After Raising Objections, Bay Area Council Applauds End of 60% Work from Home Mandate
An onerous work-from-home mandate on Bay Area businesses was formally shelved today (Nov. 20) after the Bay Area Council raised strong objections. The Council was the first organization to raise alarm bells about the mandate.
Under the original plan proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), businesses would have been required to have 60 percent of their employees work from home by 2035 regardless of what type of transportation they use, including public transit, bicycles or carpools. The mandate, which is included in MTC’s 2050 Plan Bay Area regional transportation and housing blueprint, would have applied to all businesses with 25 or more employees in jobs eligible for remote work.
In raising objections to the mandate, the Council argued that a 60 percent work from home mandate represented major regulatory overreach and would dramatically reduce ridership on mass transit systems that are already struggling with a pandemic-induced shutdown, gut economic activity in urban centers where a wide range of service businesses rely on spending by office workers to survive, and disproportionately hurt low-income residents.
“Getting cars off the road and emissions out of the air is a goal we all share,” said Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman. “The work-from-home mandate was the wrong solution and represented excessive regulatory overreach. The compromise will help revitalize downtowns, and gives business critical flexibility to have workers carpool, use public transit, ride bikes or walk, or even work remotely, but by their own choice. The old policy would have hurt the vitality of important business and employment centers, decimated our public transit systems and discouraged new businesses from coming to the Bay Area. Bay Area residents and businesses need flexibility. It’s a hallmark of our region and culture. We applaud the MTC, Chair Scott Haggerty, Commissioner Jim Spering and Executive Director Therese McMillan for hearing the concerns of the business community and withdrawing the 60% mandate.”
The mandate stemmed from aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets imposed by the California Air Resources Board, which MTC is required to meet in order to secure millions of dollars in funding for critical regional transportation projects. The revised plan focuses specifically on workers who commute by automobile, capping the number of employees eligible to commute by car on any given day at 40 percent starting in the year 2035. The new plan also would apply only to businesses with 50 or more employees and would exclude agricultural businesses that are not easily served by transit. A variety of financial and other incentives would also be made available under the program to help businesses encourage workers not to commute by car. More than 70 percent of commuters use a car and drive alone. To engage in the Council’s transportation and regional planning work, please contact Senior Vice President Gwen Litvak.