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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Faculty Publications

Cover page of (Re)conceptualizing Neighborhood Ecology in Social Disorganization Theory: From a Variable-Centered Approach to a Neighborhood-Centered Approach

(Re)conceptualizing Neighborhood Ecology in Social Disorganization Theory: From a Variable-Centered Approach to a Neighborhood-Centered Approach

(2022)

Shaw and McKay advanced social disorganization theory in the 1930s, kick-starting a large body of research on communities and crime. Studies emphasize individual impacts of poverty, residential instability, and racial/ethnic heterogeneity by examining their independent effects on crime, adopting a variable-centered approach. We use a “neighborhood-centered” approach that considers how structural forces combine into unique constellations that vary across communities, with consequences for crime. Examining neighborhoods in Southern California we: (1) identify neighborhood typologies based on levels of poverty, instability, and heterogeneity; (2) explore how these typologies fit within a disorganization framework and are spatially distributed across the region; and (3) examine how these typologies are differentially associated with crime. Results reveal nine neighborhood types with varying relationships to crime.

Cover page of Immigrant Organizations and Neighborhood Crime

Immigrant Organizations and Neighborhood Crime

(2022)

We examine the impact of immigrant-serving organizations on neighborhood crime in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, while accounting for other community correlates of crime as well as potential endogeneity. We estimate longitudinal negative binomial regression models that test for the main, mediating, and moderating effects of immigrant-serving organizations. We found that immigrant-serving organizations generally have crime-reducing effects for all types of crime. We also find that high immigrant concentration is associated with lower levels of crime in general, and this effect is moderated by the number of organizations, which underlines the importance of accounting for these organizations when studying the nexus of immigrant concentration and neighborhood crime.

Cover page of The Network of Neighborhoods and Geographic Space: Implications for Joblessness While on Parole

The Network of Neighborhoods and Geographic Space: Implications for Joblessness While on Parole

(2022)

Objectives: Few studies have examined the consequences of neighborhoods for job prospects for people on parole. Specifically, networks between neighborhoods in where people commute to work and their spatial distributions may provide insight into patterns of joblessness because they represent the economic structure between neighborhoods. We argue that the network of neighborhoods provides insight into the competition people on parole face in the labor market, their spatial mismatch from jobs, as well as their structural support. Methods: We use data from people on parole released in Texas from 2006 to 2010 and create a network between all census tracts in Texas based on commuting ties from home to work. We estimate a series of multilevel models examining how network structures are related to joblessness. Results: The findings indicate that the structural position of neighborhoods has consequences for people on parole’s joblessness. Higher outdegree, reflecting neighborhoods with more outgoing ties to other neighborhoods, was consistently associated with less joblessness, while higher indegree, reflecting neighborhoods with more incoming ties into the neighborhood, was associated with more joblessness, particularly for Black and Latino people on parole. There was also some evidence of differences depending on geographic scale. Conclusions: Structural neighborhood-to-neighborhood networks are another component to understanding joblessness while people are on parole. The most consistent support was shown for the competition and structural support mechanisms, rather than spatial mismatch.

Cover page of Measuring the Built Environment with Google Street View and Machine Learning: Consequences for Crime on Street Segments

Measuring the Built Environment with Google Street View and Machine Learning: Consequences for Crime on Street Segments

(2022)

Objectives: Despite theoretical interest in how dimensions of the built environment can help explain the location of crime in micro−geographic units, measuring this is difficult. Methods: This study adopts a strategy that first scrapes images from Google Street View every 20 meters in every street segment in the city of Santa Ana, CA, and then uses machine learning to detect features of the environment. We capture eleven different features across four main dimensions, and demonstrate that their relative presence across street segments considerably increases the explanatory power of models of five different Part 1 crimes. Results: The presence of more persons in the environment is associated with higher levels of crime. The auto−oriented measures—vehicles and pavement—were positively associated with crime rates. For the defensible space measures, the presence of walls has a slowing negative relationship with most crime types, whereas fences did not. And for our two greenspace measures, although terrain was positively associated with crime rates, vegetation exhibited an inverted−U relationship with two crime types. Conclusions: The results demonstrate the efficacy of this approach for measuring the built environment.

Plan writing as a policy tool: instrumental, conceptual, and tactical uses of water management plans in California

(2022)

Numerous environmental regulations require organizations to codify prospective activities in a written plan. However, evidence suggests that many plans are never implemented, raising questions about why public agencies continually require plans, whether mandating plans allows agencies to meet their policy aims, and what additional purposes plans serve. Adopting concepts from literature on research utilization, we develop a plan use typology, defining instrumental use as occurring when the requirement to write a plan directly addresses a stated policy problem, conceptual use as occurring when the requirement to write a plan indirectly addresses a policy problem by raising awareness of an issue or improving governance capacity, and tactical use as occurring when the requirement to write a plan serves a political or symbolic purpose unrelated to solving the policy problem. We then apply the typology to four California statutes that require local and regional utilities to write water management plans. We first assess the statutes to identify the goals underlying the requirement to write a plan and assess what plan uses are emphasized in guidance documents and the written plans themselves. Lastly, we interview the plan writing organizations to capture their perspectives on the value and limitations of these plans. We find that legislators turn to plans to support instrumental and conceptual goals but that the plans themselves and the way they are used by authoring agencies primarily serve conceptual and tactical uses, suggesting a disconnect between the policy goals underlying plans and their actual use.