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

Redesigning a New York City Icon UCLA Urban Planning professor emeritus Martin Wachs to chair design competition jury for new Port Authority Bus Terminal

By Stan Paul

The Port Authority Bus Terminal of New York traces its roots back to the late 1930s, the days of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, a skyline already filled with iconic skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building and city streets crowded with interstate bus traffic.

Since its opening in 1950, and expansion in 1979, demand for the aging icon’s services has continued to grow beyond its capacity.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced the selection of eight experts who will serve as the jury for a two-phase Port Authority Bus Terminal Design and Deliverability Competition. Helping the Port Authority realize its vision of transportation needs through 2040 — nearly a century after its founding — will be Martin Wachs, professor emeritus in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Department of Urban Planning.

“The opportunity to play a role in the development of one of the nation’s most important transportation terminals is enormously satisfying because I have always tried to relate teaching and research to current policy challenges,” said Wachs, who will chair the design jury. “This is a complex project, the jury is composed of wise and experienced people, and the entries are creative and varied.”

Today, the “gateway to New York,” located in midtown Manhattan near Times Square, serves more than 7,000 buses daily and more than 220,000 passengers on an average weekday. That is expected to increase to 270,000 daily peak hour passengers by 2020 and approximately 337,000 by 2040. It is linked to the Lincoln Tunnel, with access to more than 90,000 peak-period weekday bus commuters; 11 subway lines; five City transit bus lines; and pedestrian access to offices, theaters, shopping and entertainment in the surrounding city. It is the largest and busiest facility of its kind in the world, according to Port Authority history.

Wachs’ fellow jury members include experts in urban planning, transportation operations, architecture, construction management, engineering and other fields.

Wachs is expected to present the jury’s recommendations to Port Authority Board of Commissioners at their September meeting. The board will make the final decision.

“The jury will help inform the design of a bus terminal that will be scalable to meet future needs, and that the Port Authority can have confidence will be delivered on time and on budget using our limited capital resources, that maximizes the value of PA-owned air rights and real estate, and reduces the $100 million-plus annual operating loss at the existing facility while addressing concerns of the local community and City of New York,” Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said.

Wachs has served as 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.

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.

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.

The entire Port Authority release and list of jury members may be found here.

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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.”

Planning a City, At Your Fingertips A new web application created by UCLA Lewis Center provides an array of powerful resources to help anyone — from city planners to community members — track neighborhood changes, with just a few clicks

Juan Matute, associate director of the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies

Juan Matute, associate director of the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies

By George Foulsham

You’ve lived in your community for about 20 years. You care about what’s going on in your neighborhood, and you’ve noticed it’s changing — but you’re not sure why. More importantly, you’d like to have a voice in the process of change, but you need more facts to participate with an informed voice.

Or, you’re a city planner who is contemplating adding a new neighborhood, or an in-fill commercial development. You have many factors to consider, including

reducing greenhouse gas emissions, access to employment, bringing people out of poverty.

Now, thanks to REVISION, a new web application created by the UCLA Lewis Center, part of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, anyone can aggregate data from various public and private sources to create a complete picture of neighborhood change. And they can do it with just a few clicks.

“We’ve built a tool that allows a great number of people, way more than just the professional planners who already have access to this data, the ability to go in and answer questions that they might have about this regional growth phenomenon,” said Juan Matute, associate director of the UCLA Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies. “To answer these questions before REVISION, it would have taken someone months of technical training and at least a day to gather the relevant information. Now, even people without technical expertise can get a great deal of insight in less than 20 minutes. So, REVISION makes big data on regional growth readily available at people’s fingertips.”

REVISION, created with the assistance of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), is dedicated to understanding community change in Southern California. With a range of metrics related to accessibility, livability, employment and health, REVISION helps both professional planners and stakeholders without a technical background monitor the progress of the region’s Sustainable Communities Strategy, a plan to improve environmental sustainability, social equity and public health. Users can use the site to answer hundreds of questions about regional and neighborhood change.

“We have created a web application that anybody can access with their web browser, to, with just a couple of clicks and in a couple of minutes, figure out if poverty is getting better or worse in this neighborhood,” Matute said. “Are people from this neighborhood using mass transit or bicycles to commute to work? Are we building new housing where there are a lot of bike lanes and frequent transit service or are we adding a lot of housing out in Lancaster or far-flung suburbs where people have longer distance commutes to access jobs? Or maybe there’s substantial job growth in Palmdale or Lancaster and their commutes are getting shorter.  With a few clicks someone can answer these and other questions.”

The UCLA Lewis Center and SCAG worked together to launch the REVISION application with funding from California’s Strategic Growth Council. Four integrated tools comprise the application:

Users can visualize differences between neighborhoods using the Map Tool.

The Trends Tool helps users identify statistically significant change over time.

The Area Report presents location-specific details from multiple sources: the just-released 2014 American Community Survey, CalEnviroScreen, planning data, Zillow real estate values and Walkscore.com.

The Property Report provides information from the County Assessor and other sources.

REVISION’s area reports have downloadable charts for many sustainability and livability metrics for over 10,000 census block groups in Southern California. The application combines metrics and data from over a dozen private and public sources to provide a dashboard view of community and regional sustainability planning information.

“You can do over a hundred different things with the application,” Matute said. “Somebody could go to the map, go to the various views on neighborhoods and use it to understand neighborhood change that’s associated with gentrification. Maybe people can educate themselves on the issues and come to their own conclusions.”

The REVISION application is currently available for Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, though Matute says that the site could be rolled out to a wider area in the future. It can be found on the web at http://revision.lewis.ucla.edu.

“At UCLA, we typically produce research findings” Matute said. “REVISION is more of a public education tool in the spirit of the University’s service mission. It’s making the ability to answer questions about neighborhoods and the region a lot easier for a lot more people.”

New Report Calls for More Consistent Policies for Mobile App Transportation and Taxi Services

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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.

 

ITS Partners with Caltrans to Deliver California Transportation Planning Conference 200 attendees meet in Downtown Los Angeles to discuss the future of transportation planning in California

 

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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.

 

 

Lewis Center Hosts Talk on Policy Implications of Ridesharing with Lyft

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By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin student writer 

On Dec. 8, the Lewis Center hosted a presentation about ridesharing transportation services based on smartphone technology and “access over ownership.” The Center invited Emily Castor, the director of Community Relations at Lyft, to speak about implications for policy and planning as these services begin to increase in density.

Over the last 2.5 years, Lyft has provided over 10 million rides and has affected mobility in several ways. Castor said these services can promote a car-free lifestyle and provide transportation options in underserved areas.

Despite some ideas that Lyft is only available in high socioeconomic neighborhoods, Castor discussed the different ride sharing features Lyft offers and its reliability different areas regardless of socioeconomic profile.

She also provided insight into the new industry’s development and how it will impact consumer behavior. For instance, people’s sensitivity to price presents the potential for systems that allow people going the same direction to share a ride. Adopting this feature in high density areas can reduce the cost for consumers up to 60% and benefit drivers who earn more per ride, she said. These features, such as the Lyft Line system, have already launched in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“The more people adopt this service, the better match rates customers get,” Castor said.

Though these services and features have much potential for mobility in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, there are questions remaining about successfully implementing and evolving them. For instance, Lyft’s upcoming launch of incidental carpooling will allow drivers to filter customers to focus on the driver’s designation. However, it is likely this would work best when there are events happening in the area.

“For carpooling to be mainstream, it needs to be flexible, reliable, quick, trustworthy and lucrative,” she said.

Public Policy student Begoña Guereca contributed to this report.

 

Re-Defining Fatherhood in America’s Inner Cities

15712659775_2823703411_kBy Stan Paul

Researcher Kathryn Edin has long been known for her groundbreaking work on poverty and the lives of women and men in American inner-city neighborhoods. Her qualitative work in communities has gone beyond the numbers – and easy assumptions —  to the heart of issues that evade answers by mere quantitative means.

The Johns Hopkins sociologist, whose work has focused on questions such as “How do single mothers possibly survive on welfare,” has more recently turned her lens on the lives of fathers in the complex area of family formation. Edin, spoke this past week at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, part of the 2014 FEC Public Lecture Series sponsored by the Luskin School and the Center for the Study of Inequality.

In her recent book, Doing the Best I Can: Fathering in the Inner City (co-authored with Timothy Nelson), Edin again goes directly to the communities she studies. There, she hears from the fathers themselves, and looks beyond labels such as “deadbeat dads.”

In giving both the good and bad news, Edin comments, “I’m just telling you how it is.” She reports that that good news is that young men want to embrace fatherhood and that overwhelmingly, their first reaction to news that “she’s pregnant” is positive, even enthusiastic despite being “un-planned.” “They, too, see parenting as a key source of meaning and identity,” said Edin, adding, “Children have a tremendous power to transform young disadvantaged men’s lives.” Whether described as “saints” or “deadbeats,” Edin concedes in her studies of these men, “the typical father is both.”

And, the bad news is that, while the fathers (African American and Caucasian) she interviews describe themselves as happy, the “odds are very long that a father will remain closely connected to this child throughout the life course,” said Edin. In addition, when fathers have children with multiple partners, there may be intense daily contact with one child but little or no contact with others, in conjunction with highly contentious co-parenting relationships, she said. This “serial selective fathering” puts fathers in what Edin calls a family-go-round or the children into a “father-go-round.”

Edin says that despite “how it is” that “we shouldn’t give up,” looking “farther upstream” for solutions to this complex problem. This includes both a “societal change of heart for these men,” to get things started, but also a “call to honor their fatherhood in every stage.”

Edin’s presentation was co-sponsored by the Ralph and Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, the Institute for Labor and Employment, the Institute of American Cultures, The Bunche Center for African American Studies, The California Center for Population Research, and the Sociology Family Working Group.

 

Revitalizing Cities with ‘Urban Acupuncture’ Renowned planner Jaime Lerner shared his views on building cities in Brazil at the inaugural Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin lecture.

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You could feel the collective breath in the room hold for a brief moment as Jaime Lerner leaned in to the podium and began to speak.

In his calm even tone, Lerner the acclaimed architect, urban planner, and former mayor and governor of Curitaba, Brazil and Parana State credited for fathering a type of planning that is utilized by cities worldwide, gave a short presentation that was equal parts inspirational and educational.

At one moment Jaime waxed poetically on the beauty of cities in the lives of people. The next moment he was encouraging the audience of UCLA students from across campus that their ideas are good enough to be executed now. And another moment, in a review of some of the ways he revitalized areas of Curitaba, Brazil when he was mayor, he revealed the innovative mind of one who is far above the norm. It is no wonder he is the recipient of numerous international awards, and the list of his accomplishments – creating a subway system, building a theater in two months, coming up with a solution for city waste to where it achieved the highest rate of garbage separation in the world in 1989, and much more —  make for very chunky sentences.

Such is the heft that Lerner brought to the evening. It explains the enthusiasm with which his appearance on UCLA campus was received. The event on Oct. 28 titled “Urban Acupuncture & Sustainable L.A.” was co-sponsored by Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin, the Department of Urban Planning, the Healthy Campus Initiative, the Center for Brazilian Studies, the Lewis Center, and Island Press.

Lerner began his presentation by noting that in order to make a change in a city, there will need to be political will, solidarity, strategy, and good equation of co-responsibility – knowing how to transform a problem into a solution.

When it comes to building smart cities, Lerner said plans need to respect the identity and socio-diversity of the city.

“For me a city is a structure of living, working, moving, and leisure together,” he said. “When we separate urban functions, when we separate people by income, by ages, by religions, every time we want a more human city we’ll need to mix. Mix functions, uses, ages. Then it becomes more human.”

He explained that the city is the family portrait for the inhabitants, and just because one aspect is unseemly, it can’t just be cut off. Urban acupuncture – making focal pinpricks that revitalize cities quickly – help to provide new energy to cities during the long process of city planning.

Lerner encouraged the audience to reinvigorate their cities by putting their ideas into action.

“Innovation is starting,” he said. “If you try to have all the answers, you will never start.”

He added: “If you want creativity, cut one zero from your budget. If you want sustainability, cut two zeros. If you want solidarity, keep your own identity and respect other’s diversity.”

As for how those ideas can be used in Los Angeles, Lerner said his first innovation would be to start with simple demonstrative effects – building new transportation lines here and there, giving examples of improvements that citizens can grasp on to.

He noted that local planners and students probably already have great ideas for how to improve Los Angeles, but the question is how to organize the ideas

“First of all, I think it’s important to create a scenario – a broad view of the city that everyone or the large majority understands is desirable,” he said. “If they understand, then they will help you to make it happen.”

Lerner emphasized that communication is key to getting inhabitants of a city on board with a collective vision. He recommended starting by teaching children about their city

“Try to have them design their own city. Then they’ll understand their city and respect it better,” he said, adding that teaching children how to live in a city, such as educating them on how to cross streets safely, are only teaching them the rules of automobiles – not about the city itself.

He repeated again that city planning just need to be about starting.

“Planning is not magic…We have to understand we don’t have all the answers. Planning a city is like a trajectory where you start and then you have to leave some room for people to correct you if you’re not on the right track,” he said.

Panelist Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, noted that Lerner’s concept of urban acupuncture is used in Los Angeles today. In an interview in the Washington Post, Mayor Eric Garcetti referenced the concept when promoting the “Great Streets” program to improve defined areas of Los Angeles.

Though the projects developed for the Great Streets initiative were conceived of my LADOT members, Reynolds noted that Lerner’s planning concepts are “inherent, embedded in a lot of the ideas that flow through the strategic plan.”

“Those ideas were so powerful that they really have spread so quickly and they’re not bleeding edge anymore,” Reynolds added. “They are the playbook for urban streets and big cities. There’s not really a question of if we should do those things, but how we should do those things.”

When asked about the level of traffic in Los Angeles hampering reliable bus schedules, Reynolds said that buses are impacted when in mixed flow with cars. While it is not a big cost issue to develop bus lanes, it is a design issue that is mired in problems of process, political will, and environmental review, she said.

In the meantime, Reynolds said she expects to see more shared-ride models to be created to provide flexible on-demand transit. However, she said government has a role in making sure there is not too much privatization of public transit.

Paula Daniels, former Senior Advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and current senior fellow on Food Systems, Water, and Climate for the Office of Governor Jerry Brown, said delegations of Los Angeles officials visited Curitiba to see how the city had been revitalized.

“The concept of thinking of things more physiologically, which I think originated in Curitiba, is an important design construct. I do see how that pinprick in Curitiba is already radiating in other ways,” she said. She cited the improvements to the city’s storm water system as an example of a system developed from Lerner’s concepts.

Luskin Center sets out to make L.A. a greener place to live, work The Luskin Center for Innovation has set a goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles become more environmentally sustainable

By Cynthia Lee

Green power. Solar energy incentives. Renewable energy. Smart water systems. Planning for climate change. Clean tech in L.A. For the next three years, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation has set an ambitious goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles and state and federal agencies reach the Holy Grail of environmental sustainability.

Five Luskin scholars are working on initiatives that could change how residents, businesses, industries and government meet the challenge of living more sustainably. The Luskin center is carrying out a mission that was broadly outlined by Chancellor Gene Block in his inaugural address on May 13, 2008: to marshal the university’s intellectual resources campuswide and work toward intense civic engagement to solve vexing local and regional problems. “I believe that UCLA can have its greatest impact by focusing its expertise from across the campus to comprehensively address problems that plague Los Angeles,” the chancellor told an audience in Royce Hall.

With an agenda packed with six hefty research initiatives, the center is diving into that task under the leadership of its new director, J.R. DeShazo, an environmental economist and associate professor of public policy who also heads the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. DeShazo took the reins in October when the center moved from the Chancellor’s Office to the School of Public Affairs, a move that took advantage of the school’s outward orientation. “It’s focused on policy solutions, so this is a natural place for us to grow,” DeShazo said. “But even though the center is located here, we’re very cross-disciplinary. We have researchers from chemistry, public health, engineering, the Anderson management school, the Institute of the Environment (IoE) and public policy.”

The five scholars working on the six initiatives are DeShazo; Yoram Cohen, an engineering professor and director of the Water Technology Research Center; Magali Delmas, professor of management and the IoE; Hilary Godwin, professor of environmental health sciences; and Matt Kahn, professor of economics in the departments of Economics and Public Policy and IoE. “We started off by identifying problems that our community is facing and that it can’t solve,” DeShazo said. Then, they asked two questions: “Does UCLA have the research capacity to address this deficit? And can we find a civic partner who can make use of this new knowledge?” Proposals were prioritized by a 16-member advisory board with a broad representation of business and nonprofit executives, elected officials and a media expert. Among the high-profile board members are State Senators Carol Liu and Fran Pavley; Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board; Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel; Assemblymember Mike Feuer; John Mack, chairman of the Police Commission; and William Ouchi, professor of the Anderson School and chairman of the Riordan Programs.

“We take our research ideas and develop real-world solutions that can be passed on to a civic partner with whom we can engage and support,” DeShazo said. “We let them carry through with the politics of policy reform as well as the implementation. We don’t get involved in advocacy.” An array of local green research DeShazo recently completed Luskin’s first initiative with his research on designing a solar energy program for L.A. that would minimize costs to ratepayers. His research – the basis of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s new energy policy – proposes a solar feed-in tariff that would help everyone from homeowners and nonprofits to commercial property owners buy solar panels and be able to sell their solar energy to utility companies for a small profit.

Other Luskin research initiatives involve creating smart water systems for Southern California with water reclamation, treatment and reuse (UCLA researcher Cohen will work in partnership with the Metropolitan Water District); helping local governments plan for climate change (DeShazo with the California Air Resources Board and the Southern California Association of Governments); and reducing toxic exposures to nanomaterials in California (Godwin with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.) In another initiative in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the California Air Resources Board, researchers are compiling a database of jobs created by clean tech activities in L.A. County and will document best practices that other cities have used to attract and support clean tech development. Luskin’s Kahn is working with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to pinpoint what determines how much electricity is used by residential and commercial consumers and how the district can market its major green energy programs to increase participation.

Finally, Delmas is looking into whether the Green Business Certification Program approved recently by the City Council will reduce the overall carbon footprint of small businesses. The program offers incentives and assistance to small business owners in L.A. to become more efficient and less wasteful in their everyday practices. Those businesses that meet certain “green” criteria will be certified as being environmentally friendly. Her partner in this venture is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.