Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies Director Evelyn Blumenberg and Deputy Director Madeline Brozen co-authored an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times about the accessibility of Los Angeles’ COVID-19 testing sites, most of which are drive-through locations. Public health officials have stressed the importance of testing to combat the pandemic’s spread, but the locations of testing sites are inaccessible for many Angelenos who don’t own cars. Many neighborhoods do not have a walk-in location within walking distance, and borrowing a car or taking public transit to a testing location increases risk of exposure. “If you live in a household without a car in Los Angeles County, you are much more likely to be poor, 65 or older, Black, a recent immigrant, living with a disability or uninsured,” they explained. “These same households also face higher risks of contracting COVID-19, so making sure they have access to testing is paramount.”
In an Ed Scoop article, Karen Umemoto, urban planning professor and director of the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA, discussed the importance of translating public health information and recommendations into several languages. UCLA has launched a website with health and safety recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic translated into more than 40 languages. The website will help inform the many communities that lack access to official news, public health information and safety recommendations in a language other than English, Umemoto said. According to U.S. Census data, more than 50% of people in the Greater Los Angeles area do not speak English at home. “Los Angeles is home to a critical mass of many non-English-speaking communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander,” Umemoto said. During a pandemic, households representing racial minorities often face a disproportionate burden of illness and death.
UCLA associate professors Michael Manville and Paavo Monkkonen were recently featured in an article on Sightline highlighting their research on neighborhood opposition to new building. Even more than perceived harm and self-interest, Manville and Monkkonen found that “the most powerful opposition frame is about the developer,” specifically when a developer “is likely to earn a large profit from the building.” Despite the apparent motivation to “enforce community norms of fairness” by reining in developers who strive to maximize personal profits, Manville and Monkkonen note the potential flaws of this approach. Manville and Monkkonen illustrate the potentially “vicious cycle of regulation and resentment” as a result of anti-developer attitudes in which “punishing developers … [risks] thwarting affordability, punishing people who need homes, [and] discouraging all but the least likable, deepest-pocketed and most aggressive developers from building.” Despite the foundations of a moral argument against profit-driven developers, Manville and Monkkonen propose a shift in focus to the accessibility and affordability of “homes of all shapes and sizes [for] neighbors of all income levels.”