UEP Senior Comprehensive Projects, "Comps" as they are more commonly referred to, often stretch beyond the classroom to interact, impact and evaluate public policy issues at the local, national and even global level.
2021 UEP Senior Comprehensive Projects
Unequal Burdens: Health Outcomes and Small Business Relief During COVID-19 in Los Angeles County
This research focuses on the first ten months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Los Angeles County, whose myriad cities and neighborhoods have been impacted by the health and economic fallout of the pandemic to varying degrees. This study tracks infection rates within localities and analyzes them in relation to their demographics.
by Luis Arias
Healthcare for Homeless Women: Los Angeles’ Response Compared to the Needs Expressed by Homeless Women
by Judith Battles
Permanent Supportive Housing in Los Angeles: The Barriers and Solutions
This paper studies the barriers to creating permanent supporting housing (PSH) in Los Angeles and solutions to overcoming those barriers. The study reviews the existing literature on the efficacy of PSH as a solution to chronic homelessness, the effect of NIMBYism and zoning ordinances on the construction of PSH, and the role of Proposition HHH in the funding and production of PSH.
by Bea Bestor
Just Transition in Los Angeles: Ensuring Equity During Decarbonization
Preventing the worst-case climate change scenario requires a global effort. City governments have adopted climate targets to quickly and substantially reduce carbon emissions. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Green New Deal aims to shift the local economy away from fossil fuels to carbon neutrality by 2045. Without targeted interventions, rapid decarbonization will result in negative economic consequences for workers and communities dependent upon fossil fuel extraction and use.‘Just Transition’ offers a strategy to mitigate the economic consequences of climate policy to ensure that the transition to a low carbon future results in fair and just outcomes for workers and communities.
by Marcus Blumenfeld, Spruce Bohen, Brenda Jackson, Leslie Serrano, and Evie Wasson
A Geospatial Comparison of the Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution Faced by LA County’s Public & Private Facilities for the Elderly
As providers of affordable housing for the elderly work to meet rising demand over the coming decades, it is important that new housing is built in a manner that considers the health of seniors in public housing. This study compared the approximate ambient air pollution burden faced by residents of public and private senior housing in order to determine if there was a statistically significant difference in exposure.
by Eliot Brody
Harvesting Los Angeles: Community Based Urban Agriculture for Soil Remediation
Los Angeles County once flourished as a center of west coast agriculture, and was home to a basin of uniquely fertile soil. The agricultural potential of LA’s soil is compromised by pollution from heavy metals and other toxins, creating a public health risk that degrades both human health and ecosystems. Environmental hazards and higher levels of food insecurity are both disproportionately located in non-white communities due to a history of racist zoning policies and systemic disenfranchisement. This study argues that soil restoration for urban agriculture is the ultimate clean because it can result in clean soils, increased food and land autonomy, and added green space.
by Sofia Buchler
The Challenges and Opportunities of Phasing out Nuclear and Fossil Fuel Reliance Simultaneously
Our climate is changing dramatically and rapidly. The international Paris Agreement sets emission reduction targets for 2050 before the earth suffers from irreversible damages to the environment. A large portion of the world’s emissions are produced through energy sources - nuclear energy serves as an extremely contentious issue. On one hand, nuclear power produces large amounts of energy with minimal carbon emissions. Some politicians even attempt to deem it as a ‘clean energy source.’ On the other hand, there exists no long term solution for nuclear waste and nuclear energy production poses the threat of large scale catastrophes like Chernobyl and Fukushima. This paper sets out to delve into the challenges of phasing out fossil fuel reliance and nuclear energy simultaneously through a multiple case study analysis.
by James Burwick
The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Program in Los Angeles City: Examining Barriers to Access and Use
by Francisca Castro
The Effects of Waste Policy on Waste Production: The Zero Waste Framework
Since countries began to industrialize beginning in the late 1700s and the production of goods consequently increased exponentially around the globe, nations currently face the increasingly pressing issue of waste build-up (Scheinberg, 2012). As countries become more industrialized, urbanized, and the general consumption of goods grows, trash production also continues to increase at an exponential level. This present research examines the example and possible effects of one government implemented waste policy by asking the question: How has the Zero Waste Policy adopted in many large cities throughout the United States targeting waste production affected the quantity of waste produced?
by Jamie Chung
Demystifying the Role of Water Reclamation in Los Angeles’ Water Infrastructure
Extreme weather events brought on by climate change are expected to occur more frequently and intensely in the next decade. One such extreme weather event is drought and accordingly increased water scarcity. In high-risk areas such as Los Angeles, where water scarcity has a long-standing and storied history, suggestions for conservation strategies include water reclamation. This paper uncovers the role that water reclamation plays in Los Angeles’ water infrastructure through a series of interviews with a spectrum of knowledgeable experts, nonprofit workers, and government workers.
by Aria Devlin
COVID-19 in Custody: The Relationship Between COVID-19 and United States Federal and State Prisons
Correctional reform is an issue that the United States has been facing for decades. American inmates often live-in poor, overcrowded, and unsanitary conditions. This issue is a public health concern the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated. As of January 15th, 2021, United States federal and state inmates experienced confirmed rates of COVID-19 that were almost four times the rate calculated for the United States general population. This study examines the relationship between United States federal and state prison characteristics and rates of COVID-19.
by Zoë Edwards
Green Finance: Can We Build a Bridge Across the Renewable Spending Gap?
The United States and the rest of the world is in a climate financing deficit. If the United States is to meet the goal of 2 degrees Celsius outlined by the Paris Climate Accord by year 2030 spending on renewable energy needs to increase significantly. Green Finance can provide an innovative framework that the United States can use to ramp up investment in renewable energy and bridge the renewable energy spending gap. One tool in the green finance framework, green banks, are focused on in this paper as a potential way to catalyze private spending in renewable energy through public funds. This paper examines the background of green banks and the development processes of these funding entities.
by Jon Ekberg
Oil Drilling in Los Angeles and Perceived Stress Effects on Nearby Communities
Los Angeles is a city with a long history in the oil industry. While extraction began in the 1890s, the city remains the largest urban oil field in the nation to this day. Many of the city’s neighborhoods where oil wells still remain are home to low income communities of color. These communities are often forced to deal with disproportionate amounts of pollutants and stressors, both of which can affect their ability to live healthy lives. While research is emerging on the physiological effects of living in close proximity to urban oil wells, this study seeks to examine the perceived mental stress effects of proximity to such wells.
by Marcus Gee-Lim
Can we do it? Reimagining California’s Bottle Bill for Canners
Canners, people who earn income informally through the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (AB2020), earn cash by collecting and recycling Container Refund Value (CRV) eligible recyclables. While canning is a vital income-earning opportunity for low-income people, current policy is unsupportive and discourages canners efforts to earn income through AB2020. This report asks: do Californian canners wish to remain in the informal waste sector, or do they desire more formalized waste employment? How can policy better support autonomous canners’ work and increase their income? If canners desire to transition into the formal waste sector, what entity can assist this shift and how?
by Izzy Goldfarb
Greenspace in the Time of COVID-19: A Study of the King County Metropolitan Area
by Jade Henderson
Achieving Permanent Affordability and Community Control: The Integration of Community Land Trusts into the Housing Preservation Toolkits of Local California Governments
by Grace Hut
“We Grow Food and Community”: How Urban Farmers Contend With Land Access and Urban Agriculture Policy In Los Angeles
Urban agriculture, as a means to provide food, greenspace, and community is growing in Los Angeles, and urban farmers around the county have created pockets of edible landscape within the city. Especially in communities with high rates of food insecurity and little greenspace, urban farming can yield high benefits. But for all the potential good of urban agriculture, and increasing community interest, LA City and County lack a comprehensive or standardized policy for urban agriculture. Of the 88 cities in the county, there are not any identical municipal codes pertaining to agriculture. Existing incentive programs are under-utilized, and the high cost of land in LA makes it difficult to begin farming.
by Kaye Jenkins
Restorative Justice and LAUSD’s School Climate Bill of Rights: Shifting Paradigms from Punishment to Healing
In 2013, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted for the passage of a School Climate Bill of Rights. This bill defines eight major rights granted to all students in the Los Angeles public school system related to the school learning environment. It states that restorative justice (RJ) must be used as an alternative to exclusionary school discipline and stipulates that all schools in the district will engage in the use of restorative practices by 2020. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which LAUSD has successfully implemented restorative justice on its campuses, and further, to determine how the district can improve its use of Restorative Practices in order to achieve a more racially just and positive experience for all LAUSD students.
by Clara Keane
A CRITICAL NEED FOR MARKET MATCH: A quantitative study of L.A. County farmers’ market food assistance program usage during the COVID-19 pandemic
Farmers’ markets are highly social marketplaces that provide accessibility to healthy food for local communities. Many markets are authorized to accept food assistance program benefits, such as those from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and nutrition incentive programs, such as Market Match in California, which highly benefit populations who are eligible to receive food assistance benefits. Yet, a new culture of caution and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the ways farmers’ markets provide food security for local communities. This study aims to explore the following: how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted food assistance program usage at farmers’ markets in Los Angeles County? How can we expand the policies of food assistance programs, given the operational setbacks from the pandemic?
by Chiaki Ma
More Than A Park: An Examination of the Impacts of Skateparks on the Personal Growth of Individuals
This study aimed to fill a necessary gap in the academic literature surrounding skateboarding. Within the short number of reports about skateboarding, very few address the importance of the space of skateboarding: skateparks. Most studies are written through a physiological or kinesiological perspective
which limits the academic understanding of this specific subculture. The research conducted in this report is meant to address the lack of academic literature surrounding the physical space of public skateparks and their importance to both skateboarders and community members.
by Ricardo Martinez
Addressing the Mental Health Needs of First-Generation College Students Attending Liberal Arts Colleges
This study seeks to understand how liberal arts colleges across the country support the mental health needs of first-generation college students to determine what type of resources are available and needed for first-generation college students to succeed. The primary research question that this paper seeks to answer is "How do liberal arts colleges allocate, promote, and implement mental health resources in order to meet the mental health needs of first-generation college students (FGCSs)?".
by Andrea Lynn Mateo
Japanese American Redress: Impacts on Intergenerational Socioeconomic Status and Relevance to the Modern Reparations Movement
This paper explores the legacy of the Japanese American Redress and Reparations movement and the 1988 Civil Liberties Act. Interviews with Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during WWII and their descendants were conducted to determine whether there was a long-term impact on the socioeconomic status of Nikkei due to reparations from the 1988 Civil Liberties Act and to explore the relevance of the Japanese American Redress movement to the modern fight for redress for Black Americans.
by Ashley Rodarte
Targeted Investment as an Instrument to Advance Environmental Justice in California Climate Policy
by Emma Rogers
Assessing Resident Participant Attitudes in California’s Participatory Budgeting Processes
by Salma Rojas
Analyzing Disparities in Affordable Housing Allocation within the L.A. City Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) Program
Los Angeles is currently facing a housing and public transit crisis. The housing market ranks amongst one of the most expensive in the country and is coupled with rising houselessness numbers across the City. Good quality and accessible affordable housing is needed to combat both issues. This paper aims to determine if the TOC program has an equitable distribution of housing units across the City.
by Dirk H. Staal
The Intentions of Opportunity Zones: Hawaii as a Case Study
Opportunity Zones, the latest iteration of place based federal policies, was established in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 by the Trump Administration as a way to encourage economic stimulation into low-income neighborhoods across the US. This paper will analyze the intentions of Opportunity Zones in Honolulu County, Hawaii with specific focus on the nomination process.
by Alex Yawata
Measuring Racial Bias During Police Traffic Stops in Los Angeles, CA
With the “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) movement becoming an international phenomenon that put a glaring spotlight on the injustices and violence faced by the Black community in the U.S., research in disparate treatment based on race during police traffic stops is as relevant as ever to conduct. By utilizing two quantitative analysis methods, the Veil-of-Darkness test and Disproportionality Index, this paper explores Los Angeles city traffic stop and traffic collision data and measures potential racial bias during police-motorist interactions.
by Sarah Yi
Planting a Plant-Based Future in China: A study of China’s growing plant-based industry
In 2016, the Chinese government published new Dietary Guidelines that suggested a 50% decrease in citizen meat consumption to help curb carbon emissions and reduce diet-related illnesses. This study examines whether brand marketing and consumer messaging of plant-based meats align with the intended goals of the 2016 policy, and whether the rise of plant-based meat products is related to this policy.
by Erin Zhang
Disparities on Waste Sorting in Shanghai and Potential Amendments to the Waste Sorting Guidelines
Urban fringe areas in Shanghai faces more challenges on waste management comparing to downtown areas because it has higher population density of migrant workers and severer issue on underprovided infrastructure. The establishment of the Waste Sorting Guidelines, the first binding legislation on waste sorting in China, on July 1st, 2019 could potentially worsen such challenges since the legislation makes it more difficult for people to dump domestic waste and produces an unprecedented amount of wet waste. This paper investigated how the disparities on waste sorting between downtown and urban fringe areas in Shanghai were affected by the Waste Sorting Guidelines.
by Anfeilin (Colin) Zhu