In a San Diego Union-Tribune article about the city’s new high-speed rail proposal, Michael Manville, associate professor of urban planning, highlighted the challenges of implementing public transportation improvements in cities primarily designed for automobile travel. San Diego recently proposed two tax increases to fund billions of dollars in bus and rail investments, but experts worry that it will follow the example of cities like Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles, which invested heavily in public transit only to lose riders. Manville describes Los Angeles as a “cautionary tale,” explaining that “you can’t take a region that is overwhelmingly designed to facilitate automobile travel and change the way people move around just by laying some rail tracks over it.” To avoid decreases in ridership, transportation experts recommend making it harder to drive by eliminating street parking, ending freeway expansions, limiting suburban home construction and implementing policies like congestion pricing.
Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the impact of Chinatown’s most popular restaurant, Howlin’ Rays. While Chinatown locals have struggled to stay afloat as office and housing costs rise, the Nashville-style hot fried chicken restaurant has attracted masses of Los Angeles locals and visitors since it opened in 2016, resulting in lines up to five hours long. Ong explained that new businesses like Howlin’ Rays attract a specific clientele, prompting increased investment and property development in Chinatown that alienates locals. After realizing that many locals didn’t have the time or money to try Howlin’ Rays, L.A. Times reporter Frank Shyong waited two hours in line to buy chicken to distribute to nearby business owners. “The biggest challenge is understanding how we all play a role in a much larger dynamic,” Ong remarked. “More broadly, we have to talk about what we want our cities to look like.”
Sanford Jacoby, distinguished professor emeritus of public policy at UCLA Luskin, commented in a front-page New York Times article about the remarkably egalitarian employee profit-sharing program offered by Sears in its heyday. Before it was phased out in the 1970s, the stock-ownership plan allowed Sears workers at all ranks to build a comfortable nest egg. “People were retiring with nice chunks of change,” Jacoby said. “People loved this fund, and Sears was a wildly successful company.” But the approach favored men over women and also made workers even more exposed to their employer’s fate, said Jacoby, who also holds professorial appointments in history and management at UCLA. The article contrasted the program at Sears, which has declared bankruptcy, with policies at Amazon, which recently lifted its minimum hourly wage to $15 but also stopped giving stock to hundreds of thousands of employees. The decision underscores how lower-paid employees across corporate America have been locked out of profit-sharing and stock grants, the article said.