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Cecilia Estolano named to UC Board of Regents UCLA Luskin alumna and adjunct faculty member will help shape higher education in California for years to come

Cecilia V. Estolano MA UP ’91 has been appointed to the University of California Board of Regents. 

Estolano, who teaches as an adjunct faculty member at UCLA Luskin, is one of four new regents appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Aug. 6.

“I am eager to partner with these accomplished new board members,” UC President Janet Napolitano said.  “Serving on the UC Board of Regents offers a powerful opportunity to shape California higher education for years to come and ensure that future students receive the same excellent UC education as did previous generations of Californians.”

Estolano, an expert in sustainable economic development and urban revitalization, is chief executive officer at Estolano LeSar Advisors. She co-founded the firm in 2011 with UCLA alumni Jennifer LeSar UP ’92 and and Katherine Perez-Estolano MA UP ’97.

Estolano’s long list of accomplishments includes serving as chief executive officer at the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and as a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to her UCLA Luskin master’s degree, Estolano earned a juris doctorate from UC Berkeley and previously served as counsel at Gibson Dunn and Crutcher LLP and as special assistant city attorney in the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

New appointees to the UC Board of Regents, who must be approved by the California Senate, serve 12-year terms.

Photo by George Foulsham

Read about Estolano, center, LeSar and Perez-Estolano, founders of a Los Angeles-based planning and policy firm.

 

 

 

 

 

California Entering Decade of Disruption, as Power System Shifts Dramatically

Communities across California have formed Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) at a rapid rate since 2010, with over half of them starting within the last two years. County and city governments administer CCAs as local alternatives to investor-owned utilities. “The Growth of Community Choice Aggregation: Impacts to California’s Grid,” a new report produced by Next 10 and written by JR DeShazo, Julien Gattaciecca and Kelly Trumbull MPP ’17 of UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, finds that if current growth trends continue, CCAs may serve a majority of California’s power consumers within the next 10 years, transforming California’s retail electricity sector. According to the report, the rise of CCAs has both direct and indirect positive effects on overall renewable energy consumed in California, helping contribute to the state meeting its 2030 RPS targets approximately 10 years in advance. Even with such an important impact on the penetration of renewable energies, CCAs’ effects on the grid have been negligible so far. This is in part because when a CCA starts, it handles the needs of existing electric customers, and often gets power from existing power plants. In the long term, though, CCAs’ impact on the grid depends on their energy procurement strategies and their local investments. “The public and local nature of CCAs positions them to implement local energy programs that will help to reduce or shift energy consumption, benefiting the grid as well as their customers,” DeShazo said.

 

Photo by iStock / oveguli

 

Storper Weighs In on the Battle for the Bay Area’s Soul

Professor Michael Storper of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning speaks about the “contest for the heart and soul of the Bay Area” in a wide-ranging interview with Public Knowledge. Storper says the region’s rich history of social connectivity has underpinned its economic success. Now, in the face of rising inequality, “Silicon Valley capitalism must be more than about disrupting markets and daily life.” The Bay Area must draw on its “deep intellectual and humanistic traditions,” he said, “and let’s hope that it is the beginning of a new wave of balancing the advantages of the Information Age with a new public space.”

 


 

Bill to Deem Children Under 12 Too Young for Court Is Backed by Abrams’ Research

Research by Professor Laura Abrams of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare is mentioned in a story that originated with the Chronicle of Social Change and has been picked up by other media outlets, including the Appeal and the Press-Telegram. Senate Bill (SB) 439 would prevent the juvenile justice system from hearing most cases of children younger than age 12. “I think people have an assumption that juvenile court is potentially a helpful intervention for young children,” Abrams says in the story, which notes her analysis of state juvenile justice data. “But in most cases, the charges aren’t sustained or they’re dismissed, so the family doesn’t get any help at all.”


 

Diaz Comments on Latino Voting Trends in California

Sonja Diaz, founding director of the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, commented on Latino voting trends after the California primary election during a KNX radio broadcast. Latino voters appeared to have “bucked the trend and turned in ballots in big numbers” — becoming supermajorities in some precincts — especially in Orange County, according to the report. “In Orange County we see surges in the number of ballots cast in the most heavily Latino precincts and these surges range from 10 percent to upwards of 245 percent over the ballots cast in June 2014,” Diaz said.


 

Consumer Choice Has Revolutionized Electricity Business in California, DeShazo Says

JR DeShazo is quoted in a recent column in the Los Angeles Times on the rise of community choice aggregators (CCAs) and their effects on California’s major electric utilities. “The pressure they’ve placed on the [investor-owned utilities] has produced a focus on competition that did not exist before,” said DeShazo, director of the Luskin Center for Innovation and co-author of a 2016 study on CCAs. “So a competitive dynamic already has emerged that has been beneficial to customers.” Only a small number of states have legalized these government-affiliated, non-traditional utilities, which now serve almost 2 million Californians.


 

Latino Issues Take Center Stage at Gubernatorial Forum Dean Gary Segura and several UCLA Luskin faculty and students play active roles in framing discussions on vital policy issues as candidates face off at Royce Hall

By Les Dunseith

UCLA Luskin was an active participant in the 2018 California Gubernatorial Forum held Jan. 25, 2018, at UCLA during which six candidates debated issues such as immigration policy, health care, education and ethics.

Dean Gary Segura spoke at a VIP reception that preceded the debate and later welcomed attendees inside Royce Hall to the forum, which was sponsored by the Latino Community Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that invests in Latino-led organizations, and moderated by anchors Jorge Ramos and Ilia Calderón of Univision, a television and media company.

The Latino electorate, whose political clout continues to grow in California, could decide the governor’s race, and a focus on issues of importance to minorities was evident throughout the forum.

“Beyond Latinos, people of color, of all varieties and histories in this nation, are systematically driven from the electoral system, neglected in every aspect of public services, targeted in an unequal justice system, and vulnerable to economic and social exploitation at every turn,” Segura said during the pre-debate reception. “In California, we know we can do better. Tonight, I hope we hear some cogent arguments as to how best to proceed.”

In addition to Segura, many other staff and faculty members affiliated with the new Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA were on hand. Several students, including representatives from all three departments at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, were seated on stage behind the candidates.

The night’s first question was about deportation policy, and it was posed by UCLA medical student Marcela Zhou and recent UCLA graduate Erick Leyva, whose educations have been directly impacted by the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program that the Trump administration rescinded late last year.

Gubernatorial front-runners Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa both took advantage of the opportunity to publicly voice their support of DACA recipients and to stress agreement with California’s pro-immigrant stance in general, including its sanctuary state status.

Under California’s new law, state and local law enforcement officials are prohibited from sharing undocumented individuals’ information with federal immigration authorities. The policy directly contradicts the Trump administration’s frequent portrayal of ethnic, cultural and racial differences in a negative light.

“We don’t tolerate that diversity, we celebrate that diversity,” said Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor.

 

 

Forum guests were greeted at the forum’s entrance by about 50 UCLA students demonstrating outside Royce Hall, calling on the gubernatorial candidates to support protections for all undocumented individuals — not just DACA participants.

At one point, Villaraigosa waded into the crowd and declared his support for their viewpoint. As the former Los Angeles mayor walked up the steps to enter the building, the students chanted, “Say It Inside!” — an effort to prod Villaraigosa to go on the record in support of undocumented immigrants.

Soon into the debate, he did just that. “They’re saying, ‘no to deportations.’ And I agree. They said that we should say it in here, and we should say it. We are tired of deportations,” said Villaraigosa before invoking in Spanish the rallying cry among many pro-immigrant activists. “Aqui extamos y no nos vamos!

The two Republican candidates at the forum, businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), both oppose California’s sanctuary status and said the state’s support of undocumented workers undermines the needs of U.S. citizens. Their statements often led to boos from the crowd, and Allen, in particular, generated loud objections from the audience when he expressed full support for the policies of President Donald Trump.

In strong contrast, the four Democrats often drew cheers with rebukes of Trump and his administration’s policies.

“California was built on the back of immigrants,” California Treasurer John Chiang, a Democrat, said. “Fundamentally we’re about dignity, decency and respect for all people. That is the heart of America, and we want to be that shining [city] to send a signal to President Trump that you’re dead wrong.”

Democrat Delaine Eastin, a former state schools chief, drew loud applause when she referred to Trump as an “orange-haired misogynist racist.”

To boost the numbers of Latinos pursuing higher education, Eastin suggested expansion of childcare and child development programs. She and other Democratic candidates also advocated for free college tuition.

“The best crime prevention program is education,” Eastin said.

Responding to a question about California farmers, Eastin called for a long-range water plan and better treatment of agricultural workers. Cox said he sympathized with Central Valley farmers and supports a seasonal worker program “to have people come in and get the work done.” Once crops are picked, however, he said the workers should go back to their countries.

The issue of single-payer healthcare prompted a testy exchange between Villaraigosa and Newsom, who favors improvements to the state’s proposed single-payer health-care legislation. Villaraigosa disagreed, saying he is concerned the idea lacks concrete funding.

“That’s defeatism,” Newsom shot back.

Near the end of the forum, one of the most dramatic moments took place when moderator Ramos returned to the question of undocumented immigrants. He reminded the crowd of the two DACA recipients who had opened the night’s questioning.

“Would you deport them?” Ramos pointedly asked the candidates.

In response, Chiang, Newsom, Villaraigosa and Eastin all said no, and that they would work to protect them. Even Cox said no, though he qualified his response by calling for stronger border security.

Catcalls from the audience greeted Allen when his turn to answer came. “As the next governor of the state California,” he began, “I will follow immigration law …”

Ramos gestured to Zhou and Leyva seated behind him, and they moved to center stage. As Allen walked over and shook their hands, audience objections grew louder.

“Yes or no? Yes or no?” the crowd chanted after Allen dodged a direct answer by saying Republicans plan to include DACA protection as part of immigration reform.

Shouts from the crowd erupted. As the two young people shifted uncomfortably just inches away, Ramos asked again, “Would you deport them, Mr. Allen?”

“That’s not the job of the governor of the state of California,” Allen declared. “Our president is working on a deal right now to protect your status in exchange for border security and a comprehensive immigration plan …”

The crowd grew even louder, drowning out Allen. “Make him leave! Make him leave!” some shouted.

View a Flickr album with additional photos.

 

Inside Look at State Politics

Cristina Garcia’s day at UCLA began with a meeting with Ramona Cortés Garza, executive director of UCLA State Relations, and LPPI’s leadership — Political Science and Chicana/o Studies Professor Matt A. Barreto, Luskin Dean Gary M. Segura and LPPI Director Sonja Diaz. They discussed how to leverage research to inform evidence-based policy solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of diverse Californians. Photo by Bryce Carrington

Cristina Garcia of the California State Assembly spoke about her efforts to make government more transparent during an Oct. 16, 2017, gathering at UCLA hosted by the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. Garcia talked about the grassroots battle against political corruption in the 58th Assembly District in Southeast Los Angeles that eventually led her to seek office. “I’m an idealist at heart, and I do believe that we can have a democracy that works for us all.” Garcia talked about her three policy pillars: government transparency, women’s issues and environmental justice. She believes in standing up for the majority-Latino district she was elected to represent, but she envisions California as a place where every group of voters has equal input and access to the political system. She advocates for a more diverse and representative political system in which all Californians have an equal seat at the table. “For me, when I talk about where I want to see my society, we can’t shy away from race,” she said during a Q&A with students, staff and faculty from UCLA Luskin, the Division of Social Science, Grad Division, UCLA’s Early Academic Outreach Program, the Institute of Environmental Studies, and UCLA’s Government and Community Relations. “We can’t shy away from things that are real systemic barriers.” Although she faces hurdles when pushing many issues of importance to her constituents, she said that time and changing demographics are on her side. “Latino power is growing. We have had some losses and some steps back, but sooner or later we are going to be a majority,” Garcia said of California’s evolving population. “And we are also going to be a majority in those demographics in the State Legislature.”

Hover over the image below to access a Flickr gallery of photos.

Assembly member Cristina Garcia

Wes Yin Coauthors Report on How Graham-Cassidy Plan Could Have Impacted Health Care in California

An analysis of the potential impact of a proposed amendment to the American Health Care Act of 2017, known as the Graham-Cassidy plan, found that the now-abandoned proposal could have triggered the near-term collapse of California’s individual health insurance market. The analysis, developed by John Bertko, chief actuary for Covered California, and UCLA Luskin’s Wes Yin modeled two scenarios that examined how California leaders might respond to a federal funding cut of nearly $139 billion between 2020 and 2027. In both cases, the consequences of the cuts would start taking effect in 2020 and quickly lead to millions losing their coverage. In one scenario, California’s individual market could experience what is commonly referred to as a death spiral, according to a news release issued Sept. 25, 2017, by Covered California. “The decline in the number of those receiving financial help to buy individual market coverage, while requiring health plans to provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, would very likely lead to the collapse of the individual market by 2021 if not before,” said Yin, an economist and coauthor of the analysis who is also an associate professor of public policy and management at UCLA Luskin.

 

A Final Test for Policy Analysis Projects UCLA Luskin public policy master’s degree culminates in a public forum in which students present Applied Policy Projects on issues of regional, global importance

By Stan Paul

By necessity, the Master of Public Policy (MPP) students at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs quickly begin learning skills and tools to complete the program and prepare for problem-solving careers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

The students, working in groups, must clear one final hurdle to graduate: the Applied Policy Project presentation.  Each group has 20 minutes to impress faculty and peers by showcasing what they have learned during two rigorous years of study.

Each year, a diverse group of clients “hire” the students, usually in teams of two or more, to tackle real-world problems and offer actionable recommendations and feasible solutions.

“I think one of the exciting aspects of the APP is the variety of topics covered,” said Manisha Shah, associate professor of public policy and faculty coordinator of the program. “Because our students have a diverse set of interests and because we encourage them to identify their own clients, the result is an interesting variety of APP projects.”

Among this year’s clients were the Southern California Association of Governments, Covered California, Peterson Institute for International Economics and a member of the California State Assembly. Internal clients included a research center within the Luskin School, a professional program elsewhere on campus and the University of California’s Office of the President.

“The first-year curriculum of the MPP program is tool-driven,” Shah said. “What I mean by that is we try to give students a diverse set of tools — both quantitative and qualitative — that will help guide them through the APP process and ultimately go out into the real world and conduct policy analysis on issues close to their hearts.”

Shah said she was fortunate to advise a diverse set of APP groups this year. One group of students found that behavioral tools such as reciprocity and commitment devices should be implemented in schools to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables in an attempt to combat obesity. Another group helped improve the service delivery model of an organization in L.A. that tries to get at-risk youth into better employment opportunities. And another group proposed interventions and policies aimed at reducing displacement and gentrification in South L.A.

In all, 18 presentations were made. Luskin faculty watched and then asked questions that tested the students’ depth and breadth of knowledge and the thoroughness of their projects.

The range of projects is broad, including:

  • Local and regional issues such as investments in electric vehicle charging stations in Los Angeles and a rent stabilization ordinance to prevent displacement of low-income minority communities in South Los Angeles.
  • Statewide issues such as bail reform, insuring Californians, health care, access to water and juvenile justice.
  • National and global issues like mitigating the negative impacts of trade on employment in the U.S. auto industry and improving local-level governance amid decentralization reforms in the Ukraine.

A closer look at some of this year’s APPs follows.

Gender Issues in Engineering

Applying qualitative and quantitative methods to their study for the UC’s Office of the President, Traci Kawaguchi, Yuhan Sun and Eri Suzuki focused on the need for connections in their analysis of system-wide retention by gender in engineering at the undergraduate level. They initially determined that the retention rate of female engineering students was significantly lower than for male engineering classmates across the UC system.

Their faculty adviser, Professor of Public Policy John Villasenor, also holds an appointment in electrical engineering at UCLA. He helped connect them with UCLA engineering students, which led to interviews with aspiring female engineers.

Women and men had similar levels of academic performance in the first year, but the qualitative interview uncovered that “affinity groups play a key role in affirming engineering identity and belonging in the field,” according to the UCLA Luskin students’ written summary.

“I think the big thing that came up was just the idea of fitting in,” Kawaguchi said. “When you go into a classroom that is 80 percent male … it may make you feel that you don’t necessarily belong.”

Team members analyzed policy options based on anticipated effectiveness, cost feasibility and institutional feasibility, and they recommended support for female students based on a sense of community and belonging. Adoption of residential living communities and formal peer mentoring programs for female undergraduate students in engineering were also recommended.

 A Program to Help Plug-In Commuters

Another APP team focused on plug-in vehicles with a limited range on all-electric power that switch to gasoline-based power after batteries are exhausted. Specifically, the group studied how workplace charging stations in Los Angeles could increase the number of miles that vehicles travel without burning gasoline.

MPP students James Di Filippo, Mahito Moriyama, Toru Terai, Kelly Trumbull and Jiahui Zhang completed their project, “Prioritizing Electric Vehicle Charging Station Investments in Los Angeles County,” for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). Their model combined commuting data from SCAG’s transportation demand study with plug-in electric vehicle registration data, information on vehicle all-electric range, and point data on existing charging infrastructure locations.

The students found that nearly 6,000 plug-in hybrid commuters could benefit from workplace charging but currently do not have access. Full support of those commuters’ vehicles would yield about 76,000 additional miles driven on electric power each day.

The potential increase is concentrated in just a few zones. Di Filippo said that the group used a tool from the Environmental Protection Agency to identify zones that fall within disadvantaged communities that might require additional support, which were more than a third of all zones identified as having potential for investment across Los Angeles County. SCAG should direct additional funding toward those disadvantaged communities to ensure that the benefits are distributed equitably, the students said.

Di Filippo said that the APP process was challenging but rewarding. “I credit my teammates for pulling together quickly, conceptualizing and delivering a strong report that offers actionable information for SCAG’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure siting decisions in only eight weeks,” he said. “My team was fortunate to have the support of faculty and peers who were invaluable in shaping our thinking on key aspects of the report.”

Healthy Food for Children

Sarah White and teammates Sydney Ganon, Hiroto Iwaoka and Jonathan McIlroy examined behavioral economics for tools in nutrition education curricula. Their goal was to promote long-term healthy food choices and habits in third and fourth grade students in light of a growing recognition of negative health outcomes of childhood obesity.

“While the field of behavioral economics is still fairly new, we read a lot of the existing literature and had reason to believe that really low-cost interventions could potentially have large impacts on getting people to make better choices for themselves,” White said.

One challenge that behavioral economics has “rarely, if at all, studied within the realm of children’s nutrition.” That made evaluating different policy options more difficult. “We had to evaluate each policy option on our own,” White said.

The group’s recommendations bundled three potential behavioral tools that are cost-effective. Giving attractive names such as “power peas” to fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria would frame foods in a way that is appealing to children. Giving students something as simple as a sticker and thanking them for choosing the healthy option would promote reciprocity. Having students set goals for eating better would make them more likely to stay committed.

Ayappa Biddanda

Rocking his Comeback

For one student, Ayappa Biddanda, the final APP presentation was a long time in the making. In the early 2000s he left UCLA Luskin to pursue an opportunity that turned into a career in the music industry. He came back this year to do his final presentation — and thus finish his master’s degree.

Biddanda’s project evaluated the impact of an educational enrichment program called Rock the Classroom that paired local musicians with students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Biddanda’s solo presentation on the final night of the APP program literally rocked the classroom with musical sound bites and his enthusiastic, informative and professionally presented argument that, in education, “art matters.”

A Fond Farewell

Wrapping up two decades of APP presentations, Mark Peterson, chair of the department, thanked the students for their efforts. “I really want you all to applaud yourselves,” he said. “The hard work that went into all of the presentations was obvious to us all, and we really just admire the time you put into all of this and the work that you did to put these presentations on a scale of professionalism that we like to see.”

The 2017 APPs ended on a bittersweet note, with Peterson acknowledging the retirement of a key player. Maciek Kolodziejczak is a longtime UCLA staff member who joined the public policy program when it was founded more than 20 years ago and has long coordinated the APP presentations.

“Sadly, this is the last time that this part of the APP program will be orchestrated, moderated and run by Maciek,” Peterson said.


From the UCLA Luskin Flickr feed:

2017 Applied Policy Project presentations