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Monkkonen on Reversing the Legacy of Segregation

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the persistence of racial segregation in Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities. New research has found that many regions of the U.S. were more segregated in 2019 than they were in 1990. Reversing the legacy of segregation is a slow process, said Monkkonen, director of the Latin American Cities Initiative at UCLA Luskin. “It’s a self-perpetuating process, where people are relegated to less attractive parts of the city, and then they’re associated with those parts of the city,” he said. There are also stark disparities in income, home values and life expectancy between residents in segregated communities and those in more integrated areas. Monkkonen said that, while some communities are working to develop proactive policies around fair housing and development, many researchers aren’t convinced that 2020’s reckoning with race will significantly move the needle when it comes to segregation.


Policy Solutions from the Newest UCLA Luskin MPPs

To earn a master of public policy degree at UCLA Luskin, students must demonstrate their command of the analytical and communication skills needed to develop real-world policy solutions. This year, 15 teams completed the rite of passage, presenting the results of their yearlong Applied Policy Project investigations into specific problems faced by a broad array of government agencies, nonprofits and other firms working in the public interest. Clients included several city and county offices; large nonprofits including the United Way and World Vision International; a nursing home in Tianjin, China; and local advocacy groups such as Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles. Students are encouraged to grapple with the challenges of policy implementation amid often conflicting social, political, economic and technical interests. During three virtual sessions in May, the teams described the policy issues they tackled, reviewed their research, presented a course of action, then fielded questions from peers and professors. They also produced full reports documenting their findings, made available to clients as well as future MPP students. This year, honors were granted to four APP projects:

Commencement Events Bring Class of ’21 Together

UCLA Luskin honored its Class of 2021 with two days of celebrations, including an on-campus ceremony that brought classmates together after more than a year of remaining apart. The June 10 stage-crossing event felt like a class reunion for many students who completed their coursework remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some health protocols remained in place, students from the School’s public policy, social welfare, urban planning and undergraduate programs were able to gather at UCLA’s Los Angeles Tennis Center to hear their names read aloud and take photographs with Dean Gary Segura, department chairs and fellow graduates. “Today, we have so much to celebrate,” Segura told the assembled graduates. “You have accomplished, against all odds, completing your UCLA degree during a global pandemic, and we could not be prouder of you.” Formal commencement ceremonies and speeches were posted online June 11 as the Luskin School bestowed master’s and doctoral degrees — and, for the first time, the new Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs.

View a livestream of the on-campus event on Vimeo and additional images on Flickr.

 

UCLA Luskin Commencement 2021


 

Ong and Shoup Recognized for Exemplary Service to UCLA Awards highlight Paul Ong’s pandemic-related research and Donald Shoup’s international reputation in planning and parking policy

By Stan Paul

Paul Ong and Donald Shoup, research professors at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, have been honored for their decades of outstanding research and teaching and for their exemplary service to UCLA since retirement.

Ong is the recipient of the 2020-21 Carole E. Goldberg Emeriti Service Award, and Shoup is the winner of this year’s Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award.

“Congratulations to Paul Ong and Don Shoup who are both deserving of this honor,” said UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura. “These two leaders and thinkers contribute mightily to making communities and neighborhoods healthier, more functional and more equitable. They fully represent the spirit of the School, and we take tremendous pride in their achievements.”

About Ong’s award

Ong retired in 2017 but has continued his research while serving as director of the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. The award, established in 2015, recognizes emeriti for exemplary service to the university and their department and includes a prize of $1,000. Ong was cited for his more than three decades of interdisciplinary social science teaching, policy-focused applied research and engagement with the community, as well as his interactions with policymakers to enable significant change.

The nomination for the award was supported by numerous recommendations from UCLA colleagues, including Professor Chris Tilly, chair of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning, who noted Ong’s continuing dedication to post-retirement service.

“What makes his service truly extraordinary, and extraordinarily timely, is the Herculean effort he has undertaken over the last two years to generate an astounding volume of actionable research addressing the two crises that have convulsed this country in 2020 and 2021: the COVID-19 crisis and the longstanding crisis of racial injustice that flared into mass activism in 2020,” Tilly wrote in his letter of recommendation.

Tilly said that the resulting stream of policy-focused applied research provided a “tremendous service to Los Angeles and other California communities, and by extension to other communities across the nation wrestling with these issues.”

He noted that Ong’s work and collaborations have helped position the university as a major contributor to understanding while “facing the greatest challenges of this very challenging time.”

Announcing the award was the chair of the awards committee, UCLA Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel Michael S. Levine. He said of Ong: “He is an extraordinary builder of intellectual relationships, transforming empirical research into critical policy discussions in local, state and national venues.”

“In retirement, this advocacy continued and Professor Ong’s commitment to research-as-service came to a fulcrum during the span of the pandemic with actionable policy research addressing the twin crises of the coronavirus and racial injustice,” Levine said.

He noted that city officials in Los Angeles and medical professionals at UCLA Health drew on Ong’s research when creating COVID-19 vaccine equity guidelines.

Tilly called attention to 28 policy-relevant reports spotlighting the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on various racial and ethnic groups published by Ong since the pandemic began in 2020, mostly issued under the auspices of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge in collaboration with other UCLA units.

Ong’s research collaborators have included the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, the Asian American Studies Center, the School of Education and Information Studies, the Ziman Center for Real Estate, the BRITE Center and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, among others.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Ong has been an engaged scholar par excellence, and this latest chapter has taken that engagement to a new level,” Tilly said.

Ong was one of two awardees for 2020-21. Also honored was Josephine B. Isabel-Jones, professor emerita of pediatrics. They join UCLA’s list of outstanding past awardees.

About Shoup’s award

Shoup, who retired in 2015, was chosen among a select group of UCLA scholars that include Distinguished Researcher Professor Emeritus Benjamin Bonavida of the department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and Professor Emeritus Warwick Peacock of the department of Neurosurgery. Each will receive a $5,000 prize from a gift endowment established by the late Edward A. Dickson, a regent of the University of California.

Levine noted that since retirement Shoup has received numerous awards and accolades, including being named a National Planning Pioneer by the American Planning Association (APA). In 2017, he received the American Collegiate Schools of Planning’s Distinguished Educator Award, and in 2019 his landmark publication, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” was listed by the APA as a key timeline event since 1900 in the field of urban planning. The 2005 book has since been translated into other languages that include Russian, Chinese, Persian and Romanian.

Shoup followed up in 2018 with the publication of “Parking and the City,” which examined case studies of parking policies recommended in 2005 and outcomes in cities across the world that adopted those policies.

“Shoup is considered the world’s leading academic expert on policies, planning, travel impacts, environmental and social dimensions of parking,” Levine noted, pointing out that his analyses have led to policy changes adopted in various cities and have been emulated throughout Europe and Asia.

Shoup also was nominated and supported by colleagues including the late Marty Wachs, who passed away earlier this year.

“Professor Shoup has lived up to one of the early mottos of the Department of Urban Planning: ‘Linking Knowledge to Action,’” Wachs wrote in his nomination letter. He added, “In addition to scholarly writings addressing parking policy, Donald Shoup for decades advocated for public policies that reflected what he had learned from his research on parking.”

Wachs cited Shoup’s continued scholarship, teaching, mentoring, publishing and advocating on parking and other planning issues of public importance.

“Donald Shoup’s scholarship and advocacy related to parking are examples of what can be achieved when a strong background in the field of economics, meticulous empirical research and decades of attention to detail are combined and brought to the field of public policy and urban planning,” Wachs wrote.

Also supporting Shoup’s nomination was colleague Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning and public policy and the director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA.

“In addition to his ongoing research, Professor Shoup remains a committed teacher and UCLA ambassador to the present day,” Taylor said. “In sum, UCLA Distinguished Professor Emeritus Donald Shoup continues to be a renowned and prominent scholar of land use planning, transportation policy, land development and local public finance; a talented and popular teacher; and an exceptionally influential contributor to public policy and planning practice.”

Isaac Bryan MPP ’18 Elected to California Assembly

Isaac Bryan MPP ’18 is the newest member of the California Assembly. Bryan took his seat May 28 after winning a special election to represent the state Legislature’s 54th District, which includes Westwood, Culver City, Baldwin Hills and parts of South Los Angeles. “I didn’t get here by myself. I carry with me the passion, the dreams and the hopes of an entire community,” Bryan said after he was sworn in by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Bryan most recently served as the public policy director of the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. In 2020, he co-chaired the campaign for Measure J, which allocates nearly $1 billion of Los Angeles County’s annual budget to address racial injustice through community investments and alternatives to incarceration; the measure passed with 57% of the vote. While at UCLA Luskin, Bryan was named a David Bohnett Foundation Fellow in the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and also worked with the Bunche Center’s Million Dollar Hoods research project, which documents the fiscal and human costs of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. In a UCLA Luskin profile, Bryan shared glimpses of his personal journey to becoming an advocate for criminal justice — and now, at age 29, the elected representative for the community surrounding UCLA. “Los Angeles, in my mind, is the city for innovation, the city for trying new things, and if you can solve a problem in Los Angeles, you can take it everywhere else,” Bryan said in a video accompanying the profile.


 

Torres-Gil Highlights Generational Impact of COVID-19

Professor of Public Policy and Social Welfare Fernando Torres-Gil was interviewed by Next Avenue about the generational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Older adults have experienced a heavy toll, and Torres-Gil argued that the failure to protect our oldest and most vulnerable communities is indicative of a flawed system. “We recognize that your ZIP code, race, income and education level matter when it comes to who is most likely to pay the price during this pandemic,” he said. As part of California’s Master Plan on Aging Task Force, Torres-Gil has spent the last few years working on ways to better prepare the state for its growing population of older adults. “If we use a holistic perspective — one that takes a lifespan approach — we can increase equity and intergenerational cohesion,” he said. “With understanding and commitment, we can get there, and I hope that will be a positive outcome of this very difficult time.”


Kaplan Explains Rising Suicide Rates Among Middle-Aged Men

Professor of Social Welfare Mark Kaplan was featured in a Real Issue Productions film about the rise of mass shootings and the controversies surrounding the national gun debate. “The role of social status and suicide, particularly among males, is gaining attention,” Kaplan said. He explained that the mortality rate among white middle-aged men is rising, largely in part to an increase in suicide rates. As the middle class shrinks, many have lost their jobs and feel humiliated and unhappy — particularly less educated men who feel disenfranchised and abandoned by society. Suicide and mental illness are highly stigmatized in the United States, Kaplan said, noting that “people don’t like to talk about their mental health problems.” Even if guns are taken away, some people still may attempt suicide but “if they do, they are less likely to do so with highly lethal means,” Kaplan said. The film is available for viewing via the UCLA Library.


Blood Donation Ban Fueled by Fear, Not Science, Miyashita Ochoa Says

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Social Welfare Ayako Miyashita Ochoa was featured in a Men’s Health article discussing the impact of the longstanding ban on blood donations from gay men. The country’s blood supply is running dangerously low, partly due to the cancellation of many blood drives during the pandemic. Gay and bisexual men, often referred to as men who have sex with men (MSM), are not allowed to give blood if they have had sex with another man in the past three months. A 2014 report by the Williams Institute at UCLA found that allowing MSM equal access to donating blood could increase the total annual blood supply by 2% to 4%, which would help save the lives of more than a million people. Miyashita Ochoa expressed frustration that the ban still has not been lifted. “It is my opinion that we continue to have a real problem with laws and regulations based on fear rather than science,” she said.


Local Demand Is Helping California Surpass Renewable Energy Targets UCLA study shows 30% of residents now can choose cleaner power from community choice aggregators

By Michelle Einstein

In California, local demand for renewable energy is helping the state exceed its clean energy goals, according to a new UCLA study.

Research by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation shows the growing impact of community choice aggregators, or CCAs, on energy procurement and illustrates the effects cleaner energy providers are having on the state’s power supply.

Community choice aggregators buy clean energy on behalf of their residents and businesses, offering an alternative to investor-owned utilities and enabling localities to take control of their energy procurement. The CCA serving much of the Los Angeles region is Clean Power Alliance, which provides energy to customers in 31 cities and counties, including Alhambra, Culver City, Downey and Santa Monica.

“Community choice in energy has largely fallen under the radar, but it is rapidly reshaping the energy sector in California,” said Kelly Trumbull, a researcher at the Center for Innovation and lead author of the report (PDF).

According to the report, the use of community choice energy has grown quickly in the state. More than 30% of California households and businesses — more than 10 million customers — now have the option to choose a CCA as their electricity provider, up from less than 1% in 2010.

The vast majority of these energy providers offer more energy that derives from renewable sources. In all, the energy delivered by CCAs comes from renewable sources by an average of 25 percentage points more than energy from investor-owned utilities in the same regions. CCAs purchased twice as much renewable energy as required by the state from 2011 to 2019, researchers found.

That has helped the state achieve a cumulatively larger reduction in greenhouse gas emissions each year. The clean energy goals, established by the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, stipulate that 100% of the state’s energy be carbon-free by 2045. An interim target was set at 25% renewable energy until 2019. According to the report, a weighted average of 50% of the CCAs’ energy came from renewable sources that year.

The trend toward cleaner energy providers has also benefited residents by providing cheaper electricity: 73% of communities that offer community choice do so at a lower default rate than their investor-owned counterparts, the study found. And the CCAs often provide additional environmental and economic benefits, including financial assistance programs for low-income residents and incentives for electric transportation.

The authors write that the community choice aggregator model could be replicated in a variety of communities across the nation.

“We found that in California, CCAs successfully serve a wide variety of communities with ranging sizes, median incomes and political affiliations,” Trumbull said. “This suggests that CCAs could be implemented throughout the country.”

Nine states currently allow for a community choice approach, and interest is growing. Among the study’s takeaways from the California model:

  •  CCAs are most effective in communities where the demand for carbon-free energy exceeds what is currently provided.
  •  Partnerships among multiple cities and counties give CCAs an economy-of-scale advantage by keeping operating costs low.
  •  State policy and regulation play a critical role in the success of the community choice approach, starting with the fact that California needed to enact legislation to allow for CCAs to exist.

The research, which was supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, adds to the Luskin Center for Innovation’s large body of research on community choice electricity and renewable energy.

Ideas and Expertise Exchanged at Post-Debate Forum

The UCLA Luskin Public Policy community came together after the final presidential debate of 2020 to hear insights from an array of experts on the U.S. political landscape: Dean Gary Segura, an authority on polls and other measures of political opinion; Chair Martin Gilens, whose research focuses on political inequality; Professor Mark Peterson, who specializes in health-care policy; Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative; and Chad Dunn, director of litigation for the UCLA Voting Rights Project. During the 90-minute Zoom gathering, the speakers assessed the exchange between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which was deemed a step up from previous matchups, then fielded questions from students and alumni. The conversation touched on the accuracy of polling, the threat of voter intimidation, the electoral pathway to victory for each candidate, and even the risk that the country might veer toward fascism. Unless the vote count is tied up amid irregularities in a single, decisive state — as it was in Bush v. Gore in the 2000 race —Segura said the chance that the election’s outcome will be seriously challenged is small. “Try not to let the demons in your head and the demons from 2016 keep you awake at night,” he advised. The conversation was part of a series of forums designed to bring policy students, alumni, faculty and staff together to share concerns, perspectives and experiences within an informed and supportive community. At the next Policy Forum, on Nov. 5, faculty experts will parse the results of the election.