Shoup Weighs In on Parking Debates, From Napa to Virginia

UCLA Luskin’s Donald Shoup weighed in on proposals to reform parking policies on both sides of the country. In downtown Napa, California, some business owners fear that a plan to eliminate free parking could disrupt a tourist boom, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Shoup countered, “There’s a lot of evidence that we can make things much better with meters,” particularly if revenues are used to fund improvements such as sidewalk paving and landscaping. In Fairfax County, Virginia, homeowners are fiercely resisting a proposal to overhaul requirements that developments include a minimum number of parking spots. Shoup told the Washington Post that continuing to prioritize the storage of cars “will be looked back on as a horrible mistake,” and spoke to CNN about the lasting damage to the economy caused by rigid parking mandates. Shoup’s decades-long scholarship has also been spotlighted in reviews of the book “Paved Paradise” by Henry Grabar in publications including the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Common Edge and the California Planning and Development Report.


Turner on How to Protect Children From Extreme Heat

V. Kelly Turner, associate director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times calling for action to protect California’s schoolchildren from extreme heat. “Schools are some of the hottest places in our region,” Turner wrote. “Single-story buildings surrounded by open, asphalt-dominated play yards with few trees provide little opportunity for cooling shade.” She identified a number of equity-minded funding opportunities, legislative actions and policy recommendations to help schools adapt to rising temperatures. Turner’s research into urban planning and design approaches that can make communities more resilient to climate change has made her a sought-after commentator this summer. CNN and KCRW spoke with Turner about adaptation strategies including planting shade trees and covering streets with cooling paint. And Ethnic Media Services covered a news briefing on coping strategies featuring Marta Segura, chief heat officer in the city of Los Angeles, Turner and other leaders.


Torres-Gil on Plight of California’s Caregivers

Fernando Torres-Gil, director of UCLA Luskin’s Center for Policy Research on Aging and professor emeritus of social welfare and public policy, commented in a CalMatters article on low wages and lack of benefits and safe working conditions for California’s caregivers. Experts say the need for caregivers is only increasing in the state and across the country. “We don’t, as a society, value or honor persons that do caregiving,” Torres-Gil said, explaining that one reason the field is undervalued is that caregivers are predominantly immigrant women. In the coming decade, with nearly one-fifth of the population age 65 and older, California will face a shortage of more than 3 million caregivers, according to the California Department of Aging. Torres-Gil said that caregivers working in homes or nursing centers earn minimum, or near minimum, pay and lack benefits of regular 9-to-5 jobs, making long-term care as a career “a hard sell for young people.”

Tilly on Worrisome Economic Signals From California

A Barron’s article about concerns that California’s climbing jobless rate and other economic indicators may be harbingers of a national economic downturn quoted Chris Tilly, UCLA Luskin professor of urban planning and an expert on labor and workplace trends. Tilly said four broad employment sectors in the state are either shrinking or stagnant: construction, particularly residential construction; durable goods; wholesale; and information, which includes media and entertainment jobs. The state economy, the largest in the U.S., grew by an annual rate of 0.4% in 2022, so it’s difficult to call California a “bad economy,” Tilly said. Still, “California is not in a recession at this point, but it is a risk,” and the state “may be a leading indicator for what’s happening elsewhere.”


UCLA Scholars Earn Contract to Re-Envision Care for Young People in the Juvenile Legal System

Two UCLA professors will help California create standards of care for young people moved to county-run programs after the closure of the statewide juvenile prison system. With a three-year, $1 million contract from California Health & Human Services’ new state Office of Youth and Community Restoration, Laura Abrams of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare and Elizabeth Barnert of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine will help design a program called Stepping Home. Its aim is to provide a suite of services and support for youth held accountable for serious crimes so that they may successfully rejoin their communities as thriving young adults. “We are working as consultants to the state to create and implement a more ideal, less harmful youth justice system,” said Barnert, who specializes in pediatrics. A state law enacted in 2020 led to the closure of California’s troubled juvenile corrections facilities, with hundreds of young people moved to their home counties to join camps, ranches and other supervised living arrangements. During this transition and into the future, Stepping Home will provide a framework of care that prioritizes community safety and creates an environment of healing, accountability and rehabilitation. Services will include physical and mental health care, educational and vocational programs, life skills training and gang intervention. The program will also promote evidence-based assessment tools for judges, probation officers, behavioral health providers, educators and community leaders so that they can partner with young people and their families to design effective individualized plans. Abrams and Barnert are longtime research collaborators whose work was recognized with a UCLA Public Impact Research Award in 2022.



Rowe Says S.F. Moratorium on New Pot Shops Could Hurt Customers

UCLA Luskin lecturer Brad Rowe recently commented on a decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to create a moratorium through 2028 on new applications for retail cannabis licenses in the city, describing it as “old-school protectionism” of retail license holders. California’s entire cannabis industry is struggling to stay profitable and this action could help retailers, but Rowe told SF Gate it is likely to increase prices. “There is a way to build value by restricting access,” Rowe said. “The problem is who is going to pay for it? Consumers are the ones who are going to pay with higher prices.”


A Call for Heat Preparedness at California Schools

A California Healthline article on how to help schools become more heat-resilient in the face of global warming cited recommendations laid out in a policy brief from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, including setting an indoor temperature limit and investing in shade and greenery for play areas. Two of the policy brief’s co-authors, Associate Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner and graduate student Lauren Dunlap, are currently modeling how increasing the tree canopy to 30% can affect heat stress and researching the different benefits of dispersed or clustered tree configurations. “Obviously, the California Education Board wasn’t set up to think about climate change. But now that climate change is a reality, virtually every sector is going to have to think about it,” Turner said. The article, which appeared in the Sacramento Bee, LAist and other outlets, noted that legislative action includes a bill by State Sen. Caroline Menjivar MSW ’18 that would require schools to have heat plans by 2027.


Aspiring Urban Planner Chews Into Use of City Property for Outdoor Dining Graham Rossmore’s research has already influenced Los Angeles policy decisions

By Les Dunseith

In recent months, UCLA Luskin graduate Graham Rossmore has become a go-to expert for Los Angeles officials who are studying the economic pros and cons of continuing the al fresco dining that sprang up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does the economic benefit of allowing outdoor dining on public property outweigh a loss of revenue from, say,  parking meters?

Rossmore received his master’s degree in urban planning in June 2023, and he dove deep into that question and a host of related ones as part of his capstone project at UCLA Luskin. He found that, indeed, continuing outdoor dining would outweigh a loss of various revenue sources — along with a whole bunch of other benefits.

“Al fresco encourages more people walking, or people choosing to take alternative modes of transportation — and enjoying their neighborhoods,” Rossmore said.

Throughout UCLA Luskin, capstone projects like those in Urban Planning offer a chance for soon-to-graduate students to wrap up their UCLA education with a monthslong examination of a timely public policy issue. While student researchers often work with local government agencies as their clients, few have the opportunity to influence citywide policy decisions immediately. But that’s what happened for Rossmore.

An American born in Canada, Rossmore lived without a car for much of his 15 years in California. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, he began his urban planning studies with a focus on rail and bus transportation — which led him to a course taught by Donald Shoup, the distinguished research professor at UCLA Luskin who is perhaps the world’s foremost expert on parking.

“For whatever reason, parking policy speaks to me,” Rossmore said.

Shoup’s class gave Rossmore the opportunity to explore whether cities should continue what had begun as a temporary COVID-19 response — converting outdoor public spaces into al fresco dining spots. He focused on the Rustic Canyon neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, where he lived at the time.

The number of off-street parking lots there outnumbered restaurants, and when restaurants converted some of that parking into al fresco dining, they took it seriously.

“They spent a lot of money,” Rossmore said. “They have lights. They have fixtures. They’ve got heating. They’ve got seats.” He said some restaurant owners he interviewed in spring 2022 told him they had doubled their sales and expanded their customer bases.

A summer internship followed with the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who is now council president. One connection led to another, and Rossmore soon found himself working part time on the city’s Al Fresco Dining program in the parking meters division of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

young person with beard and checkered shirt stands in front of poster about curbside dining

Rossmore and other students pursuing master’s degrees in urban planning present their capstone research findings during a poster session each year. Photo by Les Dunseith

The project helped inform his capstone project, and vice versa. He learned the ins and outs of sales tax, of which 99% goes to the state, while typically 1% is remitted to the city. Yet Rossmore found that the al fresco dining generated enough tax revenue to offset lost revenue from parking meters.

During presentations to LADOT leaders and city officials, Rossmore has highlighted many of the broader benefits of al fresco dining for local municipalities: Greater sales tax revenue represents higher overall economic output, which means happier business owners, customers and city officials.

He also discovered another plus of outdoor dining: More residents tend to eat closer to where they live, which brings all the benefits associated with reduced vehicle use.

“And when we take away parking spots, restaurants haven’t reported a lack of customers or people coming in and complaining, ‘I don’t dine here anymore because I can’t park,’” Rossmore said.

Rossmore’s capstone report analyzes three formats for al fresco dining — on sidewalks, on streets in formerly metered spaces and in private lots — each of which entails its own regulatory considerations. Sidewalk dining, for example, falls under the purview of the Department of Building and Safety because of the need to meet safety codes and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On-street dining is the focus of LADOT’s roadway dining initiative, and an LADOT report that cited Rossmore’s findings was sent to the Los Angeles City Council, recommending that businesses be allowed to offer curbside al fresco dining, so long as they pay a fee that would help offset lost parking revenue.

Even with his capstone project complete, Rossmore, who also serves on the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, has continued researching the subject. He has also analyzed the costs and benefits of al fresco dining in several other corridors — Larchmont Village, San Pedro, Westwood Village, the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood and Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

“The sales tax in 2022 in most of these corridors is almost double pre-pandemic levels,” said Rossmore, noting that other parts of the city that lack al fresco dining, like Hollywood and Studio City, are collecting significantly less sales tax revenue than they were before COVID-19. “That suggests that the al fresco program not only was successful in keeping the businesses afloat — so that they didn’t close during the pandemic — but it also increased sales tax for the city and generated more profit for the restaurants overall.”

Rossmore also was asked to present his capstone research to officials at the Department of City Planning, which is developing the ordinance for outdoor dining in private, off-street parking lots. On April 27, he presented findings that only around 3% of al fresco dining was in on-street metered spaces.

“My client and I were able to speak at the public hearing and to demonstrate how off-street dining is the lion’s share of the program,” Rossmore said.

Soon after, the City Planning Commission issued a letter of determination to create a path for businesses to make outdoor dining a permanent feature. And the city’s chief executive has weighed in.

“Al fresco shows us a better way that supports small businesses, creates jobs and adds vibrancy to our neighborhoods,” Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement. “I directed city departments to work together to make this a permanent al fresco program that incorporates everything that made the temporary program successful and to make the process simple and easy to navigate for our restaurants.”

Two years ago, Graham Rossmore had no inkling he’d find himself telling city officials why it makes sense to convert public spaces into outdoor dining spots.

“In my personal statement to get into UCLA Luskin, I didn’t say, ‘Leaving this program, I’m going to be a parking expert,’” he said with a smile of satisfaction. “But that’s where I’ve ended up.”

View additional photos from Careers, Capstones and Conversation, a showcase of each year’s individual urban planning projects

Careers, Capstones and Conversations 2023

UCLA LPPI Hosts Policy Briefing at State Capitol

The UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute brought policy experts, advocates and state leaders together May 9 at the state Capitol for its fourth annual policy briefing to discuss critical issues affecting the Latino community. The session reflected UCLA LPPI’s commitment to strengthening the Latino presence at the Capitol and ensuring that state leaders know that every issue is a Latino issue. With over 20 legislative offices and community partners represented, the briefing served as an opportunity to hear directly from UCLA LPPI faculty experts covering COVID-19 recovery, housing insecurity and Medi-Cal expansion. Veronica Terriquez, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and a professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin, kicked off the expert research presentations with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 on Latino youth as they transitioned to adulthood. UCLA LPPI faculty expert Melissa Chinchilla then presented on the growing crisis of Latino homelessness and offered policy recommendations to address some of the underlying issues with housing services. Arturo Vargas Bustamante, UCLA LPPI faculty director of research and professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, ended the day with a discussion of important implementation issues related to expanding Medi-Cal access to undocumented adults age 50 and older. The community briefing offered strong policy recommendations to create transformative change for the Latino community and other communities of color throughout the state of California. — Janine Shimomura

View photos and a highlight video from the policy briefing.


‘Taking the Raw Edges Off Capitalism’

Dan Mitchell, UCLA Luskin professor emeritus of public policy, wrote an essay for Zocalo Public Square about efforts in 1930s California to build a social safety net for older Americans, with lessons for today’s debates on aging and “entitlements.” The campaigns, which predated the launch of Social Security, included the Townsend Plan, which called for the federal government to give $200 a month to every American over 60, and the Ham and Eggs initiative, which called on the state of California to give $30 to adults over 50 every Thursday. While these efforts failed, their larger ideas would triumph. “Social Security was not inspired by the Townsend Plan, but it was part of the New Deal’s larger idea of taking the raw edges off capitalism through government intervention,” Mitchell wrote. Advocates for the aging population remained a force in California politics for years, fighting battles that foreshadowed today’s struggle over how to divide the economic pie between younger and older generations.