Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee was intrigued by the personal identity responses on the 2018 American Family Survey, according to Deseret News. Akee said he would be interested in finding out whether race as a component of personal identification is more internal or imposed by society. He suggested it can be further examined by the American Family Survey. He noted, “For white families, 16 percent had had an immediate family member die; for black families, it’s much higher, 25 percent.” Further, he noted that more black and Latino respondents had experienced job loss than white respondents. He said this deserves more scrutiny by policymakers. “This should double our efforts for understanding why that is the case,” Akee concluded.
Visiting Professor of Public Policy, 1988 Democratic nominee for president and three-term governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis traveled around Massachusetts in a 1949 Hudson in support of the North-South Rail Link, the Boston Globe reported. Dukakis said he hopes the journey will a send a message to lawmakers that the North-South Rail Link will alleviate traffic and improve the lives of those who use public transit. The project would build a tunnel between two stations to let trains travel through Boston. “We’ve got to get the folks in the State House to start getting serious about this,” Dukakis said, “and connecting these two stations is absolutely critical.” He is set to meet with legislative leadership to discuss the rail link and transportation in general. Dukakis also advocates a “first-class statewide regional rail system.” He emphasized, “These projects have got to start moving quickly and aggressively.”
UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor John Villasenor recently co-authored an article on “ritualized apologies,” the growing trend of self-flagellation or self-censorship following rhetorical missteps that fall out of line with popular views. The ritualized apology is regularly seen in the corporate world and on college campuses, particularly in places where the political left holds sway, he and his co-author wrote in the online magazine Quillette. “In today’s increasingly tribalized climate, transgressions that step out of line with the left often lead to demands for apologies—the more humbly offered, the better,” they wrote. “Apologies have become the ritualized mechanism to avoid permanent professional and/or social banishment.” They concluded that encouraging healthy dialogue across party lines is necessary to avoid extreme political polarization.
Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Jorja Leap spoke to the Los Angeles Daily News about newly elected L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Leap questioned whether Villanueva’s plan for a “truth and reconciliation” committee would be worth it. “Change is a delicate process that takes time and energy. To focus on what has already passed is questionable,” she said. “I would think the new sheriff would want to focus on the future.” Leap, director of the UCLA Health and Social Justice Partnership and co-founder of the Watts Leadership Institute, said she hopes Villanueva will use meaningful intention and collaboration when looking at the department’s needs. “He’s taking a lot of action, but [is it] really going to lead to the reform and transformation of the department?” Leap asked.
Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly discussed Amazon’s failure to reverse the concentration of wealth and power in the United States in a Ringer article explaining disappointment in the company’s choice for a second headquarters. Amazon garnered national attention when it announced the search for a home for “HQ2,” inviting cities with at least 1 million residents, an established mass transit system and proximity to an international airport to apply. Many saw this as an opportunity to spur economic growth in cities beyond established hubs. However, Amazon ultimately chose two smaller sites in New York and Virginia — both close to CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal homes in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Many cities vying to lure HQ2 were never realistic options for Amazon, Tilly said. He added, “The whole thing was a show with the ultimate purpose of getting the best possible benefits from one or more cities on the short list they already had in mind. I don’t think there was a genuine process of scoring the map of the United States.”
Juan Matute, deputy director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, spoke to PBS News Hour about electric scooters in the Los Angeles region. While Santa Monica has been more lenient toward electric scooters, cities such as Milwaukee have prohibited them completely, Matute said. Bird bypassed licensing in Santa Monica, he said, explaining, “They wouldn’t have been able to get a license because there wasn’t a category for what they were doing. They wanted to demonstrate something, show that it worked and then attract additional rounds of financing.” When Lime, another electric scooter company, entered the market, Matute said it saturated the market to make it more convenient for people to try them. Electric scooters are intended to solve mobility issues in the city, Matute said. “It kind of remains to be seen what types of trips the scooters are displacing,” he concluded.
Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky spoke to the Los Angeles Times about Jim McDonnell’s defeat in the Los Angeles County sheriff race. Yaroslavsky supported incumbent McDonnell’s last two campaigns but commented on his lack of political savvy. “He didn’t have a political calculus, like in how to show empathy for constituencies that are being squeezed in our community,” Yaroslavsky said. “The immigrant community was not happy about the way the department was dealing with its relationship with ICE.” The article also cited Matt Barreto, faculty co-director of the UCLA Luskin-based Latino Politics and Policy Initiative, which measured Latino turnout in the November 2018 election.
In a recent article for research think-tank Brookings, UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor John Villasenor commented on the increasing presence of artificial intelligence in diverse fields such as geopolitics, manufacturing, trade, agriculture and transportation. As research and funding increase at a dramatic rate, innovation in AI is becoming ever more synonymous with technological progress and economic growth. Villasenor enumerates the many advantages of working with artificial intelligence, claiming that “AI will make it easier to predict violent storms. It can help with drug development to help reduce the impact of disease. It can improve agricultural yields, and help manage the complexities of the supply chain for food [and] medicine.” However, AI is more than a marker of technological progress: Villasenor ends his piece with the overarching conclusion that “as we move towards the middle of the 21st century, a nation’s geopolitical standing and its strength in AI will be increasingly intertwined.”
Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to Reason about the California housing crisis. Manville attributed the crisis to severe constraints placed on building new housing. “The hallmark of a housing crisis is not that your new housing is expensive. New housing has always been more expensive than existing housing. The hallmark of a housing crisis is when a junky-looking bungalow in Venice costs $1 million that was built in 1985,” Manville said. He explained that “we don’t allow enough new housing to sort of contain this price appreciation.” The article notes that the relationship between cities and developers is complicated. If local governments stop limiting new housing development, they will lose the ability to gain concessions, often in the form of community spaces and services, from developers, Manville said.
Founding Director of UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) Sonja Diaz spoke to Block Club Chicago about the socioeconomic changes in Fruitvale Village in Oakland, Calif. Diaz said Fruitvale Village made economic gains without losing the majority-Latino population. Meaningful community engagement, development projects and strong social services will likely result in economic gains, she said. Diaz pointed to Fruitvale’s social services — La Clinica, the public library and the senior center — as crucial to upward mobility. “There is evidence to show that this type of development works and that you get a high return of investment while ensuring that people are able to stay in their communities [where] they likely spent generations,” Diaz explained.
As results rolled in from the November 2018 midterm elections, a team of researchers from the Latino Politics and Policy Initiative (LPPI) provided real-time analysis to assess how the country’s fastest-growing voting bloc impacted the outcome of major contests. Among other findings, the UCLA Luskin-based LPPI reported that Latino voter participation saw a striking increase compared to the 2014 midterms. LPPI followed up with a report detailing its analysis of election results in six states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico and Texas. A forum co-hosted by LPPI and the Aspen Institute Latinos in Society Program delved into the results before a crowd of 175 people, as well as a live stream audience. And LPPI experts were widely cited in election coverage by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, NPR, NBC News and many other outlets.
UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies Deputy Director Juan Matute spoke with The Atlantic about Elon Musk’s The Boring Company constructing an underground transit system in the city of Hawthorne. The construction process was expedited by the city with a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption. Matute reported there was very little pushback to the exemption from the community and that some negotiations were not open to the public. “This is typical with CEQA—a community that’s more disadvantaged and not as politically engaged doesn’t have the capacity to file lawsuits,” he said. Matute also commented on the construction of a proposed underground tunnel to Dodger Stadium. “I would be very surprised if it happened,” he said, giving it a 50/50 shot of completion due to “unfavorable economics.”
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke with CNBC about challenges facing Gavin Newsom, the next governor of California. Newsom inherits a booming economy and looks to steer the state in an increasingly progressive direction, with focuses on gun control, a single-payer healthcare system and affordable housing. His liberal-oriented ideologies put him in opposition to President Trump, who endorsed Newsom’s opponent, John Cox. Yaroslavsky, a former L.A. County supervisor, advised Newsom to focus on policy rather than constantly sparring with the president. “He’s going to have to take care of business in California and pick and choose his fights with Trump,”Yaroslavsky said. “In my opinion, you can’t be, and shouldn’t be, a knee-jerk opponent of Trump on every single issue because people start to treat you as the usual suspect — and they don’t take you seriously anymore. I think he knows it.”
California governor-elect Gavin Newsom’s plan to solve California’s housing crisis were critiqued by Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen in a recent article on Curbed. Newsom and Monkkonen agree that California’s current housing crisis is the result of “an underwhelming amount of housing production … contributing to escalating rents and home prices,” but they disagree on the approach to a solution. Monkokken argues that while Newsom’s proposed construction of 3.5 million new housing units by 2025 sounds appealing, “it’s harder to figure out how to actually make that work.” Newsom’s plan would require an unprecedented construction boom and matching investment in infrastructure; Monkkonen points out the “restrictive zoning requirements” as a significant obstacle “that make dense housing extremely difficult to construct.” He concludes that the priority should be “[finding] a way to ensure housing construction keeps pace with demand” instead of Newsom’s focus on “[reaching] a specific number of units.”
Founding director of Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) Sonja Diaz was recently featured on KPCC’s “Air Talk” to discuss the ongoing results of the 2018 midterm elections. As provisional, conditional and vote-by-mail ballots were being counted, Diaz analyzed the increase in the Latino vote compared to 2014 midterm elections. Diaz’s research through the UCLA Luskin-affiliated LPPI found that, while Los Angeles County experienced a 52% increase in ballots cast overall, precincts where Latinos constituted 75% or more of registered voters yielded a “77% increase in the number of ballots cast.” Diaz also acknowledged the impact of Latino voters on the success of Spanish surname candidates like Kevin De Leon running for statewide election. Diaz also cited results from Texas’ Senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke, noting that “exit polls do not capture minority voters as accurately as more traditional or white voters.”
Public Policy lecturer Jorja Leap was featured in a Los Angeles Daily News article discussing factors contributing to the unexpectedly tight race for Los Angeles County sheriff. While incumbent sheriffs are traditionally successful at winning re-election, the 2018 midterm elections marked a notable shift, with retired lieutenant Alex Villanueva currently in the lead. Although opponent and incumbent sheriff Jim McDonnell is higher ranked, has more experience and had a better-funded campaign, Villanueva attracted significant support from unions and Latino voters. Leap noted the “collateral damage” of “voters who were primarily interested in other races and voted for Villanueva because of demographics or party support.” Leap and other experts debate whether Villanueva’s success thus far is a result of voters’ placing less value on incumbency, McDonnell’s overestimation of the power of name recognition, or the confusion prompted by Villanueva’s ballot designation as sheriff’s lieutenant, effectively muting the candidates’ different levels of experience.