regarding your cities’ and the Peninsula Cities Consortium’s obstructionist policies towards California high speed rail and the grave danger that they pose for our state. As a former public official who served two San Francisco mayors, I have the greatest respect for the dedication, responsibility, and authority of local government leaders such as yourself, and it is with some regret that I critique your leadership. I have concluded, however, that there are much larger issues at stake and that it is appropriate and necessary that I convey to you the strongly held concern and recommendation of the Bay Area Council.

In characterizing your cities’ policies as obstructionist and dangerous, I do not mean to impugn your motives, which I am entirely confident are only to best serve the interests of your local residents. Yet the fact remains that the policies and actions that your cities are pursuing are serving to obstruct and undermine a project that is quite literally of historic importance to the residents of the Bay Area and California. To say, as does your Peninsula Cities Consortium, that “high speed rail should be built right or not at all,” and that cost analysis should play no role in determining alignment, is to say that the project need not, should not, and will not be built.

You are, I trust, as aware as anyone of the importance of high speed rail to the State of California and of the environmental, mobility, and urban revitalization benefits that it will bring. You may not, however, be entirely aware of the extent to which your cities’ demands endanger the project and bolster the advocacy of the very small and very vocal minority of Californians who cannot be satisfied unless high speed rail, and Caltrain with it, is killed.

Let me point out to you the support that the Proposition 1A high speed rail bond measure enjoyed among your neighbors and constituents in the November, 2008 election. Statewide, it passed with 53 percent support. In San Mateo County it earned 61 percent approval and in Santa Clara County 60 percent support. Within the cities of your Peninsula Cities Consortium—the voters that you represent—Proposition 1A was embraced by 61 percent (46,023 yes – 29,242 no). Such overwhelming public support from your citizens for high speed rail makes it appear extremely unlikely that they would want their city to be the one standing in the way of the project coming to fruition.

Respectfully, you may also under-appreciate the staggering toll of unemployment and economic distress on millions of California families of modest means. Though your communities, like other high-wealth communities in the state, have escaped the brunt of the Great Recession, 2.3 million unemployed Californians are not as fortunate. For these struggling Californians, $4 billion of near-term high speed rail construction expenditure would be lifesaving.

There was, no doubt, a period in American history in which government infrastructure planners ran roughshod over the interests and welfare of residents and communities. Thankfully, this era is behind us, but it has been replaced by an era in which too many public officials believe that no project can or should be built unless there is universal approval of the public. Overwhelming public support with large and widespread public benefits are somehow offset by the vocal opposition of a single individual. In the case of high speed rail, a small handful of individuals in a small handful of neighborhoods in a small handful of communities raise a seemingly endless series of complaints and objections and threaten to halt the construction of a project of generational significance, and immediate economic survival, for this state and its residents.

This is not why I went into public service, and I don’t believe that it is why you went into public service. You likely were motivated, as was I, by the belief that public officials can be powerful and effective leaders to improve the public welfare. Public leadership, however, requires more than hearing and representing only the loudest voice in the room. It takes leaders who look to the future rather than the past, who throw their energy into making positive change happen rather than preserving the status quo, and who stand confidently in support of progress even when critics fling arrows. California once stood at the forefront of social progress—recognized as the nation’s leader in higher education, research and development, environmental protection, and job creation—and deserved to be called the Golden State. Today, after decades of holding progress hostage to the unachievable ideal of “universal consensus,” the Golden State moniker is used only to show how far we have fallen.

This failure of leadership did not originate with the emergence of high speed rail, and it isn’t limited to your cities. Far from it. But high speed rail is where the politics of paralysis must end. After decades of inaction, California is finally, with high speed rail, taking a step worthy of a Golden State. It is a first step and a crucial test of whether California can once again establish and execute a bold statewide vision for the general benefit of the state and its residents. If the answer is no—if Californians choose to remain bound by the politics of paralysis—then look for status quo trends to continue, with the tragic consequences that this entails for our schools, public facilities, economy, employment, livability, and, ultimately, the lives of the state’s citizens. This is not the future that I want to see, and I doubt that it is the future that you want. And I deeply believe that in approving the Proposition 1A high speed rail bond, Californians were sending a message that they too are ready for California to rebuild itself and restore the dream of the Golden State.

I urge you to step back and re-evaluate your cities’ positions on high speed rail. Look again at the benefits—economic, environmental, urban revitalization, jobs, mobility—that high speed rail offers to the citizens of California. Watch An Inconvenient Truth. Visit with unemployed construction workers. Consider the need to restore the Golden State for our children. And ask yourself if you can in good conscience advocate that “not at all” is your position on high speed rail unless every demand of every member of your community is met in full.

Sincerely,

Jim Wunderman
President and CEO

cc: Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Clara
Board of Supervisors, County of San Mateo
City Council, City of Belmont
City Council, City of Burlingame
City Council, City of Menlo Park
City Council, City of Palo Alto
City Council, Town of Atherton

7.26.10

BAC and Alliance of CEOs Join Forces to Discuss Investment in China

By Jim Wunderman

Last week, the Bay Area Council and the Alliance of CEOs brought together CEOs from across the region for a roundtable discussion on “Doing Business in China Today.”  Having just opened our new office in Shanghai, I shared my first-hand insights and tips with the group.  Much of the discussion centered on the business culture in China and how Chinese businesses put a premium on established relationships and working through Chinese partners.  Since the Council already has boots on the ground in the Yangpu District of Shanghai and established ties to the Chinese Party Secretary, it was a great venue to highlight our upcoming trade mission to China with Governor Schwarzenegger in September.  And with China passing the U.S. as the world’s biggest energy user this week, the imperative for American companies to set up shop over there is only growing.

7.21.10

Press Release: Bay Area Council to Hold Forum on AB32 this Afternoon

The Bay Area Council is conducting a forum on AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, today, Thursday, July 22 at 4pm.  Supporters and opponents of AB 32 will present their arguments, and Proposition 23, the ballot measure to repeal AB 32, will be discussed at length.  Leaders from business, academia, environmental groups and politics will be voicing their opinions on AB 32.

“With Proposition 23 on the ballot this November, the stakes are high for California,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council.  “This forum will be a lively discussion about AB 32’s impact on the economy, jobs and climate change.”

WHO: Jim Wunderman, President & CEO, Bay Area Council

Professor W. Michael Haneman, Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Agricultural &   Resource Economics, University of California at Berkeley

Aaron Singer, Managing General Partner, Pacific Carbon Exchange

Dave Fogarty, Yes on Proposition 23 campaign

Donald Simon, Attorney, Green Business Practice, Wendell Rosen Black & Dean, LLP

WHAT: Forum discussing AB 32 and Proposition 23, with supporters and opponents presenting                           arguments.

WHERE: Wendel Rosen Black & Dean, LLP
1111 Broadway
19th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607
(Office is located near 12th Street/Oakland City Center BART station)

WHEN: 4pm – 6pm
Thursday, July 22, 2010###

*** All media planning to attend should RSVP to jarellano@bayareacouncil.org, (415) 946-8725 ***

PDF Press Release

7.21.10

Bay Area Council to Hold Forum on AB 32

The Bay Area Council is conducting a forum on AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, tomorrow, Thursday, July 22.  Supporters and opponents of AB 32 will present their arguments, and Proposition 23, the ballot measure to repeal AB 32, will be discussed at length.  Leaders from business, academia, environmental groups and politics will be voicing their opinions on AB 32.

“With Proposition 23 on the ballot this November, the stakes are high for California,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council.  “This forum will be a lively discussion about AB 32’s impact on the economy, jobs and climate change.”

WHO: Jim Wunderman, President & CEO, Bay Area Council

Professor W. Michael Haneman
, Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Agricultural &   Resource
Economics, University of California at Berkeley

Aaron Singer, Managing General Partner, Pacific Carbon Exchange

Dave Fogarty, Yes on Proposition 23 campaign

Donald Simon, Attorney, Green Business Practice, Wendell Rosen Black & Dean, LLP

WHAT: Forum discussing AB 32 and Proposition 23, with supporters and opponents presenting arguments.

WHERE: Wendel Rosen Black & Dean, LLP
1111 Broadway
19th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607
(Office is located near 12th Street/Oakland City Center BART station)

WHEN: 4pm – 6pm
Thursday, July 22, 2010

If you plan on attending, please RSVP to Blythe Goodell at bgoodell@bayareacouncil.org. All media planning to attend should RSVP to jarellano@bayareacouncil.org, (415) 946-8725.

7-19-2010

Press Release: Bay Area Council Economic Institute Releases America’s Cup Economic Impact Study

Today, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute (BACEI) and Beacon Economics released a study outlining the economic impacts if San Francisco is named host of the 34th America’s Cup race.  The report, entitled “The America’s Cup: Economic Impacts of a Match on San Francisco Bay,” specifically outlines the economic impact the America’s Cup would have on the Bay Area, the State of California and the entire country if San Francisco is chosen as the host city of the next competition.  The America’s Cup is the world’s third-largest sporting competition after the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup.

The report, which was commissioned by the City and County of San Francisco, found that the increase in overall economic activity in San Francisco hosting the 34th America’s Cup could be on the order of $1.4 billion, almost three times the estimated impact of hosting the Super Bowl ($300-$500 million).  The potential increase in employment surrounding the event could be on the order of 8,840 jobs.

“Bringing the 34th America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay would be a huge boon for the Bay Area economy,” said Bay Area Council Economic Institute President & CEO Sean Randolph. “The America’s Cup could easily help jumpstart the economy by generating over a billion dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs for the Bay Area. The spillover effect for the region could be substantial.”

Additional highlights from “The America’s Cup: Economic Impacts of a Match on San Francisco Bay” include:

  • The economic benefits of bringing the America’s Cup to San Francisco would come primarily through expenditures by racing syndicates, and through spending on hotels, restaurants, and retail and other services by the 2.6 million spectators estimated to attend the race.
  • The economic benefits of the race will extend to the greater Bay Area, particularly the neighboring counties of Napa, Sonoma, Marin, and Alameda through related visitor and maritime activity.
  • The increase in output and employment would likely yield a benefit to state and local government coffers of nearly $85 million.
  • Looking beyond the Bay Area, the U.S. economy as a whole would see increased economic activity of $1.9 billion and the creation of 11,978 jobs.
  • A local successful defense of the America’s Cup will likely lead to additional such events in the future.  San Diego, for example, was the host to three successive America’s Cups, in 1988, 1992, and 1995.

“Securing hosting rights to the America’s Cup is a prestigious and economically significant prize for any community,” said Mayor Newsom. “I am committed to the defense of the America’s Cup in San Francisco.”

“This is an incredible opportunity that will put San Francisco on the world stage while benefiting Bay Area companies and residents,” said Jim Wunderman, President & CEO of the Bay Area Council.  “Investment in development and infrastructure now will help to grow the region’s economy for many years to come.”

Please visit www.bayareacouncil.org to access the full report.

The report was funded by donations from Catholic Healthcare West, Clear Channel Outdoor, Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction, Port of San Francisco, Recology, San Francisco International Airport/San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, United Airlines, and URS Corporation.

Download the Report

PDF Press Release

7.12.10

Why the Council’s Focus on China? It’s the Economy…

By John Grubb

At the end of 2006, recognizing that most of the Council’s members have operations in about 20 of the same regions on the planet, the BAC created a “Global Competitiveness Strategy.”  The strategy was designed to extend the Council’s reach and open up an international front to take advantage of the new globalized economy.  The Council started with the Shanghai-Yangtze region of China because of historical ties, current economic links and the phenomenal growth potential.

First there were delegation visits and conferences, delving into such issues as green-technology and venture capital. Those evolved into what the Council proudly announced last month: a fully operational and permanent trade office in Shanghai’s dynamic Yangpu District.  Along the way, many of our members have deftly parlayed the Council’s visits into serious money making and employment boosting opportunities.  Just like China, the relationships have grown at lightning speed – from simple meet-and-greets to strong connections with the top business and government leaders of the Shanghai- Yangtze region, and beyond.

In September, we expect to cross a new threshold, when Governor Schwarzenegger and top Chinese leaders join us at an event codifying a 4-Point Economic Agreement currently being negotiated.  The visit will also celebrate the opening of offices in China by some of our local companies, as they capitalize on the Chinese market and sell their products and services.  This matters profoundly.  The relatively anemic economic turnaround in California and the rest of the United States has made accessing the China market critical to our economic recovery.  If you or a company you know are getting ready to expand in China, you should consider joining our delegation to China in September. If nothing else, it will be a great way to start practicing your Mandarin.

1.2.10

Press Release: Bay Area Council Statement on the Federal Government’s New “Perfect Citizen” Cyber Security Program

Last week, the federal government announced that it is launching an expansive program dubbed “Perfect Citizen” to detect cyber assaults on private companies and government agencies running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants.  The program will deploy a set of sensors in the computer networks of America’s most critical infrastructure sites, which would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack. The program will be spearheaded by the National Security Agency (NSA), the government’s chief eavesdropping agency.

The Bay Area Council has worked over the past year to create policies to address the ever increasing risk and cost of cyber attacks.  In addition, the Council formed a Cyber Security Committee – consisting mainly of CIO and CISO-level professionals from our member companies – that takes policy priorities to elected-officials in Washington and Sacramento.

In a May 2009 speech, President Obama said that cyber attacks have cost Americans $8 billion in the last two years.

In response to last week’s announcement, Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman made the following statement regarding the new federal program:

“Cyber attacks pose a very real and very expensive threat to our government, businesses and economy.  Last week’s announcement by the federal government is a step in the right direction to heighten awareness of this important topic.  As the United States relies more and more on the internet and broadband technology, we need to do everything in our power to prevent hackers and cyber-terrorists from gaining access to our critical infrastructure.  However, the Bay Area Council believes it is imperative that the business community is included in the creation of new policies.  With all of the expertise and resources that our tech community has to offer, this issue requires us to work together to collaboratively craft a solution that protects our nation and economy.”

PDF Press Release