BART Silicon Valley

Failing to plan is planning to fail

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December 23  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Nearly 200 executives from 120 member companies of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group gathered on Dec. 16 at Santa Clara University to debate and decide our 2016 action plan to strengthen our region and state’s economy and to improve the quality of life for our employees, their families and the broader community.

Top of the list: Traffic. As we have successfully accomplished 4 times in 3 decades, the Leadership Group is once again willing to lead efforts in Santa Clara County for a transportation funding measure in November of 2016 to finalize the BART extension, double the capacity of Caltrain Commuter Rail Service, improve basic transit service for seniors, students, workers and the disabled, improve bike and pedestrian facilities – especially near schools, ease traffic congestion on all eight county expressways (Almaden, Capitol, Central, Foothill, Lawrence, Montague, Oregon and San Tomas); key highway interchanges on 101, 85, 87, 280 and 237, and to fill potholes and maintain streets in all 15 cities and towns.

A recent “call for projects” by the Valley Transportation Authority identified $47.8 billion in transportation funding needs. At most, a transportation measure will generate $6 billion over 30 years. Like we all do with our family budgets, this means setting priorities to build a system of transportation improvements that provides relief throughout the County, identifies specific improvements and offers the accountability that we, as taxpayers, deserve. Interested in helping? Contact the Leadership Group. Gridlock might describe our nation’s politics, but it doesn’t have to describe our local roads and highways.

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Unlock the Gridlock

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July 1  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . taxpayers are ready for traffic relief.

In our recent Silicon Valley Leadership Group annual poll, our fellow voters and taxpayers made one point clear: We are tired of traffic gridlock, and are willing to take steps to fix it.

When we asked voters if they would once again invest local dollars for local transportation improvements with local accountability, the results were resounding. A specific list of improvements, which could be funded by a half-cent sales tax increase, garnered support from 68 percent, with only 27 percent against and 5 percent undecided.

The specific improvements polled are as follows:

  • Finish the BART extension to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara – 86 percent support
  • Repair streets, fix potholes in all 15 cities and towns – 88 percent support
  • Electrify, modernize Caltrain Commuter Rail Service from Gilroy to Palo Alto – 73 percent support
  • Relieve traffic on all eight county expressways – 80 percent support
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, especially near schools – 84 percent support
  • Improve transit service for seniors, the poor and disabled – 85 percent support

Befitting the visionary spirit of Silicon Valley, our voters and taxpayers are once again willing to place their money where their mouths are – for specific transportation improvements that will strengthen our economy, keep and create jobs and improve our quality of life.

When it comes to traffic, we may have the keys to unlock the gridlock.

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BART: Time to Make the Dream Reality

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January 14  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . It’s time to bring BART to Downtown San Jose.

In his inaugural speech, new San José Mayor Sam Liccardo struck a chord when he said that it is time to finish the BART extension to Downtown San Jose.

It was, in fact, the biggest applause line of the night, before a crowd of 2,300 people.

I bet you feel the same way. So how do we take this vital vision from rhetoric to reality?

First, the extension from Fremont to Berryessa is on-track. The 10-mile segment is a full year ahead of schedule and $70 million under budget. Service should begin in the summer of 2017.

Second, there is more than $1 billion set aside from voter-approved funding measures in 2000, and the on-going operations costs from a 2008 voter-approved measure.

Third, the firm commitment of a new Mayor, who co-led both the 2000 and 2008 campaigns, working with his predecessors Ron Gonzales and Chuck Reed.

Next, we need additional funding from local, state and federal sources to finish the job.

The final 6-mile extension – with all four stations (Alum Rock, Downtown, Diridon and Santa Clara) – produce ridership numbers for all 16-miles above 90,000 daily passenger trips.

That’s why, with Mayor Liccardo, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group heads to D.C. on March 17-19 to make the case to our federal partners. It’s why we often meet with state leaders, and why we will continue to champion local funds.

Big dreams don’t happen when we’re asleep. No, dreams come true when we are awake – and working to fulfill them – like BART all the way to Downtown San Jose.

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What have you done for me lately?

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January 7  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “What have you done for me lately?”

The calendar has flipped from 2014 to 2015. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we closed out 2014 with several solid successes:

  • BART funding from the California Transportation Commission, which I Chair, was completed, for a total of $760 million. The extension is under-budget and a year ahead of schedule.
  • Our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, sponsored by Applied Materials, brought together 26,000 neighbors to celebrate Thanksgiving morning together – generating more than $900,000 to help needy local families.
  • The state water bond, Proposition 1, passed in November with the help of the Leadership Group, and incredible leadership by Governor Brown.

But life is about looking forward, not back.

This year, our goals are equally ambitious, and will be presented in a comprehensive way in the days ahead. But hear is a glimpse of what’s to come:

  • Housing and homelessness – the Leadership Group will step up its historic role.
  • Traffic relief – BART and Caltrain, along with other road improvements, are key.
  • Immigration, cyber, tax and patent reform – all federal priorities that must be tackled head-on.

Silicon Valley is an ambitious place, and we have many ambitious goals on our plate. Get on-board and join us. We have work to do.

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In Conversation with Senator Dianne Feinstein

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September 3  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino
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Here’s food for thought . . . Words are weapons; they can build people up or tear people down.

Recently, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group had the pleasure of hosting California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein – a leader I have long admired for bringing civility and bipartisanship to the United States Senate.

In our 55-minute, on-stage conversation before 315 CEOs and Silicon Valley leaders, the Senator shared her views on important economic issues ranging from cybersecurity, immigration reform, patent reform and BART to San Jose; as well as ominous global issues like the violence in Ukraine and the Middle East, with senseless slayings of American journalists and thousands of Christians and other minorities by the terrorist organization known as ISIS.

What was most inspiring about Senator Feinstein was much more than her deep grasp of a wide range of issues, or her solid advice on the politics of moving intricate policy items forward. Instead, it was her genuine warmth for everyone in the room. Whether a Fortune 500 company executive, a startup CEO or the interns who volunteer in our offices, the Senator was generous with her time and gracious with her comments.

The luncheon session ended with a question on what brings her hope. Her response: Citizens in our state and nation who care about our communities, and contribute with their time and talent.

For 55-minutes, the entire hall of Valley leaders was spellbound – listening and learning from a leader who has earned our respect and admiration. Rather than tearing others down, we once again witnessed a leader dedicated to lifting others up. Our country would be well-served by more leaders like her.

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Timing is Everything

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June 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Timing is everything; especially in elections.

Let’s face it; Silicon Valley traffic is terrible, and the conditions of our roads in most of our cities are even worse.

We need to fix our road and transit networks, and we need to do it now.

Yet we live in a democracy, and a democracy that requires a two-thirds vote for local tax increases.

As private citizens, the members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have led four successful transportation sales tax campaigns in the past 30 years, generating more than $12 billion dollars in vital transportation improvements.

We are willing to help lead such an effort again – but this is where timing comes in. Based on the dismal voter turnout in the June 3 primary election, bringing out a record low number of voters, we now expect a very low turnout this November. Low turnouts do not bode well for transportation funding measures, so the Leadership Group Board has made the painful decision to wait – made more painful by the fact that our employees and families are waiting in traffic jams that need to be addressed. Our original goal was a potential measure in November of 2016, the next presidential election. That is once again our goal.

If you are as frustrated with traffic as we are – join us. Contact me at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Together, we have led measures that built Highway 85, improved Highways 237 and 101, are building the BART extension and funded key improvements for Caltrain Commuter Rail. We have a record of collective success, but much more work to do. Together, in 2016, we can do it.

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Traffic Relief

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April 25  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . If you don’t ask, you don’t know.

Annually, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group commissions a professional survey of 600 likely Silicon Valley voters. As a policy organization consisting of nearly 400 CEOs and senior officers, it is important for us to understand if the concerns expressed in board rooms are similar to the concerns conveyed in our employee’s living rooms.

Our most recent survey was completed on April 13. We asked voters for their views on housing and homelessness, traffic and transportation, education and the economy, taxes and fees. The responses underscored, in this visionary Valley, that voters still want to invest in making our communities better. This was clearly conveyed in the questions about transportation.

  • When voters were asked if they would once again tax themselves for specific transportation improvements:
  • More than 2/3 said YES for Phase II of the BART extension, from Berryessa to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.
  • More than 2/3 said YES for Caltrain commuter rail improvements from Gilroy to Palo Alto.
  • More than 2/3 said YES for street maintenance and pothole repairs in all 15 cities and towns.
  • More than 2/3 said YES to improve all eight county expressways: Almaden, Capitol, Central, Foothill, Lawrence, Montague, Oregon, San Tomas.
  • More than 2/3 said YES to bike and pedestrian improvements, especially near schools.
  • And more than 2/3 said YES to transit services for seniors and the disabled.

Our question – which will have to be thoughtfully considered by all stakeholders – is simple: Is the timing right to invest again?

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Priorities for 2014: BART Extension – Phase II

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January 22  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Let’s never forget BART’s great start.

For the past 15 years, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has championed bringing BART to Silicon Valley, including successful ballot measures in 2000 and 2008, along with advocacy to secure $2 billion in state and federal matching funds.

These efforts have led to the construction of the first 10 miles of the 16-mile BART extension, which is running nearly $100 million under-budget and a full year ahead of schedule. Service will begin in the summer of 2017.

While we monitor the progress on the first 10 miles, we cannot lose sight of the final six miles. Here’s why:

  • The first 10 miles takes BART from Warm Springs in Fremont to Milpitas and Berryessa in North San Jose, linking with Light Rail.
  • The final six miles adds four more stations: In Alum Rock, Downtown San Jose, Diridon Station/SAP Center and Santa Clara.
  • All 16 miles will serve roughly 90,000 daily passenger trips, removing 16,000 tons of greenhouse gasses from our atmosphere each year.
  • All 16 miles leads to 108,000 new jobs and 27,000 new homes within a half-mile of the six new BART stations, easing congestion on our roads and highways.

Yes, BART is off to a great start – but let’s never forget to finish what we start. That’s why phase II of the BART extension, the final six miles, remains a top priority of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

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The Leadership Group’s Top Five Priorities for 2014

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December 18  |  Education, Federal Issues, Government Relations, Tax Policy, Transportation, Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Make your goals transparent and accountable.

Each year, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group creates a three-year rolling business plan. Designed by our 392 members, it sets priorities in 10 distinct areas in which we can add value to the Valley, state and nation: education, energy, environment, federal issues, local government, health care, housing, tax policy, transportation and the community. All told, we have 62 distinct deliverables in our rolling business plan.

Each initiative is selected, and each effort must be measurable.

For 2014, our top five priorities were set last week at our Annual Shareholders Meeting.

  • Number 1: Work for comprehensive U.S. tax reform that is fair to taxpayers at home and keeps us competitive abroad.
  • Number 2: Strengthen California’s higher education systems
  • Number 3: Advance the BART extension from Berryessa to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
  • Number 4: Fight for meaningful immigration reform
  • Number 5: Enhance California’s economic competitiveness through our 14-member Silicon Valley Caucus serving in our state Legislature.

By making our goals public – both to our members and to the broader community of citizens and stakeholders – we make ourselves accountable to everyone in our community.

To view our complete set of priorities in each of our ten priority areas, please visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s website. We would welcome the opportunity to engage you and your company in our work.

We face tremendous challenges in 2014, with plenty of opportunities to work together to forge our future success. We do this by setting clear goals that make us both transparent and accountable.

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