Autonomous Vehicles Are on the Way. Are Cities Ready? UCLA Downtown Los Angeles Forum on Transportation, Land Use and the Environment focuses on planning for the connected movement of people and goods

By Stan Paul

Autonomous vehicles, once considered science fiction, are quickly becoming a reality.

With the technology and testing of driverless cars and trucks progressing rapidly, private industry is investing. At the same time, planners and policy makers are confronting another challenge: How will technology, policy, governmental legislation and industry practices come together to make the potential benefits of autonomous transportation a reality that is responsible, equitable and good for the environment?

To address these issues, two UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs research centers — the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) and the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies — used their April 13, 2007 transportation conference to focus on the implications of autonomous vehicles. The 10th UCLA Downtown Los Angeles Forum on Transportation, Land Use and the Environment brought together speakers representing the technology industry, along with planning researchers, and practitioners in the government and private sectors.

This year’s downtown forum, held at the California Endowment Los Angeles Conference Center was titled, “Steering Connected and Automated Mobility in the Right Direction.” Speakers and expert panels provided a look at the policy aspects of ridesharing and driverless transportation, from liability and equality viewpoints to greenhouse gas emissions and infrastructure. The panelists also discussed how the anticipated disruption of autonomous vehicles might play out locally, across California and around the nation.

Lauren Isaac, director of business initiatives for EasyMile, a high-tech mobility startup, discussed how connected and automated technologies may shape the future.

“What the data shows is that there needs to be either a costs savings or a time savings” to get people to participate, Isaac said. “There needs to be some benefit to a user to make that decision. The good thing is because of the way technology is evolving there’s great potential for both.”

Governments also play a part by providing HOV lanes and infrastructure for a faster ride, she said. “I think those are the kinds of levers that both technology providers and government can pull.”

Isaac said that freight companies will most likely be the No. 1 sector among the early adopters. “That industry is really interested in this,” she said, citing a shortage of drivers and huge cost savings that could come from moving goods this way.

“On the passenger side, I think without question we’re seeing the best response come from the younger generation,” she said, noting that there is also significant interest from the senior and disabled communities. “That being said, the challenge is how do you transfer people in wheelchairs or if they need additional help? People still rely on humans to get into the vehicles. So there’s still a lot of issues to work out around the para-transit piece,” Isaac said.

Chris Ganson, a senior planner from the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, described some of the research he has seen. “The plus side here is — with a lot of this kind of thinking on automated vehicles — it’s really kind of this funny combination of research and futurism that’s going on,” Ganson said. “We’re extrapolating from our current experiences to try to figure out what things might be like in the future, and what we might need to do about them, but there is a lot of convergence in that thinking.”

Despite this, he said, “We have some tough things to do policywise and politically to receive these autonomous vehicles into our society.”

Ganson also said that it makes sense to be proactive while planning for the future. “While you’re repaving … or building a new transit system, adding the technology now saves 10 times the cost of putting it in later,” he said.

Maya Buenaventura, assistant policy analyst at the RAND Corp., provided a quick primer on common law, tort law and liability issues that would come with taking humans out of the driver’s seat, as well as product liability issues for manufacturers of autonomous cars and parts. There may be some uncertainty in the details initially, she explained, but many of the longstanding concepts of common law that apply to personal injury and property damage would also apply to autonomous vehicles.

“The outcome might not be optimal from a social welfare perspective right away,” she said. “Judges need to start thinking in the long term — what are the long-term costs and benefits — if this is something they’re just going to pick up as autonomous vehicles get introduced. But it is not clear that there are any better options.

“Another thing that we’ve come to realize is the identity of potential defendants isn’t going to be very different when autonomous vehicles are introduced,” Buenaventura added. “There’s still going to be, potentially, lawsuits against the driver, against manufacturers, against the component part manufacturers. And suits against these defendants already exist today.”

For Eric Shaw, director of the Washington, D.C., Office of Planning, “This question of why we want to be ‘smart’ in the first place is actually a question we haven’t answered yet. For us, it’s not just smart vehicles, it’s smart planning. We need to understand how to be smart.”

Shaw, a pre-Luskin 1998 UCLA graduate minored in what was then policy studies, said his city’s overarching commitment is to spatial and racial equity, which must be balanced with the goal of livability, new innovation and understanding urban efficiency.

“We are having crazy growth in our city,” Shaw said of Washington. “We’re a historic city, one of the oldest cities in the nation. We’re one of the most planned cities in the nation.”

With equity and access in mind, Shaw pointed out that the nation’s capital has a huge income disparity. He asked whether creating a system around pricing automatically creates a system that excludes the city’s low-income residents.

With this in mind, Shaw said that his department was looking at a number of scenarios for the city’s future.

“We’re not afraid to test; we’re not afraid to pilot. So we are looking at some of the best practices, looking at ideas of shared mobility and performance, and we’re not afraid to get it all right before we do that,” Shaw added. “We’re OK to test and take some risks, but with the same question right now — racial equity, spatial equity of land use of the built environment.”

Brian D. Taylor, professor of urban planning and director of both the ITS and the Lewis Center, pointed out the importance of addressing the issues covered in the forum.

“The presentations and discussion made clear that the rise of shared, connected and autonomous vehicles poses significant new challenges for transportation planners and policymakers, and in addition cast existing challenges into sharper relief,” Taylor said. “Addressing these challenges head-on today will help to ensure that we steer these new systems in the right direction.”

Getting Transportation Forecasts Right — as Often as Possible In 10th annual Martin Wachs Distinguished Lecture, Professor Joseph Schofer of Northwestern University says systematic learning from experience is vital when predicting the outcome of major infrastructure projects

By Les Dunseith

In the realm of transportation planning, significant time, effort and money go into the process of forecasting, but the gap between predicted outcomes and reality remains a persistent problem for many projects.

“Forecasts don’t always get it right,” said Joseph Schofer, professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate dean of faculty affairs at Northwestern University. Schofer spoke on the topic of forecasting the future during the 10th annual Martin Wachs Distinguished Lecture, held at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs on April 4, 2017.

The Wachs Distinguished Lecture features prominent and innovative scholars and policy makers who draw on many years of research and thinking in the field of transportation. Created by the students in honor of Emeriti Professor Wachs, the lecture rotates between UCLA and UC Berkeley, respectively.

This year’s lecture invitee, Joe Schofer, provided a wide-ranging view about forecasting – a prominent feature of transportation planning. In Schofer’s talk titled “When Forecasting Fails: Making Infrastructure Decisions in an Uncertain World,” he explained that learning to accept the inherent limitations of the forecasting process is a necessary first step in helping planners improve their predictions of cost, utilization, performance and impact.

“Don’t expect that the gap between predicted outcomes and reality is going to get really small,” Schofer told a crowd of more than 50 scholars, planning professionals and transportation decision-makers who came to hear him. “The world is changing at a faster and faster pace. And those big sources of uncertainty — sources of risk — often are outside the transportation system.”

Schofer’s lecture focused less on the shortcomings of forecasting than on “improving decisions by systematic learning from experience,” as Brian Taylor, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and professor of urban planning, described the topic during his introduction of Schofer.

Schofer acknowledged the significance of the occasion during his opening remarks, taking a moment to recognize the presence in the audience of his “dear friend and colleague of a lot of years. This is not just another lecture. It’s me giving the Martin Wachs lecture,” said Schofer, who also cited Wachs’ “immeasurable impact on ideas in transportation, transportation planning, transportation policy and transportation finance.”

On Limitiations

In his lecture, Schofer focused on “what we can do in a situation where we don’t always get it right.”

For starters, he said, planners need to understand that they can never know everything there is to know about the dynamics of human behavior. It’s also important to keep in mind the rapid pace of change in today’s world.

“Changes that are going on right now literally make it impossible to forecast what the future is going to be like,” Schofer said. He pointed to examples such as the proliferation of cellphones, which enhance the speed of communication but negatively impact the capacity to do telephone-based polling research.

Schofer also pointed to other factors that limit forecast accuracy. “Data aren’t complete. There might be better models that we can use. Perhaps those models are not even available to us yet,” he said.

Although transportation experts are making strides and “using better and better data all the time, it’s not a calculus problem; we will not get infinitely close to zero error,” Schofer said.

He also noted that it’s common for forecasts to be impacted by unforeseen factors. For instance, major infrastructure projects often experience cost overruns and construction delays when previously unknown grave sites of historical or cultural significance are found during excavation.

On Being Grounded

Dealing with uncertainty may be avoided if planners make an effort to ground their projects firmly in the reality of previous experience. When forecasting a new project, planners must “ground that by finding out what someone else has experienced,” Schofer said.

The idea of looking at case studies and data related to past events is an essential element of evidence-based decision making, he said.

Some projects face the added complication of being based on visionary thinking — the “visionary ideas of interesting people,” he said. “It’s very difficult in a forecasting situation to go against that because you are dealing with somebody who has a firmly held vision, who is really committed to a particular idea.”

The goals of a visionary leader may outweigh an expert’s forecasts in the decision-making process, Schofer noted. The upside, he said, is that a diligent and resourceful planner can seize the opportunity in these situations to approach that visionary leader directly.

“You may be able to get his or her attention, which may be an opportunity to talk about a more realistic forecast,” Schofer said.

In most circumstances, however, it’s data that drives forecasting, and Schofer said he has seen some promising signs in getting access to better and more useful information.

Among the notable efforts he cited was a federal effort to mine existing administrative data, not to collect new information, to make better-informed decisions during evaluation of social programs.

In the medical field, he noted an effort known as the Cochrane Collaboration that is a loose confederation of people in medical research around the world who have an agreement to produce evidence-based information and to advocate for sharing of that information.

“A bunch of people around the world who have agreed to share data, agreed to work together, are bringing together data from a variety of studies to amplify the impact of that data,” Schofer said.

It’s a model that could easily translate to transportation planning, he said, an “opportunity to look at cases, to bring cases together, and to codify that.”

Schofer envisions a sharing of information among scholars, doctoral researchers, professionals and, perhaps, even journalists, in which information about the success or failure of infrastructure projects would be gathered into a database that could be accessed by “every one of us who wants to ask the question, “How well is this going to work in my town?’”

The shared data would be available for forecasters to evaluate, either analytically or qualitatively, and decide if there’s something useful from which they can learn.

For this type of case-based reasoning, it’s important to have a large dataset from which to draw conclusions. It’s also important for the cases to be kept up-to-date.

“The cases that we studied two years ago or 10 years ago, those are dead,” Schofer said. “We have to look at what’s happening right now.”

On Being Flexible

Given the limitations they face, Schofer said, it’s also important for transportation forecasters to be flexible in their thinking. In his lecture, he called this strategic incrementalism.

Think of it as hedging against uncertainty, he said, “getting ready for something different to happen that you didn’t expect to happen, and maybe putting some dollars against it, so that you are ready for it. So you can preserve future flexibility.”

In practical terms, this might mean erecting a building at a certain height but with the foundation and structure to allow it to become taller should the need for additional space later arise. It could mean building a bridge with one roadway but adequate architectural support to add a second deck later.

It means taking a long view when building major infrastructure projects, then monitoring, collecting data and watching closely to see how the new project actually gets used. If a project has design flexibility in the beginning, any future expansions can proceed at greater speed and at lower cost.

“We have to convey the notion of flexibility and adaptability and real options with the public and decision-makers,” Schofer said. “What you need to say is: “Let’s be a little looser about this, a little more flexible, to get what you really need.’”

Making better decisions in an uncertain world, Schofer said, involves collecting, analyzing and sharing as much data as planners can. Better information leads to better forecasting.

“In the end,” Schofer said, “it’s all about learning.”

 

Home Sweet Home During a Lewis Center Book Talk, visiting lecturer Brian McCabe explores the efficiency of U.S. government support for homeownership

By Zev Hurwitz

Brian J. McCabe is a sociologist whose research focuses on the importance, impact and problems associated with homeownership in the U.S. — not exactly common issues for a sociologist.

“Sociologists have largely ceded the study of housing to economists,” McCabe said. “We should be thinking about housing as not only an economic problem but as a social problem, too.”

McCabe, an assistant professor of sociology at Georgetown University, delivered a seminar at the Luskin School of Public Affairs on Feb. 22, 2017, based on his recent book, “No Place Like Home: Wealth, Community & the Politics of Homeownership.” The book explores the American passion for home ownership and its effect on local communities.

At the Book Talk hosted by the UCLA Lewis Center, McCabe walked attendees through the central themes of his book, focusing particularly on methods for evaluating the impact of homeownership on communities.

Michael Lens, assistant professor in UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Department of Urban Planning, noted that McCabe’s diverse background yielded a unique approach to his work.

“[McCabe’s] research offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of cities combining his training in sociology, geography and public policy, primarily on housing issues,” Lens said.

Homeownership did not become the status quo for most Americans until the middle of the 20th century as marketing campaigns and the news media helped establish the notion that owning a home is an American ideal, McCabe said.

“We generally agree that buying a home is a good thing,” he said. “Ninety percent of Americans believe they prefer to live in a home rather than rent one. Most people who own a home are happy with their housing decision, and most renters expect that one day they’re going to be homeowners.”

In addition to being a vehicle for building wealth, home ownership can also be a tool for building citizenship and community. Government programs that create incentives for Americans to purchase a home strive to strengthen citizenry, but McCabe’s book challenges whether owning a home is actually responsible for community and civic engagement.

“This is what I want to challenge in my talk: Does the evidence actually confirm that homeowners are more engaged citizens?” McCabe said. “And, if so, what kinds of civic activities are homeowners engaged in?”

McCabe’s book explores whether the true effects of homeownership have justified government programs designed to promote it, and whether funding for those programs might be better allocated elsewhere.

McCabe cited several pieces of legislation in the 20th century that made it easier for Americans to buy homes, including the National Housing Act of 1934, which established a nationalized mortgage market, and the GI Bill, which made it easier for veterans to pursue homeownership through VA-brokered loans.

“Building a nation where almost 70 percent of Americans own their own home was not natural, nor was it inevitable,” he said. “It’s built on the back of federal interventions and mortgage markets that make the cost of borrowing cheaper. The federal government is deeply involved with all of this.”

In the course of McCabe’s research, he found that homeownership does correspond to higher rates of civic involvement. Homeowners are more likely to vote or sign a petition, McCabe learned.

However, when accounting for “residential stability”— which McCabe defines as living in the same place for five or more years — the data suggest that homeownership has less of an effect on the likeliness to engage in civic ways than does the length of residence.

“The nuance that I want to add to the story that ‘homeowners are better citizens’ is that there are some places where it is not home ownership that causes people to be more engaged, but actually residential stability,” he said.

Putting the roots of civic engagement in the context of modern government programs that make it easier to buy homes, namely the mortgage interest rate deduction, McCabe said that such programs are inefficient and that the payoffs are not substantial.

“Even if the deduction was a way to increase home ownership, the public benefits of promoting homeownership are insufficient to justify those costs,” he said.

McCabe laid out several policy alternatives to current deductions that might be healthier for the country, including capping the size of loans eligible for deduction, eliminating the deduction for a one-time first-home credit or prioritizing programs that promote residential stability, such as home-choice vouchers.

On the Right Track Transit expert Ethan Elkind’s lecture at UCLA Luskin covers railways in Los Angeles from the 1800s to today

By Zev Hurwitz

In a city famous for traffic jams and rush-hour gridlock, a return to rail may be putting Los Angeles on the right track.

Rail lines and transit policy were the focus of a UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs lecture delivered by professor Ethan Elkind, director of the Climate Program at the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) on Jan. 25, 2017. Elkind spoke about the history of rail transit in Los Angeles and what the future for trains in the county might look like.

Elkind began with a discussion about the early years of Los Angeles rail. Prior to the rise of the automobile, Los Angeles developed a complex system of electric streetcars, which became the primary mode of public transportation for the region.

“At its heyday, there were 1,164 miles of electric streetcars, covering four counties,” Elkind said. “By 1911, the average Angeleno rode the system at least one ride per day.”

Elkind displayed a map of the old Pacific Electric Railway system and its vast number of routes crisscrossing Southern California — a far cry from the relatively modest number of rail lines in Los Angeles today.

“For many Angelenos, they look at this map and it’s hard not to break down in tears at what used to be,” he said. “From Santa Monica to the San Gabriel Mountains you could literally get wherever you needed to go.”

The last streetcar ride took place in 1961, the demise attributed in part to a shift toward policies that favored automobile drivers, such as widening of streets and development of parking. Additionally, the street cars faced their own popularity decline, due in part to poor maintenance, scheduling issues and operator strikes.

Explosive population growth bred traffic congestion, Elkind said, which led one public figure to make addressing transportation a top issue.

“In 1973, City Councilman Tom Bradley ran for mayor of Los Angeles and for the first time made transit a priority,” Elkind said, noting an “overly ambitious” campaign promise by Bradley to break ground on a new rail line within 18 months of his inauguration.

Rail development in the 1970s was an attractive proposition for municipalities because the federal government granted 80 percent of the funds needed to construct a new rail line, contingent on a 20 percent match by local governments.

Ultimately, several tax-raising measures were passed by county voters that paved the way for the first crop of new rail lines in Los Angeles, beginning with a downtown-to-Long Beach route that opened as the Metro Blue Line in 1990 — nearly 20 years after Bradley’s 18-month promise.

Today, 105 miles of railway track reach different corners of Los Angeles County and draw more than 360,000 riders daily. More tracks are on the way, thanks to the 2016 passage of Proposition M, which raised sales taxes to pay for new rail projects, including an extension of the Purple Line subway to Westwood and a Green Line connector to LAX.

“Two cents of every dollar now go into transit,” Elkind said of Measure M’s passage. “It’s a big win. It will generate over $30 billion for transit over the next 40 years.”

Some obstacles remain for transit in Los Angeles, including an ongoing struggle to make projects more cost effective and efficient and keeping pace with continuing population growth for the region.

Elkind drew much of the material for his lecture from the research for his 2014 book, “Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City.”

Zev Yaroslavsky, former Los Angeles county supervisor and director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, introduced Elkind — noting that Elkind had spoken earlier in the day to Yaroslavsky’s undergraduate capstone seminar about the history of transportation in Los Angeles.

“There are a lot of exciting dynamics that are going on in Los Angeles and Southern California in public transportation that are changing the face of the region,” Yaroslavsky said.

The event drew a big crowd that included Luskin and other UCLA students, as well as community members. The lecture was also streamed live online.

First-year MPP student Estefania Zavala attended the lecture because of her interest in transportation policy. “I think it was really interesting to hear about how equity plays a role in the system and what introducing a new Metro station in a really impoverished neighborhood does to gentrifying that neighborhood,” she said. “That’s really interesting to me as a graduate student.”

Transit issues are also personal to her. “It was a little bit frustrating just to hear about inefficiently the system has been laid out,” Zavala said, noting that, as a commuter from Azusa, she wishes that better transit options existed to get her to Westwood.

The Public Policy Department at the Luskin School of Public Affairs co-sponsored the event with the Department of History and the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.

The Problems and Possibilities of Parking Highlights of the latest issue of the Lewis Center’s ACCESS magazine

By John A. Mathews

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs brings you a special edition of ACCESS dedicated to the most controversial topic in transportation: parking. Parking invokes immediate emotional responses. We experience joy when a stranger gives us his or her parking spot and rage when someone steals a space we waited 20 minutes for. And what better thrill is there than running to your car to feed the meter just in time to avoid a ticket?

The issues surrounding parking, however, go beyond our immediate reactions. Parking takes up valuable space that could go to better use. It can cause congestion and inflict additional costs on people who can’t even afford to own cars. But parking can also bring social benefits to a community. In this issue, ACCESS explores the good, the bad and the ugly of parking.

Parking as far as the eye can see

Whether you’re building a bar, a hair salon, or a zoo, you will have to build parking spaces to go with it. Now, after decades of development under excessive minimum parking requirements, parking dominates our cities. But how much parking is there really?

In their article, “Do Cities Have Too Much Parking?” Andrew Fraser, Mikhail Chester, Juan Matute and Ram Pendyala explore the distribution of parking in Los Angeles County and how the county’s parking infrastructure evolved over time. The authors found that, as of 2010, Los Angeles County had 18.6 million parking spaces. This amounts to more than 200 square miles of parking, or 14 percent of the county’s incorporated land area. So now the question is: Do we really need all of this parking?

Fraser is a postdoctoral researcher in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University. Chester is associate professor in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University. Matute is associate director of the Lewis Center and the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Pendyala is a professor of Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University.

Keeping people from cruising

One possible solution to cruising for parking comes in the form of performance-based pricing, where the rate at the parking meter changes based on demand. The theory is that, with the right price, there will always be one or two empty spaces for drivers to park. Drivers can then park sooner instead of cruising for parking over longer distances, causing additional congestion. But do performance-based pricing programs actually help reduce cruising?

In “Cruising for Parking: Lessons from San Francisco,” Adam Millard-Ball, Rachel Weinberger and Robert Hampshire evaluate whether SFpark, San Francisco’s performance-based pricing initiative, actually reduced cruising. By simulating parking occupancy using parking sensor data, block length, and the probability that a block is full, the authors were able to conclude that SFpark did indeed work. The average cruising distance fell by 50 percent, but people don’t cruise as far as they think.

Millard-Ball is assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz. Weinberger is a transportation consultant based in New York City. Hampshire is assistant research professor in the Transportation Research Group at the University of Michigan.

Parking theories versus parking practice

The idea is simple: Charge more for parking and you should get more open parking spaces. Charge less for parking and parking spaces should fill up. But does this theory play out in the real world?

In their article, “Market-Priced Parking in Theory and Practice,” Michael Manville and Daniel Chatman evaluate how San Francisco’s market-priced parking program affected parking occupancy and cruising. They found that, when parking prices rose on a block, the block’s “average occupancy rate” for parking fell. The problem, however, is that drivers look for vacant parking spaces, not average occupancy rates. The longer the time included in average parking occupancy rates, the more misleading they can be.

Manville is assistant professor in the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Chatman is associate professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the UC Berkeley.

Making do with less

When you’re in a crowded parking lot trying to get in some holiday shopping, you might think there’s not enough parking. But if you drive around that same parking lot after hours, you can see the vast waste of space that occurs daily.

In his latest article, “Parking Management for Smart Growth,” Rick Willson asks how we can transition from too much parking to a more efficient use of a smaller parking supply. He argues that transportation demand management can reduce parking demand by encouraging drivers to carpool, walk, bike, or take public transit. Parking management strategies can further reduce the number of parking spaces needed through increased space efficiency. The use of sensors and sophisticated pricing meters can ensure open parking spots and help drivers find them.

Willson is professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

London changes its parking requirements

Do we build so much parking because it’s needed or because it’s required? Parking theorists say that the market would provide fewer parking spaces if parking requirements did not exist. The evidence of this has been inconclusive, however, until now.

In his article, “From Parking Minimums to Parking Maximums in London,” Zhan Guo evaluates what happened after London reversed its parking requirements in 2004. The city removed the previous minimum parking requirements and instead adopted new maximum requirements for all metropolitan developments. What’s interesting is that the new maximum parking limits were often lower than the previous minimum requirements. What’s even more interesting is that most developments provided far less than the maximum limit allowed. This means that, with the previous minimum parking requirements, London was requiring far more parking than the market demanded.

Guo is associate professor of Urban Planning and Transportation Policy at the Wagner School of Public Service, New York University.

Parking: the new beachfront property

Many commercial areas have implemented Parking Benefit Districts that spend meter revenue for public services in the metered areas. But can Parking Benefit Districts work in purely residential neighborhoods as well?

In his article, “Parking Benefit Districts,” Donald Shoup argues that a residential Parking Benefit District can manage on-street parking and provide a neighborhood with revenue to clean and repair sidewalks, plant trees, and remove grime from subway stations. He also argues that residential Parking Benefit Districts can help unbundle the cost of parking from the cost of housing to create more affordable housing. If cities manage their curb parking as valuable real estate, they can stop subsidizing cars, congestion, pollution, and carbon emissions, and instead provide better public services and more affordable housing.

Shoup is editor of ACCESS and Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Gary Segura Named UCLA Luskin Dean A faculty member at Stanford since 2008, Segura is the Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science and Chicana/o studies

By George Foulsham

Gary Segura, the Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science at Stanford University, has been named new dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“Chancellor [Gene] Block and I are confident that Gary will provide outstanding leadership as dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh said in an announcement.

Segura’s anticipated start date is Jan. 1, 2017. He will succeed Lois Takahashi, who has served as interim dean since August 2015.

“I am honored and excited to be selected as dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, and to come to UCLA,” Segura said. “The Luskin School and its distinguished faculty represent an outstanding intellectual community whose work makes important contributions in addressing human problems at the individual, community, national and global levels. The three nationally prominent departments and the affiliated centers are asking and answering critical questions about the challenges — personal and structural — that real people face every day.  It will be my privilege to join them and do whatever I can to broaden and deepen their impact in Los Angeles, across California and beyond.”

A member of the Stanford faculty since 2008, Segura is also a professor and former chair of Chicana/o-Latina/o studies. Additionally, he is a faculty affiliate of African and African American studies; American studies; feminist, gender and sexuality studies; Latin American studies; and urban studies. In addition, he is the director of the Center for American Democracy and the director of the Institute on the Politics of Inequality, Race and Ethnicity at Stanford.

In 2010, Segura was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining Stanford, he was a member of the faculty at the University of Washington, the University of Iowa, Claremont Graduate University and UC Davis.

Segura received a bachelor of arts magna cum laude in political science from Loyola University of the South, and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on issues of political representation and social cleavages, the domestic politics of wartime public opinion and the politics of America’s growing Latino minority.

Segura has published more than 55 articles and chapters, and he is a co-editor of “Diversity in Democracy: Minority Representation in the United States” and a co-author of four books: “Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation”; “Latinos in the New Millennium: An Almanac of Opinion, Behavior, and Policy Preferences”; “The Future is Ours: Minority Politics, Political Behavior, and the Multiracial Era of American Politics”; and “Latino Lives in America: Making It Home.”

Active in professional service, Segura is a past president of the Western Political Science Association, Midwest Political Science Association and Latino Caucus in Political Science. From 2009 to 2015, he was the co-principal investigator of the American National Election Studies. Segura has also briefed members of Congress and senior administration officials on issues related to Latinos, served as an expert witness in three marriage equality cases heard by the Supreme Court, and has filed amicus curiae briefs on subjects as diverse as voting rights, marriage equality and affirmative action.

“I am thrilled that Gary Segura is taking the helm as the next dean of the Luskin School,” Takahashi said. “He is the perfect leader to bring the Luskin School into its next phase of growth. I look forward to working with him on what I know will be a smooth transition.”

In his announcement, Waugh praised Takahashi and the search committee.

“I want to thank search/advisory committee members for assembling an outstanding pool of candidates and for their roles in recruiting Gary,” Waugh said. “I also want to recognize and thank Lois Takahashi for her distinguished leadership of the school as interim dean during the past year.”

The search committee was chaired by Linda Sarna, interim dean, UCLA School of Nursing; professor and Lulu Wolf Hassenplug Endowed Chair in Nursing. Other members were: Rosina Becerra, professor of social welfare; Evelyn Blumenberg, professor and chair, Department of Urban Planning; Michael Chwe, professor of political science; Todd Franke, professor and chair, Department of Social Welfare; Vickie Mays, professor of psychology, and of health policy and management; Mark Peterson, professor and chair, Department of Public Policy, and professor of political science and of law; Susan Rice, chair, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Board of Advisors, and senior consulting associate, Brakeley Briscoe Inc.; Daniel Solorzano, professor of social sciences and comparative education, GSE&IS; and Abel Valenzuela Jr., professor and chair, César Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies, and professor of urban planning.

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.

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.”