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Yaroslavsky on Permit Parking Dilemma

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, was featured in a Los Angeles Times article discussing the permit requirements and restrictions that regulate parking across the city. Yaroslavsky came up with the idea of permit parking more than 40 years ago for residents in neighborhoods where street parking is dominated by customers trying to access nearby businesses. “Cities throughout our region have required developers to provide parking for their customers or residents. Eliminating such requirements in order to reduce development costs may be a good idea in theory, but it has consequences,” said the former city councilman and county supervisor. Yaroslavsky said that without parking requirements, car owners will be forced to circle neighborhoods to find curbside parking, and some businesses that rely on curb parking may lose customers. “The government should be careful before eliminating all parking requirements, because if it turns out to be a mistake, it can’t be corrected,” he concluded.


Manville Weighs in on ‘Duplex Bill’

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville was featured in a Los Angeles Times article about the prospects of Senate Bill 9, which would allow for multifamily homes to be built in neighborhoods currently zoned for standalone houses only. Under the “duplex bill,” owners would be able to subdivide their properties and build up to four homes on each formerly single-family lot. According to Manville, SB 9 is a key opportunity to build housing in California, if it can survive the political process intact. “[Two recent] amendments are basically a step away from the bill’s original vision,” he explained. “A bill like SB 9 was always going to produce the most housing when there weren’t restrictions on who might occupy the housing that gets built on one of these parcels.” Manville added that in the new version of SB 9, “now you’re talking about a homeowner that wants to be a developer, and that’s very different from a homeowner that’s looking to sell their parcel.”


Turner on Building Heat Resilient Communities

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner joined the America Adapts Podcast and the Smart Community Podcast to discuss ways to build heat resilient cities and address heat inequity. According to Turner, heat governance is in its infancy. “We don’t have institutions that are responsible for regulating heat at the local, state or federal level,” she said. Turner explained that there is a difference between the acute problem of extreme heat risk and the chronic problem of the urban heat island effect. “Not all urban heat is extreme, and not all extreme heat is urban, and you can’t necessarily solve both at the same time,” she said. Turner also discussed the tradeoffs of different heat interventions such as cool pavement, which effectively combats the urban heat island effect but is “not a substitute for shade.” She recommended engaging with communities to learn how people experience heat in order to make cities better places for people to live.


Roy Fears Housing Crisis Growing Worse

Professor of Urban Planning and Social Welfare Ananya Roy spoke to the New York Times about the affordable housing crisis and growing issue of homelessness in California. While the eviction moratorium has been a “safety net of sorts” for communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a “postponement of the crisis, rather than a solution,” Roy said in a lengthy interview. “Its disappearance will be sure to expand and expedite evictions.” Roy, director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, called for “full rental debt cancellation and public investment in housing for working-class communities.” She predicted that the economic impact of the pandemic will result in a “housing crisis worse than the Great Depression,” prompting mass evictions and exacerbating homelessness. To avoid this, Roy recommended that the government buy and convert vacant and distressed properties into low-income housing, a solution that is faster and less expensive than building new housing.


Upzoning Won’t End Single-Family Housing, Lens Says

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Michael Lens was featured in a Star Tribune article about how zoning affects housing affordability. Many advocates for racial equity and housing affordability are pushing cities across the country to remove zoning requirements that restrict areas to single-family housing only. In some cases, they have been met with opposition from those who fear that removing these requirements would result in the destruction of single-family neighborhoods. Lens pointed out that upzoning does not require the addition of duplexes and triplexes but merely removes a long-standing prohibition and gives landowners more flexibility. “Ending single-family zoning doesn’t end single-family housing, and there’s no real reason why we prioritize single-family housing in such a way,” he said. “You can’t have true integration of race and income without a variety of housing types.”

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Turner on Challenges of Regulating Urban Heat

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner joined the Talking Headways podcast to discuss different ways to regulate urban heat. The regional urban heat island effect is a climate phenomenon affecting urban areas with buildings and pavement that absorb and radiate heat, making these regions hotter than surrounding areas. However, Turner noted that thermal images that show land surface temperature can be misleading because they don’t illustrate how people are actually exposed to heat. “When I see interventions being proposed like tree-planting programs, I think we need to be careful and say, yeah, we might be providing shade that will be good for pedestrian thermal comfort — shade’s super important — but we’re not addressing the urban heat island,” Turner said. “What we’re doing is just a drop in the bucket, shifting from one climate zone to a fundamentally different arrangement of trees and buildings that would actually be cooler.” 

Listen to the Talking Headways podcast

Manville, Taylor on How to Get Traffic Under Control

Urban Planning faculty members Michael Manville and Brian Taylor spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the return of L.A. traffic levels to pre-pandemic levels. “Traffic is a product of people having places to go,” said Manville, but he noted that “it’s the last few vehicles on the road that are responsible for most of the delays.” Manville argued that congestion pricing is key to reducing traffic. “Traffic congestion arises because there’s excess demand and scarce road space,” he said. He also pointed out that congestion pricing can be used to increase equity “because the absolute poorest people don’t drive … [and] no one suffers from congestion more than people stuck on a bus.” Taylor added that “when traffic demand is near or above the capacity of the street and highway system, any changes — adding or subtracting relatively few cars — can have a significant effect on delays.”

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Millard-Ball on the Tradeoff of Wide Streets

A San Francisco Chronicle article highlighted research findings by Urban Planning Associate Professor Adam Millard-Ball on the width of streets in San Francisco. In places with housing shortages, wide streets take up valuable land that could have been used to build more homes or other buildings, Millard-Ball said. While the average street in San Francisco is 50 feet wide, Millard-Ball proposed 16 feet as the functional minimum width for residential streets. In some areas of the city, streets are an average of 93 feet wide. Millard-Ball argued that in high-cost California counties like Santa Clara and San Francisco, the consequences of unnecessarily wide streets are enough to make the costs to narrow them worth it. For cities that are still growing, Millard-Ball suggested that planners build narrower streets to save land for housing. In established cities where narrowing the streets is not feasible, he proposed adapting unused street spaces into outdoor dining spaces, slow streets and other recreational spaces.


ITS, Lewis Center Win Research Awards to Help Shape California’s Future UCLA Luskin-based centers join an ambitious initiative aimed at forging strategies for the state's long-term success

Two centers housed at UCLA Luskin have received research awards from California 100, an ambitious statewide initiative to envision and shape the long-term success of the state.

The Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies will evaluate current facts, origins and future trends in housing and community development, while the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies will look into transportation and urban planning. In total, researchers from four UCLA organizations will spearhead three of the 13 California 100 research areas.

The Lewis Center will summarize California’s housing market and outline a vision for how policy changes could lead to a brighter future for the state’s residents, with a particular focus on increased equity and housing production. Working alongside cityLAB UCLA and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, the Lewis Center team will also create a visualization of this future through creative techniques of diagramming, drawing and rendering to help readers picture the possibilities for California’s communities.

UCLA ITS will delve into transportation policy contradictions: California has invested substantially in public transit, while other public policies encourage driving and work against transit. As the state looks to meet its climate and equity goals, transportation systems — and the land use context surrounding them — will play a key role.

Research for both projects is slated to begin over the summer and be complete by December 2021, and will lead to a set of policy alternatives for the future of California. The policy alternatives will be developed in conjunction with research teams from the other California 100 issue areas.

The California 100 Commission is a multi-generational advisory body that will develop recommendations for the state’s future and test those recommendations across a broad set of policy areas by directly engaging Californians.

“From climate change to aging populations and rapid changes in industry, California will face enormous challenges in the years ahead,” said Kathrick Ramakrishnan, California 100 executive director. “We are fortunate to be able to draw on the deep talent of researchers in California to produce evidence and recommendations that will inform robust public engagement and set the state on a strong, long-term trajectory for success.”

About the California 100 Research Grants

California 100 is a new statewide initiative being incubated at the University of California and Stanford University focused on inspiring a vision and strategy for California’s next century that is innovative, sustainable and equitable. The initiative will harness the talent of a diverse array of leaders through research, policy innovation, advanced technology and stakeholder engagement. As part of its research stream of work, California 100 is sponsoring 13 research projects focused on the following issue areas:

  • Advanced technology and basic research
  • Arts, culture and entertainment
  • Education and workforce, from cradle to career and retirement
  • Economic mobility and inequality
  • Energy, environment and natural resources
  • Federalism and foreign policy
  • Fiscal reform
  • Governance, media and civil society
  • Health and wellness
  • Housing and community development
  • Immigrant integration
  • Public safety and criminal justice reform
  • Transportation and urban planning

Millard-Ball on Programming Autonomous Vehicles for Safety

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Adam Millard-Ball joined an episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast “Revisionist History” to discuss the future of autonomous vehicles. The safety of autonomous vehicles was originally framed as a technological challenge that required a programming solution, but the main issue is actually the people outside the vehicle, Millard-Ball explained, beginning at minute 26:50. “If you are a pedestrian and you have that confidence that the autonomous vehicle is going to stop and yield to you as it legally should, then there is nothing to stop you from taking the right of way,” he said. Autonomous vehicles are programmed to maximize caution, which allows the pedestrian to make the first move instead of waiting to see what the car will do. “The more unpredictable a pedestrian appears, the autonomous vehicle will recognize that unpredictability and be more cautious,” he explained. Autonomous vehicles allow for a role reversal where the vehicle caters to the pedestrian’s erratic behavior.