The event was sponsored by economic development entities, including the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group. Incidentally, the group just transitioned leadership with Stephanie Beasly from Sandia National Lab taking over as chair from Rick Shumway of Stanford Health Care Tri-Valley.
Panel moderator Danny Wan, executive director of the Port of Oakland, concluded the event by asking the supervisors what they thought was the single most important issue. Miley named mental health and improving services, while Gioia was similar, calling out homelessness. Both had earlier commented on the challenges of the seemingly ever growing population of unhoused people, driven by high housing costs as well as addiction and mental health issues. Notably, both were concerned about how much money has been spent—billions across the state—and the problem is still growing. Miley said that Alameda County and the cities are collaborating on a coordinated plan.
Miley called out the price of housing, saying that it was “preposterous” that it cost $750,000 to build a unit of affordable housing. He talked about a potential regional housing bond that could net $1 billion a year for housing in Alameda County. Whether voters will have the stomach for that remains to be seen. There’s also all of the fees that government agencies pile on to housing.
Discussing public transit, Gioia hit it on the head when he pointed out that BART’s business model of taking thousands of people to downtown San Francisco was broken—remote work has ended it and the agencies need to adjust to the new reality. Miley said agencies should consolidate—if memory serves there’s 27 agencies in the area—but they need to protect the work force. I beg to differ. The transit agencies, particularly BART, are generously staffed to put it mildly and compensated richly. The work force should shrink as the schedules shrink to meet demand. Refreshingly, Miley said that throwing money at the problem is not always the right answer.
Both have served on regional boards and Gioia emphasized that most problems cross jurisdictional boundaries and need regional approaches.
With the A’s seemingly headed to join the Raiders in Las Vegas, the Coliseum is ripe for redevelopment. Miley viewed that as an opportunity to redevelop that huge chunk of land with excellent freeway, BART and even rail access.
Gioia noted that the two counties have very experienced board members with he and Federal Glover in Contra Costa and Miley and Keith Carson in Alameda County. Gioia was elected in 1998, while Glover won election in 2000. Carson was elected in 1992, while Miley won in 2000.
Gioia also pointed out that Contra Costa is the second most industrialized county in the state (Los Angeles is No. 1) and has four oil refineries along its industrial corridor on the Bay and the Carquinez Strait.