Paul Ong, PhD | Urban Planning, Social Welfare, and Asian American Studies



hopefully everybody's food comas have dissipated by now as Christina mentioned my name is Tim cow hard I'm the executive director of the UCLA Xiamen center for real estate we are a multidisciplinary joint research center of the business school in the law school so it's not frequently that I'm down on this part of campus with all the smart people but very happy to be here I have the pleasure of introducing our speakers the first speaker is first speaker is Paul long happy pleased to say that we've had a long-standing relationship at the sime Center with Paul he's one of our affiliated faculty and we've funded some of his work and it's been a great collaboration so dr. Paul is a PhD he's a research professor at UCLA School of Public Affairs and director of the Center for neighborhood knowledge he has a professional degree in planning and a PhD in economics his research focuses on the urban spacial structural and inequality he has served on advisory committees for the census the environmental justice committee at the Southern California Air Quality Management District and various asian-american advocacy organizations so with that I would like to introduce my good friend long okay good afternoon afternoon are you guys still awake it's been a long day but a very exciting day I have really enjoyed this because I'm learning a lot so let's get into my presentation but first I want to put it in a broader context I'm usually labeled mr. doom and gloom and that's because my research on equality quite often points to not happy news but so let me try it off in a positive way and I am very happy that we reside in California because it's on the progressive edge about how are we gonna dress climate change in the bio oil crisis and what we're seeing coming out of California is an effort to move into a new urban development regime one that is much more sustainable and one of the challenges during this transition is how do we maintain and assure equity as we move from one stage to another stage in terms of how we live the city and the built environment within which we live and I want to sort of dress that larger issue through the lens of gentrification I was telling my staff that I already heard much discussion about gentrification and that's great my punchline was could be since it's discussed I have nothing more to say I am happy afternoon but I think I have a few things to say gentrification simplification is that it is neighborhood upscaling with the unfortunate potential of displacement and dislocation established stakeholders particularly disadvantaged people so that's sort of the broad definition of it another way you can look at gentrification it's it's a amazing phenomenon that's happening but it is also one that tells us of the struggle or place in space that we see in our cities oh I want to put gentrification in a start-up in a broader context now and the to broader context one is that as you all probably heard this country and globally were facing a inequality crisis in this country we're reaching levels of income and wealth inequality that we haven't seen for probably a half of a century and it is happening in the US and here in Los Angeles is far worse and those are just some statistics that I put up there and one way you could think about it is looking at how the population through households are distributed here we have to graph one in 1990 and one using 2015 American Community Survey data and what you see is several things one is a push of the population towards the bottom end so if you take for example the far left part of the x-axis compared the proportion of households that were at the very low end in 1990 to 2015 a remarkable shift towards the bottom and you see also a shift at the top end at the very top end and the middle hasn't collapsed completely yet but certainly it is not where it used to be overall if you disagree the numbers slightly differently what we know is the top quintile the top fifth been gaining and the bottom forces have been losing during this last quarter century and this is compounded by a housing crisis that we have here in Los Angeles and here again we just compare to this mutant of housing units by monthly rent in constant dollars and it's simple the simple summary is that the number of affordable units been decreasing and the number of units that are very high-priced but increasing early dramatically and that's due in part to a deficit in construction of housing units here in Los Angeles and the graph on the left does it by decade the grapnel right explodes the last three decades in terms of the patterns of construction and a number of factors have driven this decline in housing production and at the root of it this for me is Mb ISM that is the drive here in Los Angeles essentially to stop new construction not in my backyard a matter of fact if you look for the last quarter century the amount of allowable construction has collapsed essentially to zero or very near zero because of down zoning down zoning is where a group of neighbors get together and say we don't want multifamily housing here down zone it to single-family housing we have in Los Angeles two love affairs and clearly I mean I don't mean mice our spouses our significant others what we mean is we have and love affair and somebody you mention it to the car and that adds to sprawl we also have a love affair with a romantic image that despite the fact that we're a global city that were a huge urban an urbanized area you know what to be built on the single-family house on a parcel by itself and so we have worked herself into this housing crisis ah this is another graph because there's a debate now about not only how many units are built but where is it being built and for what sector and so this one takes data by year of construction and we break it up into three and this is for Los Angeles City and this is part of our other study we're doing on rent stabilization and it's a impact in terms of the rental market and essentially the three bars the blue the orange the grave the blue represents what we call units that are covered by rent stabilization the blue ones are units that were built before 2010 but not covered by rent stabilization and the gray bar are those noir most recent units built since 2010 and what is so remarkable here for me are several things one is axiom we were surprised that newer units non-artists old units at the bottom end hasn't really collapsed that much and I think it is due in part from the stroke of our friends and colleagues in the affordable housing sector that is pushing for additional tax incentive units through negotiation in terms of variance in exchange for affordable housing it's not what we want it to be but it hasn't collapsed completely and to me it speaks to the power of intervention I'll get back to that where it's remarkable it's at the very top end so you look at those three bars and it's just astonishing particularly when we look at the construction over the last few years where it has shifted to the top end where the one of the crisis is part of the crisis is in the middle for the working class for those who are in the middle class in terms of affordable rental units so the move toward sustainable development compounded by income inequality and our housing crisis is manifested spatially and one way of representing that is looking at this map and it has a couple of things on this it shows where our rail system is going it also shows where which neighborhoods been gentrifying over the last two decades or so and what you see there is some rough correlation between where we're investing in rail and the stations are where the stops are and neighborhood change that we identified with gentrification let me skip ahead so will we do the detailed analysis of this is that china descend that pattern is not simple but what we know is that it's not a simple causality that there are many other changes that are occurring with transit development that even after but after even count for other factors what we know is the probability of gentrification is higher in transit areas and we also know that those are the areas because they're gentrifying there has been adverse impact on the disadvantaged populations and on affordable housing units in those neighborhoods and we also believe since we as a public through the state been pushing the new regime that they ought to be a social responsibility of addressing this inequality another way of thinking about this is this is from our a new project that we're working on called NCI – old 2.0 a neighborhood change indicator and it's similar to what I showed you in terms of gentrification map but we also map both neighborhoods are upscaling as well as neighborhoods that are declining in terms of a number of indicators income education investments in homes and clearly you see a pattern there that's really if you go back to the previous squad that lots of the changes that are happening around the downtown areas these only show the disadvantaged neighborhood so we didn't show all neighborhood so I'm emphasizing the disadvantaged neighborhood but another interpretation I think it's equally important in this map it says shows two things that is neighborhood change is a two-edged sword one is the areas that are blue are going through gentrification and we do know and then we still have to do the work that it is associated with displacement and that's bad the areas that are cursive red are actually declining neighborhoods these are areas that in this transformation of the economy of growing inequality these are the neighborhoods that's taking the brunt of that economic transformation and the reason it's a two-edged sword is that if a neighborhood is improving the Oder stakeholders can't take advantage of it if we don't address the economic decline the stakeholders who are trapped there also face economic hardship so neighborhood change is bringing about this or a double-edged sword in terms of what's happening in neighborhoods let me now just okay so that's just the lay of the land in terms of our research and it's not necess picture I think what we need to think about is that we avoid this trap this double edged trap through conscious intervention and action and I just there's a number of ways you could do it but I want to just talk about it in terms of legislation in part because I think have the right policy context is critical for example in terms of assisting all those wonderful recommendations we heard earlier that is view working in the neighborhood you're working on parks you're working on health issues and clinics and so forth what helps that local struggle is a policy context that's supportive so I think we need to work at multiple levels we need to work at the legislative policy level we need to work on the ground but I want to focus here on the sort of policy level VR legislation and again what I said at the very beginning we're fortunate here in California because we're being very innovative both in terms of addressing environmental crisis and climate change but also being very conscious about how do we insert equity into that effort and so here are three pieces of legislation to which been enacted SB 375 this is the one that link our efforts to deal with greenhouse gases through land-use development that is how do we direct new development in a direction that minimizes travel that gives better accessibility that's greener and that could think about SB 375 it don't really address the larger urban development issues but it also incorporates into it the goal of ensuring equity in terms of who's the benefit as we try to move land-use patterns and urban development tour sustainability SB 3 535 even more explicit it mandates that a fixed proportion of the revenues would get from cap-and-trade I know that self is very controversial there are proponents and opponents to it but given the fact that we have it SB 535 mandates that a significant proportion of it be used to dress the problems of disadvantaged community community that vulnerable to climate change there is a current bill right now SB 827 and you know that we as faculty members being a member of the theme institution we cannot advocate okay I want to be objective about this the good thing about SB 827 is it addresses some of the fundamental barriers to the housing market around transit areas and mainly one of the goal is to relax local restrictions on density and also to provide some incentives to developers for affordable housing units in a negotiated fashion plus provide protection to residents who are raised there so for a number of people this touches on some of the key ways we need to think about how do we proceed but that being said it is a controversial piece of proposed legislation it has a very currently it's hotly debated and it has a very curious political configuration let me just turn my page to make sure I get it right so on once on one side you have predominantly mainstream liberals I include myself at the mainstream liberal aa and academics who have said publicly this is good because it's pushing the envelope there's pushing the envelope in terms of dealing with the chokehold on development it's good because I think food's actually more protections for renters then that exists currently ah and it's good because you know it is mine for the fact that we need to think about for the housing so you have on one side sort of liberal academics we also have developers there's a big potential a big win right and then we have another side a unusual configuration of local governments because this legislation takes the power of local government to control land use away from them and people will power tend to be reticent about giving up power we have NIMBYism groups who don't like this because it's not what they want to see in terms of maintaining the lifestyle they're used to I already told you about our to love affairs uh and then here's also organizations such as saira Club which is sort of strange because they're fearful of the one before the NIMBYism groups not because they're opposed to the legislation but because they see if you'd let the transit station come in it opens the door to this legislation so they're fearful in those groups would stop future transit so they're opposed to the legislation and then we have a number of community based organizations former housing groups or holes in this legislation because in their opinion it hasn't gone far enough ah I'm not sure how this is going to be resolved because I think we need to move our progress farther along these issues but the good thing is that this legislation opens up the discourse about where we want to go how do we want to reconfigure and reconstruct our cities how do we do it in a way being mindful that benefits should be fairly distributed how do we do it in a way that hears people a meaningful voice in the process and decision making and so I understand the conflict that's coming out of the discussion of this emerges Latian I think as if most you guys know in the political arena yeah you always debate about legislation but I think it's a great debate I think it's one hopefully that if we carry out in a conscious fashion it provides a guide for us what the future would be so that's my talk and thank you for listening [Applause]

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