On April 24, 2019, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs marked its 25th anniversary with the inaugural convening of a research-informed, cross-sector conversation about the major issues facing the Los Angeles region, “Luskin Summit 2019: Livable L.A.”

Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011, provided the keynote address. She said that “Democrats and Republicans actually do work together” in the nation’s capital. “We don’t hate each other.”

Providing a framework for the day’s discussions was the unveiling of the fourth Quality of Life Index, a project at UCLA Luskin that is supported by The California Endowment under the direction of longtime Los Angeles political stalwart Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative. The survey asks county residents to rate their quality of life in a range of categories and to answer questions about important issues facing them and the region.

Breakout Sessions

The half-day conference featured a cross-section of elected officials (including several mayors from Los Angeles-area cities), decision-makers in government and business, UCLA scholars, civic leaders and difference-makers in the nonprofit and philanthropic spheres.

Dealing With Disruption: From Public Transit to Public Mobility

Public transit ridership has been declining as the Los Angeles region doubles down on investment. At the same time, growth of privately financed shared mobility services is growing exponentially. What should public transit agencies and city departments of transportation do in response to the current mobility disruption?

Faculty Presenter: Brian Taylor, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies Director and Professor of Urban Planning

Moderator: Richard Katz, Board Member, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Panelists:

  • Conan Cheung, Senior Executive Officer, Metro
  • Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, L.A. Department of Transportation

Preparing to Thrive in a Hotter Los Angeles

Thriving in a hotter Los Angeles requires that we make our homes, workplaces and schools more resilient to future heat waves, which will be longer and stronger. This panel discusses the challenges we face and the solutions available to us as a community.

Faculty Presenter: Jisung Park, Luskin Center for Innovation Scholar and Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Moderator: Liz Koslov, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Scholar and Assistant Professor of Urban Planning

Panelists:

  • Mark Gold, UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability
  • Elizabeth Rhoades, L.A. County Public Health
  • Seth Jacobson, Senior Director, Climate Resolve

Why Access to Safe, Affordable Water Is Still a Challenge in Los Angeles

Many community water systems in Los Angeles County struggle with water quality issues or offer water service at very high prices.  This panel will explain the causes of this regional inequality and discuss current efforts to address it.

Faculty Presenter: Greg Pierce, Associate Director of Research, Luskin Center for Innovation

Moderator: JR DeShazo, Luskin Center for Innovation Director and Professor and Chair of Public Policy

Panelists:

  • Caryn Mandelbaum, Water Director, Environment Now California Program, Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation
  • David Nahai, David Nahai Consulting Services; former CEO, L.A. Department of Water and Power; Board Member, Luskin Center for Innovation
  • Angel Jennings, Reporter, Los Angeles Times

A Housing-Oriented Look at Understanding Rising L.A. Inequality

Income inequality is widening in Los Angeles and this gap is playing out across many domains of public life. People who can afford to buy cars are afforded greater employment and social opportunities than those without. Neighborhoods are increasingly racially segregated and, without added housing capacity across the region, low-income households are facing increased displacement pressure. This panel will examine regional inequality by examining housing patterns and residential segregation and will discuss the opportunities and constraints for addressing this issue.

Faculty Presenters: Mike Lens, Associate Faculty Director, Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies; Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy

Moderator: Evelyn Blumenberg, Director, Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies; Professor of Urban Planning

Panelists:

  • Becky Dennison, Executive Director, Venice Community Housing
  • Leonora Camner, Director, Abundant Housing LA

Census 2020 and Los Angeles

The 2020 Census has the potential to have a severe and negative impact on Los Angeles due to the high levels of distrust of the federal government among many immigrant communities. On top of this, the Census is attempting to add a new question asking about the citizenship status of all household members, which could further deter participation. Los Angeles is the most populous county in the country, and has the largest immigrant community anywhere, making it the most at risk of an undercount in 2020.

Faculty Presenters: Matt Barreto, Latino Policy and Politics Initiative Faculty Co-Director and Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o Studies

Moderator: Sonja Diaz, Latino Policy and Politics Initiative Director

Panelists:

  • Erica Bernal-Martinez, Chief Operating Officer, National Association of Latino Elected Officials
  • Berenice Nuñez Constant, Vice President of Government Relations, AltaMed Health Services Corporation

Can ‘Decarceration’ Policies Make Los Angeles Safer?

Efforts to safely “decarcerate” L.A. juvenile and adult detention facilities and California state prisons are happening at many levels — through policy changes, sentencing reform and hard-fought advocacy. This panel will discuss how decarceration strategies can make Los Angeles safer through reinvestment in prevention and job training, keeping youth and families closer to home and together, and closing the revolving door of incarceration.

Faculty Presenter: Laura Abrams, Professor and Chair of Social Welfare

Moderator: Bryonn Bain, Scholar-Artist, UCLA African American Studies

Panelists:  

  • Isaac Bryan, MPP ’18, Million Dollar Hoods
  • Patricia Soung, Children’s Defense Fund
  • Susan Champion, Stanford Three Strikes Project

Closing Session

A panel discussion about civic issues was moderated by Adrienne Alpert of ABC7 in Los Angeles. It featured: 

  • Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy – Burbank
  • Mayor Thomas Small – Culver City
  • Mayor James Butts – Inglewood
  • Mayor Tim Sandoval – Pomona

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