Quoted in LAist on Student Debt

Image: LAist

I’m interviewed about the history of student debt in this excellent long form reporting by Julia Barajas at LAist. I thought about my urban planning students at Cal Poly Pomona and Pitzer College for this one.

Excerpt:

In May 2022, the Washington Post reported that White House officials were exploring the promised cancellation of $10,000 in student debt per borrower, but limiting efforts to people who earned less than $150,000 last year.

Opponents to this proposal can be found across the political spectrum.

Jonathan Pacheco Bell, an urban planner and adjunct professor at Cal Poly Pomona and Pitzer College, said he appreciates that Biden has not forgotten his campaign promise, but $10,000 is insufficient.

“It’s a way to split the difference so that you make some people happy and some people mad, but you’re not going to piss off the other side of the aisle, because you didn’t wipe away all the debt. It’s a very comfortable and extremely safe position,” he said.

Some of his students have taken on tens of thousands of dollars in debt, he added. “Meanwhile, the U.S. seems to be endlessly funding wars and other priorities with almost no hesitation, but it hesitates to invest in its own workforce.”

Cal Poly Pomona Senior Project: Wildfire Mitigation and Resilience in SoCal

Senior Project poster by Stacy Lee and Eric Ji. Image credit: Stacy and Eric

I’m celebrating the graduates in my Senior Projects class at Cal Poly Pomona Department of Urban & Regional Planning! Today we big up this team:

Wildfire Mitigation & Resilience Strategies: Best Planning Practices across Local Jurisdictions in Southern California

By: Stacy Lee & Eric Ji

Abstract: Increasing forecasts of prolonged and more severe fire seasons can be attributed to several factors: urban density growth; fire suppression and fuel buildup; and climate change. Many of these issues are amplified in Southern California, especially in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). Land-use policies must begin to proactively strategize around the immutable outbreaks of future wildfires as expanding boundaries of development and very high fire severity zones cross onto each other.

This qualitative research empirically analyzes the survey response consisting of a list of 19 planning strategies for wildfire mitigation on a Likert scale on compatibility, feasibility, and necessity of each local jurisdiction across four counties. The Counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino with areas of very high fire severity zones identified by CAL FIRE were contacted with the survey request. The 18 responding jurisdiction responses scored each strategy to display the compatibility, feasibility, and necessity on a scale from 0 to 4, and cross analyzed by any implemented strategies in the corresponding jurisdictions or alternative policies in lieu of the strategies presented in the survey.

These findings are used to develop a scale of adoptable strategies based on the context of each jurisdiction as well as possible alternatives and narratives to adopting feasible strategies.

Stacy and Eric at CPP Senior Projects Poster Session 2022. Photo: Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Cal Poly Pomona Senior Project: Youth Homelessness in East Riverside County

Senior Project poster by Thuy Le Xuan Cao and Alejandro De Loera. Image credit: Thuy and Alejandro

I’m celebrating the graduates in my Senior Projects class at Cal Poly Pomona Department of Urban & Regional Planning! Today we big up this team:

Youth Homelessness in Eastern Riverside County: A Mental Health Approach Towards Achieving Social Integration

By: Thuy Le Xuan Cao & Alejandro De Loera

Abstract: Youth homelessness is an ongoing crisis. Transitional-aged youth need support when exiting institutional systems. Without access to stable living environments, youth are exposed to trauma. Without coping strategies for stress, they’re vulnerable to chronic or cyclical homelessness. Hostile environments and poor living conditions create struggles for street survival. To combat this crisis, youth-centered housing and transitional programs target their unique needs. Youth mental healthcare influences this development as preexisting conditions including housing insecurity, mental health issues, substance use and family dysfunction have psychosocial consequences exacerbating barriers to housing stability. This project examines access to services for wellness and removal of hidden access barriers so unhoused youth can integrate into society.

Youth homelessness is prevalent in rural and nonrural areas and correlates to mental health issues magnified by rural conditions. Supportive services must be tailored to rural homeless youth needs. Beyond skill building, homeless youth require tailored interventions including non-housing case management, mentorship, counseling and mental health treatment. The creation of safe communal spaces promotes social cohesion where youth may interact and gain social capital from peer mentorship. Notably, planning itself creates a barrier to collective action due to formalities required for programs to exist legally.

We’ve created recommendations for 3 stages of intervention: Primary interventions include successful outreach focusing on preventative services for at-risk youth. Secondary programming offers local and short-term supportive programs with flexible hours for youth in crisis. Tertiary support prioritizes community partnerships to offer continuous, long-term services where homelessness occurs.
*Abbreviated from original

Thuy and Alejandro at CPP Senior Projects Poster Session 2022. Photo: Jonathan Pacheco Bell

Reflections of the LA Uprising 30 Years Later

Still image from “Reflections of the LA Uprising” 30 Years Later

The 1992 Los Angeles Uprising began thirty years ago today — April 29, 1992.

I was interviewed for “Reflections of the LA Uprising” 30 years later. This is a collaboration by JOVRNALISM, USC Annenberg, KCET, and LA Times.

I shared how the unrest led me on a path toward urban planning in/for South Central LA. And I testified this path would inspire me to create Embedded Planning as an LA County planner on the ground in Florence-Firestone.

Rightfully, this interview was done at the landmark Roosevelt Park pedestrian bridge over the Blue Line.

Many community voices are part of this project. Check out the immersive video “Echoes of the Uprising” where we share our memories and oral histories.

Three decades later, we still have work to do.

Echoes of the Uprising

Mike The PoeT Sonksen at Cal Poly Pomona Urban & Regional Planning

Guest speaker Mike the PoeT Sonksen at Cal Poly Pomona Urban & Regional Planning. Photo by Jonathan Pacheco Bell

On March 5, 2022, Mike the PoeT Sonksen was the guest speaker in my Advocacy Planning course at Cal Poly Pomona. He taught us about geographic literacy and the power of place. Mike opened with poems, transitioned into a vivid slide deck lecture, then led our class through two writing exercises connecting personal memory and action to planning praxis. He stayed to co-facilitate our week’s discussion of Latin@ Urbanism.

Mike bleeds LA. If you’re looking for your next guest speaker, tour guide, essayist or poet, Mike is the one.