Which Voters Will Turn Out? Leap Weighs In on Sheriff’s Race

As California’s general elections rapidly approach, much of the local media focus has turned to the Los Angeles County’s sheriff’s race. The incumbent, Sheriff Jim McDonnell, is generally favored to win. However, retired sheriff’s lieutenant Alex Villanueva managed to force a runoff with strong Latino support in the June primaries, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. If elected, Villanueva would be the county’s first Democratic sheriff in 138 years. The article noted that the current political and social climate could benefit Villanueva, who aligns himself with progressive ideologies. Voter turnout will undoubtedly be a major factor, UCLA Luskin’s Jorja Leap told the Daily News. “Will the ethnic and racial groups subjected to disparity, will they get out and vote?” said Leap, adjunct professor of social welfare. “Will law and order, and people who believe in a more conservative, badge-heavy approach, get out and vote? [The outcome] depends on that.”


 

Mukhija Comments on Program to House Homeless in Backyards

UCLA Luskin Urban Planning Chair Vinit Mukhija commented in a New York Times story about a program to offer homeowners incentives to house the homeless in their backyards. Pilot programs in the city and county of Los Angeles offer subsidies for the construction of so-called granny flats that would be rented for a set number of years to those in need of shelter. The programs are seen as a creative, if limited, way to address the affordable housing crisis, which Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called “the biggest humanitarian crisis in this city.” “In the total picture of homelessness, we know this will not necessarily change that much,” Mukhija said. “The value goes beyond that, though, because it is finally somewhat of a departure of the purity of single-family housing in the region. It’s a good step to change what people here really consider a dogma of private housing.”


Yaroslavsky Weighs In on the Ballot Battle Over Rent Control

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, shared his expertise on housing policy with several media outlets covering the November 2018 ballot measure that would give California cities more power to curb rising rents. “The state doesn’t do anything for renters. It does everything for property owners and developers,” Yaroslavsky told the Christian Science Monitor. “If we keep this up for another generation, we’re going to have far more homelessness than we do now.” The Monitor’s article on the fight over Proposition 10 cited the Los Angeles Initiative’s 2018 Quality of Life Index, which found that more than a quarter of L.A. County’s 10.1 million residents had worried about losing their home in the previous year. “These are the people who are a lost job or eviction notice away from winding up on the streets,” Yaroslavsky said.  The Monitor also cited a UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy working paper on the historical roots of the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles. Yaroslavsky has also been quoted in Proposition 10 coverage from Bloomberg News, the Guardian and Curbed LA.


 

Manville, Monkkonen Investigate Roots of Animosity Toward Housing Developers

UCLA associate professors Michael Manville and Paavo Monkkonen were recently featured in an article on Sightline highlighting their research on neighborhood opposition to new building. Even more than perceived harm and self-interest, Manville and Monkkonen found that “the most powerful opposition frame is about the developer,” specifically when a developer “is likely to earn a large profit from the building.” Despite the apparent motivation to “enforce community norms of fairness” by reining in developers who strive to maximize personal profits, Manville and Monkkonen note the potential flaws of this approach. Manville and Monkkonen illustrate the potentially “vicious cycle of regulation and resentment” as a result of anti-developer attitudes in which “punishing developers … [risks] thwarting affordability, punishing people who need homes, [and] discouraging all but the least likable, deepest-pocketed and most aggressive developers from building.” Despite the foundations of a moral argument against profit-driven developers, Manville and Monkkonen propose a shift in focus to the accessibility and affordability of “homes of all shapes and sizes [for] neighbors of all income levels.”


A Midterm Upset Would Spark Big Battles, Peterson Says

The website Elite Daily asked UCLA Luskin’s Mark Peterson to weigh in on the remote possibility that Democrats will reclaim control of the Senate in the November 2018 midterm elections. “I think it is first vital to emphasize what a shocker that would be,” said Peterson, a professor of public policy, political science and law. In the event that Democrats beat the steep odds against them, Peterson predicted big battles between the Senate and White House, particularly over judicial appointments and an overhauled legislative agenda that would face President Trump’s veto pen. He also said the chances are slim that a Democrat-controlled Senate would convict the president if he is impeached by the House. “That requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which could not be achieved without a significant number of Republicans joining in,” Peterson said. “Given our current politics, that would probably take not only a ‘smoking gun,’ but a ‘smoking bazooka.’ ”

 


 

Jacoby Comments on Employee Profit-Sharing in Sears’ Heyday

Sanford Jacoby, distinguished professor emeritus of public policy at UCLA Luskin, commented in a front-page New York Times article about the remarkably egalitarian employee profit-sharing program offered by Sears in its heyday. Before it was phased out in the 1970s, the stock-ownership plan allowed Sears workers at all ranks to build a comfortable nest egg. “People were retiring with nice chunks of change,” Jacoby said. “People loved this fund, and Sears was a wildly successful company.” But the approach favored men over women and also made workers even more exposed to their employer’s fate, said Jacoby, who also holds professorial appointments in history and management at UCLA. The article contrasted the program at Sears, which has declared bankruptcy, with policies at Amazon, which recently lifted its minimum hourly wage to $15 but also stopped giving stock to hundreds of thousands of employees. The decision underscores how lower-paid employees across corporate America have been locked out of profit-sharing and stock grants, the article said.


Shoup Offers Remedy for Pensacola’s Parking Woes

Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, recently spoke at Pensacola, Florida’s CivicCon to address the city’s chronic issues with parking, including huge swaths of unused parking lots. According to the Pensacola News Journal, Shoup proposed three reforms to improve the city’s inefficient parking system: remove off-street parking requirements, charge the right prices for on-street parking and use parking revenue to improve public services on the metered streets. Shoup gave in-depth breakdowns of how each idea would improve the system as a whole. He also cited real-world examples of cities, such as Pasadena, where identical reform programs were successfully implemented. The overarching message behind Shoup’s presentation was that Pensacola should replace all on-street parking with a meter system; money raised from the meters would go directly back into the community to fund civic improvements to infrastructure, landscaping and general beautification. If all of his recommendations were adopted, Shoup argued, they would work in tandem to increase foot traffic and property values.


 

Manville Comments on L.A. Traffic, Public Transportation and Potential Solutions

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.”


 

Ruling Puts Welfare of American Indian Children at Risk, Akee Writes

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. 


 

Umemoto Comments on Asian American Stereotypes

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.