Vinit Mukhija

Vinit Mukhija is a Professor of Urban Planning, the former Chair of the Department of Urban Planning, and has a courtesy appointment in Asian American Studies at UCLA. He is leading the Department of Urban Planning’s efforts to develop a new, one-year self-supporting graduate professional degree program in real estate development, which will situate real estate development pedagogy within a broader framework of politics, policy analysis, sustainability, and equity at the urban level.

Professor Mukhija’s research focuses on housing and the built environment. He is known for his scholarship on cities and the informal economy, affordable housing and urban design, and the redevelopment and upgrading of informal housing. It spans informal housing and slums in developing countries and “Third World-like” housing conditions (including colonias, unpermitted trailer parks, and illegal garage apartments) in the United States. He is particularly interested in understanding the nature and necessity of informal housing and strategies for upgrading and improving living conditions in unregulated housing. His work also examines how planners and urban designers in both the Global South and the Global North can learn from the everyday and informal city.

Professor Mukhija is interested in both spatial and institutional transformations. Initially, he focused on the Global South, particularly Mumbai, India, and demonstrated the value of slum-dwellers’ participation and input in housing interventions, including their contrarian support for the redevelopment of their slums. He published these findings in his first book, Squatters as Developers? (Ashgate 2003), which was reissued in paperback (Routledge 2017).

More recently, he has focused on informal housing and urbanism issues in the Global North, including unpermitted trailer parks, bootleg apartments, and garage conversions without permits. Most of this research is based on fieldwork in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. To draw attention to the growing prevalence and challenges of urban informality in the U.S., he co-edited a book, The Informal American City, with his colleague Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris (MIT Press 2014). The book questions the conventional association of informal economic activities with developing countries and immigrant groups in developed countries. It also makes a case for a spatial understanding of urban informality. It includes Professor Mukhija’s chapter on the widespread prevalence of unpermitted second units on single-family-zoned lots in Los Angeles.

Along with colleagues Kian Goh and Loukaitou-Sideris, his recent edited book, Just Urban Design: The Struggle for a Public City (MIT Press, November 2022), presents the idea of inclusive urban life as a condition of justice and emphasizes the potential contributions of urban design to spatial justice through the “publicness” of cities. In a chapter on unpermitted secondary suites in Vancouver, which are surprisingly present in one-third of the city’s single-family houses because the built form of semi-basements makes adding informal units very easy, he examines how the units have been legalized with residents’ support, particularly Chinese Canadian and Indo-Canadian immigrants.

Professor Mukhija expanded his work in the two edited volumes on unpermitted second units into a new book, Remaking the American Dream: The Informal and Formal Transformation of Single-Family Housing Cities (MIT Press, 2022). He examines how the detached single-family home, which has long been the basic building block of most U.S. cities—not just suburbs—is changing in both the American psyche and the urban landscape. In defiance of long-held norms and standards, single-family housing is slowly but significantly transforming through incremental additions, unpermitted units, and gradual institutional reforms of once-rigid, local land use regulations. He argues that informal housing is vital in helping disadvantaged households access affordable housing and is not limited to immigrant communities from the Global South. Nonetheless, urban informality affects wealthy and less affluent families differently. Low-income and working-class residents, including immigrants, disproportionately bear the burdens of risky housing. The safe housing available on the formal market is unaffordable for the less fortunate, while affordable informal housing can often be dangerous.

Professor Mukhija trained as an urban planner (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology), urban designer (MUD, University of Hong Kong), and architect (M.Arch., University of Texas, Austin, and B.Arch., the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi). He also has professional experience as an urban designer and physical planner in India, Hong Kong, and Kuwait, with new town design proposals and projects in India, China, and the Middle East. Before coming to UCLA, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher for the Fannie Mae Foundation in Washington, D.C., and developed neighborhood upgrading and renewal strategies for American cities. Some of his past projects have been funded by the Haynes Foundation, the California Policy Research Center, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the World Bank.

Professor Mukhija has won multiple teaching awards at UCLA (2007, 2009, and 2013). His current teaching portfolio includes planning studios; “Introduction to Physical Planning,” a core course for students in the MURP program’s Design and Development area of concentration; “Informal City: Research and Regulation,” a seminar course that combines readings from the Global South and fieldwork-based case studies by students of informal economic activities in the Global North; and the “Comprehensive Project,” a group capstone option for MURP students. He recently taught the Comprehensive Project twice in partnership with Pacoima Beautiful (https://www.pacoimabeautiful.org/). The full and summary reports can be accessed here: https://knowledge.luskin.ucla.edu/2019/02/21/cnk-collaborates-on-transformative-climate-communities-effort/

Professor Mukhija has advised the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, Bangalore, on course and curriculum development. His other community and public service contributions include past membership on the Board of Directors of LA-Más, a Los Angeles-based urban design nonprofit organization; the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, a community organizing, research, legal representation, and policy advocacy nonprofit organization focused on California’s low income, rural regions; and the Los Angeles Area Neighborhood Initiative (LANI), a nonprofit organization focused on community-based urban revitalization strategies; serving as the Chair of the Global Planning Educators Interest Group (GPEIG) within the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP); and as current/past editorial advisory board member of the Journal of Planning Education and Research, the Global Built Environment Review, Architecture and Culture, and the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Books

Mukhija, V., 2022, Remaking the American Dream: The Informal and Formal Transformation of Single-Family Housing Cities, MIT Press, Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goh, K., A. Loukaitou-Sideris, and V. Mukhija, 2022, Just Urban Design: The Struggle for a Public City, MIT Press, Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mukhija, V. and A. Loukaitou-Sideris, 2014, The Informal American City: Beyond Taco Trucks and Day Labor, MIT Press, Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mukhija, V., 2017, Squatters as Developers? Slum Redevelopment in Mumbai, Routledge, London. [Original edition: 2003, Ashgate, Aldershot, England (Studies in Development Geography Series of King’s College and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Commins

Stephen Commins works in areas of regional and international development, with an emphasis on service delivery and governance in fragile states. Commins was Director of the Development Institute at the UCLA African Studies Center in the 1980s, and then worked as Director of Policy and Planning at World Vision International in the 1990s.

Dr. Commins was Senior Human Development Specialist at the World Bank from 1999-2005. His work at the World Bank included “Managing Dimensions of Economic Crisis: Good Practices for Policies and Institutions,” the establishment of the Bank’s children and youth cluster, and a survey of service delivery programs implemented by civil society organizations. Commins was one of the co-authors of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2004, Making Services Work for Poor People.  Following the report’s publication in 2003, he managed several initiatives on service delivery in post-conflict countries and the relationships between political reform and improved services.

Over the last decade, he has continued to work on service delivery programs, including the major study, “Service Delivery in Fragile States: Good Practice for Donors,” for the Fragile States Group of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2006.  Some of his fragility and disaster work has included “testing the DFID state building” framework in Lao PDR and Cambodia, managing studies on disasters and safety nets for the World Bank in Bangladesh, a co-authored paper on participation, accountability and decentralization in Africa, and producing studies on health systems strengthening in fragile states for World Vision Canada and on sub-national fragility in India and Pakistan for the HLSP Institute.   He also led a team of policy researchers for the UK government, who produced a policy note and guidance resource for designing Multi-Donor Trust Funds or “Pooled Funds” in fragile states.

He worked for five years in support of a long-term study of livelihoods and post-conflict reconstruction in Pakistan, as part of a seven-country project with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad and the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium at ODI in the UK..  For academic years 2013-15, he worked as the consultation and dissemination coordinator for the World Bank’s World Development Report 2015 (Behavior, Mind and Society). His other projects at that time included a four-country study with the Overseas Development Institute on community-driven development and livelihoods in four South Asian countries, support for World Development Report 2017 (Governance and the Law), and a project on designing long-term urban programs for urban areas affected by the Syrian refugee diaspora (Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey).

From 2016-19, his work has included designing two workshops, one on urban water and displaced populations and another on municipalities and livelihoods for city officials from Middle Eastern countries impacted by the Syrian diaspora. He was also on the writing team for World Development Report 2018 (Education: The Learning Crisis), including a background paper on Education in contexts of Fragility, Conflict and Violence, an assessment of education systems and needs in South Sudan, a study on providing digital skills for young women in low-income countries, and the second phase of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium.

His most recent work has included serving as the thematic co-lead on Safety and Security for the African Cities Research Consortium, co-authoring papers on the ‘graduation’ approach (Social Protection plus economic livelihoods) for BRAC, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, and co-authoring papers on including refugees in Social Protection systems.

At UCLA, Dr. Commins teaches courses in regional and international development. He is the associate director for Global Public Affairs at the Luskin School.

LinkedIn profile

FILE DOWNLOADS

Livelihoods, basic services and social protection in north-western Pakistan (1).pdf
livelihoods and basic services in NWP.pdf
ter Veen Commins World Vision HSS in FS 2011.pdf
Cities, Violence and Order: the Challenges and Complex Taxonomy of Security Provision in Cities of Tomorrow

 

Dana Cuff

Dana Cuff is a professor, author, and scholar in architecture and urbanism at the University of California, Los Angeles where she is also the founding director of cityLAB, a think tank that explores design innovations in the emerging metropolis (www.cityLAB.aud.ucla.edu).

Since receiving her Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, Cuff has published and lectured widely about postwar Los Angeles, modern American urbanism, the architectural profession, affordable housing, and spatially embedded computing. Two books have been particularly important: Architecture: the Story of Practice which remains an influential text about the culture of the design profession, and The Provisional City, a study of residential architecture’s role in transforming Los Angeles over the past century.

Her urban and architectural research now span across continents to Sweden, China, Japan, and Mexico. In 2013 and 2016, Cuff received major, multi-year awards from the Mellon Foundation for the Urban Humanities Initiative, bringing design and the humanities together at UCLA.

Link to Professor Cuff’s Citylab website:  http://www.citylab.aud.ucla.edu/cuff.html

 

Matthew Drennan

Matthew Drennan has been a Visiting Professor in the department since 2004.   He is an Emeritus Professor, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University.

His recent book “Income Inequality: Why It Matters and Why Most Economists Didn’t Notice” was published by Yale University Press in November, 2015. It was reviewed in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, December 20, 2015.

His current research focuses on how minimum wage increases in big cities affect consumption expenditures of low-wage workers in the metropolitan area. Most of his past work has been in urban and regional economics. In the “Encyclopedia of New York City” he wrote the history of the city’s economy from colonial times to the present.

Articles:

“Do Agglomeration Economies Decay over Short Distances? Are They Stable in the Face of Shocks? Evidence From Manhattan,” International Journal of Urban Sciences, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2018

“Does Public Transit Use Enhance the Economic Efficiency of Urban Areas?” with Charles M. Brecher, Journal of Transport and Land Use, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2012.

“Measuring Urban Agglomeration Economies with Office Rents,” with Hugh Kelly, Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2011.

“Falling Behind: California’s Interior Metropolitan Areas,” with Michael Manville,Berkeley Planning Journal, Vol. 21, 2008.

“Economics: Diminishing Marginal Utility” Challenge, September-October, 2006

“Possible Sources of Wage Divergence among Metropolitan Areas of the United States,” Urban Studies, Vol. 42, No. 9, 2005.

“Unit Root Tests of Sigma Income Convergence Across U.S. Metropolitan Areas,” with Jose Lobo and Deborah Strumsky, Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 4, No. 5, 2004.

“Transition and Renewal; The Emergence of a Diverse Upstate Economy,”with Rolf Pendall and Susan Christopherson. Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, the Brookings Institution, January, 2004.

“The Economic Benefits of Public Investment in Transportation: A Review of Recent Literature,” Journal of Planning Education and Research, Vol. 22, No. 3, 2003.

“Sectoral Shares, Specialization, and Metropolitan Wages in the United States, 1969-1996,” with Shannon Larsen, Jose Lobo, Deborah Strumsky, and Wahyu Utomo. Urban Studies, Vol. 39, June, 2002.

Book Chapters:

“What’s Wrong With Los Angeles, and What Could Fix It?” California Policy Options, Daniel J.B. Mitchell, ed., UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, 2017.

“Economy,” The encyclopedia of New York City, 2nd Edition, Ed. Kenneth T. Jackson, New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2010.

“The Economic Cost of Disasters- Permanent or Ephemeral?” in Economic Costs and Consequences of Terrorism, Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson, eds, Edward Elgar, 2007.

Paul Ong

Professor Ong has done research on the labor market status of minorities and immigrants, displaced high-tech workers, work and spatial/transportation mismatch, and environmental justice. He is currently engaged in several projects, including an analysis of the relationship between sustainability and equity, the racial wealth gap, and the role of urban structures on the reproduction of inequality.

Previous research projects have included studies of the impact of defense cuts on California’s once-dominant aerospace industry, the impact of immigration on the employment status of young African Americans, and the influence of car ownership and subsidized housing on welfare usage.

Dr. Ong is the Director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge and editor of AAPI Nexus, and has served as an advisor to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and to the California Department of Social Services and the state Department of Employment Development, as well as the Wellness Foundation and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

He received a master’s in urban planning from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Economics, University of California, Berkeley. Along with his quantitative research, his professional practice includes teaching and applying visual forms of communication.

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

Set-Aside Contracting in S.B.A.’s 8(A) Program
Paul Ong, Review of Black Political Economy Vol 28, No. 3, Winter 2001, pp. 59-71.

Car Ownership and Welfare-to-Work
Paul M. Ong, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 21, No. 2, Spring 2002, pp. 255-268.

Impacts of Affirmative Action: Policies and Consequences in California
Paul Ong, editor,  Alta Mira Press, 1999.

The State of Asian Pacific America: Transforming Race Relations
Paul M. Ong, editor, Asian Pacific American Public Policy Institute, LEAP and UCLA AASC, Los Angeles, CA, 2000.

The New Asian Immigration in Los Angeles and Global Restructuring
Paul Ong, Edna Bonacich, and Lucie Cheng, editors, Temple University Press, 1994.