Two UCLA Luskin Urban Planning alumni received prestigious awards for their work as doctoral students from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning at its annual conference held this year in Buffalo, New York. Sean Kennedy UP Ph.D. ’18 is the winner of the Gill-Chin Lim Award for the best dissertation on international planning. Anne Brown, who also completed her Ph.D. in spring 2018, won the Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for the best dissertation in planning. Brown is the third Luskin alum to do so in the last four years, said Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the Luskin School. In addition to receiving a cash prize of $1,000, Kennedy was invited to present his paper, “Global Energy Transition and their Contradictions: Emerging Geographies in Energy and Finance in Indonesia and California,” at the ACSP conference. Kennedy is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. Brown is now an assistant professor in planning, public policy and management at the University of Oregon. Since its publication, Brown’s award-winning work has been noted in the media and was the subject of a Los Angeles Times op-ed she authored on racial discrimination in the taxi industry. Brown received $500 and also was invited to present her dissertation, “Ridehail Revolution: Ridehail Travel and Equity in Los Angeles,” at the conference.
Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning, commented in a Vox story on the rapid proliferation of electric scooters in U.S. cities. While scooters could benefit the environment by replacing car trips, they might also discourage walking. “Some of those walk trips are likely to be taken away at the shorter end, and some of those car trips are those at the long end,” said Taylor, who also serves as director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin. Taylor said scooters could encourage the use of public transit by solving the so-called “last mile” problem. “There’s the West L.A. rail station that’s a 22-minute walk from me. … I took a scooter the other day, and it took me five minutes,” Taylor said.
Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin, is quoted in a New York Times story on the planned use of body scanners to boost security at transit stations entrances in Los Angeles. Taylor commented that a successful security system would help riders feel safer about personal crime while not interfering with their commutes. “Someone has to intervene, stop that person and check out what’s going on,” said Taylor about the technology, which is currently being tested in New York. “That causes delay and it also causes a sense of invasiveness among the passengers.”
Professor Brian Taylor of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning is quoted in a CNBC web story about Elon Musk’s Boring Company and its contract for a faster transportation link between busy downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport. The plan is opposed by many local transportation providers, including cab drivers whose ridership has declined significantly because of rideshare services. “It’s really not managing the problem. It’s just providing an alternative,” Taylor said. “It’s sort of like when you have an interesting breakthrough in the lab, which might take 10 years to complete.”
By Stan Paul
“Too Much and Not Enough” is a recipe for a crisis when it comes to rising rents and lack of available and affordable housing in Los Angeles County.
It also was an apt title of the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies’ 11th annual Downtown Los Angeles Forum on Transportation, Land Use and the Environment, held May 18, 2018, at the California Endowment.
“The short story is the rent has been getting ‘too damn high’ for decades, and renter wages have not kept up,” said moderator Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
In the last few years, a threshold has been crossed as “more and more households cannot really bear the rising costs of rent,” Lens said, launching a day of debate and discussion on a nationwide problem that is acutely felt in the L.A. region, which is also beset by chronic homelessness.
Experts representing academia, government and nonprofit organizations, as well as community stakeholders, came together to discuss problems, barriers and solutions to the multifaceted issue of affordable housing.
“Research is pretty unequivocal that increasing housing supply is necessary to stabilize prices,” Lens said, but there is less certainty about what happens in neighborhoods that receive new housing supply or investment. “Neighborhood dynamics certainly complicate any of our policy options or choices and solutions for increasing housing affordability,” said Lens, who also serves as associate faculty director for the Lewis Center.
‘If we want to stem the pipeline of people moving onto our streets, we have to come up with solutions that keep people in place, and that’s a moral issue, it’s a humanitarian issue, and it doesn’t rest with individual owners, it rests with all of us.’
— Panelist Jacqueline Waggoner
Paavo Monkkonen, associate professor of public policy and urban planning at UCLA, led the first panel of speakers, who looked at the causes and effects of the crisis from a variety of perspectives.
Panelists included Isela Gracian, president of the East LA Community Corporation; Robin Hughes, president and CEO of Abode Communities; Shane Phillips, director of public policy at the Central City Association; and Carolina Reid, assistant professor of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley.
“We can’t build affordable housing fast enough to meet the need,” said Reid, adding that “we don’t have a system where we can hold cities accountable for how much housing they’re producing to meet growing housing demand.”
Since 2000, half of L.A. neighborhoods built no housing at all, according to Reid. Citing gentrification pressures at the urban core, she said neighborhoods with the best transit access are building the fewest affordable housing units.
“Planning isn’t helping,” she added, noting that California cities continue to include minimum lot sizes and restrictive zoning. Compounding the problem are lengthy permitting and regulatory requirements along with strong public opposition to some affordable housing projects.
A second panel, led by Lens, addressed the politics of supply and evaluated possible solutions. Panelists were Becky Dennison, executive director of Venice Community Housing; Jackelyn Hwang, assistant professor of sociology at Stanford University; Jacqueline Waggoner, vice president and Southern California market leader for Enterprise Community Foundation; and Ben Winter, housing policy specialist with the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Hwang weighed the pros and cons of rent control. She cited research showing that landlords do take advantage of “perverse incentives,” such as converting units to condos to become exempt from rent control — and consequently decreasing rental housing supply. But rent control also protects tenants, she said, noting that it encourages longer-term and elderly residents to stay in place, protecting them from displacement.
“I think the takeaway from the study is it puts too much power in the hands of landlords,” she said. “I think there are ways to have rent control and maybe we can think of more creative ways on how it’s implemented.”
Waggoner is a proponent of rent control but said the strategy should be regional and not just within the city. “If we want to stem the pipeline of people moving onto our streets, we have to come up with solutions that keep people in place, and that’s a moral issue, it’s a humanitarian issue, and it doesn’t rest with individual owners, it rests with all of us,” she said.
Keynote speaker Kathy Nyland made her point succinctly: “Put people first, share the power, and let people be part of the solution.”
As director of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods, Nyland oversaw the overhaul of the neighborhood council system to emphasize inclusive outreach, equity and community engagement. She said she has looked at affordable housing from several vantage points, having also served as chief of staff to a Seattle City Council member and as a senior policy advisor to the city’s mayor.
Audience members had the opportunity to join the discussion, during the panels and at a reception that followed the conference.One of them was Tham Nguyen, a 2005 alumna of the Luskin Urban Planning master’s program, who is now a senior manager in transportation planning for LA Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation.
“It’s certainly a very important component of transportation, looking at the housing and land use aspect,” Nguyen said. “This is a really great learning experience to see the conversations that are happening and unfolding around affordable housing.”
Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning and outgoing director of the Lewis Center, closed the conference with this observation: “I thought transportation planning was complicated, but you’ve got me humbled here.”
Taylor, who also serves as director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin, said he often hears comments that emphasize both connections and contradictions in transportation: “Traffic is terrible. We have to stop development. Let’s build a lot of rail and have transit-oriented development, but we’re really worried about gentrification.”
While the “enormously complex” affordable housing crisis has been manifested over years and solutions may be slow in coming, “that doesn’t mean they’re not worth pursuing,” he said. “But what it does mean is that the person that has been displaced today is not going to benefit from that immediately. …
“These problems are visceral and they’re current, and the needs to address them are immediate and pressing,” he said, adding that bridging the gap between slow market changes and urgent needs on the streets of L.A. “is really going to be the challenge as we move forward.”
View additional photos from the conference on Flickr:
Policymakers and professionals need important research to improve our transportation system, but it too often languishes behind the intimidating walls of academia. Transfers Magazine, a new biannual digital publication led by faculty and staff at the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, aims to break down those walls by distilling the expert knowledge of scholars into tangible links to action. Donald Shoup and Martin Wachs, distinguished professors of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, serve as senior editors for Transfers. Each issue will feature shorter, more readable versions of peer-reviewed, previously published academic journal articles with the goal of making research accessible to students, policymakers, the press and the general public. Transfers is the flagship publication of the Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center (PSR), a research consortium of eight universities in Arizona, California and Hawaii. The inaugural issue was released on May 16 and features new studies from PSR scholars, including UCLA Luskin faculty members Evelyn Blumenberg, Brian D. Taylor, Gregory Pierce and Shoup, on key questions for transportation policy. The issue is now available online, and readers can receive future issues sent directly to their email by subscribing. Between issues, the Transfers staff will connect research updates, student projects, expert opinion and campus news to current events in the transportation world on the The Circulator blog and on Twitter.
By Stan Paul
Urban Planning professor Brian Taylor has been named a National Associate of the National Research Council (NRC), the operating arm of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, for his longtime service to the organization’s Transportation Research Board (TRB).
Taylor, who also serves as the director of both the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and the Institute of Transportation Studies at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, was one of nine individuals recognized nationwide for his pro bono publico, or voluntary service, “with distinction” to the TRB.
“This service is valued, honored and appreciated by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, as well as by the government and the public at large,” said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academies and chair of NRC. “Our work in advising government and the public on matters of science, engineering and health would not be possible without these contributions.”
Cicerone said each year thousands of individuals nationwide serve on committees as reviewers for the organization, which was established in 1863 by Congress. “Among these many people are some whose dedication to our work is truly extraordinary,” Cicerone said. He explained that, in recognition of this extraordinary service, the honorary title of National Associate of the National Research Council was established. Membership in the select group is offered as a lifetime appointment.
“The Luskin School of Public Affairs is extremely proud of this recognition of Professor Brian Taylor,” Lois Takahashi, interim dean of the UCLA School of Public Affairs, said. “In addition to his stellar research, teaching and mentoring, we all know Brian as a tireless advocate for better and more accessible transportation options for all.”
Taylor, whose research is focused on transportation and planning, said as an example of this work, he most recently served as the committee chair for a TRB report, “Between Public and Private Mobility: Examining the Rise of Technology-Enabled Transportation Services.”
The report contains policy recommendations related to today’s “sharing economy” and the rapidly emerging technology-enabled transportation services sector which allows people to access transportation via their smartphones. These include on-demand services such as bike-sharing, car-sharing and transportation network companies (TNCs) including Uber and Lyft, Taylor said.
“A key hurdle for policymakers at all levels of government is to both promote and facilitate innovations that meet the public’s mobility needs while achieving greater policy consistency among these new services and between them and traditional taxi and limousine services,” said Taylor.
“This recognition is well deserved,” said Martin Wachs, professor emeritus in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Department of Urban Planning and former chairman of the TRB. “Brian has been a TRB leader, contributing countless hours to chairing influential committees, serving on expert panels, and writing original research papers for TRB publications.”
In addition to his service to the TRB, Taylor, who received his Ph.D. in Urban Planning at UCLA in 1992 and joined the UCLA Luskin School’s Urban Planning faculty in 1994, has been a program reviewer for the Planning Accreditation Board and is a Fellow in the American Institute of Certified Planners.
The full TRB report may be found at: http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/173511.aspx
WASHINGTON – Innovative transportation services such as car sharing, bike sharing, and transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft are changing mobility for millions of people, yet regulation of these services often varies greatly across geographic areas and industry segments. Policymakers and regulators should formulate consistent policies that encourage competition among new and traditional transportation services — such as taxis and limousines — in order to improve mobility, safety, and sustainability, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
California was the first state to establish statewide regulations for transportation network companies and as such UC researchers played a large role in the report. The report was authored by a diverse group of academics and practitioners, including Brian Taylor, director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. Taylor served as chair of the committee. Other notable members of the committee include Michael Manville, Cornell University and Jennifer Dill, Portland State University, both of whom are alumni of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
The availability of on-demand transportation services through smartphone apps is increasing shared mobility. The growth in these services follows and amplifies a recent rebound in taxi and public transit use. As of June 2015, Uber provided more than 1 million rides daily worldwide, while Lyft operated in 60 U.S. cities with more than 100,000 drivers.
The rapidly expanding services provided by TNCs, however, raise policy and regulatory challenges with regard to passenger and driver security, public safety, insurance requirements, employment and labor issues, and accessibility and equity. Current regulation of taxis and other for-hire transportation varies considerably across and within jurisdictions, even when the services offered are similar. Most large cities with sizeable street-hail markets extensively regulate taxis, while smaller cities where dispatch service is the norm tend to have lighter regulation. This pattern raises public policy concerns when taxi regulation is more stringent than that of TNCs. Leveling the regulatory playing field requires a reassessment of existing regulations governing taxi, limousine, and TNC services to determine the minimum necessary to ensure quality service and allow effective competition.
“Smartphone applications and GPS data are making feasible transportation services that have never before been realized on a large scale, and these services have the potential to increase mobility while reducing congestion and emissions from surface transportation if regulated wisely to encourage concurrent ride sharing,” said Taylor, who is also a professor of urban planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. “A key hurdle for policymakers at all levels of government is to both promote and facilitate innovations that meet the public’s mobility needs while achieving greater policy consistency among these new services and between them and traditional taxi and limousine services.”
To address public safety concerns, regulations currently focus on background checks of drivers, vehicle inspections, and minimum standards for vehicle liability insurance. Procedures for driver background checks are based on common practice but their efficacy has not been rigorously evaluated; likewise, the safety benefits of viewing shared driver ratings and operator and vehicle images on mobile apps have not yet been well-documented. Therefore, regulators at the state and federal levels should evaluate these safety requirements for their effectiveness and cost, the report says.
Regulated taxis offer critical transportation for people with disabilities in many areas, and although TNCs have introduced pilot programs to provide such services, they do not currently provide wheelchair-accessible services on an extensive or reliable basis, the report says. About 10 percent of the U.S. population has a physical limitation; 3.6 million people use a wheelchair and another 11.6 million use a cane, crutches, or a walker. A decline in taxi fleets due to the continued rapid rise in TNCs could decrease the availability of for-hire vehicles for a substantial number of these travelers unless the quantity of TNC services for those with disabilities expands.
Further, most shared mobility services require users to have a credit card on file with the provider and arrange the trip using a smartphone. However, roughly 8 percent of U.S. households lack bank accounts that allow them to have credit cards, and 50 percent of adults earning less than $30,000 and 73 percent of adults over age 65 do not own smartphones. The committee concluded that local officials should ensure that the mobility needs of low-income, older and disabled riders are met as these new services expand and evolve.
In addition, policymakers and regulators should examine the pros and cons of alternative employment classifications of both TNC and taxi drivers. While new mobility services offer expanded opportunities for flexible, part-time employment for students or those seeking transitional income between careers, TNC drivers and most taxi drivers are classified by their companies as independent contractors, which limits their access to benefits tied to employment. This lack of benefits raises policy issues concerning employer-provided health care, workers’ compensation for injuries, and vacation and sick leave for those for whom such work is their sole source of income.
Policymakers and regulators should also consider whether traditional for-hire and shared mobility services are best monitored and regulated at the state, regional, or local level on the basis of market and service characteristics and regulatory capabilities. In addition, transportation planning bodies should develop methods for incorporating shared mobility into transportation planning initiatives and promote collaboration between public- and private-sector transportation providers.
Other UC researchers contributing to the report were Susan Shaheen of UC Berkeley and Daniel Sperling of UC Davis. Sperling is chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), which initiated and funded the study.
The study was sponsored by the TRB, a program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit www.nationalacademies.org.
The last time Caltrans hosted a statewide transportation planning conference, in 2008, transportation in California was very different. Fastforwarding a short seven years later, California is hosting the first cap-and-trade system in the U.S., all of the state’s regions have Sustainable Communities Strategies linking transportation and land use, and public health at the center of the conversation. These changes, among others, are what bring together over 200 transportation professionals to the 2015 California Transportation Planning Conference hosted in Downtown Los Angeles December 2 through 4.
The conference covers various topics. Wednesday begins with a discussion on how transportation planning must evolve in order to maintain an effective transportation system for everyone. Questions of funding and aging infrastructure are on the agenda, including a discussion of system preservation featuring speakers from the Federal Highway Administration, the City of Los Angeles, Southern California Association of Governments and Caltrans. A complete list of panels and topics can be found here.
“At the conference, transportation stakeholders and decision-makers will exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments in transportation planning from a national, state, and local perspective,” said UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) Associate Director Juan Matute. “We are grateful to have partnerships between research centers like UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies and state and local agencies. These are essential opportunities for knowledge transfer.”
Matute will be moderating the session titled “Planning for Accelerating Transportation Change” on Thursday morning. UCLA ITS Director Brian Taylor will present during the Friday morning panel about the future of transportation. Director Taylor is joined by LADOT General Manager and UCLA ITS advisory board member, Seleta Reynolds, as well as Daniel Witt, Manager at Tesla Motors and two notable consultants, Jeffrey Tumlin of Nelson/Nygaard and Alan Clelland of Iteris.
UCLA ITS would like to thank the event co-presenters and sponsors: Caltrans, Southern California Association of Governments, Lyft, SoCalGas, Metro, Green Dot Transportation Solutions and Cambridge Systematics.
For live coverage of the event, follow tweets with the #2015ctpc hashtag.