Free Public Talk Series Kicks Off with Discussions on Affordable Housing, Transit Equity • Long Beach Post

As the world increasingly accesses and discusses its news through social media, the conversations surrounding complex topics become convoluted, if not outright filled with misinformation and Dunning-Kruger effects.


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At the same time, face-to-face conversations and discussions are happening less and less, further driving the negative effects of how people think when they sit behind a screen versus how folks think when having conversations in the tangible world.

This is why I am proud to announce a special, free series of talks that will examine complex topics ranging from homelessness to gentrification.

This is Longbeachize’s inaugural Emphasize talk series, an event made possible thanks to the Long Beach Community Foundation, Imprint Culture Lab, the Knight Foundation, City Fabrick, Hotel Maya, Southern California Streets Initiative, and Hotel Maya.

We will first be tackling affordable housing and transit equity.

On Thursday, November 16, at the Edison Theatre (213 E. Broadway) in DTLB, we will be inviting transit guru Jeff Tumlin to not only offer his perspective on how he single-handedly created Oakland’s Department of Transit but how his focus on transit equity can benefit Long Beach. He will be joined by Santa Monica Next editor and award-winning journalist Jason Islas when Tumlin takes the stage at 6:30PM.

On Thursday, January 11, we will welcome affordable housing expert and UCLA professor Michael Lens to the Art Theatre (2025 E. 4th St.) as he joins Long Beach’s own Jan Van Dijs on a discussion that will examine California’s housing crisis paired with a look at how development is shaping where housing goes and who gets it.

Both of these talks are free and open to the public. They will precede talks on homelessness, gentrification, urban design, and urban planning.

A little more about our speakers:

For more than twenty years, Tumlin has led major transit plans in cities from Seattle and Vancouver to Moscow and Abu Dhabi, all the while helping balance multiple modes of transportation in complex places to achieve a community’s wider goals and best utilize their limited resources. Those award-winning plans have accommodated millions of square feet of growth with no net increase in motor vehicle traffic.

Jeff is renowned for helping people define what they value and building consensus on complex and controversial projects. He provides residents and stakeholders the tools they need to evaluate their transportation investments in the context of achieving their long-term goals. He understands that managing parking and transportation demand is a critical tool for revitalizing city centers and creating sustainable places.

Meanwhile, Lens has noticed a large and growing body of research shows that neighborhoods matter for several life outcomes including economic mobility, education, and safety—research he has directly contributed to. For many reasons, positive neighborhood attributes remain unattainable for low-income households in many U.S. metropolitan areas.

Lens’ work fulfills gaps in the literature that evaluates the potential for housing policy to reduce this separation by focusing on neighborhood safety and access to jobs. This research contributes to this literature in both conceptual and empirical ways. Specifically, this research 1) measures the neighborhood conditions of families that receive housing subsidies; 2) analyzes the potential interactions of crime with subsidized housing and commercial development; 3) identifies how residential location affects employment outcomes; and 4) improves how scholars and policy makers measure neighborhood opportunity for low-income households.

In recent research, Professor Lens is studying the effect of the housing bust on housing subsidy demand and local government finances, the role of public investments in gentrification processes, and the spatial concentration of eviction. Professor Lens’ research has won awards from the Journal of the American Planning Association and Housing Policy Debate.

Among several grants, Lens has a multiyear grant from the MacArthur Foundation to study the effect of the housing boom and bust on local government finances.

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