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Manville on Proposed Per-Mile Driver Fees

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville was mentioned in a San Diego Union-Tribune article about the city’s proposed road fee, which would charge drivers a set price for every mile traveled. The road charge would help pay for San Diego’s $160-billion proposal to expand rail, bus and other transportation services throughout the region. It would also help replace the revenue from the current gas tax as fossil fuels are phased out in efforts to combat climate change. “The gas tax, regardless of how much revenue it raises, is in fact a climate tax, a carbon tax,” Manville explained. “We probably shouldn’t just throw that out the window.” A statewide pilot program is also testing the road charge strategy. Experts are debating whether to adopt a flat per-mile fee or charge more to drivers with less fuel-efficient vehicles. While the second option would be more complicated, it would incentivize drivers to adopt cleaner vehicles.


It’s Time to Protect Cities From Extreme Heat, Turner Writes

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner wrote a Next City op-ed about the need for federal regulations to address extreme heat in urban areas. The urban heat island effect makes cities warmer than surrounding rural areas by up to 22 degrees. “Cities are hotter because of how we build them, and they can be cooler if we build them differently,” she explained. Heat waves have become more frequent and severe, and Turner noted that they disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color and reduce educational achievement for Black and Hispanic students. Turner proposed a Cool Communities Act that would regulate the production of urban heat by setting standards for building materials and rules for land use. For example, cool roofs that reflect sunlight instead of absorbing it can be up to 50 degrees cooler than standard roofs. “We may not be able to change the weather,” Turner wrote. “But we can turn down the heat through sensible cool communities standards.”


Schwarz on Disproportionate Impact of Heat Islands

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Kirsten Schwarz was featured in a Pasadena Star-News article about her work on urban heat islands and public policy. Asphalt and concrete structures in urban areas absorb and radiate more heat than less developed and better landscaped areas with more shade and greenery. Schwarz, part of a UCLA team awarded $956,000 to research heat solutions in Los Angeles, explained that racially motivated policies established in the past impact how people today experience the same weather differently. “There is an uneven distribution of trees across the city, and that can result in an uneven distribution of heat across the city as well,” Schwarz said. “Areas that have uneven impacts are low-income areas and areas of long-term disinvestment.” According to Schwarz, formerly redlined areas are hotter due to less municipal investment in planted streetscapes and parks. She said an interdisciplinary approach is key to understanding and addressing extreme heat in Los Angeles.


Taylor Emphasizes Need to Improve Transit Service

UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies Director Brian Taylor was featured in a Los Angeles Times commentary about plans to revive transit ridership in Los Angeles by dropping fares. LA Metro approved a pilot program eliminating fares for students and low-income riders. Metro relies on riders for only 5% of its revenue, with the majority of revenue coming from sales taxes in Los Angeles. However, some riders are still concerned about the speed, reliability and accessibility of public transit services. According to Taylor, Metro’s data-based improvements to its bus routes are a promising way to revive ridership by reallocating service. Increased service frequency, decreased wait times, and investments in lighting, added shelter and other safety measures at bus stops could attract more ridership than free fares, he said. Taylor pointed out that riders, even those with low incomes, are more sensitive to changes in service than changes in price.


Commencement Events Bring Class of ’21 Together

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

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

 

UCLA Luskin Commencement 2021


 

Wachs, ITS Honored with APA Planning Awards

The American Planning Association’s Los Angeles section bestowed multiple awards on the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin and also honored the late Martin Wachs, professor emeritus of urban planning. Wachs, who passed away unexpectedly in April 2021, received the Planning Pioneer Award for his lifelong work as a renowned transportation scholar. The Institute of Transportation Studies won the following honors:

The American Planning Association is a national organization that aims to unite leaders and professionals across the field of planning. Every year, the organization’s Los Angeles section recognizes the outstanding work, best practices and thought leaders that impact the built and natural environment in Los Angeles County.— Zoe Day


City Zoning Requirements Should Be Transparent, Manville Writes

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville wrote a Planetizen article about the nuances of city zoning requirements and the consequences for planning and development. Los Angeles has strict rules for land development and zoning, but they are often used as negotiating leverage. Developers are able to bargain with the city over parking and building height requirements by offering to contribute subsidized housing and building green spaces. “A zoning bylaw that contains onerous and unnecessary regulations might be good for bargaining, but it isn’t a good zoning bylaw,” Manville wrote. “Selectively enforcing rules can give officials more power to accomplish short-term goals, but it risks a long-term consequence of eroding faith in the rules themselves.” Furthermore, selective zoning can lead to corruption when rules are not universally enforced. Manville concluded that zoning should be transparent and that “our goal should be good policies that yield good outcomes.”


Millard-Ball Examines High Cost of Wide Streets

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Adam Millard-Ball spoke to Bloomberg CityLab about his research on the land value of streets in the United States. Millard-Ball calculated the widths, land areas and land value of streets in 20 different counties in the U.S., and he found that streets averaged 55 feet wide, even in residential areas with low traffic. Streets are much wider in the United States than in other parts of the world. In the counties he surveyed, Millard-Ball found that streets took up 18% of the total land area. He said cities could use some of the land currently allocated to streets for bike lanes, transit, green spaces or housing. He also noted that decreasing standard street sizes could help reduce housing development costs. “People are already using streets for housing, just not in a sanctioned way,” he said. “Why do we rule out 20% of a city’s land and declare it off limits for that?”


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

By Stan Paul

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

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

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

About Ong’s award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Shoup’s award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monkkonen Analyzes San Diego Housing Plans

Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen was mentioned in a San Diego Union-Tribune opinion piece about the need to enforce housing regulations in San Diego. Every eight years, California cities are required to adopt a state-approved plan that includes rules about regional housing targets, sanctions and zoning restrictions. San Diego is currently out of compliance, but it is unclear how California’s Department of Housing and Community Development will enforce the rules. State law says that cities that lack a compliant housing plan forfeit authority to deny or downsize affordable housing projects. Monkkonen and his students studied San Diego’s housing plan and identified grave shortcomings. For example, they found that 65% of the sites San Diego identified for low-income and multifamily housing are located in the poorest third of the city’s neighborhoods, and the plan fails to open up neighborhoods reserved for single-family homes to multifamily housing.