Language ability and evacuation destinations

From my research in Chicago, the data show a very clear relationship between English language proficiency and knowledge of potentially ‘safe’ locations to go to during an emergency. Those with little to no English skills were much more likely to be unable, even in interviews conducted in their native Spanish, to be able to identify a geographic location to go outside of the City of Chicago in case of a large-scale evacuation.

For those of you who are wondering, this is a mosaic plot, made in R.


Richard Green on Discrimination, Property, and Wealth

My colleague Richard Green has written what looks to be a wonderful manuscript with Thomas Mitchell and Stephen Malpezzi on the long-term prosperity outcomes associated with forced sales conditions, and how property sold under compulsory conditions yield lower prices than under fair market conditions. In addition, the race and ethnicity of the property owner also factors in, with minority-status property owners getting lower prices. There’s a “double discount”–minority property owners are more likely to experience forced sales, and then as people of color they receive even lower sale values than non-minority households.

I’m so excited by this research! It’s so essential to understanding sustainability, largely because of the looming issues associated eminent domain and with larger social justice questions involving reparations to African Americans. If I’ve said it to my students once, if forced sales results in fair sales, why do we never do it in Beverly Hills, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, or Malibu?


Incompatible land use, externality-shifting American neighbors, or unsustainable practice?

Today’s LA Times ran this story about the land use conflict surrounding an immigrant-owned poultry slaughterhouse in Rosemead: the Chinese American Live Poultry Company.

These types of land use conflicts are at the center of sustainability, and it’s a thorny set of issues. The owners, the Phus, have got a number of code violations on the books, including improper disposal of chicken waste. That you can’t have, not at industry levels. It’s not like we’re talking a few chickens in the backyard.

And yes, chickens do smell.

But the facility has been there since 1991. I suspect that many of the neighbors who hate this facility and want it shut down moved next to it in the first place. And I bet they eat chicken, regularly, though I suspect not from the bloodied floor of a local slaughterhouse, but purchased in packages at Ralph’s.

My students often want to discuss mixed land use in terms of retail, housing and office space. If I push them to think about industry, they say they envision “green industry” but have no real way to flesh out what green industry is and how it works. Isn’t this a green industry? It’s providing local-scale food. If they composted the waste material (a process that would probably send the neighbors into outer space with rage), it could be pretty green. I suggest to students “how about organic or sustainable meat production in downtown LA-would that be green industry?” and they look aghast, even though most are not vegetarians.

Two major things have entirely altered the landscape of my youth: corporate agriculture and, not unrelated, methamphetamine production. My hometown in Iowa is enveloped routinely by the smell of hog production. Is it acceptable for people in Bakersfield to have to tolerate meat production so that everybody else, including Rosemeadeans, can indulge in chicken pot pies and roast beef sandwiches without having their dainty noises offended by the reality of their food?

This has always struck me as a problem that better urban design, better industrial ecology, and better governance should be able to help reconcile. Put some money and creativity into solving the problem rather than trying to just get your own way in a public conflict. Why, really, does that building and its environs have to be so ugly? Why does this conflict have to be about putting somebody out of business instead of enhancing their business to fit in better?

Perhaps the first rule of sustainability should be that if the land use/public service/whatever can’t go in your neighborhood, it can’t go in anybody else’s neighborhood either. Which means either you get creative, or you can’t eat chicken. The responsibility resides on both the producer and the consumer to construct livable communities.


Court smackdown for LA slumlord

Monica Hujazi has been ordered to pay more than $40K per occupant–for some families over $250,000, for failing to improve conditions in her rentals properties. The settlement amounts to more than $3.3 million, and it’s the second time at the rodeo for Ms. Hujazi, as she settled a $7 million suit in 2006.

Ouch.

One problem: Ms Cuevas is now going to buy a place in Bakersfield. From downtown to Bakersfield. Depending on where she works, that could be quite a switchup in commutes.


How terrorists think according to TSA

So apparently, the lesson learned from this last round of terrorist plots is to not let people stand up or use their stuff during the last hour of a flight.

I can see it now.

Fade in, first class cabin of an airplane containing the disaffected and yet highly privileged son of Muslim corporate parents listing over and over in his head the many injustices that he will right by killing people he doesn’t know. Having so enumerated his many reasons, he fails to notice that it’s an hour before landing and he must now stay seated.

Young Terrorist, talking to himself: Well, I WAS going to set off an explosive that I illegally brought on board despite the rules and cause an enormous amount of human suffering, but damn I can’t now because I’m not supposed to get up!!! If only I had set my Bulova alarm so that I could have stood up 62 minutes from the end of the flight, vengeance would have been mine!! Just you wait until next time, infidels! Where’s my headphones so I can watch the last of Friends before I disembark?

In all seriousness, I am assuming that TSA is attempting to keep planes from acting as weapons in US airspace–the last hour on most international flights are spent heading into US cities. I get it. I can understand that, but…this does not negate the enormous gap in security that led us to where a terrorist was on a plane with explosives in his pants. I can’t even bring lip gloss.