Bay Area Council Slams PCC
That’s the first and perhaps best response to this letter to the Peninsula Cities Coalition from Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman regarding what he calls the PCC’s “obstructionist policies towards California high speed rail and the grave danger that they pose for our state.” Read the whole thing:
This is an extremely powerful statement from a very important and influential person, with key ties in the Bay Area. Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, once served on Mayor Dianne Feinstein’s staff and as chief of staff to SF Mayor Frank Jordan, from 1992 to 1995. The BAC, as they’re often known, represents a who’s who of Bay Area corporations, including Chevron, Wells Fargo, Google, Safeway, and others.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim and others at the BAC in the past, although it was on other projects (namely, their efforts to call a Constitutional Convention for California), and respect their work greatly. However, I had no idea this letter was in the works until it was emailed to me just minutes ago.
The Bay Area Council played a major role in helping bring mass transit to the Bay Area. They were the ones who proposed the concept that became BART and provided the political backing to get it supported both in the Bay Area itself and in Sacramento. They weren’t responsible for the specific design details of BART, so if you’re not happy with where it goes or how the system works, don’t blame the BAC. But without them, there would have been no mass rapid transit system in the Bay Area of any kind.
They’ve played an important role in recent years in supporting the high speed rail project, in the state legislature and on the ballot. As the voice of Bay Area business, they quite well understand the importance of HSR to the region’s future. While some claim the HSR project will cost too much, the Bay Area Council and its members clearly understand that, in fact, the cost of doing nothing isn’t zero – that HSR is necessary for these companies and the region as a whole to remain competitive and prosperous in the 21st century.
So in that sense, it is very welcome for the Bay Area Council to call on the PCC to reconsider its approach to the HSR project. They echo statements made to the PCC last week by Californians For High Speed Rail Vice-Chair Daniel Krause and Executive Director Brian Stanke, who both expressed a desire to work with the PCC but also to have them dial back their rhetoric on the project.
CA4HSR, and now apparently the BAC, know that the people of the Peninsula, including these five cities, strongly support HSR and want it built. We agree with the PCC that it also needs to be built right. And we seek to find the common ground that enables us to work out any issues and ensure that the will of the voters is respected and the HSR project built – a project necessary to a high quality of life on the Peninsula.
Let’s hope this letter leads to positive outcomes on the Peninsula, and a new approach to ensuring HSR is built, Caltrain saved and improved, and the Bay Area’s future strengthened.