Bay Area Council Blog


Bank of America Deepens Partnership with the Bay Area Council

Helping to drive the Bay Area economy and quality of life have been priorities of both the Council and Bank of America for decades. Recently, the Bank of America Foundation awarded $50,000 to the Bay Area Council Foundation to support the Council’s Global Competitiveness Strategy, inclusive of work on energy and the environment, education, housing, transportation, and the research and projects of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

“Bank of America’s approach to philanthropy reaches beyond grant-making to build deep and lasting partnerships with the most effective organizations in our communities, and our relationship with the Bay Area Council has been extremely productive for both organizations,” said Janet Lamkin, President of Bank of America California and a member of the Executive Committee of the Bay Area Council. “The Council’s regional championship of innovation, global competitiveness, economic and environmental sustainability and good government has been and continues to be a key factor in sustaining and improving the economy and quality of life in the Bay Area.”

To learn more about the Council’s one- and three-year strategies, check out our Global Competitiveness Strategy.


San Francisco Eastern Neighborhoods Plan passes – finally

By Matt Regan

There is an old military adage, “the first casualty of any battle is the plan”.  This would appear to be true in the battle to rezone San Francisco’s Eastern Neighborhoods, a vast swathe of the city stretching from the South of Market to Potrero Hill and the Mission.  In the 10 years of fighting over what should be allowed to be built in this part of San Francisco, any semblance of the original plan has long since disappeared and what remains is a patchwork quilt put together by every single issue pressure group who expressed an opinion.

On December 9, 2008 after over 10 years of meetings, hearings, disputes, threats and counter threats the San Francisco Board of Supervisors finally approved a plan that will allow developers to begin entitling dozens of bottled up projects that may bring as many as 7500 new housing units to the area, provided of course the developers haven’t either died of old age, completely lost interest, or more likely lost financing for their projects in the interim.
The approval of the plan is a phyrric victory; yes we will see a lot of new housing construction and yes we will see new neighborhoods grow out of what are currently vacant lots or obsolete industrial buildings, but at what cost?

One of the most vocal interest groups in this process were those seeking to protect the remaining vestiges of San Francisco’s 19th century industrial blue collar character.  They successfully pushed for large chunks of the Eastern Neighborhoods to be zoned “PDR” or Production, Distribution and Repair and strictly off limits to housing.  While we agree that there is a need for such industrial activities we are not convinced that they got the mix right and that too much land was zoned for industries that have left the city never to return.  As one observer noted, “zoning so much land for PDR is like zoning for gold mines, its nothing more than naïve wishful thinking.”

Perhaps the biggest flaw in the whole plan is the complete lack of consideration given to transit oriented development opportunities.  San Francisco proudly declares itself to be a “transit first” city yet  through this whole planning process height limits along Mission Street, arguably San Francisco’s most integrated transit corridor with MUNI, SamTrans,  and BART, were cut to the point where they are currently lower than height limits adjacent to suburban BART stations.  This however pales in comparison the missed opportunities along the 3rd Street Light Rail line.

The $800 million 3rd Street Light Rail was opened two years ago with much fanfare.  It was designed to connect the Bayview neighborhood to the rest of the city and service the new Mission Bay life sciences hub and eventually connect to a central subway running all the way to Union Square and Chinatown.  For over two miles this jewel in MUNI’s crown traverses the eastern neighborhoods, and for the forseeable future it will traverse a part of the city where nobody lives.  Bowing to pressure from the PDR lobby, planners zoned almost all of the 3rd street light rail line off limits to new housing construction.

While we are happy to see this bureaucratic bottleneck finally break, and that development will finally be allowed to proceed, we are concerned that when reality finally dawns on San Francisco and the city comes to the understanding that this region still faces a chronic housing shortage and a huge housing/jobs imbalance, it might be too late to do anything to recapture missed Eastern Neighborhoods opportunities and help solve some of these problems.


Economic Institute Seeks Data and Support for Globalization Index

Signs of the Bay Area’s globalized economy appear every day, indeed our global connections have propped our economy up, when so many others across the U.S. are suffering.  Residents get it.  In a Council poll last year, a super majority of 88 percent of Bay Area residents felt that “all in all” greater business, personal and cultural connections between the Bay Area and other countries are a good thing, and 74 percent want elected officials to expand global business ties.  If ever there was an issue that needs local, regional and state support, it’s expanding trade and Bay Area global links.  Unfortunately, we have an economic analysis problem.  Global flows of goods, services, money, people and communications are primarily measured nation to nation, not on a regional basis.

The Council’s Economic Institute will issue a groundbreaking report in the next few months detailing the Bay Area’s global role.  This report can help shift critical public policy on a local, state and even federal level, but it needs financial support to cross the finish line.

If you are interested in hearing more or sponsoring this important report, contact me at 415-946-8722.


Mark Your Calendar for DC in ’09

By George Broder

Mark your calendar and set your schedule to participate in the Council’s annual trip to Washington, D.C. on May 4-6, 2009. Timed for optimum impact at the conclusion of the new Administration’s First 100 Days, meetings will be held on Capitol Hill, at the White House/Executive Office Building and key agencies.

We will press our agenda on issues including H1-B visa reform, timely passage of Free Trade Agreements, federal investment in our infrastructure, healthcare and full funding for the America Competes Act. We will urge the adoption of “green” policies that embrace cap and trade strategies and stimulate the private sector by rewarding innovation and investment. Please give us your priorities as we formulate our plans. More details forthcoming soon. Registrations will be limited due to premium access restraints.

For more information or to offer ideas, please contact me at 415.946.8728.


Request for Proposal: 50K Fellowship Program

Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium (BASIC) has created its first Fellowship Program to benefit region’s future leaders in science and technology and to highlight the Bay Area’s innovation and global competitiveness. We areissuing a Request for Proposals for the design of a Global Innovation Networks Project. The RFP deadline is December 1, 2008.

Download RFP Document

BASIC is a program of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute within the Bay Area Council Foundation.


Bay Area Business Leadership Shaping Climate Change Agenda

By Andrew Michael

Climate Change initiatives at the global level and our emerging regional partnership should be informed by Bay Area Council members. Therefore, the Bay Area Council membership should know that the Governors’ Global Climate Summit, November 18 – 19, 2008, at the Beverly Hills Hilton, will prepare for a meeting in December in Poland and a final meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 to create a framework for a New Global Climate Change Agreement. Bay Area Council Energy Committee Chair and Senior Vice President for PG&E, Nancy McFadden will speak on the first panel on collaborating on greenhouse gas reporting efforts. The event is by invitation only and a webcast will be made available to members. Click here for more information on this summit.

Secondly, on December 1, 2008, 9:30 – 11:30 AM in Sacramento, Bay Area Council members are invited to provide input on a tool kit being developed by the California Air Resources Board to assist businesses voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Though it is posed as a workshop for small businesses, many of the issues are relevant to businesses based in the Bay Area. Let me know if you’d like to join me in Sacramento at Click here for more information on this workshop.


Reform and the Rails Ride to Victory with Council Support

By George Broder

Election Day was historic and a success for most of the Bay Area Council and its endorsed campaigns. Most satisfying, after two failed attempts fell just short of a 2/3 vote, was the Marin/Sonoma County SMART Train win with 69% of voters making it possible to remove 1.4 million cars annually from highly congested Highway 101. And Statewide Prop 1A, High Speed Rail, commits $9.8 billion to build a system that will move passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just two and half hours.

In Santa Clara County, Measure B to bring BART to San Jose is a statistical sliver short of passing at 66.42%. More than 60,000 absentee and provisional ballots are still to be counted so a win is still possible for this longtime goal.

The voters, fed up with the partisanship in our capitol, adopted Prop 11 to reform the way State Senate and Assembly districts will be drawn after the next census. Redistricting reform is an important first step towards breaking the paralysis and abdication of leadership in Sacramento. The voters are demanding more of their representatives, and we will carry this message directly to the elected officials we meet with on a regular basis.

The Council’s call for a Constitutional Convention is drawing new supporters and allies every day. We will take the momentum from Prop 11 to move forward with careful study and diligence the viability of this dramatic action. The voters are engaged and activated, ready to establish California once again as a national model, and the Convention may be the perfect tool to implement their just desires.


Bay Area Council Positions on Ballot Measures

By Matt Regan

After months of analyzing the issues and meeting with proponents and opponents alike, the much anticipated official Bay Area Council 2008 General Election slate card is now complete. Below are our positions and endorsements, don’t vote without it!

Statewide Ballot Measures




No Position (Required 2/3rds margin of Executive Committee not achieved)


Proposition 11 – REDISTRICTING

Local Ballot Measures

Marin/Sonoma Measure Q – SMART Train (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit)

Redwood City Measure W – Land Use

San Francisco Proposition A – San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center Earthquake Safety Bonds

San Francisco Proposition H – Setting Clean Energy Deadlines; Studying Options for Providing Energy; Changing Revenue Bond Authority to Pay for Public Utility Facilities

Santa Clara Measure B – BART to San Jose

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2008 Bay Area Council Scholars Announced

Congratulations to the 2008 Bay Area Council Scholars! The Bay Area Council Scholarship Program has had the benefit of receiving incredible and diverse applicants from every county of the Bay Area. We would like to thank our dedicated Scholarship Committee for their help in selecting the 10 most qualified students from an outstanding pool of applicants.

We are proud to present the 2008 class of Bay Area Council Scholars, another amazing group of students who have demonstrated strong potential to succeed despite the odds, and a passion for giving back to their communities. Click on their names or photos below to learn more about them.

Aurora Castellanos
College: U.C. Berkeley
Hometown: Oakland
High School: Metwest High School
Career Goal: Attorney or Teacher
Brenda Castro Serrato
College: Mills College
Hometown: Oakland
High School: Metwest High School
Career Goal: Teacher/Psychologist
Bianca Flores
College: University of San Francisco
Hometown: San Francisco
High School: Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory
Career Goal: Pediatrician
Faith Genove
College: U.C. Berkeley
Hometown: San Leandro
High School: Arroyo High School
Career Goal: Neurosurgeon, Neurologist or Psychologist
Christina Leung
College: U.C. Berkeley
Hometown: Alameda
High School: Alameda High School
Career Goal: Biology
Devvrat Malhotra
College: U.C. Davis
Hometown: Stockton
High School: Edison Senior High School
Career Goal: Medical Doctor
Angelo Nono
College: U.C. Berkeley
Hometown: South San Francisco
High School: Mills High School
Career Goal: International Relations
Judy Pun
College: U.C. Davis
Hometown: Oakland
High School: Oakland High School
Career Goal: Fire Fighter
Marvin Salazar
College: U.C. Berkeley
Hometown: San Pablo
High School: Richmond High School
Career Goal: Green Engineer
Chelsi Lia Vining
College: U.C. Berkeley
Hometown: Newark
High School: Newark Memorial High School
Career Goal: Medicine

Bay Area Council Calls for Constitutional Convention

By Jim Wunderman

We must admit we were surprised by the tidal wave of overwhelmingly positive responses from across the state from business groups, good government groups, former legislators and private individuals supporting our call for a constitutional convention.  This effort is in response to the many members who have asked the Bay Area Council what we should do about the State’s budget impasse and have conveyed their mounting dissatisfaction with California’s state government.  Adding fuel to the fire, at our Annual Sacramento Day earlier this month we listened to one legislator after another lament about their inability to make progress due to the broken system they are working within.  We believe that the current California Constitution is working against us; therefore we are calling for a Constitutional Convention to relieve California of the roadblocks that prohibit progress.  We are interested in your feedback and hope you will join our effort.

Listen to the KQED Forum on a Constitutional Convention
Read our Opinion Editorial, calling for a Constitutional Convention.