Public Policy Professor John Villasenor published an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education exploring the potential repercussions of university involvement in boycotts. Amid negotiations for a new contract between UCLA and academic publisher Elsevier, UCLA executives published a memorandum “Important Notice Regarding Elsevier Journals” in December 2018, urging UCLA faculty to consider “declining to review articles for Elsevier journals,” “looking at other journal-publishing options” and “contacting the publisher … and letting them know that you share the negotiators’ concerns.” By advocating an Elsevier boycott, Villasenor said, UCLA administration may be forced to “come up with a framework to decide which types of boycotts the institution can endorse.” Villasenor concludes that the “UCLA administration’s call for faculty members to boycott Elsevier has blurred the lines between grass-roots, faculty-led activism — a time-honored mechanism that can be very effective for social change — and institution-led activism, which raises complex legal, policy and ethical issues.”
After a study by the UCLA-UC Berkeley Urban Displacement Project found that L.A. neighborhoods near transit hubs were seeing increases in white, college-educated, higher-income households and decreases in populations with less education and lower incomes, Los Angeles has taken various measures to combat gentrification. Construction in areas near bus and train hubs aiming to physically revitalize those neighborhoods has resulted in increases in rent. As new developments progress, policymakers are working to protect residents from being pushed out, according to the real estate trends site The Real Deal. The Transit-Oriented Communities Program in Los Angeles is fighting gentrification by offering density bonuses to developers building near transit, but only if they include affordable units in their projects. Research professor and director of UCLA’s Center for Neighborhood Knowledge in the Luskin School of Public Affairs Paul Ong commented that “the challenge is ensuring that progress is fair and just.”
Sanford Jacoby, distinguished professor emeritus of public policy at UCLA Luskin, commented in a front-page New York Times story on Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s former chairman who was recently arrested in Japan on allegations of financial wrongdoing. The allegations include withholding millions of dollars in income in financial filings for several years, according to the Times report. “Even when a company is a global multinational company, it’s still stamped by its country of origin and the place where it has its headquarters,” said Jacoby, who has studied and written about employment relations in Japan. Jacoby, who also holds appointments in management and history at UCLA, said in Japan more weight is placed “on egalitarian policies of government and pay and other things.”
UCLA Luskin Public Policy’s Joel Aberbach commented in a Roll Call article about House Democrats and the risks of launching rigorous oversight of President Donald Trump on many fronts. Aberbach said Democrats would be wise to “pick things that don’t get stymied right away by total obfuscation or refusal to cooperate.” He added that, in today’s hyperpartisan atmosphere, the results of investigations into Trump may not change how voters feel about him. “We may be at a point where people who sympathize with Trump aren’t going to accept anything as legitimate” grounds for impeachment, he said. “And people on the other side will accept almost anything.” Aberbach is a distinguished professor emeritus of political science and public policy at UCLA.
Gary Orfield, distinguished research professor of education, law, political science and urban planning, was cited a Christian Science Monitor article about continued segregation in elementary and secondary schools. Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project, said elementary and secondary schools are becoming more unequal without the pressure of civil rights requirements. “The problem isn’t curing itself,” he said.
Michael Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, spoke to the New York Times about Minneapolis’ decision to end single-family zoning. The city acknowledged its role in perpetuating housing inequity, he said, adding, “I think that’s great. ‘Minnesota nice’ in action.” Lens, associate faculty director of the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, said the step was necessary but unusual. It could take a while to know if changes to single-family neighborhoods are successful, he said, but added that the best measure of change may be no noticeable change at all. Lens predicted that residents will look around their neighborhood and think, “This has been a good thing. This is still a great place to live.”
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning Martin Wachs spoke to the Los Angeles Times about rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure in the United States. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers conducted an evaluation of U.S. infrastructure and gave it a D+. These results mean that there is “significant deterioration” and “strong risk of failure.” Wachs commented, “I think there is a need to both renew — by that I mean repair deterioration and bring things up to good operating condition — and there’s a need to modernize.”
Professor of Urban Planning Chris Tilly spoke to The New York Times about undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force. Many employers, particularly those offering low-paid jobs, say there are few alternatives to hiring workers without legal documents, the article noted. Tilly said that expectations and status play a role in Americans’ willingness to do blue-collar jobs. “Not everybody will do dirty work,” he said. Historically, the regulation of the U.S.-Mexico border has “been driven by the needs of the economy,” he said, but that is less true under the Trump administration, which has sought to check illegal border crossings.
Lecturer in Urban Planning Joan Ling was cited in Capital & Main on California state policies regarding housing. At a state Senate hearing in mid-November, Ling said that local governments have had years to address the housing crisis but have squandered their chances under current rules. Local governments do not always know what is best, she said, pointing to 40 years of “not zoning enough to provide housing for our population at the local level.” Ling said she believes that a new bill that provides housing near transit hubs while also protecting vulnerable communities is possible. “We need to craft policies that do no harm, particularly to low-income and minority communities who have borne the side effects of well-intentioned policies,” she said.
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.