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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 One to Four: The Market Potential of Fourplexes in California’s Single-Family Neighborhoods

One to Four: The Market Potential of Fourplexes in California’s Single-Family Neighborhoods


The State of California seeks to increase housing production by regulating the number of homes local zoning allows, yet the market feasibility of delivering units under more expansive zoning is rarely acknowledged and mostly unanalyzed. New guidelines from the Department of Housing and Community Development emphasize the need to assess realistic capacity of sites, including the feasibility of new housing development during the upcoming planning period. One statewide policy push is to allow three- and fourplexes in single-family zones. To assess the impact of this zoning change, we analyze the market feasibility of homebuilding under fourplex zoning on the 6.8 million parcels with single-family homes built in California prior to 2005.

Cover page of Does the Los Angeles region have too many vacant homes?

Does the Los Angeles region have too many vacant homes?


In recent years, vacant homes have increasingly been identified as a potential indicator of speculation or otherwise underutilized housing stock. Recently constructed market-rate and mixed-income housing, in particular, has been cast as villain in this debate, with relatively high vacancy rates taken as a sign that this type of housing isn’t needed. Using Los Angeles as a case study, this working paper explores the nature, extent, and causes of housing vacancy, and draws conclusions about what should be done about vacant homes in high-cost locations like L.A. Analyzing multiple data sources with varying jurisdictional boundaries, I find that Los Angeles vacancy rates rank among the lowest in the nation, and are lower today than they were for most of the past 15 years. The types of vacancies in the city and metro area (“market” and “non-market” vacancies) also appear in similar proportion to other jurisdictions. And, accounting for the lease-up periods of newly constructed buildings, vacancy rates in the booming neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles are similar to those of the rest of the city. It is suggested that proposals such as vacancy taxes may achieve modest reductions to vacancy, but will do little to address the needs of overcrowded households, super-commuters, or future generations, among others.

Cover page of Evaluating ADU/Homelessness Programs

Evaluating ADU/Homelessness Programs


In response to a worsening homelessness crisis, Los Angeles City and County have recently looked to accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — small second homes on the same lot as a single-family home — as a part of the solution. Pilot programs in both jurisdictions offer homeowners subsidies for ADU construction in exchange for housing a person experiencing homelessness for between three and 10 years. In this paper, I evaluate the scalability, longevity, efficacy, political feasibility, and cost-effectiveness of these programs compared to traditional multifamily supportive housing. In doing so, I employ the metric of cost per year of affordability, to compare cost- effectiveness for programs of varying duration. I find that while ADU programs may be more politically feasible and have moderate potential to be scaled up, they will encounter significant difficulties in reaching that potential. They lack the longevity of traditional supportive housing, will either prove less cost-effective or will depend on homeowner contributions that may not materialize, and will have mixed effects on quality of life for formerly unhoused residents, among other hurdles. With private lenders still wary of the ADU market, greater scale and cost-effectiveness may be achieved by fostering private ADU investment, offering fee waivers to homeowners who agree to house a person experiencing homelessness, and supporting unhoused residents more directly with housing vouchers.

Cover page of Neighborhood Effects on HIV Testing: A Multi-Level Analysis

Neighborhood Effects on HIV Testing: A Multi-Level Analysis


Only one study has explored geographic variations in HIV-testing and one possible regional characteristic correlated with that variation, leaving many potential regional characteristics unexamined. This paper explores geographic disparities in HIV-testing and eleven neighborhood characteristics as potential correlates of those disparities, controlling for individuals’ characteristics.

Cover page of The 2000 Census Undercount in Los Angeles County

The 2000 Census Undercount in Los Angeles County


This working paper reports the findings from an analysis of the estimated undercount of the population in the 2000 Census for Los Angeles County. The Bureau of the Census improved its performance for 2000 relative to 1990, but the enumeration was not complete. The are three key findings: 1) Los Angeles County has a disproportionate number of the undercounted population; 2) the undercounted population is unevenly distributed within Los Angeles County across neighborhoods, varying across neighborhoods from -0.3% to 5.9%; and 3) neighborhoods with the highest under-count rates tend to be poor and predominantly minority, and have a relatively large number of children. Because of the geographic differences, disadvantaged neighborhoods and populations are at risk of being under-represented, under-served, and under-funded.

Cover page of The Integrating (and Segregating) Effect of Charter, Magnet, and Traditional Elementary Schools: The Case of Five California Metropolitan Areas

The Integrating (and Segregating) Effect of Charter, Magnet, and Traditional Elementary Schools: The Case of Five California Metropolitan Areas


For most children the racial composition of their neighborhood determines the racial composition of their school. Segregated housing patterns translate into a highly segregated educational system, which can then result in disparities in educational opportunities and an institutionalized mechanism for the reproduction of racial inequality. To better understand the extent to which the racial composition of charter and magnet schools deviates from their neighborhood composition, we analyze public elementary schools in five California metropolitan. Our findings suggest that individual schools can expose children to a more racially integrated or segregated educational environment than their local neighborhood. Magnet schools, on average, provide students with a more integrated environment than the local neighborhood, while charter schools provide a more segregated environment.