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.
By Jonathan Van Dyke
A UCLA project intended to make cycling to work safer and more accessible — in part by using digital art and the spirit of community — has earned a $1 million award in a competition backed by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.
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.
Brian Taylor, director of UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies, spoke to Vox about how to end the American obsession with driving. The transportation sector is one of the biggest sources of pollution, but many U.S. cities are built for drivers. Taylor explained that parking is often capitalized into the costs of the goods you buy, as opposed to selling parking spaces at their true value. “The default is that the storage of private vehicles tends to get priority if you look at how we’ve allocated curb space, and that creates all sorts of problems,” said Taylor, a professor of urban planning and public policy. To disincentivize street parking, Taylor suggested that municipalities raise the price at meters, manage curbs differently or remove parking altogether in some areas, allowing only for loading, unloading, and scooter and bike traffic. He imagined a future where drivers are more responsible for these costs and are more judicious of their car use.
Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner spoke to the Guardian about the role of air conditioning and shade as a response to climate change. As temperatures rise, new technologies are emerging as an alternative to air conditioning, which itself is a contributor to the climate crisis. It’s necessary to tackle the fundamental problems that make cities hotter, said Turner, but in the meantime, “we will need some air conditioning because [without it], you can’t get your core temperature cool enough if you’re exposed to really extreme heat.” Air conditioning is especially important for vulnerable populations including outdoor agricultural and construction laborers, children, elderly people and low-income renters, said Turner, who is co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. She added, “If you want to cool people, you have to provide shade” to protect people’s bodies from the direct heat of the sun.
Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to Curbed about New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s efforts to implement congestion pricing. By charging drivers to access Manhattan’s central business district, the congestion pricing system would feed $1 billion in annual revenue to the MTA, which could use the funds for improvements such as increasing bus and bike lanes and widening sidewalks. According to Manville, “Congestion is stopping us from making it a better kind of city for the vast majority of New Yorkers who almost never drive.” He also stressed the importance of creating a universal basic income system for eligible households in the region to ensure that the congestion pricing system is equitable. And he argued that “congestion pricing is actually great for drivers,” noting that the data collected can be used to improve the planning and pricing of parking. “People always want to overlook how much better [congestion pricing] can make driving,” he concluded.
Sorry, no posts matched your criteria