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UCLA Luskin Community Scholars Project Named National Award Winner Students’ study of the distribution of goods in the L.A. area receives American Planning Association’s 2017 professional institute award for applied research

By Stan Paul

UCLA Luskin’s Dylan Sittig, right, accepts the award at the National Planning Conference from Glenn Larson, president of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Each year since 1991, scholars and students from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs have worked together with community stakeholders to focus on timely and important Los Angeles regional issues and publish their findings and recommendations.

For their 2015-16 study of the distribution of goods in Southern California, the Community Scholars, a joint initiative of the Luskin School’s Department of Urban Planning and the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, has received national recognition in the applied research category from the American Planning Association’s (APA) professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Chosen from a competitive nationwide field of candidates, the project, “Delivering the Good: Strategic Interventions Toward a Just & Sustainable Logistics System in Southern California,” is one of just two projects receiving the AICP award for applied research. UCLA shares the award with the University of Virginia.

“The enthusiasm of the students not only resulted in this excellent final report, but just recently they became involved in contributing to comments on the Clean Air Action Plan,” said Goetz Wolff, an urban planning faculty adviser for the project who has been a part of the program since its founding. Community Scholars also was recently recognized for its 25 years of commitment and service to the community with UCLA’s 2016 Community Program of the Year honor, the Landmark Award.

To ensure the needed breadth of knowledge that the topic of sustainable goods movement required, Wolff said, students — all candidates for the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree in 2016 — were selected from several of the Urban Planning areas of concentration: economic development, transportation and environmental planning. The winning project was focused on the movement and distribution of goods through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and its disproportional negative impact on local communities, labor and the environment.

“The combination of perspectives and skills resulted in a powerful mix with our community scholars,” Wolff said. The program expanded its knowledge base by bringing aboard Linda Delp, who heads UCLA’s Labor and Occupational Safety and Health program, as a co-instructor.

As part of their research, the students went on several field trips, including a bus tour of the Alameda Corridor, a boat tour of the Port of Los Angeles and a tour of the massive Costco distribution center in the Inland Empire, Wolff said. Teo Wickland, a Ph.D. student in urban planning at Luskin, and Katy McNamara, a doctoral candidate in environmental health sciences at UCLA, served as teaching assistants for the course, which also serves as the capstone project for Luskin MURP students.

In addition, at the Community Scholars weekly meetings held at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center, the group heard from experts, organizations and activists concerned about the impact and future of goods movement in the region. “The participants from community organizations also brought their values and environmental, community, labor union and institutional experiences so that we had shared learning and research,” Wolff said.

Student team members who participated in the project were Adriana Quiquivix, Ariana Vito, Diana Benitez, Dylan Sittig, Edber Macedo, Evan Moorman, Gabriel Gutierrez, Kate Bridges, Lindsey Jagoe, Meghmik Babakhanian, Michael Barrita-Diaz, Saly Heng, Sam Appel and Stephanie Tsai.

Bio information on 2016 Community Scholars team may be found in the full report.

The winners of the 2017 awards will be recognized May 9 at the APA/AICP Annual Meeting and Leadership Honors event held in conjunction with the 2017 National Planning Conference in New York, N.Y.

A full list of winners is available here.

Home Sweet Home During a Lewis Center Book Talk, visiting lecturer Brian McCabe explores the efficiency of U.S. government support for homeownership

By Zev Hurwitz

Brian J. McCabe is a sociologist whose research focuses on the importance, impact and problems associated with homeownership in the U.S. — not exactly common issues for a sociologist.

“Sociologists have largely ceded the study of housing to economists,” McCabe said. “We should be thinking about housing as not only an economic problem but as a social problem, too.”

McCabe, an assistant professor of sociology at Georgetown University, delivered a seminar at the Luskin School of Public Affairs on Feb. 22, 2017, based on his recent book, “No Place Like Home: Wealth, Community & the Politics of Homeownership.” The book explores the American passion for home ownership and its effect on local communities.

At the Book Talk hosted by the UCLA Lewis Center, McCabe walked attendees through the central themes of his book, focusing particularly on methods for evaluating the impact of homeownership on communities.

Michael Lens, assistant professor in UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Department of Urban Planning, noted that McCabe’s diverse background yielded a unique approach to his work.

“[McCabe’s] research offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of cities combining his training in sociology, geography and public policy, primarily on housing issues,” Lens said.

Homeownership did not become the status quo for most Americans until the middle of the 20th century as marketing campaigns and the news media helped establish the notion that owning a home is an American ideal, McCabe said.

“We generally agree that buying a home is a good thing,” he said. “Ninety percent of Americans believe they prefer to live in a home rather than rent one. Most people who own a home are happy with their housing decision, and most renters expect that one day they’re going to be homeowners.”

In addition to being a vehicle for building wealth, home ownership can also be a tool for building citizenship and community. Government programs that create incentives for Americans to purchase a home strive to strengthen citizenry, but McCabe’s book challenges whether owning a home is actually responsible for community and civic engagement.

“This is what I want to challenge in my talk: Does the evidence actually confirm that homeowners are more engaged citizens?” McCabe said. “And, if so, what kinds of civic activities are homeowners engaged in?”

McCabe’s book explores whether the true effects of homeownership have justified government programs designed to promote it, and whether funding for those programs might be better allocated elsewhere.

McCabe cited several pieces of legislation in the 20th century that made it easier for Americans to buy homes, including the National Housing Act of 1934, which established a nationalized mortgage market, and the GI Bill, which made it easier for veterans to pursue homeownership through VA-brokered loans.

“Building a nation where almost 70 percent of Americans own their own home was not natural, nor was it inevitable,” he said. “It’s built on the back of federal interventions and mortgage markets that make the cost of borrowing cheaper. The federal government is deeply involved with all of this.”

In the course of McCabe’s research, he found that homeownership does correspond to higher rates of civic involvement. Homeowners are more likely to vote or sign a petition, McCabe learned.

However, when accounting for “residential stability”— which McCabe defines as living in the same place for five or more years — the data suggest that homeownership has less of an effect on the likeliness to engage in civic ways than does the length of residence.

“The nuance that I want to add to the story that ‘homeowners are better citizens’ is that there are some places where it is not home ownership that causes people to be more engaged, but actually residential stability,” he said.

Putting the roots of civic engagement in the context of modern government programs that make it easier to buy homes, namely the mortgage interest rate deduction, McCabe said that such programs are inefficient and that the payoffs are not substantial.

“Even if the deduction was a way to increase home ownership, the public benefits of promoting homeownership are insufficient to justify those costs,” he said.

McCabe laid out several policy alternatives to current deductions that might be healthier for the country, including capping the size of loans eligible for deduction, eliminating the deduction for a one-time first-home credit or prioritizing programs that promote residential stability, such as home-choice vouchers.

In Pursuit of Misdemeanor Justice UCLA Luskin researchers selected for nationwide Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice will focus on Los Angeles

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs researchers have been selected to join the Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice based at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Michael Stoll, professor of public policy and urban planning, and colleague Michael Lens, assistant professor of urban planning at the Luskin School, will lead research efforts focused on policing patterns related to misdemeanors in the city of Los Angeles. Six sites were selected by the Research Network based on proposals submitted from 39 institutions across the United States.

The Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Feb. 16, 2017, announced the six sites — Los Angeles; Toledo, Ohio; Durham, N.C.; Seattle, Wash.; Prince George’s County, Md.; and St. Louis, Mo. — selected to join New York City as part of the network. The core sites will use data analytics to inform policy discussions and reforms regarding trends in the enforcement of lower-level offenses. Through a generous $3.25-million, three-year grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), the Research Network builds upon the success of the Misdemeanor Justice Project in New York City.

“We are excited to work with the core sites and to help inform their policy decisions on critical issues regarding the role of the criminal justice system in responding to low-level misconduct,” said John Jay College President Jeremy Travis.

The Research Network is a national alliance of seven jurisdictions that will examine trends in the enforcement and disposition of lower-level offenses at a local level and, for the first time, at a cross-jurisdictional level. The Research Network, working with research institutions, data partners and stakeholders, aims to build data infrastructure at a local level. The Network also seeks to inform smarter criminal justice policies that enhance public safety, increase public trust in the police and implement fiscally responsible policies, particularly surrounding behaviors that involve officer discretion.

Stoll and Lens will partner with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to study data from stops and arrests over time and across different precincts. The data will be used to help them identify possible “misdemeanor hot spots” where diversion programs could be more effective.

“The larger good in studying policing related to low-level offenses will be to figure out how the LAPD can police smarter and more effectively,” Stoll said. He added that there is evidence that individuals involved in multiple misdemeanor offenses have a high probability to go on to commit a felony offense, and that intervention and diversion at the misdemeanor level can be effective in reducing felony offenses.

In looking at misdemeanors and police intervention over time, Stoll and Lens hope to build a network in Los Angeles supportive of this effort. This includes partnering with the city attorney, nonprofit organizations and diversion programs.

The selection criteria for the six sites included a commitment toward evidence-based reform in their local jurisdiction and the availability of high quality administrative data on arrests for lower level offenses, summonses, pedestrian stops and case outcome data that includes pretrial detention. The Research Network received 39 proposals. The research partners are UCLA, University of Toledo, North Carolina Central University, Seattle University, University of Maryland and University of Missouri—St. Louis.

“To see the work of the Misdemeanor Justice Project expand from New York City to six other jurisdictions is very exciting,” said professor Preeti Chauhan, the principal investigator of Research Network. “We are looking forward to replicating the New York model to these sites and believe the results will guide smarter criminal justice reform.”

Enforcement of lower-level offenses has a profound impact on the criminal justice system. It can overwhelm the courts and delay case processing, often resulting in large numbers of individuals held on pretrial detention. High-volume activity serves as the basis of public opinion about police and the legitimacy of the criminal justice system. The Research Network works with criminal justice stakeholders to obtain accurate data, provide objective analyses and disseminate findings to key stakeholders in the community, renowned scholars and policymakers to spur a national dialogue.

 

 

L.A.’s Economic Slide: A Who-Done-It Written Over Several Decades UCLA Luskin's Michael Storper and Zev Yaroslavsky unravel the past and future of the city at Town Hall Los Angeles gathering

By Stan Paul

Los Angeles has long been the setting for detective stories and Hollywood noir, but the real who-done-it is the region’s economy over the past several decades, according to UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs researcher and author Michael Storper.

There are false leads and possibly a smoking gun to be found in solving how Los Angeles — a leader among cities for most of the 20th century — began an economic slide after 1970, falling behind regions such as the Bay Area.

Storper, the distinguished professor of regional and international development in the Luskin School’s Department of Urban Planning, put the city’s economic history under a magnifying glass during a conversation with former Los Angeles city councilman and county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky on Feb. 8, 2017, at a gathering of Town Hall Los Angeles, a nonprofit leadership forum founded in 1937.

“1970 is an interesting moment; it’s not just an arbitrary date,” said Storper, whose comments reflected research from his recent book, “The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles.” “It’s pretty much the time when what we call the old economies about the middle of the 20th century, based principally on manufacturing, began to shift in what we would now call the new economy.”

Just the Facts

“We started with a simple fact that you can see,” said Storper. “We observed that in 1970 the Bay Area and greater Los Angeles were about equal in what we might call their wealth and development level,” using per capita income as a way to measure wealth, he explained. “Today the Bay Area is still number one, but we’re number 25 out of the regions that have more than 2 million people. That’s a really big slippage that does not put us, frankly, in the best of company.”

The time period in question included the IT revolution, finance revolution, “flipping the switch” for more globalization and the development of advanced services, Storper said. So, the Bay Area is now 30 percent richer than Los Angeles. “What that suggests is that the Bay Area somehow managed the transition more successfully than we did here in Southern California,” he said.

Since 1970, the Bay Area gave birth to Silicon Valley, refocused its economy in finance, landed several IT-related corporate headquarters and is currently winning in biotech. By contrast, greater Los Angeles lost high-wage aerospace and defense firms, as well as several corporate headquarters. “We grow in light manufacturing, but light manufacturing is the low-wage part of the economy,” he added.

And, while L.A. has Hollywood, or as Storper calls it, “the bright star, our super-dynamic, supernova,” it is not enough to float a region of 18 million people. “It has huge positive benefits, but it’s just not big enough,” he said.

“We have to ask ourselves, why is this happening, given that L.A. was the envy of the country and the world for much of the 20th century?” Storper said. “And, if you look at L.A., if you roll back the film to 1970, we had more engineers; we had a vibrant entrepreneurial culture; we had more tech firms; we had equal education levels; and we, in many ways, had better infrastructure than the Bay Area did.”

Storper said he is often asked if there is some kind of “optical illusion” at work, given that the Bay Area’s housing is so much more expensive than in L.A. Are people really better off in Northern California?

“The answer is yes,” Storper said. “When you correct for cost of living of each part of the part of the population at each income level, and the amount of money they spent on housing, they still come out with having somewhere between 20 to 25 percent higher per capita income than we do.”

Another question Storper is asked: Is it because L.A. is so much bigger? No, it’s not a question of geographical scale, Storper said. “Seventy-five percent of the population of the Bay Area lives in counties that are higher in per capita income than our richest county, which is Orange County. They have regionwide prosperity up in Northern California.”

Then Who Done It?

Storper said he and his co-researchers started looking into the different core sectors of the economy: aerospace, information technology, entertainment, finance, logistics, trade and biotech. They found very different stories about how IT and biotech firms, business leaders, leadership groups and public agencies use the resources of their regions to establish a foothold in the new economy.

“There’s a really strong business leadership group in the Bay Area,” Storper said. “We didn’t really know where things were going, but the Bay Area Council got on it early in the 1980s and said, ‘The future is in being the high-tech, high-wage, and high-skill economy. We’re never going to make it in manufacturing again. We’re too expensive and there’s no way to roll that back significantly,’ so they pushed a high-road vision for the Bay Area.”

And the Bay Area Council wasn’t acting alone, relying on business leadership networks. Storper said his researchers looked at the major firms of both regions and asked who sits the boards of directors.

“What emerges is an absolutely striking difference,” Storper said. “In the Bay Area it’s highly networked. They are all networked and talking to each other because they are all on each other’s boards of directors.” Not so for Los Angeles. “You look at L.A. and that’s not the case,” he said. “It’s a bunch of separate communities.”

In addition to industry, scientists and university-based researchers are more networked in the northern part of the state, said Storper, citing a seven times more per capita tendency for a university-based researcher to start a firm or to patent something that becomes commercialized in the Bay Area.

“And it’s not because our universities aren’t as good,” he said. “It’s because theirs are more connected than ours.”

For Storper, the core issue is whether we can “rebuild and change the way we do things and in particular rebuild our human connectivity” in order to be innovative and move forward in the new economy.

An Eyewitness

“I think that Michael’s book is one of the most important pieces of literature I’ve read on Los Angeles in an awful long time,” said Yarosklavsky, former Los Angeles councilman and five-term county supervisor, who spoke following Storper’s economic overview. “What it did was hold up a mirror to us those of us in public life, the private sector, stakeholders in the community. It said, ‘Here’s what’s been happening in the last 40 years.’”

Yaroslavsky, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and who has lived a public life as a civic leader, offered his observations.

“There are a lot of factors in why this happened. I think public investment is a huge piece of this puzzle,” said Yaroslavsky, who currently serves as director of the Los Angeles Initiative based at UCLA Luskin.

Investment in transportation is a prime example, according to Yaroslavsky. “Starting 1970 the BART system was under way,” he said. “By the time we cut the ribbon on the first 4.4 miles of the subway in Los Angeles, it was 1993.”

Going back to the early 1970s, Yaroslavsky said that San Francisco had plateaued while Los Angeles seemed to be on a roll.

“The Korean and Vietnam wars, the Cold War, the space race, and the aircraft and aerospace industries were a backbone of the regional economy, and there was no thought that this would dissipate any time soon,” he said. “As a result, San Francisco’s business leaders looked ahead to position their region for the economy of the future, while Los Angeles’ leaders were looking in the rear-view mirror, searching for ways to preserve aerospace, manufacturing, and other industries that had carried it since the war years.”

Yaroslavsky said that, within a span of 20 years, these portions of L.A.’s economic base had diminished or disappeared, while the Bay Area was on its way. And, he said, L.A. is still playing catch-up.

He also pointed out that much of the political power in the state was based in Northern California, citing the influence of Northern Californians as U.S. senators, state legislators and assembly speakers for half of the 40-year period.

“These were important in that considerable public resources were invested in the north to provide infrastructure for the burgeoning industries of the future,” he said. “The Bay Area had a focused vision of where they wanted to go, and their federal and state representatives partnered with them to help make it happen.”

Southern California did not have a similar cohesive, focused civic leadership with a road map of where they wanted to go, Yaroslavsky said. In fact, during this period most of the remaining Fortune 500 corporations that called L.A. home left.

But Yaroslavsky said that there are signs that Southern California is turning the corner, mentioning several voter-approved measures in the last six years that will provide hundreds of billions of dollars of transportation infrastructure investment in this region.

Political power has also shifted in Southern California’s favor, he said. “The leaders of our legislature are both from L.A. county. The region seems to be working more collaboratively in recent years than in the past.”

Yaroslavsky said L.A.’s economic future is promising, but cautioned that this cannot be taken for granted.

“We are competing with other metropolitan areas along the coast, across the country and around the world,” he said. “Investments in our infrastructure — transit, harbor, airports, and communications are critical to facilitate private sector expansion. Public education and housing costs also heavily influence where private investment is made.”

2017 Gilliam Winners Tackle Issues of Inequality Recipients tell how the Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Social Justice Award will benefit and create opportunities for their research projects

By Yasaman Boromand

The 33 recipients for the second Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Social Justice Award have been announced. Classified in 10 projects of various topics, these scholars’ outstanding research, some done singly and some in teams, reflect the legacy of UCLA Luskin’s dean emeritus.

The program supports student research and community projects with a racial equity focus. The goals are to encourage students to analyze how racial equity intersects with other complex policy issues, to work with community-based organizations and real world clients, and to show that the School and the faculty intellectually value research and community projects that focus on race.

The program is infused with probing analysis of the roots and branches of inequality, at home and abroad, and the students embrace their roles as agents of positive change.

The winning project by Gus Wendel, a second-year master of urban planning student, sheds light on the issue surrounding LGBTQ individuals’ feelings of comfort about being themselves in public. Wendel employs an intersectional approach to examine the various physical and social characteristics of public spaces, as well as participants’ other characteristics including race, age and class.

“There has been a lack of discussion around this issue, specifically LGBTQ issues, in urban planning,” Wendel said.

Wendel’s interest began from thinking about displays of public affection, how those displays are masked and under what circumstances.

“Having to navigate those feelings in public spaces, even in more progressive cities that are considered LGBTQ friendly, is an issue for planners who seek to create a more inclusive public realm,” Wendel said.

Part of Wendel’s research is participatory ethnography in which participants, using either a disposable camera, a video or another kind of documentation method of their choice, will get to go out and actually document the everyday spaces they come across.

“The award is providing really important assistance in terms of being able to fund those certain aspects of the work. It also helps with travel costs to go to different locations around the city to conduct interviews. I’m truly grateful for the support the award provides,” he said.

The project by C. Aujean Lee, a doctoral candidate in urban planning, seeks to understand how racial/ethnic place-making and neighborhood resources affect home buying behaviors and broader urban spatial patterns of inequality and intergenerational wealth. Through semi-structured interviews, Lee examines homeowners who live in white and ethnic neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

“I am interested in learning more about neighborhood segregation and racial/ethnic place-making as they simultaneously provide ethnic-based resources and may affect intergenerational wealth for several reasons,” Lee said.

Through personal experience and work with several immigrant-serving non-profits, Lee understands the significance these neighborhood and ethnic-based resources can have to improve housing outcomes and asset-building opportunities.

“At the same time, much of the scholarship on ethnic neighborhoods emphasizes how ethnic neighborhoods are associated with lower home values,” Lee said. “I am balancing these perspectives with my dissertation by focusing on middle- and upper-class Latino and Asian segregation patterns.”

“I appreciate that the Luskin School has this award. As academics in applied fields, our research should serve as a bridge between informing the larger public about issues in our cities and work to enhance the well-being and lives of its residents and promote the overall socioeconomic health of everyone,” she said.

Lucero Ramos, another master’s student in urban planning, examines the equity of educational services among youth living in affordable housing. The purpose of Ramos’ research is to investigate how supportive services serve as an educational tool among marginalized youth, ages 13 to 17, and promote educational equity.

“Growing up, I would see my parents work long hours and come home late after a hard day from work,” Ramos said. “Today, they each continue to work long hours and rent continues to increase faster than wages. I know many families struggle on a daily basis to pay off rent. The stress falls heavily on low-income families, veterans, homeless people, etc.”

Having worked as a site leader in the past, Ramos believes that housing is imperative for the well-being of a child’s developmental and social growth.

“When I connected with Jamboree, an affordable housing developer in Irvine and my client for my capstone, I knew I wanted to work on a project that intersected my narrative and my experience in the field,” Ramos said.

Ramos’ research complements existing affordable studies on how housing may alleviate economic obstacles.

“I wasn’t sure what this looked like until I started reading more on topics of after-school programs in affordable housing sites,” she said.

Studying an issue of a similar nature, the winning group project by four master’s students in public policy, Ahmed Ali Bob, Cameron Burch, Karen Law and Susan Y. Oh, evaluates the current policies of rent control and their effectiveness, and what is known as just-cause eviction in protecting the vulnerable communities in South Los Angeles.

“As is evident in the news headlines locally, we know that there is a serious lack of housing that is affordable for the average renter. Rent burdens are at an all-time high as well,” Law said. “These factors in conjunction with development pressures have put pressures on communities that are more vulnerable to being displaced,” she added.

With a new approach to gentrification and the possible displacement it causes, the project focuses on vulnerable groups such as low-income, minority renters who are at risk of being displaced and unable to afford the increasing price of rent driven by market demand.

“We look at the Rent Stabilization Ordinance that is in place in L.A., L.A.’s version of rent control, to see if it’s benefiting low-income renters either by keeping rents low, giving them more protections from unjust evictions,” Law said.

“The award has helped us with funding the transcription of our qualitative stakeholder interviews with various tenant advocacy groups, city officials and real estate professionals,” Law said. “It also helped us purchase a software extension for Excel that enables us to geocode addresses for rental units allowing us to map the data too,” she said.

“I personally think that the award has provided yet another simulation of a real-world experience we can all expect in our near futures. We are grateful for the support and the opportunity to have applied,” Law added.

According to Luskin’s description of the fellowship program, “the faculty review committee considers the intellectual/academic rigor of the project, the community impact and strength of the partnership, and how the project addresses racial equity.”

The other recipients are Delara Aharpour, Kasee Houston, Diego De La Peza, Eve Bachrach, Estefania Zavala, Kelsey Chestnut, J.C. De Vera, Jessica Noel, Sam Blake, Emma Huang, Barbara Spyrou, David Ou, Natasha Oliver, Takashi Omoto, Gina Charusombat, all master’s students in public policy; Xochitl Ortiz, Jacklyn Oh, Ryan Shum, Amman Desai, Julia Heidelman, Carolyn Vera, all master’s students in urban planning; Miya Chang and Matthew Mizel, doctoral candidates in social welfare; Lawrence C. Lan, a doctoral candidate at UCR. Recipient Antoinette Bedros is a joint MPP/law student.

A Career of ‘Depth and Quality’ UCLA Luskin scholar Michael Storper to receive the American Association of Geographers’ Distinguished Scholarship Honors

By Stan Paul

The map of Michael Storper’s career-long study of economic geography is characterized by “depth and quality,” according to the American Association of Geographers (AAG), which is awarding to Storper the organization’s prestigious Distinguished Scholarship Honors for 2017.

The UCLA distinguished professor of regional and international development — and longtime faculty member in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Department of Urban Planning — will receive the accolade at the association’s annual awards meeting in April 2017 in Boston.

Storper’s “outstanding record of scholarly achievement and innovative contributions to the fields of global economic development and geography of urban and regional systems” place him “in a category of scholarship that is truly deserving of this prestigious award,” notes the citation to Storper’s award announced by Douglas Richardson, AAG’s executive director.

The co-author of the 2015 book “The Rise and Decline of Urban Economies: Lessons from Los Angeles and San Francisco” also was cited for the breadth of his research and “highly influential scholarly publications and foundational contributions to economic and urban geography and related disciplines.”

“My current research is about understanding the sharp splits that have opened up between prosperous urban regions and other places, and the future of both of these types of regions,” said Storper, who also serves as director of Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin. “This geography of increasingly separate worlds is also behind the sharp splits in politics and social attitudes that characterize the U.S. and other countries today.”

Storper was previously named to the Thomson Reuters list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds of 2014.

In addition to his extensive scholarship, Storper was recognized by the Washington, D.C.-based AAG for holding prestigious academic positions, including chair in economic sociology at the Institut des Sciences Politiques in Paris (Sciences Po) and a permanent chair in economic geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Most recently, Storper was awarded the 2016 Gold Founder’s Medal from the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers, IBG). Storper received the honor — awarded since the 1830s and considered one of the most prestigious in the field of geography worldwide — for his “pioneering” research in economic geography.

“I am honored to be recognized for my scholarship thus far,” Storper said, “and this recognition motivates me to continue the hard work of rigorous scholarship and publication on these topics in the future.”

A Lifetime Dedicated to Social Welfare Five MSW alumni — ages 76 to 92 and all still working on social issues — recall their time at UCLA and how it shaped their lives

By George Foulsham

One recalls being among the oldest students in UCLA’s School of Social Welfare. Another remembers going to school when there was still a stigma to being unmarried and pregnant. And another recalls her time studying socialwelfare at UCLA as exciting, terrifying and very rewarding.

We recently sat down for a Q&A with five social welfare alumni who attended UCLA from the 1950s to the 1970s and graduated with a master’s in social welfare. But these five scholars are all unique: Four are in their 70s and 80s, one is 92 years old, and all are continuing to work in their respective social welfare fields, long past the age when most people retire.

We discussed this lifelong dedication to their craft and other UCLA memories during interviews with these extraordinary individuals:

Jean Champommier
Photo by Roberto Gudino Jr.

Jean Champommier MSW ’64. He is 76 years old and the chief executive officer of Alma Family Services, which provides a variety of community-based services for families, including those with special needs.

Ellen Smith Graff MSW ’68. She is 80 years old and has been teaching a class for mid-career social workers and psychologists.

Rod Lackey MSW ’59. He is 79 years old and works for three home health care companies, providing counseling for clients.

Elaine Leader MSW ’70. She is 88 years old and the founder of Teen Line, a teen-to-teen confidential hotline and outreach program affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

June Sale MSW ’69. She is 92 years old, a child-care consultant, a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) and a board member with Stone Soup Child Care and LA’s BEST, both after-school programs for children.

What are some of the things you remember about studying social welfare at UCLA?

Ellen Smith Graff: My first field placement was at the L.A. County Adoptions Department. A young woman had come in pregnant and she was not married. I had a great supervisor who helped me understand that I was with my client learning about my profession, but I was also too emotional about her situation. In the ’60s there was a stigma of unwed pregnant women and I felt her pain. I believe, though, I was able to facilitate helping her make her own choice to decide to keep her baby while losing some of her shame.

My second year was at the L.A. Children’s Hospital on Vermont Avenue. I learned the difficulty for children and their parents because of [intellectual disabilities] or other physical problems, and that they would never get better.

Both of these experiences stay with me today. They were rich and fulfilling.

Ellen Smith Graff
Photo by Roberto Gudino Jr.

Jean Champommier: The two things I remember were my field-work placements and the professors I had. My first field-work experience was at the Kennedy Child Study Center, part of St. John’s Medical Center, and working with children with developmental disabilities and their families. It was a pioneering program at the time. That experience combined with my second-year placement in a community field-based social welfare agency formed the basis for my need to develop a multicultural, multilingual holistic service approach in addressing the needs of individuals, families and communities.

Elaine Leader: Meeting people who were interested in the same thing I was interested in. But also there was a lot going on in the country around civil liberties and there were demonstrators on campus. It was very exciting.

June Sale: I remember it being exhilarating, exciting, terrifying and very rewarding. I don’t know which order — it depends on where I was when I was there. I had early childhood training and I saw what was going on and what wasn’t going on, and I was feeling very helpless, sometimes in despair. I realized it was not very effective and I wanted it to be more effective. So I applied to Social Welfare and I was admitted. I was one of the oldest students there.

Rod Lackey: It was a good experience. Of course, in those days, you didn’t have all of the cultural issues you have today. In fact, our class was primarily white. I think we had one black woman and a couple of Asian students and one Latino.

If you look at what Luskin is offering to our students now, how have things changed since you went to UCLA?

Lackey: Oh, it’s a whole new world. Now we are dealing with minority issues, gay and lesbian issues, political issues. We didn’t deal with this that much back then. I think I was the only gay student and, of course, I was closeted. You couldn’t be out. Well, you could, but you know I was very uncomfortable, but now I’m not.

Rod Lackey
Photo by Roberto Gudino Jr.

Sale: My sense is that it is far more complicated now from when I was there, with the advent of computers and all kinds of science and engineering and media communications. I think that somewhat changes the relationship people have with other people. How did we ever live without them (computers) for so long?

Graff: As I look back to the ’60s I see that I was quite naive as I entered Luskin. I grew up in the ’50s, married, and I had two small children. At that time, all mothers were to be at home and take care of children. So I ran back and forth to school and home. We were a group of students wanting to help the world: We all shared the goal to learn and get trained together. Our theses were in groups and we all worked together.

Champommier: In many ways it is a new world. We live in diverse communities which is reflected in a much more diverse student body. However, many of the issues that reverberated in the 1960s are still in contention today such as drug abuse and discrimination based on race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Scientific research has continued to advance in neurobiology and genetics including the discovery of DNA. There is greater acceptance of the importance of community mental health services, with significant increased federal, state and local funding.

In L.A. County, there is movement toward greater integration of health, mental health and substance abuse services. Luskin is providing a broader educational context in understanding all of these issues by examining public policies and approaches to deal with them.

Why does Luskin matter to you and why should it matter to those students who are considering their MSW at Luskin in the future?

Leader: I thought it was a very good program when I was there and I learned a great deal. I think it has the esteem that many other programs don’t have. I think anything associated with UCLA is very valuable.

Lackey: I think Luskin offers a lot more than just straight social welfare. You’ve got public health and all of these very important areas you need to be knowledgeable about.

Elaine Leader
Photo by Roberto Gudino Jr.

Champommier: I felt fortunate to enter the social work field in the turbulent 1960s when various institutions were being challenged, including social work itself. This is again a time of significant questioning of institutions charged with meeting the health and welfare needs of individuals, families and communities. Luskin provides a variety of career pathways to become involved in addressing these needs. It’s a wonderful opportunity for students entering the field at this exciting time.

Graff: It seems our world is more complicated now and more open with problems. In 1965 I had a wish to help people who cannot help themselves — rather naive but true. However, Luskin had structure, two or three days of experience in agencies each year, and excellent supervision each week. Luskin is a great school and I took it all in.

Sale: I think it is a pathway to really knowing how to help people. You can’t just go out and do it. You’ve got to know how to reach people. You’ve got to know yourself a little bit better too, and that is one of the real strengths of a social work program.

What motivates you to keep doing this, long after most people would have decided to retire?

Leader: I think I would be very lonely if I didn’t. I am so used to having those kinds of relationships and I would feel adrift without them.

Sale: There’s such inequality in the world and such hate and such awful stuff going on. I look at my grandchildren who are in their 40s and then I look at their children, and wonder what their lives are going to be like. I would liketo be able to think that I’m doing something that will help them, that will eventually make them helpers of the world.

Lackey: Because retirement drove me crazy. I retired from Kaiser home health four years ago. I love home health and after I retired I thought, I can’t stand this staying at home, watching TV, not shaving, this is ridiculous. So I got jobs with three different home health care agencies and I work the hours I want to. I always liked home health because every day is an adventure — different people, different backgrounds, different everything.

June Sale
Photo by Roberto Gudino Jr.

Graff: It’s something that is priceless to me. I have worked for over 40 years with many agencies as well as with a private practice. I feel richer because my graduate school was so great in preparing me for my profession — the thesis, classes, agencies and supervision.

Champommier: I didn’t know the typical retirement age was 65, for one thing. I’m 76 and as each year goes by I continue to feel engaged in making a positive difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities. I am fortunate in working together with a group of talented leaders both within the agency and in the community. We are by nature both curious and problem solvers. And each solution brings with it new problems to solve. It is a continuing learning process. I tell my staff, the moment that I lose the excitement of change that will be the time to move on.

Finally, what advice do you have for Luskin students?

Leader: Follow your dream and find something that really interests you, and follow that because that’s going to be satisfying to you and a contribution to your community.

Lackey: Try to do something besides going into private practice just to make money. That to me isn’t social work. Social work is making changes in people’s lives.

Graff: I like challenges that my clients bring to the agency: It keeps my brain working. I think new students want to gain those goals too!

Sale: I think each person has a calling that is special to them. I love working with little kids, and that’s what I do.

Champommier: You are in a unique position at Luskin to gain a broad knowledge of the social welfare field. You are indeed fortunate to be provided with the opportunity to examine social welfare issues from various perspectives and analyze the intricate nuances of situations you will contend with in your professional career. Take full advantage of what Luskin has to offer by academically challenging yourself with a spirit of openness and curiosity.

A Civics Lesson on L.A., From the Inside Three UCLA Luskin School students gain real-world experience working as David Bohnett Fellows at City Hall in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office while pursuing their graduate degrees

By Zev Hurwitz

It would be easy to mistake Tammy Barreras, Jayanthi Daniel and JC De Vera for any of the hundreds of staffers who hustle through the hallways of L.A.’s historic City Hall each day. The three carry official city badges, they each work in the mayor’s office and their days are packed with memos, deadlines, proposals, city events and projects — all geared at improving the lives of Angelenos.

But when this trio clocks out, they each take on a role that’s unmatched by other city employees: full-time graduate student.

Together, the three make up the 2016-2017 cohort of the David Bohnett Fellowship Program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. It’s a unique opportunity for graduate students to work closely with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s staff while completing their master’s degrees at UCLA.

The fellowship program, which accepts applications from UCLA Luskin students in all three of the school’s disciplines, consists of one summer of full-time work in the mayor’s office, followed by a yearlong, part-time position at City Hall during the fellows’ second year of coursework at Luskin.

UCLA has offered the fellowship for students in the School of Public Affairs since its inception in 2007. Luskin students may apply in the spring of their first year for placement during the summer between the two years of the program.

From left, UCLA Luskin students Jayanthi Daniel, JC De Vera and Tammy Barreras are working at L.A. City Hall this year as part of the David Bohnett Fellowship Program. Photo by George Foulsham

The Three Fellows

Each fellow works in a different department within the mayor’s office. Tammy Barreras, a student in the Master of Social Welfare (MSW) program at Luskin, works in Garcetti’s Budget and Innovation Department and focuses her work in the Innovation and Performance Management Unit.

“We work with city departments and we empower city employees to deliver better services, whether it’s through strategy or using problem-solving tools,” she said. “We do general manager reviews to keep city heads accountable and measure the successes of the departments.”

Barreras grew up in the San Gabriel Valley community of La Puente. She previously worked as an inpatient pharmacy technician in Orange County before pursuing her undergraduate work at Cal State Los Angeles. She had plans to become a pharmacist before shifting her focus to social work after realizing her true passion was helping those in need.

“I feel like my life prepared me for this experience in City Hall,” she said. “I came here with the purpose to impact the millions of people in this community and for me this is an opportunity to understand how to do it.”

JC De Vera, pursuing his Master of Public Policy (MPP), works in the mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Much of his work involves legislative advocacy and community outreach programs. One of De Vera’s first projects during the fellowship was helping organize a press conference in which the mayor announced the launch of a voter registration campaign geared for Spanish-speaking Angelenos.

“Working in government, every day is very dynamic,” De Vera said. “In the public policy curriculum, we’re learning about political institutions and policies — how do you actually get things done, how do you get policies passed? Being in the mayor’s office has illuminated all of that and really brought it to life.”

Jayanthi Daniel, also an MSW candidate, conducts her fellowship work in the office of Ana Guerrero, the mayor’s Chief of Staff. It’s a rare appointment — only one other fellow in the program’s history has had a chance to work in such an important office. Her work largely involves research, hands-on team assistance and event execution. Due to the broad nature of the work for the mayor’s chief aide, Daniel finds herself working on a variety of projects and programs.

“I provide support wherever needed,” she said. “It’s hard to put down exactly what I do because in the nature of politics, my job changes every day that I’m in here. What it all boils down to is that we’re trying to achieve the mayor’s agenda for Los Angeles.”

Daniel, a former journalist, works closely with Guerrero, the city’s first Latina chief of staff and one of the highest-ranking Latina city officials.

“Not only is it an honor to work with a chief of staff, I’m working with a groundbreaking, trailblazing chief of staff — somebody I learn from every single day,” Daniel said.

The fellowship satisfies the internship requirement for the Public Policy curriculum and the fieldwork requirement for Social Welfare master’s students. Because the fellows are also full-time students, there is often overlap between what is discussed in the classroom and at City Hall.

“We can bring a lot of the work we’re doing here into the classroom setting, because we have a unique opportunity to have this experience,” Barreras said. “Whenever topics about civic engagement come up in class, we can talk about the city application from our perspective working in the fellowship.”

The David Bohnett Foundation has been funding the program for UCLA students for the past 10 years, and now supports similar programs for graduate students at the University of Michigan and New York University.

UCLA Luskin graduate student Tammy Barreras meets with her supervisor, Dan Caroselli, a UCLA Luskin Urban Planning alumnus and a former Bohnett Fellow, who is director of the innovation and performance management unit at L.A. City Hall. Photo by George Foulsham

Developing ‘The Next Group of Leaders’

This fellowship was born out of a conversation at a dinner party hosted by David Bohnett, the foundation’s chair. Bohnett found himself in conversation with former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Torie Osborn, former Luskin School Dean Barbara Nelson and Luskin lecturer Michael Dukakis. The four had been discussing opportunities for students to work in local government when the idea to place Luskin students in City Hall first arose.

“The school really came together and said, ‘How can we select some of those leaders among our students who would want to work in local government?’ ” said VC Powe, who administers the program in her role as the Luskin School’s director of career services and leadership development. “We really created this program as an opportunity to give students a place where they could work in local government.”

Powe explained that the Bohnett Fellowship is also a means to advance one of the Luskin School’s major goals for its students.

“Having these kinds of opportunities is important for UCLA Luskin because our mission is to develop the next group of leaders and change agents,” Powe said. “When we have these kinds of fellowships — when students can learn from the deputy mayor or the head of a non-profit — they get the skills to become the next leaders. That’s really important for the school to provide.”

‘A Lineage’ of Bohnett Fellows at City Hall

They work in different offices within City Hall, but the three current fellows say they do run into each other frequently and have attended each other’s programs and events. Additionally, nearly a dozen Bohnett fellowship and UCLA Luskin alumni now work full time in city government.

“There’s a sizable lineage of Bohnett Fellows that still work here,” De Vera said. “They help mentor us and help us figure out how to navigate this place, how to make the most of our experiences and they’ve been a really great resource to draw on.”

Alumna Kiana Taheri MPP ’16 was a Bohnett fellow in the immediate past cohort and now works full time in the Innovation and Performance Management Unit (iMPU) — the same department where she worked as a fellow — doing similar work to Barrera’s current post. She found that her coursework for the MPP degree and her fellowship work had tremendous overlap.

At UCLA, Taheri said, she had been interested in improving government efficiency and utilization of innovative solutions. The Bohnett fellowship provided a chance to do that.

UCLA Luskin grad student JC De Vera works in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Photo by George Foulsham

“I was excited for the opportunity to be a part of an administration that was working toward a greater more equitable society,” she said. “The fellowship allowed for the mayor’s office to see my true caliber as a UCLA graduate student, develop assurance in my capabilities and ultimately choosing to invest in me.”

Dan Caroselli, director of the iMPU, supervises both Barreras and Taheri. Caroselli, who is an alumnus of UCLA Luskin’s Urban Planning program and another former Bohnett Fellow, said the program has been very successful in bringing “motivated and capable” students into city government.

“It’s been incredibly practical as a pipeline of talent,” said Caroselli, who graduated with a master’s in urban planning in 2011. “I’ve had the opportunity to supervise five different Bohnett Fellows and work closely with many more during their time in the mayor’s office. I owe my career to the Bohnett Fellowship and so it means a great deal to me to be able to continue to be involved in the program and to advise these current fellows as they navigate a potential career with the City.”

The Fellows Go to Washington

For the past five years, Bohnett Fellows from the three campuses have attended the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. The conference brings together civic leaders from over 1,400 U.S. cities to build partnerships, work on policies and discuss successes and best practices.

This year’s Winter Meeting of the Conference will be held Jan. 17-19.

Barreras said she hadn’t yet seen the agendas for this year’s Winter Meeting of the Conference, but is looking forward to learning from leaders in diverse cities and seeing the City of Los Angeles as a leader among its peers.

“We’re going to see what a lot of other cities are doing at the city government level,” she said. “While there will be many small cities and big cities, L.A. is one of the biggest cities that will be looked to for innovative and progressive ideas.”

UCLA Luskin Diversity Recruitment Fair Has a Message: You Belong Here First schoolwide fair provides encouragement and information to prospective students — and explains why diversity matters

By Stan Paul

Elizabeth Salcedo, a recent graduate of the Master of Social Welfare (MSW) program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, has a simple, emphatic message for those contemplating a career in social work, urban planning or public policy — “Just Apply!”

“I did, and I got in,” beamed the 2013 alumna at the Luskin School’s first all-school Diversity Recruitment Fair held Dec. 3 UCLA’s Ackerman Grand Ballroom. Like many students contemplating life after their undergraduate studies, Salcedo said she was reluctant and had self-doubt. Now working as an analyst in community development for the City of Long Beach, Salcedo can confidently articulate a good reason to apply and why diversity is important: “We need your voice.”

Salcedo participated in a panel of UCLA Luskin alumni — representing the School’s three departments, Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning — who shared their firsthand experiences of life during and after Luskin. The daylong event also included a panel of the School’s three department chairs and informational breakout sessions for their respective departments. Resources and advice concerning admissions and financial aid were also offered to prospective students, as well as a “suite of tools” they might need for their careers.

Urban Planning breakout sessions included topics such as “Our ’Hoods, Our Stories” to “Planning Post Trump.” A panel of current Master of Public Policy (MPP) students talked about building a “career toolkit” and what future students would need to do to prepare themselves – or, as first-year MPP student Isaac Bryan described it, “to be in that room” – where policy-making, discussion and analysis are taking place — from the local to the federal level.

“You are creating a baseline to create change,” said Joanna Williams MSW ’14, a social worker in Orange County who also participated in the alumni panel. She added that while challenging, graduate study at UCLA Luskin also offered an opportunity to explore options to collaborate and to form important and lasting bonds with classmates.

Panelist Jen Tolentino, a 2010 graduate of the MPP program said that for her, “the Public Policy degree has framed how I think about my work and framed how I think about problems,” which includes looking at issues through the lens of social justice.

Urban planning alumnus Richard France MA UP ’10, advised potential applicants that while finding a specific purpose for graduate study, “know that is it wide open,” referring to the field and careers that will follow graduation. He also reinforced the connection with peers at UCLA Luskin. “You will see your classmates out there. Your cohort is going to be one of your greatest resources and they are going to bring a diversity of experiences,” said France, who now works for a prominent strategic consulting firm headed by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning alumnae.

Former Los Angeles City Councilman (2001-2013) and Urban Planning alumnus Ed Reyes served as the keynote speaker for the fair, organized in cooperation by each of the School’s departments and staff, as well as diversity groups from each of the School’s three disciplines.

“In you, I see hope. In you, I see optimism,” Luskin Senior Fellow Reyes said to the potential applicants while balancing encouragement with a bit of practical advice. “I’m not going to candy-coat it, it’s going to be tough. It’s not going to be a straight line. But, it’s going to be worth it.”

Attendees energized and motivated by the event included applicant Kathleen Ann Sagun, who works in administration for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. She said that she was appreciative of all of the valuable information provided during the day, but, more than that, “It was empowering” to hear the stories of the alumni and to learn about “the advantages they had from doing there graduate studies here, at UCLA.”

“By the end of the day, we hope you will be motivated to join Luskin,” said Gerry Laviña, director of field education and associate director of the D3 (Diversity, Differences and Disparities) Initiative at UCLA Luskin, who was part of the network of Luskin organizers who made the day possible.

“You belong here because we believe in diversity as a necessary component of what makes each department, each profession, Luskin and UCLA excellent,” said Laviña, a 1988 graduate of the School’s MSW program. “You see that excellence in our students and in the student organizations that we have. You see that in the excellence in the research of our faculty and our research centers. You see that excellence in the communities and causes we believe in.”

In wrapping up the event, he said one thing became clear: “We must continue to value and validate diversity in order to maintain our excellence. The communities we serve deserve this.”

Others who helped organize the event included Jennifer Choy, associate director of admissions and recruitment for the Luskin Department of Urban Planning; the Public Policy student group Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity (PPDE); Social Welfare’s Diversity Caucus; and Urban Planning’s Planners of Color for Social Equity. Choy and her colleagues, Public Policy’s Sean Campbell and Social Welfare’s Tiffany Bonner, also held Q&A sessions for interested applicants.

“We hope events like this encourage prospective students from underrepresented groups to feel a sense of belonging at UCLA Luskin and inspire them to join our commitment to social justice in serving disadvantaged communities,” Choy said.

How to Build an Affordable Home: Start With the Framework UCLA urban planner provides recommendations for easing existing barriers to affordable housing, one of California’s most pressing issues

By Stan Paul

For UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs scholar Paavo Monkkonen, making housing affordable in California starts with a vital building block: the state’s Housing Element framework requiring cities to meet existing and projected local and regional housing needs.

“This system performs an almost symbolic function at present,” said the associate professor of Urban Planning who also earned his Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from Luskin in 2005. “Cities that do not meet their housing targets face no consequences, and cities that do meet them reap no reward.” Monkkonen delivered a lecture and white paper on the topic Dec. 1 at the UC Center in Sacramento.

Two other areas of focus on this pressing problem for the state are expanding public participation in the planning process and shifting some decision-making from local to state and regional levels, according to Monkkonen. His lecture, “Understanding and Challenging Opposition to Housing Construction in California’s Urban Areas,” was moderated by Ben Metcalf, director of the California Department of Housing & Community Development.

“The current planning environment is stacked in favor of better-off individuals and single-family neighborhoods at the expense of renters and multi-family housing,” Monkkonen wrote in an opinion piece published in the Sacramento Bee the same day as the lecture. On the neighborhood level, opposition has continually hindered housing needs. “When interests with time and money block or downsize projects in wealthy neighborhoods, it pushes new development into dense parts of cities and increases rents throughout the area.”

In urging that the state takes steps to “democratize” the planning process, Monkkonen explained that planners need to have input from a more representative group of citizens such as families, low-income renters and young people — groups that may not have ready access to public hearings and planning meetings.

In his white paper, Monkkonen included a section on understanding opposition to housing construction and density. The list shows how opposition focuses on three formal systems — planning, legal and political — as well as informal influences and tactics to “shape what can and cannot get built in California’s cities.”

Monkkonen outlined a number of ways opponents to new housing impede construction through the planning process. These include commenting in public meetings, letter writing, social media, petitions, appeals or filing historic designations for properties or districts.

Legally, projects may face lawsuits to invalidate a permit or policy or be challenged through the California Environmental Quality Act.

Politically, ballot initiatives can be used to place a moratorium on development, and efforts to recall council members may be initiated. Opponents can also lobby for state laws affecting specific city rules, Monkkonen observed.

In his presentation Monkkonen:

  • Outlined policy recommendations for land-use reforms concerning housing directed by the state.
  • Described how limiting the supply of new housing creates less-affordable housing.
  • And pointed out how the issue of housing supply is generally misunderstood.

Monkkonen emphasizes this in the abstract to his white paper: “The debate continues despite robust empirical evidence demonstrating that supply constraints — low density chief among them — are a core cause of increasing housing costs.”

Among his recommendations to the state on how to push back against local constraints on new housing is one favoring “by-right” approval of projects. Projects that comply with current zoning laws may bypass regular approval processes where these processes are a “persistent hindrance to regional housing needs.” Monkkonen cited California’s density bonus law — an example of by-right approval — wherein developers may be incentivized to include affordable units in exchange for an increase in density.

Monkkonen believes that his work may prompt state government action and provide a guide to addressing the affordable housing issue in California.

“I was excited to be able to present this work in conversation with Ben Metcalf,” said Monkkonen, adding that the state’s director of housing and community development was very receptive to his policy recommendations. “He said his department is releasing a state housing plan next week that actually mirrors a lot of my analysis.”

Monkkonen’s white paper is available online.

For more information on California’s Housing Element Law, please visit the California Department of Housing and Community Development web page.