3 Alumni Are True Change Agents When recruiting for gender, cultural and ethnic diversity, founders of Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors start at UCLA

By Les Dunseith

Working together from a restored 1920s office building in the heart of a city they are helping to revitalize, three graduates of the UCLA Luskin Urban Planning program are fulfilling a shared vision of diversity and innovation.

Their goal? Change the world.

“UCLA, when we went there — and I think it is still the case today — is really about integration,” says Jennifer LeSar MA UP ’92, one of the founding partners of Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors. “You are not just a transportation planner or an affordable housing person or an environmental planner. You understand the integration of it all.”

The company, which provides strategic counsel to public agencies, foundations, business associations and civic organizations, reflects the partners’ deep respect for each other, a bond that first formed about three decades ago for LeSar and her close friend and company co-founder Cecilia V. Estolano MA UP ’91. Through professional interactions, they later met their third business partner, Katherine Perez-Estolano MA UP ’97, and her values were closely aligned.

“We knew that there were diverse people of color who were anxious to make a difference,” says Perez-Estolano.

ELP Advisors and its sister firm, San Diego-based LeSar Development Consultants, makes a point of recruiting smart, talented people who reflect the gender, cultural and ethnic diversity of Southern California.

“Every time I would go and meet with other people who had their own companies, their top folks were all white men,” Perez-Estolano remembers. “And I thought this is not the world that we are planning for.”

Their vision crystalized at UCLA — they cite faculty members such as Martin Wachs, Joan Ling MA UP ’82 and Goetz Wolff as key influencers — and their commitment to the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs remains a vital aspect of their personal and business interactions today. All three are active in alumni activities, and Estolano and Perez-Estalano have both served as Luskin Senior Fellows. They coordinated a visit by a delegation of planners from Panama a few years ago. Their firm also hosted a reception for Professor Ananya Roy when she first came to UCLA in 2015.

And the close association with UCLA has benefited the company as well. Three of ELP Advisors’ six full-time employees are also UCLA Luskin alumni, and the firm has employed a steady stream of interns from the Luskin School since its founding in 2011.

LeSar notes the “amazing talent pool at UCLA.” Estolano says their firms are a direct reflection of the “particular way that UCLA teaches students how to be urban planners. In order to be an activist planner, you have to have strong sense of civic purpose.”

Estolano continues:  “The idea of building a company owned by three women with multiple core competencies in Southern California, the most diverse place in the country, based upon the graduate educations and work experience that we have had, and an ability to hire staff  out of the institutions from which have come, was our vision then and still is to this day.”

Their many professional accomplishments contributed to the three founders’ decision to join forces at ELP Advisors. But there is a personal side to it, too.

Katherine Perez, a former Deputy to Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, and Cecilia Estolano, the former chief executive officer of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, married in 2013. LeSar’s spouse is San Diego Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, who served as Assembly Speaker from 2014 until March of this year.

The three also believe that their backgrounds mesh particularly well. “If you look at Katherine’s career, and my career, and Cecilia’s career, we have all worked in different sectors,” says LeSar, who also has an MBA from UCLA and is an expert in community development and real estate finance. Estolano, who is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, has expertise in sustainable economic development and urban revitalization. Perez-Estolano, who in 2013 was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the board of directors of the California High Speed Rail Authority, brings knowledge of transportation and stakeholder engagement.

They have a professional contact list — “a giant Rolodex” as Perez-Estolano notes it once would have been called — that few companies can match.

It has helped them land clients such as Los Angeles County, the Metropolitan Water District, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Goldhirsh Foundation. The latter is a great example of the firms’ strengths, Estolano says.

The Goldhirsh Foundation “wanted to completely change their approach” to philanthropy and orient it toward making L.A. the best it can be by 2050. The resulting 2050 Report “really put us on the map,” Estolano recalls. “And the folks we hired to do a lot of the analysis, gather the data and design the report, they are just top-flight. And they are still working with us.”

ELP Advisors takes pride in solving solutions that have stumped others.  “We are just scrappy,” Estolano says, “and resourceful. We are smart people, and we have  broad-ranging interests. So, if a client has a difficult problem and they really can’t figure out how to get at it, sometimes they just give us a call and ask us what we think. And I say, sure, we know how to do that. We can figure it out!”

Success hasn’t always come easily, however. For one, they started ELP Advisors while the Great Recession was still dragging down the economy and hindering new projects. Then, just a few months after ELP Advisors opened for business, Gov. Brown dissolved the state’s redevelopment agency.

“We formed at a time that, in hindsight, was the worst possible,” LeSar recalls.

But they quickly adapted, putting their knowledge to good use to help clients adapt to the new reality they were facing. “So,” Estolano says, “we made lemonade out of lemons! What we thought would be a negative for us ended up creating a base for our company to expand.”

LeSar adds, “We learned some hard lessons, and that’s OK. You know, most small businesses don’t survive. Most women-owned businesses don’t survive. Most businesses of color don’t survive. And I don’t really know any other businesses today that are quite like ours.”

Each partner brings talents that complement the others. They say their success is based on hard work and smart choices. And it’s also based on staying true to their principles: Inclusion. Diversity. Gender equality. Community engagement.

“You live in our city, you live in our neighborhood, and you have a right to participate in these processes,” Perez-Estolano says about the firm’s commitment to getting involved at every level. “We had people who would understand how they could actually change the outcome by getting involved, participating on local city commissions, by running for city councils, by running for county offices or state offices. That was, to me, the pipeline of future leadership.”

A recent example of this commitment to the community is a project spearheaded by Estolano and Tulsi Patel MURP ’14, a senior associate at ELP Advisors. The L.A. Bioscience Hub and its Biotech Leaders Academy launched in summer 2016 to promote entrepreneurship training for community college students from underrepresented groups. The pilot program, funded by a grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation, introduced 10 students of color (six of them women) to professional opportunities related to a growing biosciences sector in the East Los Angeles area.

It’s another example of the three UCLA graduates’ commitment to open doors for people who might not otherwise get a chance to succeed. It also shows their dedication to the value of education, which underlies everything they do, including their advice to current and future UCLA Luskin students about what it takes to succeed.

“I think the core skills are in writing, research and quantitative analysis,” LeSar says. “And be a creative thinker!”

For Perez-Estolano, being adaptable is important. “The world changes rapidly today,” she says, “and you have to embrace that as a planner.”

Estolano advises today’s students to take full advantage of their educations at UCLA Luskin. “Your classmates are going to be your greatest network,” she says. “Do not turn your back on the school. Your school can be a huge asset for you, and even if you can only do a little bit, always give to this school.”

“It’s about changing the future,” she says. “If you have a commitment to keeping the school strong — to honor its mission — it will continue to graduate people that will change the world.”

 

From left, Leah Hubbard, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano MA UP ’96, Jennifer Lesar MA UP ’91, Cecilia Estolano MA UP ’91, Richard France MA UP ’10, Cynthia Guzman MURP ’12 and Tulsi Patel MURP ’14. Photo by George Foulsham

A Transportation Research Honor, ‘With Distinction’ Urban Planning professor Brian Taylor named National Associate of the National Research Council by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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

Spring Issue Of ACCESS Magazine Now Available This issue of ACCESS Magazine covers all kinds of transportation: airplanes, cars, public transit, and running. There’s even a nod to ice-skating.

ACCESS Magazine is edited by Donald Shoup, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, Emeritus, at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

SPRING 2016 Contents:

Going the Extra Mile: Intelligent Energy Management of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth

If you were a hybrid vehicle owner and you were driving down the freeway, would you know the best time to use gas and the best time to use the battery? Probably not, and most hybrid cars don’t know either. In fact, most plug-in hybrids just deplete their battery completely before switching to gas, which is actually an inefficient use of energy.

In “Going the Extra Mile: Intelligent Energy Management of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles,” Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth explore how hybrids can better manage battery use to get an extra five to ten miles out of each gallon of gas. By incorporating real-time information on where a car is, where it’s going, traffic levels, incline, and a host of other variables, an intelligent management strategy can save fuel and reduce emissions by 10 to 12 percent.

Manage Flight Demand or Build Airport Capacity? 

Megan S. Ryerson and Amber Woodburn

Imagine you’re at the airport and the security checkpoint is crowded. You finally reach your gate but your flight is delayed because the runway is full. “Why don’t they build more runways?” you ask, but maybe that’s not the right question.

In their article, “Manage Flight Demand or Build Airport Capacity?” Megan Ryerson and Amber Woodburn discuss two ways to manage air traffic congestion: adding runways or shifting flights through demand management. Often local governments and airport authorities think that airport expansion equates to economic development even though there is little research to back this theory. Meanwhile, demand management strategies, like congestion pricing, aren’t even considered as an option to reduce air traffic congestion. Why is this the case — and should our priorities change?

A Driving Factor in Moving to Opportunity
Evelyn Blumenberg and Gregory Pierce

Does living in a wealthier area mean you’ll get a better job? Or any job? The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) Program was an experiment that provided housing vouchers to low-income households, some of whom had to use the vouchers in wealthier neighborhoods. The research showed, however, that the location of the housing vouchers had no effect on employment. So what did affect employment?

In “A Driving Factor in Moving to Opportunity,” Evelyn Blumenberg and Gregory Pierce show that employment in the MTO program was affected most by access to transportation. They discovered that, while transit access was associated with maintaining employment, having a car was associated with maintaining and even gaining employment over time. The results suggest that policies to promote car access may be the best way to connect low-income workers with jobs.

Investing in Transportation while Preserving Fragile Environments

Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman

Have you ever seen a moose hitching a ride so that he could continue roaming several miles from where he started? Neither have I. But when governments approve transportation projects, they often offset the environmental costs by preserving dispersed tracts of land, sometimes hundreds of miles from each other. Instead of preserving several pieces of land in different areas, wouldn’t it be better to preserve large connected expanses?

In their recent article, “Investing in Transportation while Preserving Fragile Environments,” Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman discuss regional mitigation efforts through the use of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). HCPs include a list of transportation projects, their potential biological impacts, and ways to mitigate such impacts on a broad scale. By bundling mitigation requirements, transportation projects can save time, money, and habitats. 

Cutting the Cost of Parking Requirements

Donald Shoup

How many parking spaces should be required for each house? Each restaurant? Each zoo? Most developers have to adhere to “minimum parking requirements,” but those requirements are often created without any research into what the market actually demands.

In his article, “Cutting the Cost of Parking Requirements,” Donald Shoup argues that we should remove minimum parking requirements because they’re creating vast expanses of empty parking lots instead of the walkable neighborhoods we all desire. And the cost of these parking spaces is shocking. A single parking space can cost more to build than the net worth of many American households, yet those households end up sharing the cost burden of parking requirements. It may not solve every injustice, but reducing or removing minimum parking requirements can be a step towards a more equitable society.

ALMANAC: Running to Work 

Robert Cervero

There’s a way to get to work that actually reduces your stress levels, has no traffic, and lets you skip the gym at the end of the day. We’re talking about the latest — and sweatiest — trend in commuting: the run commute.

In his article, “Running to Work,” Robert Cervero explores this new form of active travel that’s taking congested cities by storm. But what would make someone want to run all the way into work? In a survey of run commuters ¾ and by trying it himself ¾ Cervero finds that these vehicle-less travelers benefit most from being outdoors, reducing stress, cutting down on costs, and saving time by exercising during their commute. Of course, there are challenges as well, such as the logistics of getting clean clothes to the office. But if employers can help encourage run-commuting with some on-site showers and a free breakfast, their employees will be healthier for it.

Sustainable Cities Conference to Include UCLA Luskin Experts UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs among co-sponsors of May 16 conference focusing on transforming urban centers into sustainability leaders

Leading academics and experts from across the country and the globe will gather at UCLA on May 19, 2016, to discuss one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century: achieving sustainability. Expert panels at the Smart and Sustainable Cities Conference will focus on critical areas for transforming the world’s urban centers into sustainability leaders: transportation, water, energy, the built environment, and the digital city and sharing economy.

A closing panel will take an integrated approach to defining what makes a “sustainable city,” discuss the context necessary for innovative technologies and policies to take hold, and consider the broad social and economic issues involved.

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is among the co-sponsors of the conference. Three Luskin faculty members and one Luskin Scholar — all with extensive experience in urban sustainability — will participate in the conference. They will weigh in on the cutting-edge policies, designs and technologies that are helping cities use limited resources as efficiently and intelligently as possible.

J.R. DeShazo is the director of the Luskin Center for Innovation, vice chair of the Department of Public Policy at Luskin and a professor of Public Policy and Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. His latest research highlights the importance of innovation in the quest for urban sustainability. In March, DeShazo and a team of interdisciplinary researchers at UCLA unveiled a method for turning concrete, an essential building block of cities, into an essential building block of a sustainable future.

While essential to the modern world, the ubiquitous material is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. About 5 percent of global emissions can be linked to concrete.

DeShazo and his team worked on a process that captures carbon from power plant smokestacks and turns it into an alternative to concrete — called CO2NCRETE. The closed-loop method for producing the material is highly efficient and environmentally friendly. It both limits carbon emissions and produces a fundamental building material for the modern world.

DeShazo’s current research also focuses on making Los Angeles County water self-sufficient. The project aims to create a feasible local water market for trading and selling county water resources, with input from stakeholders.

Dana Cuff is a professor of Architecture/Urban Design and Urban Planning and the founder and current director of UCLA’s cityLAB. Established in 2006, the research center explores the challenges facing the 21st century metropolis through design and research. Cuff’s work focuses on urban design, affordable housing, modernism, urban sensing technologies and the politics of place.

One of Cuff’s project at cityLAB included concept development and executive production of the BI(h)OME, which was completed last June. The ultra-modern lightweight accessory dwelling unit has the potential to address current housing shortages in an affordable way.

The structure also addresses urban sustainability challenges. The environmental impact of the structure over its entire life cycle is between 10 and 100 times less than a similar conventional structure and the BI(h)OME also can function as a biome, providing a home for multiple species. The structure also can supply water to surrounding vegetation using its grey water drainage system.

In August, Cuff received the Community Contribution Award from the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects for her dynamic design contributions to Los Angeles.

Martin Wachs is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Urban Planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. Wachs was a professor of civil and environmental engineering and professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also served as director of the Institute of Transportation Studies.

Prior to his work in Berkeley, he spent 25 years at UCLA, where he served for 11 years as chair of the Department of Urban Planning. Wachs was also director of the Transportation, Space and Technology Program at the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica.

Wachs is the author of more than 180 articles on planning and transportation and he also wrote or edited five books on transportation finance and economics, planning and policy.

He is the recipient of a UCLA Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award and the Carey Award for service to the Transportation Research Board.

Luskin Scholar Yoram Cohen of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has dedicated much of his work to water issues. In 2014, Cohen, the director of the Water Technology Research Center at UCLA, unveiled his portable, self-operating Smart Integrated Membrane System. SIMS makes undrinkable, brackish water usable.

Cohen has taken his system from the university campus into the field and it is currently being put to the test in the San Joaquin Valley, where it has successfully treated 25,000 gallons of contaminated water a day for almost two years. The potential of the system is vast thanks to its cost effectiveness and scalability.

Cohen is also the driving force behind the conference. One of the forum’s themes will be Israeli leadership in urban sustainability. Six of the 22 panelists are from Israel, which faces many of the same sustainability challenges as California.

Cohen also has deep ties to Israel. The Luskin Scholar and director of UCLA’s Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies was born in Israel and maintains professional connections to his country of birth as a member of the International Advisory Committee to the Stephen and Nancy Grand Water Research Institute at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and as an adjunct professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The conference, at DeNeve Commons on the UCLA campus, is open to the public.

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The ‘Perfect Place’ to Explore Urban Planning UCLA Luskin Master of Urban Planning students' research projects are showcased as part of a daylong welcome for admitted students

By Stan Paul

Are bike lanes making Angelenos safer? What elements make a street “grand” in L.A.? And, what exactly is a road diet, and should the City of Angels lose a few lanes?

These questions and others — from transportation planning and peak-hour parking restrictions to housing and pedestrian safety issues — were among the subjects of an annual UCLA Urban Planning tradition: Careers, Capstones and Conversations. Second-year students in the Master of Urban Planning (MURP) program showcased their research as the culmination of a daylong welcome for admitted Urban Planning graduate students at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

The April 11 event, held at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, brought together Urban Planning faculty, students, incoming students and staff to get to know each other and learn more about the Urban Planning department and programs at Luskin. Each year, MURP second-year students are paired with faculty advisers and organizations representing industry, engineering, consulting firms and small entrepreneurial businesses, as well as local, regional and state agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit service organizations.

Lance MacNiven’s project, “Closing the Gap Between the Valley and Westside,” is a study of the performance of L.A. Metro’s Westside Express and how it might be improved to better serve potential riders. MacNiven’s faculty adviser is longtime Urban Planning professor and nationally known transportation planning expert Martin Wachs.

“He’s brilliant, I couldn’t ask for more in an adviser,” said MacNiven, who was kept busy explaining his project and fielding questions from clients, faculty and fellow urban planning students.

Wachs, viewing the projects, said he was impressed by the student displays, which are backed by their research and accompanying required reports. “They’re doing great,” said Wachs, who served as adviser for three other projects.

In addition to providing practice for each student to take on a real-world problem, collect data and analyze the information, the projects also provide the students with experience as planning consultants. The clients receive professional-level analysis and policy recommendations that can be implemented in planning decision-making.

MURP candidate Marissa Sanchez narrowed her focus to seven elements that go into making a “grand” street in Los Angeles. For Sanchez, who said her client was interested in improving ordinary streets, grand streets “enhance the local neighborhood physically, socially and economically by providing a safe place for users to connect, participate and engage their environment.” Sanchez’s research also concluded that grand streets “captivate residents, visitors, and all modes of users through pleasant qualities and characteristics that appeal to the various senses.”

Contrast that with the notion of a “road diet” in which streets/lanes are actually removed or displaced. Severin Martinez’s project, “Who Wins When Streets Lose Lanes?: Analyzing Safety on Road Diet Corridors in Los Angeles,” cited a Federal Highway Administration estimate that road diets actually reduce traffic collisions by almost 30 percent. Lane reductions are used to create improvements such as medians, street parking, bike lanes, center turn lanes and sidewalks.

In addition to road diets, food was also a topic of a number of the students’ projects. Food was addressed as “medicine” in terms of accessibility to patients in California as well as the benefits of urban agriculture in public housing sites. Also explored was the spatial distribution of food at UCLA, the purpose of which was to determine the accessibility of and provide recommendations for healthy food options on campus.

Worldwide, food security and sustainability are topics of increased interest so the Luskin School has become the administrative home of the UCLA Food Studies Graduate Certificate program, which is available to all UCLA graduate students.

With an initial interest in design, Casey Stern said after studying affordable housing for a few quarters, “I was hooked.” Her project focuses on secondary units in the city of Cudahy. Secondary units are also known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), backyard cottages, in-law units, or the more familiar “granny flats.” However they are labeled, many are non-permitted, non-compliant with safety regulations, or just not legal by any means. Because of high housing demand and a large number of such non-permitted units, especially in L.A., Stern recommends that this city draft more permissive ordinances that, at the same time, would ensure safety and habitability among other supportive factors.

Admitted graduate student Ribeka Toda, who will join the program in the fall, is not new to UCLA. She completed her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and has a keen interest in transportation, which led her to seek out courses in urban planning at Luskin. Encouraged by professor Brian Taylor, who is director of Luskin’s Institute of Transportation Studies, Toda took graduate-level courses in transportation that further developed her interest the field.

“Civil engineering is the how of transportation … urban planning is the why,” said Toda. She added that planning provides options for people. She said exposure to “passionate grad students planted seeds” that led to her pursuing graduate study in planning. “Covering everything from parking to complete streets, this is the perfect place to explore these.”

Martin Wachs

Martin Wachs was a professor of civil and environmental engineering and professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also served as director of the Institute of Transportation Studies. Prior to this, he spent 25 years at UCLA, where he served three terms as chairman of the Department of Urban Planning. He retired as senior principal researcher and director of the Transportation, Space and Technology Program at the RAND Corporation.

Martin Wachs is the author of 160 articles and four books on subjects related to relationships between transportation, land use, and air quality; transportation systems; and the use of performance measurement in transportation planning. His research addresses issues of equity in transportation policy, problems of crime in public transit systems, and the response of transportation systems to natural disasters, including earthquakes. His most recent work focuses on transportation finance in relation to planning and policy.

His other areas of interest include professional ethics, transportation and aging, transportation and land use, transportation and the environment, transportation finance, and urban transportation planning.

He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowships, a UCLA Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award, the Pyke Johnson Award for the best paper presented at an annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and the Carey Award for service to the TRB.

 

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

Transportation and Habitat Conservation Plans
Subtitle: Improving Planning and Project Delivery While Preserving Endangered Species
A comprehensive survey of Habitat Conservation Plans serving as a vehicle for streamlined environmental compliance authorization on major public infrastructure projects.
Author:Jaimee Lederman and Martin Wachs
Download file: PDF

A Very Brief History of Why Americans Hate Their Commutes
In a post on Atlantic Cities, Martin Wachs tracks the development of cities, detailing how work-to-home travel patterns have changed in the last 150 years.
Publication Link

There’s a Brand New Vocabulary on the Streets, Says NYC Planning Rock Star UCLA Regents’ Lecturer Janette Sadik-Khan Discusses Designing the 21st-Century City.

By Stan Paul

New York has long been known for its colorful language, distinctive regional accents and even its own definition of time: the proverbial “New York minute.”

But, while New Yorkers are still in a hurry, “There’s a brand new vocabulary on the streets,” said UCLA Regents’ lecturer and former commissioner of New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan, who spoke to a full house Wednesday evening at UCLA. The event was part of the UCLA Luskin Welcome Week.

Sadik-Khan, who was appointed in 2007 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ran the department until 2013 and is currently a principal with Bloomberg Associates.

“You will see that there is a sea-change in what the streets of New York look like. There’s a brand new vocabulary on the street that didn’t used to be there,” she said. Throughout the evening, Sadik-Khan provided case studies and data about the many innovations and improvements that have occurred in recent years. These included transforming Times Square – “a crossroads of the world” —  into a pedestrian friendly place, expansion of bus service routes, the creation of the largest bike share program in U.S. and the addition of 400 miles of bicycle lanes, to name just a few.

“New Yorkers now talk about traffic calming. New Yorkers now talk about bike sharing. New Yorkers now talk about way-finding, said Sadik-Khan, adding, “There is just a completely different set of transportation options and designs on the streets of New York. Once known as the ‘mean streets’ I think they’ve really changed.” She noted that younger people today are looking for choices that include not taking on the burden of car ownership. This is important because “The choices we make today about how we prioritize our streets…has worldwide implications for generations to come.”

Sadik-Khan is acclaimed for her work to transform the transportation system in New York City. The crowd that filled the hall was made up of students, alumni, faculty and city and community leaders who work in the field. At the start of the evening, Sadik-Khan was introduced to the podium by Evelyn Blumenberg, chair of the UCLA Department of Urban Planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, who acknowledged Sadik-Khan’s renown in the transportation world.

“So often we hear about the many urban problems facing large urban areas…bankruptcy, poverty, poor urban design, traffic congestion, pollution and on,” said Blumenberg. “It’s awesome when someone in my own line of work achieves rock star status and tremendous visibility for helping to address some of these problems.”

“I’m really honored to be here with you as the Regents’ Lecturer at the Luskin School. I think the work is extraordinary, what you are doing here,” said Sadik-Khan.

During her lecture, Sadik-Khan outlined how increasing the safety and sustainability of a city is not just a single strategy, but “a panoply” that includes creating plazas and walkways and even creating places for people to just sit, putting “new life into old spaces.”

“Streets are our most valuable asset in cities and yet our street designs haven’t taken into account the ways people want to use them,” she said. “This dysfunction has somehow become accepted. We’ve become used to our streets as being out of balance.”

Sadik-Khan concluded the lecture with a word of caution and advice. Recounting the ways the media reported negatively on the changes she implemented in New York City, she explained that, “when you push the status quo, it can push back.” She added: “We are simply not going to create healthier, safer, more sustainable cities with the strategies that we followed up till now, that ignore all the other ways that a street is used.”

Her recommendation to the diverse audience of planners, academics, citizens and those who work daily in city government on these problems was this: “All sorts of new options are taking hold and planners need to adapt to these new changes and understand the way people want to get around. And we’re really just starting to glimpse what this shared economy means for transportation and cities.”

Following her presentation, transportation planning expert and Urban Planning Professor Emeritus Martin Wachs led a lively and informative question and answer session.

In addition to her Regents’ Lecture, Sadik-Khan was a guest speaker at an Urban Planning graduate course at the Luskin School on Thursday.