When Will Dominie set out to work on his study analyzing gentrification in Los Angeles and how it affects transit riders, probably one of the things furthest from his mind was winning an award.
Dominie, a UCLA Luskin School Urban and Regional Planning 2012 graduate, wanted to shed light on a growing problem where bus service was being cut in favor of rail lines, costing hundreds of thousands of Angelenos who rely on mass transit as part of their daily lives. Many lower-income residents are being displaced by the gentrification of many areas and it has meant a decrease in transit ridership.
Dominie’s study, Is Just Growth Smarter Growth? The Effects of Gentrification on Transit Ridership and Driving in Los Angeles' Transit Station Area Neighborhoods, earned him the Parker Award for the best transportation and planning capstone project in the United States from the Council of University Transportation Centers. Dominie will receive his award in a ceremony in Washington D.C. next month.
“I’m really surprised, excited and proud to be receiving this award,” Dominie said. “I put a lot of work into this report and it’s really vindicating to see that recognized by the CUTC. Beyond the personal satisfaction though, I’m hoping that this award draws some more attention to the issues. Specifically, I hope that it spurs some critical conversations and encourages policy makers to recognize the synergy between very affordable housing and transit ridership. And I hope it helps support the great work of organizations like the Bus Riders Union, the East Los Angeles Community Corporation, the LA Human Right to Housing Collective and others struggling for housing and transportation justice.”
Dominie’s study, called “masterful and groundbreaking” by UCLA's Lewis Center director Brian Taylor, was of an interest to him more than just as a research topic. Challenging the view of the decision makers who approach displacement as a necessary evil to improve transit oriented development (TOD) for the middle class, Dominie says the results “are disastrous for transit ridership.”
“Personally, I believe that we all have a right to housing, specifically to housing we can afford and that is near to our jobs, schools, family and community,” he said. “I also think we have a right to a city that allows us all to get where we need to go. TOD, as it is currently being practiced across the nation, violates both of these rights, forcing many families out of their newly transit rich neighborhoods.”
Working with Bus Riders Union organizer Sunyoung Yang, Dominie set out to reveal “a profoundly unjust and unsustainable direction in Los Angeles’ approach to transit investment and housing development,” Dominie said.
Dominie is the 11th transportation policy and planning student to win an award for the best capstone, thesis or dissertation from the CUTC, according to Taylor, which is easily the most from any university in the nation.