LPPI Study on Coronavirus Impact on Minorities Is Distributed to Associated Press Outlets

A recently published study by the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) based at UCLA Luskin received media coverage by the Associated Press. The study found that 40% of black people and Latinos reside in neighborhoods where those living conditions make them more susceptible to getting infected or transmitting the coronavirus. “It just builds on the vulnerability of these residents and of these ethnic enclaves,” co-author Sonja Diaz says in the AP story, which was picked up by the websites of news outlets such as KTLA5 television in Los Angeles and the New York Times. The LPPI director goes on to say, “They’re least equipped to deal with this virus because now they live in neighborhoods where they can’t stay at home and practice physical distancing, they’re hardest hit economically and then they’re not getting relief and recovery benefits.”

 

 


Shah Predicts Long-Term Impact of COVID on Sex Work Industry

Public Policy Professor Manisha Shah spoke to the Chicago Tribune about how the COVID pandemic has impacted the sex work industry. The lockdown has forced many sex workers to switch to offering online services, including phone encounters, texting and video streaming. Many sex workers are ineligible for jobless benefits and have found the transition to online services to be considerably less lucrative than their normal gigs. While the economy is starting to reopen, Shah predicted that the sex work industry will likely trail the pack. “I don’t think sex work will go back to its pre-pandemic state even when stay-at-home orders ease as potential clients will still feel wary of in-person meetings,” Shah said. “It will likely take longer, perhaps even until a vaccine, before people feel comfortable interacting in person for sex services.” 

Ong Comments on Slowing Population Growth in California

Paul Ong, research professor and director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, was featured in a CalMatters article discussing California’s population growth as it slows to near-zero. After 170 years of steady growth, birth rates have started to decline and death rates are increasing. Additionally, foreign immigration is waning and more people are leaving California for other states. As the federal government conducts the decennial census, some experts worry that the poor, the nonwhite and the undocumented will be undercounted. A new UCLA study led by Ong found that the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles County also tend to have the lowest census response rates and the highest rates of COVID-19 infection. “The only way to prevent an extreme undercount in some areas of the county would be for a horde of in-person census takers to descend on parts of the city with the greatest chance of coronavirus transmission,” Ong said in the study.


Manville Predicts Return to Pre-Pandemic Traffic as L.A. Reopens

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville was featured in a KCRW segment on the resurgence of Los Angeles traffic congestion as the car-centric county reopens. “It’s some combination of businesses and recreation areas reopening, combined with quarantine fatigue,” explained Manville to Press Play program host Madeleine Brand. “It’s still well below what we would be experiencing in non-COVID times … but it’s up a bit from the absolute valley it fell to right after the stay-at-home orders were first put into place,” he said. Once the county reopens completely, Manville predicted that traffic will return to what it was like before the pandemic. “Yes, the numbers are creeping up, and I think we just notice that because they had been so low.”  Manville also noted that traffic congestion is the biggest constraint on driving speeds; during the pandemic shutdown, driving speeds increased and the overall number of high-speed collisions remained fairly consistent.


 

Loukaitou-Sideris Reimagines Public Spaces for Older Adults

Urban Planning Professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris co-authored an opinion piece in Next City that recommended ways to better accommodate older adults as cities reopen. Even as stay-at-home orders are being lifted, fear of infection continues to prevent many older people from engaging in simple activities such as walking to a neighborhood park or sitting and reading a book on a public bench. Loukaitou-Sideris and co-author Setha Low, a professor at City University of New York, pointed to grocery stores, many of which have “created special hours for older patrons to shop without the fear of bumping into crowds.” The authors recommended retrofitting parking lots and waiting areas with more seating and shade that would allow older people to wait comfortably in line. “Simple, affordable steps like these will ensure that we are taking into account the lingering fear and isolation that threatens the well-being and health of the most vulnerable citizens — our seniors,” they concluded.


Abrams Explains Increase in Online Child Sex Abuse

Social Welfare Professor Laura Abrams spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the growing threat of child sex abuse as children spend more time on home computers during lockdown. With schools closed and children staying home under COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, law enforcement officials have been overwhelmed by a surge in tips about online child sex abuse. Sexual predators lurk on chat sites, social media and gaming platforms, often coercing children into sending inappropriate pictures, then blackmailing them for more explicit content. “In this time of shelter in place, unfortunately children don’t have a lot of contacts with mandated reporters: teachers, mental health providers, coaches, mentors,” Abrams said. Sexual exploitation can cause stress and suicidal feelings in children, and make it more difficult to focus or stick to normal sleeping patterns, she explained. However, huge disruptions to routine — which many kids have experienced recently — can lead to similar behavior or thoughts, Abrams added.


Cities Need Array of Climate Change Strategies, Turner Says

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner was featured in an Arizona Republic article about her research on combating climate change and lowering urban temperatures. Turner partnered with climate scientist Ariane Middel to research the effect of surface-cooling solar reflective paint on how a person walking along the street feels the heat. “The broad lesson has to do with the fact that we need to be sensitive to context when we make decisions,” Turner said. “If the end goal is urban heat island mitigation, then we want to do something different than if our end goal is pedestrian comfort. They’re not the same thing, and they can’t be conflated.” Research like Middel’s and Turner’s is essential for cities developing heat mitigation techniques and investing in new infrastructure. It’s important to develop strategies using a combination of tools that address the specific needs of different city blocks and neighborhoods, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, they said.


Loukaitou-Sideris on Preparing for Long Lines

Urban Planning Professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris spoke to the Daily Beast about the long lines expected once lockdown ends and businesses reopen. New limits on the number of people allowed inside an establishment at a time could result in lines that stretch down entire blocks, cutting into curb space and affecting the experience of pedestrians. “In most places, sidewalks have become quite empty,” Loukaitou-Sideris noted. “Unfortunately, that means sidewalks do not have the amenities that are necessary for people to stand in line.” Many urban planners are hoping to make American cities more walkable to allow for continued social distancing post-lockdown. Loukaitou-Sideris said she hopes to see “some kind of retrofitted amenities — movable seating, more shading and protection from the sun” — to accommodate people who must spend more time waiting in lines.


Newton on Capturing the Life of Jerry Brown

Jim Newton, editor of UCLA’s Blueprint magazine and a lecturer at the Luskin School, appeared on several media outlets to discuss “Man of Tomorrow,” his new biography of former Gov. Jerry Brown. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Newton explained the title of the book. Brown, he said, is “a person who lives in the future and thinks about the future and sometimes has actually suffered from that, in the sense that he’s sort of been ahead of his electorate on some things.” He said the former governor exhibits “a combination of warning and concern and skepticism but also clear-sightedness and foresight and optimism” that keeps him relevant in the public arena. Newton appeared with Brown at a session of the UCLA Luskin Summit, as well as a webinar hosted by the Sacramento Press Club. A Los Angeles Times review of his book called it a “formidable contribution to the history of both the state and the country.”


 

DeShazo on Future Demand for Electric Vehicles

JR DeShazo, director of UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, was featured in an ABC News article discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on electric vehicle sales. Electric vehicles, or EVs, are already more expensive than their gasoline-powered equivalents, and widespread economic insecurity as a result of the pandemic has made Americans less likely to buy one during this time, even if they can afford it. DeShazo, a professor of public policy and urban planning, predicted that the pandemic may usher in new environmental policies around the country. “A lot of states are talking about sustainable stimulus package incentives for vehicles that would include used and hybrid vehicles, charging equipment at home and at work, and subsidies for clean transportation,” he said. “In some ways the pandemic has made people appreciate life without all this car-created pollution. It has changed how people think about EVs.”