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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Ralph and Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies was established to promote the study, understanding and solution of regional policy issues, with special reference to Southern California. Areas of study include problems of the environment, urban design, housing, community and neighborhood dynamics, transportation and local economic development. The Center was founded in 1988 with a $5 million endowment from Ralph and Goldy Lewis. In addition to income from the Lewis Endowment, the Center is supported by private and corporate foundation gifts and grants, individual donors, and research grants from a variety of governmental agencies. The Center sponsors a lecture/seminar series, as well as workshops and conferences focusing on Southern California, in an effort to build bridges to the local community.

Some working papers are not available electronically but a link is provided to the Lewis Center website for ordering instructions. (

Cover page of Turning Down the Heat: Addressing Heat Inequities of Frontline Communities in Los Angeles 

Turning Down the Heat: Addressing Heat Inequities of Frontline Communities in Los Angeles 


Los Angeles has been rated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the city facing the highest risk of natural hazards in the near future. In particular, Los Angeles is vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of climate change-induced extreme heat. Communities of color and low-income households face the greatest risk from extreme heat due to unjust policies like redlining, which have today led to the inequitable distribution of the resources necessary for communities to protect themselves against extreme heat.This report uses existing research and municipal climate plans, a geospatial analysis, interviews with subject matter experts, community focus groups, and an online community survey to assess how the City of Los Angeles can better build equitable heat policy and long-term resilience among the most impacted and vulnerable communities.In this report, we assess nine policy options based on their alignment with community preferences, their effectiveness at improving the health outcomes of frontline communities, whether they target an equitable redistribution of heat adaptation resources distribution and their financial and administrative feasibility for implementation by the City of Los Angeles.Based on this analysis, we recommend that the City of Los Angeles immediately expand access to green space in frontline neighborhoods, increase available at-home heat adaptation resources for frontline communities, equitably distribute pedestrian shade structures and water access in frontline communities, and improve the accessibility of communications about available heat adaptation resources. We also recommend the implementation of community ambassador programs, more accessible heat workplace trainings, and the expansion of the resilience center network after measures are put in place to improve their desirability to frontline community members. In addition, this report provides meaningful steps which the City of Los Angeles can take to implement or improve upon equity within existing policies and programs.

Cover page of Bus Shelter Equity: A study of the distribution of bus shelters in Los Angeles County and unincorporated communities 

Bus Shelter Equity: A study of the distribution of bus shelters in Los Angeles County and unincorporated communities 


This research project analyzes the distribution of bus shelters at Los Angeles Metro bus stops and the process for funding, building and maintaining bus shelters in unincorporated areas. The study employs quantitative methods using data from Metro, the County, and other publicly available data to measure distribution along three geographies (Supervisorial Districts, unincorporated areas, and Supervisorial District 2), and four equity measures to characterize neighborhoods with unsheltered bus stops (heat exposure, access to shade, wait time, and socio-economic and transit-related conditions). The study also uses qualitative methods to examine Public Works’ process for implementing bus shelters in unincorporated areas. The analysis shows that Supervisorial District 2 has the greatest bus shelter need compared to other County districts. In addition, Public Works is at a critical moment for bus shelter development in unincorporated Los Angeles County as it seeks to replace all ad-shelters and to engage with a new vendor. Public Works has an opportunity to improve data collection for evaluating past and future bus shelter siting along lines of equity.

Cover page of Center of a Tension: An Analysis of Center Turn Lanes

Center of a Tension: An Analysis of Center Turn Lanes


Removing a center turn lane from a three-lane road does not appear to interfere with safety goals. In fact, in some cases, it appears it may improve safety. I compared streets with a center turn lane to those that once had a center turn lane, but later removed it. The streets that once had center turn lanes — but later removed them in favor of treatments such as bike lanes — registered an average of 42% fewer crashes per million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) than the comparison streets with center turn lanes. Furthermore, the additional safety benefits held up when measuring across a selection of sub-crash groups, such as fatal and severe crashes and pedestrian and bicycle collisions. While a before-and-after analysis suggested that part of this effect can be attributed to lower crash densities on our treatment streets, this did not invalidate the fact that these streets still observed absolute reductions in crash rates after the removal of a center turn lane, suggesting that center turn lane removal can coexist with safety objectives.

Cover page of EVSE Worker Co-Operative in Crenshaw: A Feasibility Study

EVSE Worker Co-Operative in Crenshaw: A Feasibility Study


This report was created to aid future business plans to build local Black-centered and -led cooperative businesses that will maintain sustainable growth, pay livable wages, and operate under eco-friendly standards. My client is Downtown Crenshaw Rising (DCR) and Worker Ownership Resources and Cooperative Services (WORCS). My overall research question is: What is the feasibility of establishing and maintaining a manufacturing worker-owned cooperative in the Crenshaw District and South Los Angeles area?My client had an interest in producing electric vehicle charging stations because of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (2021) The federal goal is to create a network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030 across America’s highways and communities. Federal dollars are flowing to support its production, largely in California.My findings depicted that are three related primary barriers my client may face trying to open this cooperative. The first is the capital-intensive nature of the business. The second is the lack of experience in EVSE manufacturing within the Crenshaw community. The third is that this lack of experience reduces opportunities for alternative sources of capital. As of now, the feasibility of my client creating a manufacturing cooperative to produce electric vehicle charging stations is very low.With client interest, I gathered information to help understand the path to creating an electrician cooperative to install and fix stations. I researched a path acknowledging the skills needed, training options, and available funding in the industry. Opening an electrician cooperative is more feasible than manufacturing, especially when starting with licensed worker-owners.

Cover page of Building Small: Assessing Feasibility of 5-to-10 Unit Projects in California

Building Small: Assessing Feasibility of 5-to-10 Unit Projects in California


California is currently facing an affordable housing crisis, despite recent legislative efforts to spur housing development. Much of this shortage can be attributed to restrictive land use policies, such as zoning, that limit the amount of housing allowed. In 2021, Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) passed allowing for the development of up to four units on single-family zoned parcels. However, housing professionals and recent studies indicate that the rules of SB 9 do not allow for financially feasible development. This research explores whether larger developments, with 5-to-10 units, are more financially feasible on single-family zoned parcels in California and whether opportunities exist to improve the feasibility of small multi-family housing development. This research presents findings from semi-structured interviews with housing professionals and a financial analysis using a pro forma model for various 5-to-10-unit project scenarios. I find that limited financial feasibility exists for new 5-to-10-unit projects in primarily single-family zoned areas in San Francisco and Los Angeles under existing economic and design conditions. None of the modeled 5-unit projects would be financially feasible. Most 10-unit rental projects are not viable and would require reduced city fees, a partial property tax abatement, or a per-unit subsidy to be financially feasible and meet industry standard profit expectations in San Francisco or Los Angeles. I recommend several actions for the State and San Francisco Planning Department to consider, including increasing allowable density on single-family zoned lots in high-opportunity areas to 10 units, allowing single-stair/vertical shared access buildings, and revising local development design regulations.

Cover page of What's the Hub, Bub? A Post-Occupancy Evaluation of BruinHub

What's the Hub, Bub? A Post-Occupancy Evaluation of BruinHub


The goal of this study is to evaluate the BruinHub one year after its opening in Fall 2021. BruinHub is a space dedicated to serve long-distance commuter students at UCLA. Primary research questions for this project are:1. Does BruinHub serve the intended target audience of long-distance commuters, including commuters who experience some form of housing insecurity?2. What changes to the current and proposed BruinHub program(s) would further benefit the intended audience?For this study, I analyzed the BruinHub Passholder registration data, conducted one-on-one interviews with UCLA students and staff, and conducted on site observations in the BruinHub space.BruinHub is the first step in the right direction in addressing the needs of long-distance commuters. However, there are more improvements that can be implemented in order to reach its full potential, especially by prioritizing and directly serving its intended audience.Recommendations to come out of this study involve spatial recommendations, programming recommendations, and recommendations for outreach and data collection. While many of the suggested improvements will be challenging to implement, students and staff must actively advocate for the changes. The newly opened second location, BruinHub Strathmore, presents an opportunity to address many of the current concerns and service gaps that BruinHub experiences.

Cover page of Advancing Shade Equity for Unincorporated South Los Angeles Communities

Advancing Shade Equity for Unincorporated South Los Angeles Communities


The cooling and environmental benefits of an urban tree canopy are well-documented, but its full and balanced integration into urban infrastructure, and specifically so for climate vulnerable communities, has not always been achieved. This capstone project is prepared for the Office of Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, and seeks to better understand and respond to challenges of urban tree canopy implementation and management. The guiding research questions are: (1) What existing programs and design standards in other major urban US cities increase, maintain, and preserve urban tree canopy for climate vulnerable communities? (2) How can urban forest strategies also balance existing infrastructure needs? and (3) What best practices could be applied to unincorporated South LA for increased shade equity? This project drew on recent and relevant literature, scanned existing data on LA’s urban forestry practices, and studied eleven different US cities’ tree and/or built environment policies to summarize key lessons and develop preliminary recommendations using a socio-ecological model to comprehensively target multiple levels of intervention. Best practices were sorted into programming-based, policy-based, or design-based solutions, and the most relevant recommendations were categorized at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, community, and structural levels. Some examples include: offering rebates for lower-income residents wanting to plant and maintain a parkway tree, providing workforce development training to diversify urban forestry, creating sidewalk design guidelines that balance mobility and tree health, and preventing green gentrification.

Cover page of Understanding the Tech Equity Gap in Long Beach

Understanding the Tech Equity Gap in Long Beach


The research explores the technology workforce environment in Long Beach by examining disparities in employee representation and wages across demographic variables, namely race, ethnicity, and gender. Qualitative interviews conducted with stakeholders informed perceived challenges to nurturing equity in the Long Beach technology workforce, such as a lack of diversity in candidate pools, inadequate internal corporate education, and demographic disparities by position and salary.A quantitative analysis of racial, gender, and ethnic disparities in the representation and earnings of Long Beach’s resident technology workforce also revealed persistent trends. Representation, rather than wages, is the biggest contributor to gaps in gross earnings, women are the most underrepresented in the Long Beach resident technology workforce, and aerospace and healthcare are uniquely represented industries in the City. The combined research ultimately informed recommendations for different types of stakeholders. Corporate stakeholders can develop their own frameworks for equity, thoroughly train staff members and hiring managers on how to reach defined goals, conduct and publish metrics for public viewing to increase accountability, and focus on the hiring and retention of underrepresented groups especially in high-ranking, high-salaried roles. City and public sector agencies can use the traction gained by aerospace publicity to broaden the focus of their programs to additional technology industries and apply representation and wage data to steer funding. Ecosystem partners can focus on foundational youth education and partner early in a student’s academic career to successfully support the transition from the classroom to the workforce. Most importantly, all stakeholders can develop meaningful connections and relationships with community members to drive equity efforts.

Cover page of Inclusive Park Design for People of All Housing Statuses: Tools for Restoring Unhoused Individuals’ Rights in Public Parks 

Inclusive Park Design for People of All Housing Statuses: Tools for Restoring Unhoused Individuals’ Rights in Public Parks 


Increasingly hostile public space design has created parks that ostracize people experiencing homelessness. Hostile design not only excludes unhoused people from public space, but makes public environments less accessible for all. Inclusive design can be used to combat defensive architecture and build parks that are more valuable and accessible public assets. In order to combat hostile design, exclusionary park planning, and discrimination in public spaces, urban planners and designers must design parks to evoke a sense of ownership and belonging for all. I argue that planners and designers can restore unhoused individuals’ spatial rights to public parks by including them in the planning and engagement process, by programming parks with their needs in mind, and by designing park facilities to support this population. I began with a review of relevant planning literature to document the existing research on unhoused people’s use of public space. My research methodology includes three case studies of parks designed with and for unhoused park users: Folkets Park in Copenhagen, Woodruff Park in Atlanta, and Lafayette Square Park in Oakland. I validated my research findings through interviews with urban designers and an advocate for the rights of unhoused people. My research findings demonstrate that urban designers, planners, policymakers, and advocates can create parks that are inclusive of unhoused people by engaging them in the participatory planning process, offering place-based outreach, programming for community cohesion, and designing parks with flexible, inviting spaces and well maintained facilities. By including people experiencing homelessness in the planning and design process, planners can make park spaces equitable for all users.

Cover page of Al Fresco in the Time of COVID-19: Addressing the Barriers to Outdoor Dining in Los Angeles Communities

Al Fresco in the Time of COVID-19: Addressing the Barriers to Outdoor Dining in Los Angeles Communities


Mayor Garcetti launched the temporary Al Fresco Program in the City of Los Angeles to allow outdoor dining to support economically distressed eateries in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and stay-at-home orders. Since the program's inception, the City of Los Angeles has had a goal of a 50% participation rate in disadvantaged communities. The report aims to explore barriers disadvantaged communities face to apply to the L.A. Al Fresco program and finds solutions to increase program participation in these communities. The researcher conducted an eligibility survey of 7 and from that group 5 in-depth interviews with food and beverage establishment owners to understand the barriers to participating in the L.A. Al Fresco Program and the impact of COVID. Along with qualitative analysis, the report found that 27% of active eateries in the City of Los Angeles currently participate in the L.A. Al Fresco program. Interviewees expressed how they are still recovering economically from COVID-19, which has been compounded by inflation, leaving no interest in expanding their business through outdoor dining. The report recommends that the L.A. Al Fresco Program create a small restaurant outreach strategy through an L.A. Al Fresco ambassador program and develop partnerships with local economic development organizations to increase specialized support services for small businesses in under-invested communities to ensure access to the program without barriers.