UCLA Luskin Community Scholars Project Named National Award Winner Students’ study of the distribution of goods in the L.A. area receives American Planning Association’s 2017 professional institute award for applied research

By Stan Paul

Each year since 1991, scholars and students from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs have worked together with community stakeholders to focus on timely and important Los Angeles regional issues and publish their findings and recommendations.

For their 2015-16 study of the distribution of goods in Southern California, the Community Scholars, a joint initiative of the Luskin School’s Department of Urban Planning and the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, has received national recognition in the applied research category from the American Planning Association’s (APA) professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Chosen from a competitive nationwide field of candidates, the project, “Delivering the Good: Strategic Interventions Toward a Just & Sustainable Logistics System in Southern California,” is one of just two projects receiving the AICP award for applied research. UCLA shares the award with the University of Virginia.

“The enthusiasm of the students not only resulted in this excellent final report, but just recently they became involved in contributing to comments on the Clean Air Action Plan,” said Goetz Wolff, an urban planning faculty adviser for the project who has been a part of the program since its founding. Community Scholars also was recently recognized for its 25 years of commitment and service to the community with UCLA’s 2016 Community Program of the Year honor, the Landmark Award.

To ensure the needed breadth of knowledge that the topic of sustainable goods movement required, Wolff said, students — all candidates for the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree in 2016 — were selected from several of the Urban Planning areas of concentration: economic development, transportation and environmental planning. The winning project was focused on the movement and distribution of goods through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and its disproportional negative impact on local communities, labor and the environment.

“The combination of perspectives and skills resulted in a powerful mix with our community scholars,” Wolff said. The program expanded its knowledge base by bringing aboard Linda Delp, who heads UCLA’s Labor and Occupational Safety and Health program, as a co-instructor.

As part of their research, the students went on several field trips, including a bus tour of the Alameda Corridor, a boat tour of the Port of Los Angeles and a tour of the massive Costco distribution center in the Inland Empire, Wolff said. Teo Wickland, a Ph.D. student in urban planning at Luskin, and Katy McNamara, a doctoral candidate in environmental health sciences at UCLA, served as teaching assistants for the course, which also serves as the capstone project for Luskin MURP students.

In addition, at the Community Scholars weekly meetings held at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center, the group heard from experts, organizations and activists concerned about the impact and future of goods movement in the region. “The participants from community organizations also brought their values and environmental, community, labor union and institutional experiences so that we had shared learning and research,” Wolff said.

Student team members who participated in the project were Adriana Quiquivix, Ariana Vito, Diana Benitez, Dylan Sittig, Edber Macedo, Evan Moorman, Gabriel Gutierrez, Kate Bridges, Lindsey Jagoe, Meghmik Babakhanian, Michael Barrita-Diaz, Saly Heng, Sam Appel and Stephanie Tsai.

Bio information on 2016 Community Scholars team may be found in the full report.

The winners of the 2017 awards will be recognized May 9 at the APA/AICP Annual Meeting and Leadership Honors event held in conjunction with the 2017 National Planning Conference in New York, N.Y.

A full list of winners is available here.

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