A multi-billion-dollar ‘mega measure’ to fix Bay Area traffic for good heading your way

By Erin Baldassar : mercurynews – excerpt

Imagine a Bay Area with highways that flow instead of grind to a halt. With trains that ring the bay, some running 24 hours a day. With ferries that stop at more than a handful of terminals and autonomous buses cruising in their own lanes, blasting past cars on the freeway.

If that sounds like a fantasy, just wait. The dream may be closer to reality than you think.

A coalition of Bay Area business leaders represented by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area Council, along with the urban planning think tank SPUR, say that dream is the answer to traffic congestion on Bay Area roads, which grew 84 percent between 2010 and 2016. The average commuter now spends more than 29 hours a year slogging through highways at speeds of 35 mph or slower.

“People are wasting hours of their life in traffic,” said Gabriel Metcalf, the president and CEO of SPUR. “Conversations started all over the Bay Area asking the question, can we do something at a bigger scale than we have done before? Big enough to actually solve the problem? Big enough to actually get us a different regional transportation system than we have today?”…

“The voting public has got to connect the dots that if they want the transportation issues solved, if they want access to housing solved, they’ve got to do this,” he said. “And they should want to do it, and they should even be excited about it.”...(more)

Advertisements

Tech heavyweights Benioff, Mayer and Stoppelman enter state’s housing battle

By : bizjournals – excerpt

Tech titans are gathering to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s “as of right” proposal to reduce approvals needed for new projects that include affordable housing, even as some local elected officials have opposed the bill.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner are among dozens of tech and business leaders who support the bill, in a letter from the Bay Area Council, the largest local business group.

Other supporters include SV Angel venture capitalist Ron Conway, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Max Levchin, founder of Affirm and Paypal. (Disclosure: Mary Huss, publisher of the San Francisco Business Times, is a member of the Bay Area Council’s Board of Trustees and is also listed as a supporter.)

The bill would remove discretionary reviews from projects with 20 percent affordable housing or 10 percent near transit, which could cut down the often multi-year approvals process for new development.

“The companies represented by these CEOs employ hundreds of thousands of workers statewide who are suffering because of the state’s epic housing shortage,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, in a statement.

“The lack of supply and resulting skyrocketing rents and home prices are taking a particularly steep toll on those at the lower rungs of the economic ladder who cannot compete for housing in this market and are being evicted, dislocated and marginalized,” said Wunderman.

Another supporter, Sam Altman, president of the prominent startup incubator Y Combinator, which provided early funding to Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit, also wrote a blog post in support of the legislation.

“I believe that lowering the cost of housing is one of the most important things we can do to help people increase their quality of life and to reduce wealth inequality,” he wrote. “A huge part of the problem has been that building in the Bay Area is approved by discretion; even when developments comply with local zoning, they can still be vetoed or stalled by local planning commissions, lawsuits, or ballot measures.”… (more)