Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Liz Koslov was featured in The City discussing a proposed voluntary buyout program for flood-prone houses in New York City. After Hurricane Sandy, many homeowners sold their properties back to the state through the Oakwood Beach buyout program. That successful effort was community-led and the housing stock was mostly single-family homes, Koslov said. Going forward, “a lot of the homes in the places that we now see are most at risk are also the most affordable,” she noted. Koslov pointed to social causes of climate vulnerability, including redlining and disinvestment, that cause people to live in those risky places in the first place. “If you’re just trying to un-build places that seem to be the most at risk, but you’re not addressing the underlying causes of that risk, which go far beyond climate change, it’s never going to satisfactorily or equitably reduce the risk that exists,” she said.
Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to the Washington Post to help debunk myths about highways and traffic. While some cities have widened their highways in an attempt to decrease traffic, “the iron law of congestion” explains the phenomenon in which widening highways results in a proportional increase in cars on the road. Some economists and urban planning experts, including Manville, have proposed congestion pricing as a solution to traffic congestion by making drivers pay for the space they take up on the highway. Some opponents of congestion pricing have argued that the policy would hurt the poor, but Manville responded, “Free roads are not a good way to help poor people.” Manville explained that affluent people drive more regardless of whether or not congestion pricing exists, so the best way to help low-income residents is actually by improving infrastructure and public transit, which can be funded through congestion pricing revenue.
The Senior Fellows Leadership Program at UCLA Luskin kicked off its 25th year with a welcome breakfast that brought graduate students together with their new mentors — all leaders in the public, private and nonprofit arenas. The Oct. 21 gathering featured remarks from Ken Bernstein, principal city planner for the city of Los Angeles, and public policy student Steven King, who also participated in the Senior Fellows program last year. Bernstein, a national advocate for historic preservation, spoke of the region’s rich architectural resources, highlighted in his new book “Preserving Los Angeles: How Historic Places Can Transform America’s Cities.” Each attendee at the breakfast received a copy, and Bernstein encouraged both students and Senior Fellows to seek out unexplored corners of Los Angeles to understand that it is more than “just a bunch of bright lights and undifferentiated sprawl.” “Historical preservation has been a driving engine for change in Los Angeles, whether you are working in public policy or planning or social welfare,” Bernstein said. “There’s so much rich work that’s happening at the grassroots level, at the local level, and there are few places more interesting than Los Angeles in terms of really making a difference.” King described last year’s rewarding experience with a mentor who was willing to answer any question, discuss current legislation, provide access to meetings between policymakers and advocates, and offer advice about choosing classes and pursuing internships. He said the Senior Fellows program is helping him to “gain valuable lifelong skills to help me become a successful advocate and leader in the world.”
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block shared Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning Michael Storper’s research on the evolution of cities at the Milken Institute’s recent Global Conference, which convened thousands of leaders from government, health care, finance, technology, philanthropy, media and higher education to tackle urgent global economic and social issues. Building on the conference’s theme of “Charting a New Course,” Block joined several discussions with the aim of sharing lessons learned from recent social movements and the global pandemic to reimagine a more prosperous future for all. “Cities keep growing and they keep thriving, but they’re changing. We’re seeing from the pandemic something that we refer to as ‘social scarring,’ or deep psychological impact that’s not going away quickly,” Block said, pointing to Storper’s research. “It’s changing people’s behavior and how they feel about density.” The 24th edition of the Global Conference was held in Beverly Hills from Oct. 17-20.
As the director of UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, Veronica Terriquez draws on her background as a community organizer to enhance Latino community networks and presence on campus, and further support university-community partnerships. On Sept. 24, UCLA announced steps it was taking as it seeks to achieve Hispanic Serving Institution status, and Terriquez and the center’s staff and faculty will become partial stewards of that process. The center will administer the hiring of 15 new faculty positions and 20 postdoctoral fellows whose teaching, scholarship or mentoring experience has ties to Latino experiences. “Research shows that underrepresented students fare better when they have a faculty mentor who can relate to their experiences,” said Terriquez, a professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin. Terriquez has also expanded the Chicano Studies Research Center’s faculty advisory committee, which now includes a greater breadth of disciplinary backgrounds. And on Nov. 1, the center is planning a special virtual Dia De Los Muertos event, open to the UCLA community. “The program will feature Dia de Los Muertos-related arts and performances, but it will also feature the hard data that remind us of the devastation Latinx communities have experienced during the current pandemic,” Terriquez said. “It will be a celebration and a call to action because we can’t let this happen again.” Looking ahead, Terriquez will be working on California Freedom Summer, a project that will train and place college students as summer 2022 interns at nonprofit organizations where they will focus on voter education ahead of the fall midterm elections. — Jessica Wolf
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Michael Lens published a policy brief in Health Affairs on the downstream effects of low-density residential zoning on health and health equity. Previous research on the relationship between housing and health has identified four important pathways for health equity: housing stability, housing quality and safety, neighborhood characteristics and affordability. While residential zoning ordinances are designed to address density-related concerns such as traffic and environmental harms, Lens explained that “the effect is often to artificially raise the cost of housing for everyone by limiting housing supply, as well as to exclude people who cannot afford to buy single-family homes on large lots.” As a result, low-density zoning practices have exacerbated segregation by income and race. “Safer and healthier neighborhoods tend to have the most restrictive zoning, pricing people out of those areas and increasing segregation and affordability problems,” Lens said. He acknowledged that zoning reform alone cannot fix disparities in housing or health; sufficient housing subsidy programs are crucial, as well as an increase in new housing developments that are required to set aside some units for lower-income households. “The downstream effects of exclusionary land use regulations on health should make scholars and policymakers pay more attention to reforming zoning and expanding housing subsidy programs to make housing more plentiful and affordable,” Lens wrote. Even if increasing density in more neighborhoods does not have an immediate effect on housing affordability, segregation or health, Lens argued that it is a necessary step toward a healthy and sustainable future.
Extreme heat events — such as the road-buckling, record-smashing temperatures seen throughout the West this past summer — are becoming more deadly and common in a rapidly changing climate. Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner, who also serves as the co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, co-authored a new article in Nature dissecting the issue of extreme heat and outlining the necessary components of an equitable strategy to address the crisis. Unlike with fires and floods, no single government body is responsible for managing extreme heat, making it difficult to implement effective strategies that protect communities. “Protecting people from extreme heat will require a coordinated and well-researched government approach,” Turner said. “This is especially crucial for advancing equity and reducing the disproportionate effect heat has on people of color and low-income communities.” The authors of the paper laid out several key actions to address the issue of extreme heat. First, they recommended advancing heat equity by investigating how communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by extreme heat events. Next, they recommended expanding research on the effectiveness of different interventions as well as associated risks and tradeoffs of different strategies. They also suggested that governments work together to integrate and coordinate plans for measuring and combating extreme heat. Finally, they proposed building programs and institutions dedicated to heat management and expanding research in the field. Turner and her colleagues emphasized the importance of coordinated, strategic and equity-focused action in order to manage extreme heat.
Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville was mentioned in a Smart Cities Dive article about New York City’s plans to implement congestion pricing. Vehicles entering designated downtown areas will pay a congestion fee on a once-a-day basis in order to reduce traffic. New York is currently holding public meetings to discuss the congestion pricing plan, and there will be a 16-month environmental assessment before it can go into effect. Despite local opposition, congestion pricing policies have proven to reduce traffic in other cities, including London, Stockholm and Singapore. “Empirically, from almost any place where we see congestion pricing, it increases transit ridership,” Manville said. Proponents of the congestion pricing plan hope to see increased use of public transit, better traffic flow and reduced air pollution with the new policy. Furthermore, revenue from the congestion fees will be used to fund transit projects throughout the city.
Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to KCRW’s “Greater LA” about the future of traffic in Los Angeles and the prospect of flying cars as a solution. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s interest in flying cars resulted in the creation of the Urban Air Mobility Partnership, which aims to release low-noise, electric aircraft by 2023. However, Manville expressed skepticism about the logistics of this new technology. “It’s just the beauty of technology that doesn’t exist yet. … You can say anything about it, right? It’s, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s gonna be affordable, and we’re gonna have this many vehicles in seven years,’” Manville said. “It just doesn’t work that way.” Manville was also featured in another “Greater LA” episode focusing on the cinematic inspiration for flying cars, from “The Jetsons” to “Blade Runner.” “If someone says, ‘We want to have less congestion and make it easier to move around,’ flying cars are a silly way to accomplish that,” Manville said.
The prize will allow UCLA researchers to begin a one-year pilot program that they hope will help establish the plan as a lasting part of the Los Angeles commuting landscape.
The Civic Bicycle Commuting team, or CiBiC, was one of 17 groups chosen to receive awards of up to $1 million in the NSF’s Civic Innovation Challenge — and one of just six in the competition’s mobility track, which invited plans to improve urban transit while considering disparities between housing affordability and jobs.
Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris is one of three co-leaders of the UCLA project, which will take aim at the daily commute in Los Angeles by creating bicycle “flows” that produce real-time digital art exhibitions throughout the city. The planners are creating a smartphone app that would not only organize riders into groups, but also would encourage inexperienced cyclists to participate by suggesting routes that are optimized for enjoyability and safety over efficiency or speed, and would enable all participants to share their experiences.
“Our team is honored by this investment on our interdisciplinary, community-driven, art-based solution to the challenges of commuting in Los Angeles, making our city more sustainable and a better place to live,” said Fabian Wagmister, the project’s principal investigator and the founding director of the UCLA Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance, known as UCLA REMAP. “We look forward to collaborating with our community partners and taking this from concept to reality.”
In addition to Loukaitou-Sideris and Wagmister, CiBiC is co-led by Jeff Burke, co-director of REMAP and a UCLA professor in-residence of theater. Their mission was to create a ready-to-implement project that would address local sustainability challenges while minding inequality gaps. The project also is aligned with the goals of the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, a campuswide initiative to help transform Los Angeles into the world’s most sustainable megacity by 2050.
During CiBiC’s pilot phase, it will focus on working with communities in Northeast Downtown Los Angeles that are most in need of better bicycling transportation options, including Chinatown, Solano Canyon, Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and the William Mead Homes. The project leaders intend to gather input from community members as they finalize plans for the pilot phase.
CiBiC’s community partners include Los Angeles Metro, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Los Angeles River State Park Partners; the team also is working with industry partners RideAmigos, Sorkhabi and SudoMagic, and Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight.
Prospective MURP and PhD students learn about the program and application process, visit courses, hear from a student panel, and tour the building/campus. The event culminates with an evening reception with faculty and students.
12:00pm | Registration and Lunch
12:30pm | Program & Application Process Overview
2:00pm | Course Visit
3:30pm | Campus Tour
5:00pm | Student Panel
6:00pm | Reception with Faculty
8:00pm | Closing
12:00pm | Registration and Lunch
12:30pm | Program & Application Process Overview
2:30pm | Student Research Forum
4:30pm | Student Panel
5:30pm | Building Tour
6:00pm | Reception with Faculty
8:00pm | Closing
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Intended for prospective MURP students: Hear from a panel of current students, get a comprehensive overview of the program, and learn the ins and outs of the application process. A light dinner will be served.
6:00pm | Registration and Light Dinner
6:30pm | Program & Application Process Overview
7:30pm | Student Panel
8:00pm | Closing
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