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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Institute of Urban and Regional Development, a campuswide organized research unit, conducts collaborative, interdisciplinary research and practical work that helps scholars and students understand the dynamics of communities, cities and regions while informing public policy at the local, state and national levels.

The Institute provides a research home and support to individual faculty and graduate students who initiate their own projects or collaborate on multidisciplinary programs. The Institute's Community Partnerships Office comprises a significant institutional program of partnership with communities and public and nonprofit agencies in the Bay Area to assist them with research, evaluations, conferences, workshops, internships and innovative planning and design.

Cover page of Street-facing Dwelling Units and Livability: The Impacts of Emerging Building Types in Vancouver's New High-density Residential Neighbourhoods

Street-facing Dwelling Units and Livability: The Impacts of Emerging Building Types in Vancouver's New High-density Residential Neighbourhoods


The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, is building new high-density residential neighborhoods around its downtown. Working within the context of large-scale corporate development projects, public sector planners are proactively shaping development to be dense but also conform to notions of livability that derive from traditional urbanism, such as ‘eyes on the street’ and pedestrian scale. Design guidelines have resulted in new building types that integrate ground-floor townhouses into very large buildings. This study analyzed how the new embedded townhouse forms are contributing to life on the street and neighborhood livability, using environmental measurements, behavior observations, and surveys. The findings conclude that the embedded townhouses do contribute to livability, although other aspects of the building types and neighborhoods may pose concerns.

Cover page of Reframing Public Participation: Strategies for the 21st Century

Reframing Public Participation: Strategies for the 21st Century


This article makes the case that legally required participation methods in the US not only do not meet most basic goals for public participation, but they are also counterproductive, causing anger and mistrust. Both theory and practice are dominated by ambivalence about the idea of participation itself. Both struggle with dilemmas that make the problems seem insoluble, such as the conflict between the individual and collective interest or between the ideal of democracy and the reality that many voices are never heard. Cases are used to draw on an emerging set of practices of collaborative public engagement from around the world to demonstrate how alternative methods can better meet public participation goals and how they make moot most of the dilemmas of more conventional practice. Research shows that collaborative participation can solve complex, contentious problems such as budget decision making and create an improved climate for future action when bitter disputes divide a community. Authentic dialogue, networks and institutional capacity are the key elements. The authors propose that participation should be understood as a multi-way set of interactions among citizens and other players who together produce outcomes. Next steps involve developing an alternative practice framework, creating forums and arenas, adapting agency decision processes, and providing training and financial support.

Cover page of Ten Steps to Housing Affordability in the East Bay and California

Ten Steps to Housing Affordability in the East Bay and California


Over seven weeks in the East Bay Business Times, the Work Force Housing Committee, sponsored by the Business Times, published its recommendations for alleviating the East Bay’s shortage of affordable housing. The committee’s members included many of the Bay Area’s top experts on housing policy. In the final installment of the series on March 5, 2004, the committee summarized its findings in 10 key recommendations. The committee determined that these steps would do the most to eliminate obstacles to the construction of affordable housing in the East Bay and throughout California. Also included in the report are the committee’s weekly commentaries exploring the origins and potential solutions to the housing affordability crisis.

Cover page of Consensus Building: Clarifications for the Critics

Consensus Building: Clarifications for the Critics


Many critiques of consensus building have been uninformed about the nature of this practice or the theory on which it was built, though there is extensive literature on both. It is grounded in the theory and practice of interest-based negotiation and mediation. It is not grounded in Habermas' concept of communicative rationality, though theorists have found useful illumination in his ideas. Claims are often made about pathologies of consensus building based on cases where the conditions for authentic dialogue recognized by both practitioners and theoreticians were not met. Documentation of cases shows that when these conditions are met, many desirable outcomes occur. The article examines the various critiques, including the claims that external power differentials are deterministic, that lowest common denominator solutions are the outcomes, that valuable tensions are lost in the process, and that agreements are fleeting at best. It shows how and why each of these is not borne out by experience. Consensus building is time consuming and requires skill and training. It is only appropriate in situations of uncertainty and controversy where all stakeholders have incentives to come to the table and mutual reciprocity in their interests.

Cover page of Raising the Roof: California Housing Development Projections and Constraints, 1997-2020

Raising the Roof: California Housing Development Projections and Constraints, 1997-2020


California will need an unprecedented amount of new housing construction -— more than 200,000 units per year through 2020 -- if it is to accommodate projected population and household growth and still be reasonably affordable. California will need more suburban housing, more infill housing, more ownership housing, more rental housing, more affordable housing, more senior housing, and more family housing. California will also need more diverse housing, and more diverse neighborhoods. California's high land and construction costs, coupled with the cumbersome and open-ended nature of the local entitlements process, have served to discourage innovative land planning, site design, and building design. While there are few intrinsic limitations to meeting California's future housing needs, the core of the existing housing production system is too fragmented and haphazard to produce the volume and quality of housing needed. This applies to the laws and procedures that govern housing development, the funding and lending programs, and the myriad public, private, and non-profit organizations that produce and operate housing in California. If indeed California is to remain a state where people from all backgrounds and walks of life are able to pursue the American dream of homeownership and secure housing tenure, then substantial investment and innovation in housing development policy, financing, and planning will be required.