Bay Area Council Blog


June 3rd Elections Give Smart Growth a Boost

By Matt Regan

Now that the election waters have cleared somewhat and we’ve had a couple of weeks to digest the results, it is clear that the big winner on June 3rd was housing.  In San Francisco the Bay Area Council took strong positions in support of Proposition G and in opposition to Proposition F.   These competing measures were a thumbs up or down referendum on Lennar’s plan to redevelop Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.  Fortunately the voters were not hoodwinked by an attempt to impose an impossible standard that 50% of all units developed be below market rate, and they very much liked what they saw from Lennar.

In Napa Measure N, a restrictive no growth proposition opposed by the Bay Area Council, was also defeated by the voters.

Both these results give great encouragement to those of us who have been advocating for regional smart growth principles and sustainable development.


Incoming Senate President Pro Tem Breaks Bread with Council

By Matt Regan

On Friday April 4, Bay Area Council member Hanson Bridgett LLP hosted the latest “Leadership Forum Luncheon” with guest of honor the incoming Pro Tem of the California State Senate Senator Darrell Steinberg.  Also in attendance were fellow Hanson Bridgett Alumni, former Congressman Doug Bosco, and soon to be Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

Over fifty of the region’s top business leaders packed the room to hear Senator Steinberg’s vision for the future of California and the agenda items that he will be focusing on in the year ahead.  His twin messages of increased funding for education and in particular rolling back the state’s terrible rates of High School drop outs and an increased focus on regionalism were music to the ears of the audience.

Thanks to Andrew Giacomini, Hanson Bridgett ,and Senator Darrell Steinberg for helping put together another great event. The next Leadership Forum lunch is in the pipeline, watch this space.


Biannual Bay Area Economic Profile

Today, we released the biannual Bay Area Economic Profile, which analyzes the Bay Area’s changing economy and benchmarks its performance against other major metropolitan centers.  This year’s report, Sustaining the Bay Area’s Competitiveness in a Globalizing World, shifts from a national to a global scan – comparing the Bay Area with international as well as U.S. cities such as Boston, London, New York, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Shanghai, Singapore and others.  We offer profound thanks to McKinsey & Company who contributed thousands of free hours of labor to make the report possible.


Major Development Goes South

By Matt Regan

After many years and many millions of dollars invested in a proposed development that would have brought up to 25,000 new housing units and as many as 50,000 jobs to the Coyote Valley in the South Bay, a consortium of developers and landowners have decided that enough is enough.

Economic and political realities are to blame for the demise of the ambitious plan to develop a large parcel of land to the west of Highway 101 on the southern boundary of San Jose. The development team have lately been fighting an uphill battle in San Jose City Hall to win support for the project with the majority of Council members nervous about the impact costs of so many new residents in need of city services. Mayor Reed has also voiced these concerns and stipulated that at least 5000 jobs be in place before the first homes are built. This, twinned with the downturn in the housing market, appeared to be the last straw for Coyote Valley.

What is next for the site remains to be seen.


NorCal Coalition Doing Well on Goods Movement

By Michael Cunningham

A coalition the Council has helped lead headed to Sacramento today to support our efforts to win billions for goods movement infrastructure – trucks, railroads, cargo ships, airports, etc. Looks good for the Northern California Coalition proposal; CTC staff recommend all projects for funding (except acquiring ACE right of way). The Council has been working on this issue for two-years now. Given the comments we heard from all parties in Northern and Southern California, it looks like we are on track for a positive outcome on April 9/10 when the Commission acts on staff recommendations

You can read the CTC staff recommendation here:


“Out of the Box” ideas that could happen with private partnerships

By Jim Wunderman

I had the honor of meeting today with the Governor and regional representatives from across the state to discuss long-stalled projects that could happen, if the state allowed what are called public private partnerships. They asked the Council to think out of the box for some ideas. Here’s what I presented:

Truck climbing lanes on the 580 Altamont Corridor
The Bay Area enjoys the distinction of having the 2nd worst traffic congestion in the United States. Over the past 15 years, as warehousing and logistics companies have moved out to the Central Valley and the Port of Oakland has expanded, the 580 freeway has become a parking lot of trucks and cars, truly the worst of the worst. Getting trucks off the road could improve safety, traffic congestion, the speed of goods delivery to other parts of the state and country, and air quality. It could be paid for with tolls or fees on private goods movement companies, Prop 1B goods movement funding, state highway funds and federal highway funds.

Fast trains between the Bay Area and Sacramento
The population centers of the Bay Area and Sacramento are rapidly and inexorably merging into one another and it has become standard for commuters to travel between them. The Capitol Corridor rail line is nearly operating at capacity and must compete with an equally increasing amount of freight. A PBI could create a standalone rapid rail line to carry passengers back and forth between the most densely populated areas of the new Northern California megaregion. It could be paid for with passenger fares, fees to rail freight companies to free up the other lines, Prop 1B public transit money, state highway funds and federal highway funds.

A Southern Crossing between the East Bay and the Peninsula
One of the biggest reasons the Bay Area is so afflicted by traffic congestion is the sheer volume of cars that attempt to squeeze onto the Bay Bridge each day, making it either the number 1 or 2 most traveled bridge in the United States, depending on the day. Senator Feinstein and the Bay Area Council have both long pushed for a new bridge to cross the Bay near the Oakland and San Francisco Airports. It would not only remove a huge bulk of traffic in the region, but could connect the regions two major international airports, allowing them to coordinate passenger and freight movement in a way never before possible. The bridge could also accommodate a BART line that would carry millions of passengers each year. Due to the coordination of the airports, the Southern Crossing might also eliminate the need to expand SFO or OAK airports and the resulting Bay fill. The project could be paid for with: tolls; BART fares; contributions from the airports or airlines; Prop 1B goods movement, public transit and highway funds; state highway funds; and, federal highway funds.


BART, the Council, The Governor – Time for a Press Conference

This morning Jim participated in a press conference with the Governor, Senate Pro Tem Perata, Mayor Dellums and others to announce $24 million for the BART transbay tube retrofit. The Council is proud to have such a tight relationship with BART. BART was the first major project of the Bay Area Council in the 1950’s when the Council conceived of the project, drafted the legislation, pushed it through the legislature and then funded the ballot campaign. We have heavily supported its expansion and improvement ever since. Indeed, Jim Wunderman was a co-chair of the BART tube seismic-upgrade campaign in 2004 that raised nearly $1 billion.