Pricing and social equity

Pricing and Social Equity: An unplugged conversation with the experts

Davidson Conference Center
Embassy Room
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Friday, April 16, 2010
8:30 am – 4:45 pm

The issues: Pricing and user charges for things like carbon and gasoline offer an effective means to achieve short-term gains in climate policy, air quality, congestion relief, and agency budgetary ills. At the same time, pricing and user charges also can cut low-income families out of publicly provided services.

But the jury is out—or it should be—on whether underpricing public services really benefits low-income families. Some public infrastructure and services, like roads and water, have significant external costs (like pollution or overconsumpution) that can also hurt low-income communities in the long term. If we fail to “pay as we go” with infrastructure, spending on infrastructure can also displace public funding needed for other services to low-income families, such as public schools. Finally, charging low prices to every user, not just the poor, limits the revenues to public agencies so that service quality can suffer. Those in poverty may be far less able to supplement lower-quality public services with private purchases the way higher income families can.

The format: Join us on Friday, April 16, 2010, to have a conversational seminar with thought leaders and practitioners in water, energy, transportation, and affordable housing to discuss social equity and the pricing of public services. No Powerpoint presentations, no lectures—just ideas and interaction.


1. Water pricing, supply, and social equity

Moderator: Richard Little, Dirctor, Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, University of Southern California
George Chen, Rates Manager, Department of Water and Power
Randall Crane, Professor, Urban Planning, UCLA
Charisma Acey, Assistant Profess, Urban Planning, Ohio State University
JR DeShazo, Professor, Public Policy, UCLA, and Director of the Lewis Center for

2. Development fees and affordable housing
Moderator: Chris Redfearn, Associate Professor, SPPD, University of Southern California (invited)
Jenny Schuetz, Assistant Professor, USC SPPD
Mike Keston, Real Estate Developer
Casey Dawkins, Associate Professor, School of Public and International Affairs and Director, Metropolitan Institute, Virginia Tech
(invited) A representative from the nonprofit housing community

3. Road pricing and low-income drivers
Moderator: Genevieve Giuliano, Professor, SPPD, and Director, Metrans Transportation Institute
Brian Taylor, Professor, Urban Planning and Director of the Institute for Transportation Studies, UCLA
Kenneth Small, Professor, University of California, Irvine
Stephanie Wiggins, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(invited) A representative from Policy Link

4. Carbon and energy pricing
Moderator: TBD
Adam Rose, Professor, SPPD, USC
Dan Mazmanian, Professor, SPPD, and Director, Bedrosian Center on Governance and Public Enterprise
Matt Kahn (invited), Professor, Public Policy, UCLA School of Public Affairs,
Manuel Pastor (invited), Professor, American Studies, and Director, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity

This event is free and open to the public but requires registration
Please register by phone or email to:

Deirdre Flanagan at (213) 740-2695, or