UCLA Study: $583 In Housing Funds Could Be in Danger

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles could miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue if Mayor Eric Garcetti’s goal of building 100,000 new units of housing by 2021 is not met, according to a study released Tuesday by the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“This study illuminates the need to reform and streamline the city of L.A.’s housing development process now,” said Paul Habibi, who lectures on finance and real estate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and is also a lecturer at UCLA School of Law. “To ensure that the mayor’s 100,000-unit goal is met, the city must enact reforms that allow us to make the most of a strong market, and help us weather the years ahead as the current development cycle runs its course,” or risk the loss of $583 million in housing revenue.

A number of recent studies have ranked Los Angeles among the most unaffordable housing markets in the nation, as rent and real estate prices have skyrocketed due to a housing shortage. As a result, some city leaders have been pushing numerous ways to speed up the development of housing, including a “linkage fee” on developers being touted by Garcetti.

The UCLA study, which was produced in partnership with the Los Angeles Business Council, concluded that L.A. is on track to hit the 100,000-unit goal, but more reforms are needed to reach the included goal of 15,000 affordable units and to ensure that development continues at its current pace.

“We see Mayor Garcetti’s 100,000-unit goal as a floor for our city’s housing needs and believe we have a ceiling closer to 500,000 units based on our regional housing needs assessment,” said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council. “Developers conservatively cite a five- to six-year timeline for building one affordable housing project. That is far too long if we’re going to build our way out of this housing crisis.”

While the study does not recommend a linkage fee, it does recommend funneling a portion of the money generated by new housing through tax revenues and fees back into the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The study also recommends that the city take action to decrease processing times for development proposals by 25 percent, expand expedited processing to include projects that require new environmental impact reports, and raise the city’s site plan review requirement above its current threshold of 50 units.

“The city has available mechanisms to cut down pre-construction processes, but they are not broad enough in their scope to be effective,” said City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who is chair of the Housing Committee. “That is why I have introduced a motion to expand L.A. City Planning’s expedited
processing section, which allows applicants to pay a fee to reduce up to 50 percent of the time it takes to process entitlement applications. I’m also working on increasing the city’s site-plan review threshold, which has added an additional deterrent to increasing our affordable and workforce housing stock by adding additional bureaucratic hurdles to an already burdensome process.”

Although the city is on pace to reach 100,000 units by 2021, the study predicts a number of factors that could throw it off its pace, including that at least one economic downturn is possible by 2021 and that the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety projects a decline in future development
activity over the next two fiscal years.

Another factor the study cites is Build Better L.A., a ballot measure approved by voters in November that requires developers seeking special approval for projects bigger than zoning laws allow to include a number of affordable units, which the study authors said adds significant regulation to future development projects.

80 Year Olds as Street-Savvy as 18 Year Olds

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Our gut instinct about whether a stranger poses a threat is as good when we’re 80 as when we’re 18, according to new research.

Older people are as good as young adults at knowing when someone is potentially aggressive, and being streetwise appears to be a skill honed in childhood but not fully reliable until adulthood.

The new research, led by Dr. Liam Satchell, of the University of Portsmouth, is the third study he has led on examining our ability at various ages to gauge others’ aggression.

He said: Older people can be reassured that their gut instincts about who is posing a danger are, generally, excellent, there was no difference in the ability of each adult group.

“The results could encourage older people to recognize they are street smart, that their gut instincts are spot on.”

Dr. Satchell wanted to examine our ability to assess real threats in strangers as we age against a backdrop of much debate on the effects of fear of crime in older people.

He said: “When walking down a street late at night, people may feel concerned about the threat posed by an approaching person. They may cross a street or change their behavior and might even stop going out.

“There could be lots of factors which might make an older person frightened of being a victim of crime, but research on the relationship between age and fear of crime isn’t clear-cut. It’s likely to be influenced by many factors, including the type of crime feared, gender and a person’s belief in their ability to defend themselves.

“Until now, there has been little conclusive evidence of older people’s ability to detect everyday street threats.”

Previous research has shown that simply watching someone walk communicates a great deal about the likelihood of them being aggressive.

Dr. Satchell’s series of studies have shown that feelings of threat and intimidation are reliable at telling us how aggressive other people are, and that this is a skill that improves gradually through childhood, reaches its peak in adulthood, and doesn’t decline in older age.

“A lot of people are afraid walking at night, but some people see risk where there is none,” he said.

“It’s important we can make quick, accurate judgments of the danger posed by others. All our studies have shown adults are very good at detecting traits in others, at recognizing danger. Even when we simulate a shadowy outline of a person at a distance, people can readily recognize a potential aggressor. The accuracy of our social perceptions in adulthood is robust, but children may need more time to develop the relevant experiences.”

The latest results are from a small-scale study and he said more research needs to be done to assess, for example, whether the older people who agree to take part in a scientific study are, by nature, also confident and likely to be less worried about crime.

His study examined threat perception in 39 people aged 59-91, and in 87 people aged 20-28.

Nearly all – 95 per cent – of both groups correctly gauged the aggression, or level of intimidation, of five women and four men filmed walking on a treadmill. The ‘walkers’ had been selected after taking a renowned aggression test to ensure they represented a wide cross-section of degrees of aggression.

Dr. Satchell and his co-authors, Dr. Lucy Akehurst, Dr. Paul Morris and Dr. Claire Nee, are members of the University of Portsmouth’s International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology.

The study is the latest in a series of research papers he has led on which together build a picture of how well we recognize the aggression of an approaching person from childhood to old age. He has found that as children we are generally poor at judging threat, that we develop sharper instincts around the age of 18-20, and that these instincts don’t decline as we age.

He said: “The findings overall suggest we develop a streetwise ability, that we are able to make judgments about others and our safety, once we reach adulthood.”

Some 13-15 year olds were very accurate in their assessments of threat in an earlier study, but in general, there is a lot of variation in young people’s reliability, whereas, post-18, almost everyone was very good, they made the same judgments and they were accurate. They have learned the ability to detect threat.

In Dr. Satchell’s latest study is published in Europe’s Journal of Psychology,

Mountain Lion Kittens Found

August 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Two new mountain lion kittens have been found in the Santa Monica Mountains, and their parentage appears to highlight the continuing problem of inbreeding in a land-locked area starving for genetic diversity, National Park Service officials announced Tuesday.

The kittens, one male and one female, have been dubbed P-59 and P-60, and they are the first litter of 2-year-old P-53.

Although NPS officials are still awaiting DNA confirmation, the kitten’s father is believed to be P-12, the only lion documented to have crossed into the Santa Monica Mountains from the north. He is known to be prolific in terms of mating with females, including his own offspring.

“If P-12 is in fact these kittens’ father, that also means he’s their grandfather, their great-grandfather and their great-great-grandfather,” said Jeff Sikich, a biologist with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Inbreeding to this degree really highlights the need for providing safe passage across the 101 Freeway so new mountain lions can enter the population and breed.”

Planning and fundraising are continuing for a proposed wildlife crossing over the freeway in the Agoura Hills area.

A study released last year concluded that without an increase in genetic diversity, the mountain lions in the Santa Monica range are facing possible extinction within 50 years.

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