Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, was featured on an episode of 89.3 KPCC’s “AirTalk” about the future of California housing policy. The state’s affordable housing crisis has increased the pressure for bills like SB50, which would increase the density of housing in single-family neighborhoods close to transit lines. The bill was shelved in the last legislative session, but a second iteration is returning with provisions that Yaroslavsky called “very minimal and cosmetic.” The need for affordable housing is dire, he said, but “there hasn’t been a thorough discussion about what the SB50 bill does.” According to Yaroslavsky, “New construction in California is not going to produce affordable housing — it produces high-end housing, market-rate housing.” He criticized SB50 for failing to “demand anything in return from the landowners” and suggested setting aside 40 to 50 percent of new units for affordable housing. “If you rezone all the single-family homes in California, you’re not creating more affordable housing but you are destroying communities,” Yaroslavsky said.
By George Foulsham
More than one-third of Los Angeles County residents are worried that they, a family member or a friend will be deported from the United States, and nearly half of county residents believe that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with a new federal health law would make their access to health care worse.
These two major findings highlight the 2017 UCLA Luskin Los Angeles County Quality of Life Index, a project of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in partnership with the California Endowment. The annual survey, which is in its second year, is based on interviews conducted with about 1,600 county residents from Feb. 28 to March 12, 2017.
The index is an annual survey of Los Angeles county residents that asks them questions to rate their quality of life in nine different categories. In addition to the categorized questions, the survey also asks specific standalone questions that relate to their quality of life. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.
In one noteworthy finding, 37 percent of county residents are worried about deportation from
the U.S., and more than half of them are very worried. Of respondents who expressed
deportation worries, an overwhelming 80 percent said that they, a friend or a family member
would be at greater risk of being deported by enrolling in a government health, education or
housing program. More than half of them are very worried.
“The level of anxiety over deportation among county residents is staggering,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative. “The national debate on immigration in
recent months has heavily impacted Los Angeles. The extraordinary number of people who now
fear engaging local government for services should be of concern to all of us.”
Those observations are reflected in follow-up interviews conducted by the Luskin School. A man
in his early 30s who lives in the San Fernando Valley and is half-Latino said he worried for his
girlfriend’s family, most of whom are in the country legally but one of whom is not. “I wouldn’t
even call the police,” he said.
These concerns are not limited to minority groups. Another respondent, a white woman in her
late 50s who lives in the South Bay, said she’s concerned about neighbors and others being
deported. “I hear from a lot of people who are afraid,” she said.
Significant findings on deportation worries include:
- Younger residents are more worried about deportation (50 percent between the ages of
18-39, compared to 25 percent of those over 50).
- Latinos, who make up 43 percent of the survey sample, are the most concerned about
deportation (56 percent) and nearly one-third of Asian residents are worried (31
- Lower-income residents are more likely to be worried (49 percent of those earning less
than $30,000 annually, compared to 30 percent of those earning over $120,000
- Residents born in another country (52 percent) are more worried, compared to U.S.-
born (30 percent). Twenty-nine percent of the survey sample are foreign born.
Nearly one-fifth of whites (19 percent) expressed concerns about deportation.
Nearly half of survey respondents said that repeal of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, would
make their access to quality medical care worse. Forty-eight percent of respondents said
replacing the ACA would worsen their access to care, while 14 percent said the repeal would
improve access. Thirty percent said it would make no difference. The survey was taken before
the Trump administration and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made the decision to withdraw
legislation that sought to repeal the ACA with the American Health Care Act.
Follow-up interviews bear out these findings. A young African-American man living in the San
Gabriel Valley thinks Obamacare could use some improvement, but “it’s better than what we
had.” He added that he had no confidence in the Trump/Ryan proposal to replace it.
Significant findings on the ACA’s repeal and replacement include:
- Younger residents are more likely to say that changes would negatively impact them (58
percent between the ages of 18-39, compared to 32 percent of those older than 50).
- Those with Medi-Cal or an ACA insurance policy are more likely to say changes would
negatively impact them (59 percent).
- A significant majority of African-Americans (63 percent) and Latinos (56 percent) say
changes would negatively impact them.
The gentrification of many Los Angeles County communities also is a cause for concern,
according to the survey. Fifty-five percent of those contacted said they have a negative reaction
to the displacement of their neighbors by those who are willing to pay more for housing. Only 19
percent viewed this as positive. And the number went up to 57 percent negative among those
who were asked about community-serving shops and stores being replaced by businesses willing
to pay higher rents.
Sixty-five percent of Latinos and African-Americans viewed gentrification as negative, compared
to 43 percent of whites and 38 percent of Asians. Geographically, 68 percent of residents of
Central Los Angeles viewed gentrification negatively.
Interestingly, the QLI’s overall satisfaction score of 59 remained the same as last year, though
there were some shifts within various categories. The score remained slightly above the
midpoint of 55 (on a scale of 10-100). Overall satisfaction, according to the QLI, depends a lot on
one’s age. Those in the 18-29 age group had a satisfaction score of 53, at the low end of the scale,
while those who are 75 and older had the highest satisfaction score, 67.
That’s true throughout the survey, with younger residents the least satisfied overall in many
categories, including the cost of housing, educational opportunities and the fairness of the local
Other highlights from the index:
- Transportation and traffic scores are lower this year, driven in part by the condition of
streets and the length of commutes.
- Satisfaction with the cost of living, especially as it relates to housing, also declined from
last year, from 51 to 47. That was true among residents from all income groups. Nearly
half of the respondents (48 percent) said that what they paid for housing was the most
important factor in their rating of the cost of living category.
- The scores for education also dropped slightly from 2016, with respondents expressing
lower satisfaction with the overall quality of K-12 public education and the training
children and young adults receive for jobs of the future.
- The most positive score in the QLI was in race relations. Overall satisfaction in relations
among different ethnic and racial groups rose to 79, compared to 76 last year.
Asked to rank the overall impact that immigrants are having on this region, the
satisfaction rating was four points higher than last year, at 69.
- Satisfaction with neighborhood quality was also high — and unchanged from last year, at
75. Homeowners are more satisfied with their neighborhoods than are renters.
Health care continues to have a relatively high level of satisfaction, though those under
age 39 are less satisfied than those over 50.
- Other categories showing slight improvement included the environment, jobs and the
“Overall, county residents generally feel positive about their quality of life, the communities in
which they live and their relations with one another,” Yaroslavsky said. “However, it is troubling
that younger people, who should have so much to look forward to, often feel most pessimistic,
especially when it comes to the excruciatingly high cost of housing.”
The QLI was prepared in partnership with the public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin,
Maullin, Metz & Associates.
Download the 2017 QLI (PDF)
Review the data (PDF)
Summary Narrative (PDF)
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.
“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.”
By Cynthia Lee
UCLA has launched a new magazine that aims to inform ongoing conversations on major public policy issues facing Los Angeles and California, serve as a public resource and highlight relevant campus research.
UCLA Blueprint — written and edited by veteran journalists and astute observers of local and state government — debuted this week with an issue focused on public safety and criminal justice. The magazine is a partnership between the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA External Affairs, whose public outreach programs facilitate the campus’s role in addressing societal challenges.
At a Wednesday night event marking the magazine’s inaugural issue, Chancellor Gene Block said civic engagement has been one of his top priorities since the beginning of his administration. “UCLA engages with the greater Los Angeles community in myriad ways. And I am delighted to say that the launch of UCLA Blueprint is very much in keeping with our ongoing civic engagement efforts…. It’s dazzling in every way.”
About 125 guests attended the event at the Chancellor’s Residence, including community and business leaders, UCLA administrators and faculty, journalists and government officials. Among them were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former California Gov. Gray Davis, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, City Controller Ron Galperin and Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Paul Krekorian and Bernard Parks.
The event featured a wide-ranging conversation between Garcetti and Blueprint Editor-in-Chief Jim Newton, covering crime, the mayor’s extensive use of real-time data and metrics to monitor the pulse of the city, Los Angeles’ booming tech sector, the recent minimum-wage increase and other topics in the news.
Newton is a former Los Angeles Times writer and editor of 25 years, the author of biographies on Earl Warren and Dwight Eisenhower, and a co-author of a memoir with Leon Panetta. He said before the event that the magazine is intended to strengthen UCLA’s ties to civic life and share faculty expertise in a way that serves the greater good.
“Much of the work of city, county and state government in California is now done without the benefit of serious research,” said Newton, a senior fellow at the Luskin School and lecturer in communication studies, where he teaches courses on journalism ethics and writing. “Largely, that’s a product of budgets — governments just don’t have the kind of research capacity they used to have. By bringing UCLA research to the attention of policymakers, better policy can be made.”
In the editor’s note in the first issue, Newton wrote that he spent more than two decades “watching sausage being made in city, county and state government (and occasionally the school board), often baffled by the basis for decisions. Why doesn’t the subway go to the airport? Why does the region capture so little rainwater? Why do some drug offenders spend more time in prison than those convicted of violent crimes? The poison in each case is politics. The antidote is research.”
Newton emphasized before Wednesday’s event that Blueprint is not an academic journal. “We’re striving to make it serious and journalistic, a general-interest magazine that’s accessible to people beyond the core policy community,” he said. “This is a region that is famously disengaged on matters of serious government policy, and this magazine is intended to draw people into those conversations and give them the information they need to help them participate.”
Replete with bold, attention-getting graphics, the first issue of Blueprint takes a sweeping look at criminal justice and public safety from a variety of entry points. Beck, the LAPD’s top cop, talks about how policing has changed. UCLA Luskin researcher Michael Stoll reveals what’s behind the surge in the U.S. prison population. UCLA psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff explains how he measures hidden racial bias in law enforcement. And in a Q&A, California Attorney General Kamala Harris talks about the biggest challenge she has faced in fixing the state criminal justice system.
There’s also a profile of a community activist whose call for reform of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been transformed into a rallying cry among protesters nationwide — “Black lives matter.”
Newton said the debut issue addresses criminal justice and public safety because police use of force is increasingly in the headlines and because the topics are familiar to him — he covered the LAPD as a reporter for five years.
In the discussion Wednesday, Garcetti reflected on the recent unrest in Baltimore and L.A.’s own problems.
“We had Rodney King.… We had the consent decree. We had Ramparts,” he said. “It is through the trauma that we went through that Los Angeles is a more resilient city and [has] a more resilient [police] department.… What a police chief says, what a mayor does, who we collectively are as a city in moments of potential trauma is, first and foremost, what good policing — good public safety — is all about.”
Blueprint’s second issue, due out this fall, will focus on economic and social inequality and include an interview with Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a Columbia University economist and respected author. Newton said he hopes the magazine will grow into a quarterly publication, and he plans to hold public events to extend the discourse around each new issue.
“Not only are we trying to create a conversation online and in print,” Newton said, “but a literal conversation where we will gather together policymakers, journalists, academics and other thoughtful people and hope that they learn from each other.”
In honor of Gov. Michael Dukakis’ 20th year teaching at UCLA, faculty, students and friends of the School joined together for a luncheon in support of the Michael S. Dukakis Internship program.
The setting was a picturesque private home near the Getty Center.
Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., and School benefactor Meyer Luskin welcomed guests to the event.
Attending were Jill Black Zalben, Joan Ashton, Stanley Black, Marvin Caesar and Dean Gilliam.
UCLA Luskin board member Annette Shapiro and Joyce Brandman spoke with Luskin.
Murray Pepper and UCLA Luskin board member Vicki Reynolds talked with Pat Shoup and Professor Donald Shoup.
Jill Black Zalben, former L.A. Controller Wendy Greuel and Christine Essel, president of Southern California Grantmakers, enjoyed the afternoon.
Former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Professor Martin Wachs, Meyer Luskin, Professor Donald Shoup and Bob Wilson took in the view.
California Assembly members Jimmy Gomez and Matt Dababneh mugged for the camera.
Frank Lopez MPP ’10, KCRW host Steve Chiotakis and Melissa Peraza.
Christine and Jordan Kaplan chatted with Renee Luskin.
Public Policy student and Dukakis Internship recipient Nelson Esparza spoke with Veronica Melvin MPP ’01 and Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey MPP ’99.