Issues surrounding crime, safety and cleanliness throughout the Bay Area have soared in recent years, pushing residents, employees, and other visitors away from city centers, decimating transit ridership, and threatening the region’s economic recovery. For the first time in decades, recent surveys of voters and the business community reveal that crime and safety have become the two top concerns in the Bay Area. Restoring confidence in the safety of our downtown business districts, neighborhoods, transit systems and other public spaces is critical. Public safety is the core of a functioning and productive society and vital for attracting and retaining a competitive workforce. The Bay Area Council has therefore moved swiftly in developing its public safety agenda. In 2022, The Council’s Executive Committee approved a crisis policy agenda for 2023 that will elevate crime, safety and cleanliness as the Council’s number one priority.
Recent Progress: Transit Safety
The Bay Area Council launched its crime and safety agenda by focusing on the intersection of public transit and public safety, specifically on the Bay Area’s most essential transit system – BART. The Bay Area Council Employer Return to Work surveys consistently show an overwhelming number of respondents – over two thirds – are concerned for themselves and their employees’ personal safety when riding public transit. Additionally, the 2022 Bay Area Council Poll revealed that nearly 40% of respondents cited personal safety as the reason that they do not take public transit in the Bay Area more frequently. In response, the Council developed a transit safety work plan, the elements of which will be implemented throughout 2023 and beyond.
Beyond transit safety, Bay Area Council staff initiated a rapid information-gathering period, learning from experts in the field as well as individuals with lived experience, developing partnerships with other major cities and police departments across the nation, exploring studies, crime stats, and other literature, and meeting with local political leaders. In 2022, the Council hosted police chiefs and other top law enforcement from around the region along with other city leaders to identify consistent problems across agencies, brainstorm solutions, and explore leveraging the private sector to implement speedy, effective solutions. The Bay Area Council will continue to develop and strengthen relationships and learn from experts, public agencies and officials, residents, employers, transit riders, and beyond in 2023.
With the input and guidance of the Bay Area Council Board member and Executive Committee leadership, the Council will finalize and implement a robust set of public safety goals for 2023, including but not limited to:
- Formulate and implement a 2023 regional public safety work plan.
- Develop a set of metrics to track crime, perceptions of crime, and cleanliness, and hold leaders accountable.
- Conduct regionwide polling on public safety issues.
- Lead advocacy to address safety, reliability, and cleanliness concerns on BART and other transit systems to draw riders back to the system.
- Conduct a study of best public safety practices of other cities and release a report to members on the findings.
- Assist in expanding incentives and recruitment efforts for police department personnel and potentially other Bay Area public safety agencies in order to guarantee more security presence throughout the Bay Area.
- Promote services and programs to clean up city streets.
- Leverage technology as a key public safety resource and support its growth in the Bay Area where appropriate.
Join the movement to make the Bay Area a safer place for all who live, work, and visit. The Council is in the process of developing its Public Safety Committee and is looking for members to chair and participate in the committee and the Council’s broader public safety agenda. For more information about the future committee and Bay Area Council public safety initiatives, email Lhill@bayareacouncil.org.
The Bay Area Council started to develop its strategic public safety partnerships in 2022 to learn from other cities in the nation who are facing similar challenges with crime and safety. One such partnership with Chicago, involving the Civic Committee of Chicago, the Civic Consulting Alliance, and the University of Chicago, is rapidly developing with potential joint programming and projects slated for 2023. Other key partnerships are on the horizon for 2023 – stay tuned.