UCLA Luskin transportation expert Michael Manville is featured in a podcast and short film about traffic and public transit in Los Angeles. Besides negative impacts on drivers’ health, wallets and mental well-being, traffic is a large issue for people living near large roads, who may suffer harmful consequences from pollutants. In the NPR podcast, “The One Way to Reduce Traffic,” Manville, an associate professor, argues that the solution to traffic jams is to “price roads with a congestion charge, a dynamic type of toll that would rise and fall based on the demand for the road at different times of day.” Manville explains that the “majority of the delay in traffic is caused by the last few cars getting on the road.” A toll that would get 4-5 percent of drivers off the road could increase average speed by 15-20 percent. In his Streetfilms appearance, Manville highlights the limitations of Los Angeles’ approach to public transportation. With bus ridership falling and a prioritization of cars over buses, Manville identifies the root of the issue as a “fight over space.” He stresses urgency, saying “congestion in our major urban areas is getting worse.”
Mark Peterson, professor of public policy, political science and law, recently spoke to Elite Daily about the November 2018 midterm elections and the implications should they result in a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. Peterson said that a Democratic majority would lead to an increase in investigations against Donald Trump and his administration and an end to Trump’s legislative agenda. Even if there is a Democratic House confronting President Trump, he said, “it is possible some common ground will be found on some issues, such as investments in infrastructure, but even they will be caught not only in the vise of extraordinary partisan polarization and mutual distrust, but also the enormous constraints imposed by the erupting budget deficit and rapidly accumulating debt.” Changes may even reach the White House with many staffers and officials potentially seeking outside opportunities, he said. “Hold onto your hat and put on your seat belts,” Peterson said of the coming political climate.
Randall Akee, assistant professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies, wrote an article for the Brookings Institution’s Up Front blog likening the separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border to that of the United States’ former policy of permanently relocating American Indian children from their families and often impoverished communities into foster homes. This practice was in place until as recently as 1978, when the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted, granting tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over American Indian child custody cases. However, the ICWA was recently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas. Akee argues that the state-ordered breakup of tribal families is cruel and unnecessary and, if resumed, could further harm the already largely damaged tribal communities. Furthermore, he argues that indigenous peoples thrive under independence and self-governance, and meddling by state civil and criminal jurisdictions cause these communities to “[experience] an increase in crime and a reduction in incomes,” not to mention the “disastrous” effect on the welfare of the children themselves.
UCLA Luskin Urban Planning’s Karen Umemoto shared her thoughts about stereotypes related to Asians and Asian Americans on a KPCC broadcast of “Air Talk.” The interview followed the release of an essay by novelist Celest Ng on marriage and relationships between Asian women and non-Asian men and the harassment some Asian women receive — online and off — for their personal choice of partners. “I think it’s been an issue for decades. … Celeste Ng’s article just calls our attention to the new heights of harassment given the expanse of social media, I think, which brings a new dimension to the problem of hate speech,” Umemoto said. The director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center added that although the issue is longstanding, “I also don’t want to magnify it bigger than it is. … I think it’s important for us to put it in a broader social and historical context because I think it’s very dangerous the way that people are being attacked and harassed,” she said, noting that such controversy may distract from addressing the underlying structural, historical causes.
In a Forbes article following the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that included testimony from U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, UCLA Luskin’s John Villasenor highlighted results from two polls taken by College Pulse. The mobile application and website, which aggregates campus public opinion, showed that overall opinion about Kavanaugh’s confirmation did not change significantly after the testimony. But “breaking down the data down by gender tells an important part of the story: Among the respondents, college men … saw their support increase an additional 8 percentage points,” Villasenor noted. College women also showed increased support for confirmation in the poll, but only by 3 percentage points above the pre-hearing support level of just 11 percent. “The tech industry has barely scratched the surface of the potential for an optimized combination of social media and polling technologies,” Villasenor wrote.
A commentary on the changing demographics of older adults and minorities in the United States, co-authored by Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy Juan Fernando Torres-Gil, was published in the Dallas Morning News. Torres-Gil and co-author Jacqueline L. Angel, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, caution lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that these changes will re-define “the next America” in important ways. “By 2050, the United States will be driven by two demographics, majority-minority and older people,” wrote Torres-Gil and Angel. “This dynamic of twin demographic trends — a doubling of the older population and minorities and immigrants becoming the majority — will create political competition between older whites and younger racial and ethnic groups over scarce public resources, such as taxes to preserve Social Security versus reinvesting in public education,” added the co-authors of the recently published book, “the Politics of a Majority-Minority Nation: Aging, Diversity, and Immigration.”
Public Policy Professor Mark A. Peterson commented about the possible White House aspirations of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a story that appeared in the British news publication The Telegraph. “In personality, he is also everything President Trump is not,” said Peterson, whose research interests include the presidency and Congress. “He is articulate, gracious, cheerful, self-deprecating, devoid of bombast, and far from prone to insult and impulsive commentary or action,” Peterson added, but noted, “…some of those attributes may be a disadvantage in today’s politics.” Zev Yaroslavsky, former Los Angeles County supervisor and current director of the UCLA Luskin-based Los Angeles Initiative, also commented in the story, which noted that mayors are considered long-shots for the Oval Office. “We never had had a reality TV star as president or an African American as president,” Yaroslavsky said. “Anybody running for president will be hoping that lightning strikes, so he is thinking why not me.”
In a commentary published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, John Villasenor of UCLA Luskin Public Policy and co-author Ilana Redstone Akresh of the University of Illinois discuss viewpoint diversity on college campuses. While complaints of political correctness in academia have been around for decades, Villasenor and Akresh argue that the dynamic has changed in recent years. “Social media are increasingly employed as a tool both for direct censorship and for strengthening the pressures to self-censor, significantly narrowing the range of permissible academic discourse,” they write. Villasenor and Akresh advocate teaching students to examine multiple perspectives, explore nuance, question assumptions, and think critically in all aspects of their education. “Academic freedom exists and needs protection precisely because there are opinions that can both generate offense and have value,” they write. “This does not mean that all offensive ideas have value. But it does mean that the value of an idea cannot be judged solely on the basis of whether it offends.” Villasenor and Akresh write that “we need college faculties that are diverse racially, ethnically, religiously, and in terms of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and the viewpoints they bring to their research, teaching, and engagement with their communities.”
Michael Manville of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning commented in a Los Angeles Times op-ed article that weighed proposed solutions to traffic congestion in L.A. neighborhoods. The article highlights research that suggested reconfiguring narrow streets in the city’s smaller neighborhoods to one-way as a way to make streets more efficient and increase vehicle capacity. However, some U.S. cities have converted one-way streets back to two-way in an effort to slow traffic and increase safety for drivers, pedestrians and others. “We need to think about streets as more than conduits. They are multipurpose public spaces,” said Manville, suggesting that increased traffic speed does not necessarily improve a city’s quality of life.
UCLA Luskin Urban Planning’s Donald Shoup has made history. The American Planning Association has published a timeline of key events in American city planning since 1900, including Shoup’s book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” published in 2005. In recognizing Shoup’s decades-long work to improve transportation and land use by reforming cities’ parking policies, the American Planning Association placed him among other well-known authors including Rachel Carson and Jane Jacobs. In his influential book, Shoup argued that parking requirements in zoning ordinances subsidize cars, increase traffic congestion, worsen air pollution, encourage sprawl, degrade urban design, damage the economy, raise housing costs, reduce walkability, accelerate global warming and harm everyone who cannot afford or chooses not to own a car. To address these problems, many cities are now adopting the parking reforms Shoup proposed.
Karen Umemoto of UCLA Luskin was a guest on a KPCC “Air Talk” broadcast focusing on new U.S. Census data that indicates the percentage of foreign-born residents in the United States is the highest since 1910. The data show that new arrivals are more likely to come from Asia than in the past. “It’s hard to cast one homogeneous statement about what the impacts will be, but I think there is a lot of diversity that comes with the new immigration that we’re seeing from parts of Asia, especially China and India and the Philippines,” said Umemoto, professor of urban planning and Asian American studies and director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. “But I think there’s a lot of economic diversity too,” she said. “It’s a very bifurcated population economically, where you have many who are very poor and some who are very wealthy.”
UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor Mark A. Peterson engaged with citizens on the other side of the country during a forum on health care policy this summer. Peterson spoke at the inaugural “Egghead Evening,” organized by the Lincoln County Democratic Committee in Maine. The open sessions encourage discussion about policy-related or historical topics. Peterson, an expert on Medicare reform, HIV/AIDS policy and other national health care issues, spoke about “The Winding Road to Universal Health Care in America.” A video of the evening’s exchange can be found here.
Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin, was quoted in recent news stories on a proposed temporary measure by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors — approved in September 2018 — that would cap rent increases in unincorporated county areas. A Los Angeles Times story cited research by Ong that indicated no significant difference in rental housing in cities that have adopted some form of rent control as compared with the rest of the county. “The short-term solution is protecting those who are most vulnerable,” said Ong, professor emeritus of urban planning, social welfare and Asian American studies. “It needs to be complemented in the long term by strategic planning about increasing the supply of affordable housing.” Ong also spoke to LAist for a story on the proposal. “What we’re seeing is rents are increasing faster than inflation, and faster than people’s incomes,” he said. “We have reached a point now where many households are unable to pay their rents. … They quite often have to decide between paying the rent and paying for other daily necessities.”
In an opinion piece for Capitol Weekly, JR DeShazo, director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI), demonstrated that California’s pioneering climate policies are driving environmental and economic progress. Published on the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, the article pointed to LCI research showing that the state’s $2.2 billion in California Climate Investments supports more than 75,000 jobs. “We have hard evidence that climate policies are helping Californians in the most practical of ways by creating jobs throughout the state,” DeShazo wrote. The funds also support expanded transit options, affordable housing projects, tree-planting and programs to turn waste from dairy farms into renewable energy, among other initiatives. “Our state is working to do what’s right both for the planet and for the people of California, and it’s a record to be proud of,” DeShazo wrote.
Randall Akee, associate professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin, wrote an opinion article about the federal government’s family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, noting, “It’s on each of us to realize that what we’re seeing is history repeating itself.” Akee called the current policy unjust, ill-conceived and inhumane, and likened it to the era of American Indian boarding schools, when “the U.S. government also separated children from parents — often under the guise of improving safety and opportunities for these children.” That separation “often resulted in death, disease and deprivation,” Akee wrote in the Houston Chronicle op-ed, adding, “The Trump administration’s actions in 2018 aren’t, unfortunately, all that different from historical actions taken by the United States toward its indigenous peoples over the last 150 years.”
In a Vice story about the black market for pot, which in many ways is more profitable than the now-legalized marijuana industry, UCLA Luskin Public Policy lecturer Brad Rowe commented that Los Angeles has made cannabis regulation too complicated. Rowe said there should be rewards for compliant businesses, such as fewer inspections and reduced fees. He added that the city must work harder to identify illegal shops and attempt to get them permitted. “It’s been whack-a-mole in the city of L.A. for forever,” said Rowe, who is also affiliated with the university’s Cannabis Research Initiative.