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Recent Graduates

Selected Doctoral Dissertations

Recent Graudates

 

2017

Questioning as We Walk: Case Analysis of Community Organizing in Rio Grande Valley Colonias

by Danielle Zoe Rivera

Why are United States (U.S.)/Mexico colonias assumed to lack the capacity to organize? Are they, in fact, capable of community organizing? This dissertation sought to resolve a major discrepancy between evidence of colonia organizing on the ground and theories of community organizing that obscure colonia-based practices. Deriving from recent critiques of the field, the research uses a relational theory of organizing to reframe historic and contemporary colonia organizing practices. Using a qualitative case analysis of the Rio Grande Valley (Valley) of Texas, twenty-one colonia organizations and networks embedded within the case were comparatively examined. Data collection included twenty open-ended interviews with colonia organizers and observations of fifteen organizations between 2014 and 2016. This data was then analyzed through a relational framework that emphasized the position of Valley colonia organizing within the “third country” of the U.S./Mexico border, a region that remains distinct from the United States and Mexico.

Based on this analysis, the dissertation identifies four historic and four contemporary colonia organizing movements. The narratives of these eight movements subvert commonly held knowledge concerning colonia organizing by highlighting not only the existence of such organizing, but also its tenacity and breadth of scope. A common theme emerges regarding the role of self-help. However, this self-help implies a “do-it-yourself” attitude, not the government self-help housing programs that are frequently associated with colonia development. Contemporary colonia organizers are reappropriating the term “self-help” and, in a time of government austerity, are creating several regional colonia movements with the goal of supporting low-income, grassroots colonia leadership. Key to this goal is the creation of community-based civics education driven at a regional scale by the colonia residents. Ultimately, the dissertation not only upends a common assumption regarding colonia capacity to organize, but also provides insights into community organizing theory and its grasp on the connections between social context and practice. At an even higher level, there is a need to reassess theoretical definitions of “territory” and “sovereignty” to match the practices of the ultra-poor.

Technopolitics of Historic Preservation in Southeast Asian Chinatowns: Penang, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City

by Napong Tao Rugkhapan

This dissertation investigates the technopolitics of historic preservation in three Southeast Asian Chinatowns: Penang, Bangkok, and Ho Chi Minh City. I situate this work in the literature on the politics of governmental intervention that views programs of improvement in the larger nexus of knowledge and power (Legg, 2006; Li, 2007; Mitchell 2002; Scott, 1998). Rather than an apolitical technique of intervention, historic preservation goes beyond a strict field of aesthetic restoration. Historic preservation, too, entails its own technopolitics, in which the technical necessarily entails the political. To tease out the technopolitics in historic preservation, I attend to four points of analysis: technique, space, rationale, and politics. First, in urban planning, governmental intervention is enacted through various forms of what I call planning techniques, e.g. maps, zoning, architectural guidelines, and heritage inventory. Second, each of the planning techniques is a kind of spatial intervention. It has its own program of intervention, in which the object of intervention is space. Space, too, takes variously corresponding forms: building height; conservation areas; residential units, construction material; traditional livelihoods, among others. Third, each spatial intervention is justified through a certain rationale, underwritten by a certain epistemic vocabulary. Each spatial intervention is done in the name of vocabularies such as ‘heritage’, ‘density’, ‘progress’. Fourth, in its own way, each planning technique activates its own politics. The term politics in technopolitics implies the twofold deployment and contestation of power. While the chapters take on different planning techniques, from mapmaking to zoning, each of the chapters loyally traces the unfolding of these four points.

I make four arguments. First, while the planning techniques are conceived as solution to a problem, they themselves are not problem-free. The planner attributes his authority to technical knowledge, which, in fact, does not constitute the universe of knowledge, but a selection thereof. Second, a planning problem is often a problematization. A problem does not exist readily. Instead, it has to be constructed and rationalized through a certain vocabulary. It has to be framed in a certain way to lend itself to solution. Third, there are limits to the problematization and its corresponding solution. If technical knowledge may be viewed as selection, there may very well be omission. Fourth, in the face of such omission, contestation is inevitable. I pay attention to the moments of contestation, where the planning techniques clash with things they seek to omit in the first place.

Planning to be Prepared: Assessing Local Level Planning for Climate Change in the United States

by Melissa A. Stults

Climate change is leading to more frequent and intense impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, shifting disease patterns, and deteriorating natural systems, all of which are disrupting the ability of local communities to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of their citizenry. In light of this, a growing number of communities are creating stand alone climate adaptation plans that identify their place based vulnerabilities as well as their prioritized actions for preparing for existing as well as projected changes in future weather and long-term climate. In some cases, communities are also embedding climate considerations into other planning domains, such as hazard mitigation planning. To date, however, no systematic and thorough analysis of the processes used to create these plans or their content has been undertaken. This dissertation fills these voids by evaluating the content of 44 stand alone climate adaptation plans and 30 hazard mitigation plans for U.S. local communities in order to answer four interrelated questions:

  1. How do existing climate adaptation plans align with emerging principles of plan quality? What community attributes are associated with higher quality plans?
  2. How are U.S. local communities framing uncertainty in their climate adaptation planning? What approaches are local communities using to address uncertainty in their climate adaptation planning?
  3. What are U.S. local governments planning to do to prepare for climate change? How do these actions align with the risks or vulnerabilities faced by these local governments? Do local governments provide detail to support the implementation of the actions they identify?
  4. How could existing Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation planning guidelines be altered to integrate climate change? How are local communities currently integrating climate change into hazard planning?

Results show that across all stand alone adaptation plans analyzed, plans consistently: have strong factual bases, drawing upon multiple data sources to understand existing and future vulnerabilities; include a wide variety of adaptation actions; identify numerous types of uncertainty related to planning for climate change; and are using, on average, between 4-5 uncertainty reducing approaches promoted in the literature during their planning process. Most plans, however, include extremely limited implementation details, have built out limited adaptive management processes, and continue to use uncertainty reducing approaches that fall within the traditional ‘predict and plan’ model of planning. These differences hold regardless of community size or geographical location. These findings raise concerns about whether plans are both flexible enough to deal with the rapidly changing climate and if the actions in the plans will translate into ‘on the ground’ projects that build a community’s resilience to climate change.

Results also validate previous studies by showing that having planners actively engaged in or leading the adaptation planning process and working with elected officials to secure their support, help produce higher quality plans. Results also show that those creating adaptation plans emphasize uncertainty that is outside of the planner’s control, with limited attention paid to lingering sources of uncertainty that the planner has the ability to influence.

Contrary to previous studies, results show that communities are including a wide variety of adaptation actions in their plans, with an emphasis on research and monitoring actions as well as actions focused on making changes to operational practices and behavior. This contrasts with earlier studies showing that adaptation plans disproportionately emphasize capacity building actions. This shift to more concrete actions may be a sign that communities are aware of the need to identify a variety of actions in their planning process in order to comprehensively plan for climate change. In addition, results show that two thirds of the communities with stand alone climate adaptation plans have also embedded climate change, in some way, into their hazard mitigation plan. While there is significant room for improving this practice, this finding is a promising sign as it indicates that communities are looking for opportunities to embed or mainstream climate considerations throughout a variety of existing and more institutionalized planning processes.

Cumulatively, these results suggest that the first generation of adaptation planning is more comprehensive than originally documented in the literature. However, much more work is needed to ensure that the next generation of planning improves upon the limitations identified in these first generation plans. In particular, the next generation of adaptation planning: needs to embrace flexible uncertainty reducing approaches, including the creation of adaptive and iterative planning processes; should more fully engage non-traditional stakeholders and elected leaders in the planning process; and include far more details related to how identified actions will transition into real-world adaptation projects.

In conclusion, this research resulted in the creation of an analytical framework and accompanying methodology for evaluating plans, a new conceptual framework for organizing sources of uncertainty relative to the role of the planner, a new conceptual framework for understanding and classifying approaches for managing uncertainty, a comparison of theoretically robust adaptation strategies to those prioritized in local adaptation plans, and the identification of practical ways that communities can embed climate considerations into their hazard mitigation planning. This research also highlighted a tension that is largely missing from the literature: should a community create a stand alone plan or embed climate considerations into other planning domains? The dissertation concludes with policy guidance for practitioners struggling with this question.

Making Self-Help Infrastructure Finance Regional: Promises and Perils of a Multi-Jurisdictional Approach

by David Weinreich

In recent decades, Congress has failed to raise transportation revenues to keep pace with inflation and growth in traffic volume.  Insufficient funding for transportation programs has induced many local governments to fund new road and transit infrastructure themselves, using ballot initiatives known as local option transportation taxes.   While localized taxing decisions have become more politically expedient than raising federal and state motor fuel taxes, local funding comes with inherent drawbacks for developing regional transportation, which crosses into multiple taxing jurisdictions. This creates a potentially serious impediment to dealing with crucial problems like air quality, job access for the economically disadvantaged, and promotion of economic growth. In response, some regions have chosen to make local funding decisions using multi-jurisdictional, rather than local, taxes.  These places have voted across an entire region, allowing them to develop comprehensive, systemic solutions to transportation problems.

This study identifies barriers to the implementation of regional self-help strategies, and approaches that have worked in overcoming them. Using interviews and archival evidence, this study examines seven cases in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Denver, focusing on how state authorizing legislation shaped each process. This study develops a typology of multi-jurisdictional transportation funding mechanisms and identifies appropriate state and local policy approaches for situations that vary according to features of the authorizing legislation.

The political cost of developing a multi-jurisdictional option tax can be reduced by the existence of robust regional policy making institution, though these rarely exist in U.S. regions.  The cost may also be lowered by permissive legislation.  Such legislation can lift a major political obstacle to regional funding initiatives but can also make local collaboration more costly due to absence of legislation forcing rival jurisdictions to cooperate.  Nevertheless, both possibilities are much less costly than the lack of any pre-approved authorizing legislation.  This situation requires special legislation for each tax measure, which can result in elevated influence by state legislators in developing the transportation plan, and difficulty repeating the process.

Understanding Low-Income Residents' Sense of Community in Post-Apartheid Housing Developments in South Africa

by Jennifer A. Williams

South Africa’s Department of Human Settlements has sought to rectify apartheid-era injustices through the mass construction of low-income housing. Housing allocation efforts have led to the demolition of informal settlements and relocation of low-income residents to new developments. The drive to eliminate informal settlements rests within a global call to achieve “slum”-free cities. Many residents in South Africa come from informal settlements, where they have developed networks of trust, participation, and livelihoods. A concern with relocation efforts is that new housing developments disrupt pre-existing sense of community, which refers to an individual’s feeling of belonging to a group with a shared connection and attachment to place.

My dissertation investigates the influence of different housing approaches on residents’ sense of community, as indicated in social trust, community participation, and place attachment. This dissertation asks: How do different approaches to housing low-income residents influence sense of community? In order to answer this research question, I conducted field work in four sites: Cosmo City (a state-driven private developer project in Johannesburg); Diepsloot (a vast informal settlement in Johannesburg); Freedom Park (a self-help community in western Cape Town); Springfield Terrace (medium density apartments near the Cape Town CBD). With the support of a research team, I took a mixed-method approach through several data collection activities: 190 door-to-door surveys, 82 semi-structured resident interviews, 11 community mapping focus group sessions, and 15 semi-structured interviews with community leaders and non-governmental organizations.

During my research, I discovered that arriving to new housing resulted in feeling uprooted for some residents who no longer lived near their former neighbors. Smaller scale housing developments, located close to the city center, and on land that has historical meaning for residents mitigate feelings of estrangement. The limited capacity to form neighborhood watch or street cleanup groups stems from lack of will or ability, infrastructure, funding, and training. Residents are more likely to report attachment to place if they demonstrate feelings of belonging, safety, pride, and plans to stay in their housing in the future. This study revealed that medium density housing developments, rather than mega housing projects, support a greater sense of community.

2016

Art Museums and Their Connection to Neighborhood Change: A Case Study of the Portland Art Museum in Oregon

by Justin Meyer

Following the successes of art museums like the Guggenheim Bilbao and a growing body of literature linking arts and culture organizations to economically improved urban space, city boosters have conceptualized art museums as institutions that can revitalize urban areas and attract local development and human capital to cities. However, an art museum’s ability to attract new development and its connection to higher socioeconomic groups likely implicate it in the negative processes of gentrification, which include displacement, socio-cultural isolation of, and/or higher housing costs for residents. While several studies have investigated the local economic impact of art museums, few have investigated how art museums might influence socioeconomic change and community building in neighborhoods. My dissertation research investigates the role of art museums in community development, focusing on socioeconomic change and community engagement, to answer whether or not art museums can help cities create high quality, inclusive, and economically sustainable neighborhoods.

My dissertation research uses mixed methods in three distinct analyses to understand the relationship between large-scale art museums and neighborhood change. Starting with a quantitative analysis of socioeconomic change in 154 neighborhoods adjacent to 59 regional/national art museums in the largest 50 U.S. cities, my dissertation then turns to an in-depth case study of the Portland Art Museum (Oregon) and its surrounding neighborhood between 1890 and 2014, as well as an organizational analysis of the art museum community engagement between 1994 and 2014. In these analyses, I found evidence that regional economic trajectory and institutional dynamics influence what role an art museum has in neighborhood change. My data suggest that art museums are more likely to bestow anchoring benefits to their neighborhoods in shrinking economies, as well as are more inclined to support bridging between diverse social groups in an environment of limited private philanthropy and sufficient federal funding. The data also suggest that art museums in growing economies, while not linked by the data to significant displacement or increased housing costs in their adjacent neighborhoods, are inclined toward fostering relationships with more privileged groups and improving their status among their institution peers.

Privatizing Urban Planning and the Struggle for Inclusive Urban Development:  New Redevelopment Forms and Participatory Planning in São Paulo

by Joshua Shake

Large-scale redevelopment projects have grown in use around the world and taken many forms.  In São Paulo, Brazil, the previous and current mayoral administrations have been directing projects to redevelop the Luz neighborhood of the downtown region through contracts with private sector developers for plan creation and project completion.  Additionally, community groups participate in the process through the legally mandated municipal council.  Redevelopment in São Paulo is therefore distinctive from other contemporary redevelopment project styles occurring elsewhere:  it is resulting in the privatization of urban planning and has a little used form of required participation through the municipal council structure.

Nonetheless, contemporary understandings of these two governance forms suggest they cannot function concurrently.  By examining cities as assemblages of urban policies—from local, national, and international sources—and understanding the pathways and contexts from which these polices emerge, we will gain new insights on the city.  This reframing allows for a new understanding of public-private partnerships and democratic governance—one that breaks from the oppositional dichotomies present explicitly and implicitly in other accounts and provides for an understanding of the historical specificity of the two forms at this moment.   Further, the São Paulo case exemplifies a more nuanced understanding of the public and private logics of urban development; they are not either/or, oppositional forces but occur concurrently in varied ways for the same urban space and project. Sometimes, they function harmoniously with consensus and cooperation, but others with contention and conflict.

2015

Risk, Rationality, and Regional Governance

by Thomas Skuzinski

What are the preferences of local elected officials toward joint land use planning, a type of interlocal cooperation and form of regional governance? And how do we explain these preferences? The literature on interlocal cooperation depicts public officials as rational opportunists whose preferences and behaviors can be reliably predicted by institutional attributes of the municipal, intermunicipal, and political context in which they serve—i.e., where material benefits to the municipality or to the local official outweigh costs, cooperation will arise and endure. I propose that in policy areas where local benefits are uncertain and local autonomy is at risk, thought processes are significantly affected by individually held cultural values. I specify a cultural cognition of governance hypothesis, in which variation in individuals’ preferences toward interlocal cooperation is a result of variation in measurable dispositions toward solidarity (versus individualism) and equality (versus differentiation). I test the hypothesis using data on 538 local elected officials representing 262 Michigan municipalities in the Detroit and Grand Rapids metropolitan areas. The dependent variables are measures of preferences toward four types of agreement made under the state’s Joint Municipal Planning Act of 2003 (“JMPA”). The JMPA is flexible, allowing agreements that cover from a few parcels of land to entire municipalities, and from a merely advisory planning commission to a complete merger with dissolution of existing local planning and zoning functions. The legislation, therefore, presents a unique opportunity for probing local elected officials’ preferences toward land use cooperation under multiple adoption and implementation scenarios. Independent variables are constructed from survey data on local elected officials’ cultural dispositions, political perceptions, and individual level controls, and from municipal level census and fiscal data. Based on analysis with hierarchical linear modeling, findings provide strong support for the cultural cognition of governance hypothesis. The findings speak to the prospects for regional governance and the understanding of collaboration and social learning in planning processes.

Preserving Agriculture through Wind Energy Development:  A Study of the Social, Economic, and Land Use Effects of Windfarms on Rural Landowners and Their Communities

by Sarah Mills

This research tests the claim made by some rural officials that windfarms help to preserve farmland. Using a mixed-methods case study approach, I draw on evidence from four Michigan windfarms to test three different mechanisms by which wind turbines might be altering the farmland conversion process, as derived from both the rural planning and wind energy literatures. First, a large-scale (n=1730) mail survey of farmland owners is used to determine that landowners with turbines on their property invest significantly more in their farms than both their neighbors and farmland owners in a similarly situated non-windfarm community. Landowners with turbines are also more likely to have a succession plan in place for their farm and less likely to believe their land will go idle in the future than other landowners. However, the more indirect financial benefits of wind development—local jobs and increased property tax revenues—do not appear to have such positive impacts on landowners who live in the windfarm community but who do not have a turbine sited on their property. Second, interviews with realtors and public officials in these case study communities indicate that, rather than reduce demand for new homes in the vicinity of the windfarm as I had hypothesized, windfarm income may be inducing some landowners to build new homes within sight of the turbines. Finally, through geospatial analysis of zoning ordinances, I find that, though farmland preservation is rarely considered when officials establish setback distances for wind turbines, the amount of land rendered undevelopable by the presence of the turbines can be substantial.

These findings can inform officials and rural planners who might be considering whether and how to welcome wind development within their jurisdictions, by providing information about the social and economic impacts of wind development to local communities. Wind developers can find in this research quantitative data on what landowners in communities with wind turbines see as the key benefits and drawbacks of wind energy, allowing these developers to better communicate the benefits and improve their practices to minimize the drawbacks to encourage more rural communities to accept wind energy development.

Fostering Participation and Capacity Building with Neighborhood Information Systems

by David Epstein

Applying information to decision making, monitoring neighborhood conditions, targeting resources, and recommending action have long been key urban planning functions. Increasingly, nonprofit organizations like community development corporations (CDCs) carry out these functions in distressed urban areas. Scholars in multiple disciplines argue that “data democratization”—increased access to data—would support a wide range of community change efforts. Proponents of a specific data delivery tool—neighborhood information systems (NIS)—claim that the technology can increase public participation and community capacity. This research evaluates these claims in Cleveland where the mortgage foreclosure crisis has left a glut of vacant and abandoned properties and a dire need to prioritize activities with limited resources. The research combines three distinct frameworks: one for the evaluation of information systems, one for community capacity building, and one for community development corporation capacity building. The mixed-methods approach employed includes interviews with sixty community development professionals in Cleveland and a longitudinal regression analysis of thirty CDCs’ housing rehabilitation outcomes between July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2011. NIS increased the networking capacity of CDCs engaged in the city’s Code Enforcement Partnership. NIS also increased the programmatic capacity of CDCs as measured by the percentage of properties purchased that were sold to new owners who paid taxes on those properties. The findings suggest that access to NIS has not fundamentally changed CDC priorities or workflows. NIS providers may wish to consider their role as not just democratizing data—but providing a platform for partnerships dependent on data.

2014

Public Space and Life in an Indian City: The Politics of Space in Bangalore

by Salila Vanka

SMy dissertation examines the tension between state-driven urban development policies and societal responses to spatial transformations in Indian cities. At the same time that state actors have undertaken large-scale renewal projects to modernize Indian cities, conflicting demands for land have triggered a rise in authorized and unauthorized encroachments on everyday public spaces in Bangalore. In the context of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992 and other reforms that have strengthened the role of local governing bodies and citizens in urban planning and governance, my research examines contestations between state and non-state actors over Bangalore’s public streets, sidewalks, parks and playgrounds. Specifically this research asks, “What do the conceptualizations and claims of different actors of state and society to public space reveal about planning and governance in Indian cities?”

My research examines three cases of contestations for public space in Bangalore. The first case studies the struggles of a subaltern bamboo-weaver community to remain on a public sidewalk in the face of threats of eviction to accommodate a public rail project. The second case examines a middle-class environmental network’s activism against felling of street trees for a municipal road-widening project. The third case examines an elite neighborhood group’s efforts to reverse master-planned changes to a neighborhood civic amenity site.

This research reveals new forms of state-society engagement in spatial politics in Bangalore, thus contributing to scholarship on the politics of planning and governance in Indian cities. The first case shows that subaltern groups seek recourse in caste politics when state actors do not acknowledge their economic rights, instead relegating their claims to welfare schemes. The second case reveals multiple bourgeois visions of urban public space and also demonstrates that middle-class actors are willing to use confrontational methods to engage with unresponsive state actors. The third case shows that elite neighborhood groups develop mutually beneficial connections with government officials to gain access to neighborhood public spaces. In sum, my research shows that different social groups in Indian cities seek resolution for their claims to public space in electoral and caste politics, and not necessarily in official forums of participatory governance that privilege middle-class actors.

Land Tenure, Politics, and Perception: A Study of Tenure Security and Housing Improvement in Indian Slums

by Shohei Nakamura

Scholars have argued that the persistent risk of forced eviction constrains housing investment by slum residents, who would otherwise have motivation and resources to incrementally upgrade their houses. However, the conceptualization of tenure security and its link to housing investment remains inconsistent, and systematically investigated empirical evidence about the role of tenure security—in particular, the effect of land tenure formalization—has been scarce.

Three essays in this dissertation fill this critical research gap with a focus on India. This study is a rare endeavor that bridges the theories of tenure security and housing investment and scholarship on urban informality and politics in India. In so doing, this research theoretically disentangles the interplay of the three elements of tenure security: legal, de facto, and perceived tenure security. Empirically, this dissertation explores how the interaction of land tenure, politics, and the perception of slum dwellers affect housing investment behaviors.

In India, some local government agencies legally protect slum dwellers from forced eviction under slum notification (or declaration) policy. Using a nationally representative dataset, the first essay in this dissertation estimates the effect of slum notification on the amount of housing investments by slum residents across India. The second essay further estimates the impact of slum declaration on the longitudinal change in housing structures in Pune. Its statistical analysis of the original household survey detects the positive effect of slum declaration and its heterogeneity. These findings demonstrate that the legal assurance of slum dwellers’ occupancy, instead of the provision of full property rights, can expedite housing improvement. By integrating a survey analysis and the case study of a slum in Pune, the third essay reveals how slum dwellers form beliefs about their rights to develop housing and how these beliefs significantly influence their housing investment decisions. In addition, the study illuminates the complexity in the relationship of (il)legality and politics in urban India, and how this politico-legal interaction affects tenure security and housing conditions in slums.

Under What Conditions Can Rail Transit Induce Higher Density? Evidence from Four Metropolitan Areas in the United States, 1990-2010

by Qingyun Shen

Ample empirical evidence shows that dense urban forms can promote rail transit use and reduce car dependence. However, evidence of the reverse causal link—the impact of urban rail transit investments on neighborhood land use forms — is less clear. Previous studies that evaluate the land use impacts of the urban rail transit systems yield mixed results on whether and how these systems could affect land use forms. Those mixed results suggest that the existence and magnitude of land use changes due to rail projects are likely influenced by certain contextual conditions, pertaining both to the project location and to its regional setting. It is the focus of this study to explore what those conditions are and to examine how they could affect the land use impacts of urban rail transit projects on the nearby neighborhoods.

Out of many dimensions that describe land use impacts, this research chooses to examine the changes in population and housing densities—the densification effects, in particular. After theorizing the mechanisms of the densification effects of urban rail transit, this study hypothesizes on the key factors that may interfere with such land use effects and tests those hypotheses in empirical studies. It takes into account both the internal and external factors that could interfere with the land use impacts of urban rail transit. The internal factors include the type of rail transit and the station features; the external factors include the pre-existing conditions of the neighborhoods where the rail stations are located. To provide the most recent evidence on this topic, this research selects four metropolitan areas in the United States as the study cases—Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., each of which constructed new urban rail lines in the 1990s. Applying a difference-in-differences design and a mixed methodology of spatial and regression analyses, this study quantifies the effects of new rail stations on neighborhood population/housing density changes and investigates the conditions that may promote or mitigate such effects.

The findings on individual cases show that a new rail transit station is more likely to help increase population and housing densities when it is introduced in a moderate-income neighborhood with a pre-existing condition of compactness and relatively few single-family houses. A cross-comparison of the results from the four difference cases reveals that heavy rail lines are more likely to trigger increase in population and housing density than light rail lines. In addition, the network effect also matters—a new urban rail line that is an extension to an existing rail transit network is more likely to promote density increase than a brand new urban rail system built from scratch.

This study contributes to the long-lasting debate on the costs and benefits of urban rail transit investments. It provides the most recent empirical evidence on the densification effects of urban rail transit in the United States. Furthermore, it is the first of its kind to systematically study the interference of both the internal and external factors of a new urban rail transit project on its potential land use impacts. The findings of this study can be used to help transit planners make informed planning decisions on the site selection of a new rail station in the future, if densification is one of their planning goals.

Assessing and Reducing Exposure to Heat Waves in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

by Nicholas Rajkovich

In the United States, more people die from heat waves than from any other type of natural disaster. Climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events. Fatalities during hot weather occur primarily in cities, in part due to the urban heat island effect.

This dissertation addresses heat-related exposure in Cuyahoga County, Ohio and is structured around three complementary studies. The first study investigates the urban heat island effect using a mobile measurement platform. Variations in solar radiation and albedo led to greater-than-30°C shifts in the ground surface temperature. Air temperatures recorded downwind from forested areas were 0.25°C cooler than those recorded over impervious, bare soil, or grass land covers. Water provided a cooling effect that was roughly 2.7 times stronger than that of a forest. However, large areas of forest or water were necessary to reduce the local air temperature; 11.8 hectares of water (29.16 acres) resulted in only a 0.67°C reduction in temperature.

A second study addresses exposure in single family detached houses. Five house types were modeled in thermal load software with different configurations of insulation, air infiltration, and windows to evaluate the effect of weatherization on annual energy usage, air-conditioning operation, and indoor temperature. Weatherization lowered the yearly cost to heat and cool a house by $260 to $480 USD; it also decreased electricity usage associated with air-conditioning by more than 35%. Weatherization reduced the required size of air-conditioning equipment by 40 to 50% per house. However, if windows remain closed during warm weather, weatherization treatments may increase exposure to temperatures above the ASHRAE thermal comfort zone.

A final study investigates how professionals responsible for reducing exposure to high temperatures define and act to reduce temperature-related morbidity and mortality. Using a system of professions approach, professionals from the health, building science, and urban environment policy sectors were linked to tasks they consider their jurisdiction, such as cooling centers, residential energy efficiency, or developing codes and standards. Results from twenty-eight semi-structured interviews indicate barriers among programs. Collaborative efforts may help to bridge among disciplines and improve strategies to reduce exposure to future heat waves.

Critical Perspectives on Local Governance: The Formation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Low-Income Immigrant Neighborhoods of Los Angeles

by Wonhyung Lee

Business improvement districts (BIDs) are local organizations that have been revitalizing commercial areas for the last two decades in the United States. While local governments are cutting back on the delivery of services, local stakeholders such as property owners and business owners are assuming new roles by providing private services aimed at improving commercial landscapes. The emergence of BIDs represents the growing importance of sublocal governing structures for local development and revitalization. However, not every commercial district succeeds in establishing BIDs despite their interest and need. This research aims to understand why certain neighborhoods fail to form BIDs and what factors could facilitate successful formation of BIDs in the context of low-income multiethnic neighborhoods in which BIDs can function as an effective economic and community development tool. This research presents a comparative examination of two commercial districts in Los Angeles—MacArthur Park and the Byzantine Latino Quarter (BLQ)—that share similar demographic characteristics but have yielded different BID formation outcomes. This research involved collecting archival data, observations, and in-depth interviews during a year-long field research in Los Angeles. Major groups of interviewees include property owners, community organization staff, city employees, and private consultants involved in the BID formation process. The comparison of the two neighborhoods revealed common challenges for BID formation that are related to a high percentage of absentee property owners, spatial tensions and information gap among multiethnic groups, and low human and financial capital. Despite these challenges, the BLQ displayed distinguishable factors, which may have contributed to successful BID formation, including invested and persistent community stakeholders, partnerships with non- and quasi-governmental and organizations, sound foundation of residents’ activism, and efforts to embrace multi-ethnic groups in the neighborhood. The findings of this study offers meaningful insights for understanding the kind of struggle that low-income immigrant neighborhoods usually experience in BID formation; broadening the current theoretical and empirical understandings of multicultural community organizing; and guiding a more equitable distribution of public services and resources for the areas with inconclusive or ineffective efforts for BID formation.

2013

Civil Society Organizations and the Protection of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Colonial Railways: The Case of Madagascar’s Fianarantsoa-Côte Est Railway

by Douglas Kolozsvari

Colonial-era railways support the life needs of many communities and households in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Although the end of colonial rule removed some justifications used for their construction, as well as resources that supported these lines’ infrastructure and operations, these railways still serve millions of people. Despite the important role they play in this infrastructure-poor region, a lack of resources has left many lines in various states of disrepair. Complicating efforts to maintain railway service, international development institutions (IDIs) have repeatedly relied on a relatively narrow economic rationality and loan conditions to ensure governments stop supporting underperforming lines either by closing or privatizing them. The case of a colonial-built Fianarantsoa-Côte Est Railway (FCE) in Madagascar, which has faced closure numerous times from various causes, provides insight into how effectively railway supporters can organize, support, and frame their arguments to preserve service. This case was also selected because the presence of civil society organizations (CSOs) dedicated to protecting the FCE was unique. The findings show that the main CSO dedicated to protecting the FCE helped build ownership for the line among the local population and users based on its heritage value. This heritage was based largely on the sacrifice of ancestors who built the line – a trait the FCE shares with other colonial-era railways in SSA. The resulting sense of solidarity, and activities in which they participated, curbed farming practices that threatened the line’s infrastructure. This solidarity also facilitated the creation of a second CSO that protected the line from saboteurs during a political crisis. Although officials from IDIs and government had little direct contact with CSOs, the noticeable atmosphere of civic engagement along the line affected their opinions about the FCE. This case holds lessons for planning theory and policymaking. Balancing traditional economic justifications for operating transportation services with other benefits, finding a champion and building solidarity, and recognizing the value of study tours can improve transportation decisions and outcomes. Likewise, planners and policymakers can encourage the formation, sustainability and active involvement of CSOs by ensuring they remain democratic, transparent, well funded and engaged with all stakeholders.

2012

Evaluating Neighborhood Environments for Urban Heat Island Analysis and Reduction

by Paul Coseo

City officials are increasingly concerned about heat. Two warming processes are increasing the occurrence of urban heat: 1) global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions and 2) intensifying urban heat islands (UHI) caused by urbanization. Global climate change increases the frequency, intensity, and duration of hot days. UHIs result in warmer urban air temperatures relative to rural and suburban areas Problems directly resulting from hot weather and UHIs include increased heat mortality, infrastructure failure, increased stress to vegetation, and decreased air and water quality. City officials are increasingly taking action to analyze and reduce UHIs. Yet, past research provides insufficient information for researchers and planners on 1) the relative contribution of neighborhood physical characteristics to UHIs and how those physical characteristics’ contribution may change during different times of day, 2) the accuracy of land cover quantifications necessary to predict UHIs, and 3)monitoring the performance of in-situ cool pavement strategies. To address these gaps in the literature, I conducted three related studies of UHIs in eight Chicago neighborhoods in 2010. 1) I found that light winds at night resulted in stronger relationships between independent neighborhood physical variables and UHI intensity (2 a.m., adjusted R2= 0.68) than during the afternoon (4 p.m., adjusted R2= 0.26). At night land cover variables were better predictors of UHIs relative to other actors. Yet, during the afternoon, I found that upwind heat sources were better predictors of UHIs relative to other factors. 2) In the second study, I found that coarse (two-dimensional) quantifications of impervious surface area are sufficient for UHI prediction. Even so, more detailed (three-dimensional) quantifications that document impervious surfaces concealed by tree canopy are likely better for urban forestry and planning for rights-of-way. 3) Finally, I found that out of six different cool pavement strategies, highly reflective concrete and pervious concrete, cooled the air. Both designs had cooler air at three meters by at least -0.40⁰Ccompared to conventional asphalt paving. As city officials move to implement initiatives to reduce UHIs, this research provides a useful direction on how to conduct UHI analysis and monitor the performance of UHI reduction strategies.

Measuring Accessibility for Residential Location Choice: Beyond the Dichotomy of Local and Regional

by Xuan Liu

Travel demand forecasting has been a key component of long range planning at Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in the United States. Research advancements have led to incorporating transportation accessibility into household and business location choice analysis and forecasting. The dynamic feedback effects between transportation and land use have been studied using accessibility measures with mixed results. This dissertation examines multiple aspects of accessibility and their effects on residential location choice. First, while accessibility has been dichotomized into local regional accessibility, this study suggests that a mid-range accessibility may have an independent and statistically significant effect on residential location choice. Second, accessibility metrics have traditionally been indifferent to the clustering of destinations. This dissertation tests the idea that, in addition to amount of activities, clustering of activities also contributes to accessibility. Models that explicitly incorporate clustering into measures of accessibility may show stronger explanatory power in predicting residential location choice than models that do not incorporate clustering into accessibility measures. Third, this study compares the effects of place-based accessibility measures and personal commute time on residential location choice. Finally, this dissertation develops alternative models for analyzing residential location choice in regard to accessibility for various socio-economic groups of population, particularly by race and ethnicity, as well as alternative models at three levels of geographic scale, which are metropolitan region, county, and city, for assessing the effects of scale on accessibility. Research hypotheses in this dissertation are tested using multinomial logit models estimated for Detroit metropolitan area based on data from 2004 to 2010. The results show that local, mid-range, and regional accessibility measures affect residential location choice significantly, while the effects of clustering need further study. Individual workers' commute time has the biggest impact on residential location choice. This is found to be true at multiple geographic levels in Detroit region. The purpose of the study is to contribute to understanding the effects of accessibility in residential location choice, developing innovative tools for measuring accessibility that incorporate clustering and at multiple geographic scales, improving land use and transportation modeling practice, and eventually helping development of land use and transportation policies.

Building Alliances: Power and Politics in Urban India.

by Neha Sami

With economic liberalization, several new actors, like international consultants, financial institutions, and foreign architects and designers, have emerged in urban India. Others like politicians, real estate developers, landowners, civil society groups and government bureaucrats are reinventing themselves to adapt to and take advantage of a rapidly transforming urban environment. Building on primary and secondary data collected in India over 2008-09, this dissertation examines the role that developers, landowners, politicians, business leaders, citizen groups and civic activists play in post-liberalization urban India, and the alliances they form to achieve specific developmental and governance objectives. Building on theories of western urban politics, writing on contemporary urban India and theories of globalization this thesis argues that, increasingly, Indian cities are being shaped by coalitions between various key actors that include participants both from within government and outside. In this dissertation, I examine how a minority of well-connected urban elites (ranging from landed farmers to business executives and financial consultants) is able to leverage personal social and political networks to form ad-hoc coalitions. Studying power structures in two Indian cities: Bangalore and Pune, I find that planning and policy processes are increasingly being shaped by a minority of elites in Indian cities that focus largely on the interests of a sub-section of the urban population. These elite actors rely not only on formal planning processes but also on more informal means of exerting influence and gaining access to power through personal community, caste and other social networks. The actions of such elite groups are being given legitimacy and are gradually being institutionalized through various governmental policy and legislative reforms at the national, state and municipal level. Data from Bangalore and Pune show that the national government's reform program and its implementation by the state governments is privileging the participation of (mostly elite) non-state actors that come from and serve the interests of specific urban residents, typically higher-income groups, at the cost of other urban populations. Consequently, a more hybrid model of planning is emerging in Indian cities, in which elite non-state actors are working together with governmental actors to plan and govern Indian cities.

The New Food Agenda: Municipal Food Policy and Planning for the 21st Century.

by Deirdra Stockmann

For most of the 20th century, cities restricted agricultural activities through ordinances and aggressively pursued "higher and better uses" of industry, commerce, and housing. Yet, today, cities across the United States are challenging the exclusion of agriculture and related food systems and rethinking how it can be a vital dimension of the landscape and local economy. Citizens, community leaders, and city officials are engaging in dynamic dialogues about how to integrate food system activities into the urban fabric. But local governments do not take on new work and new issues lightly, particularly in times of austerity. How is food finding its way in? In this thesis, I investigate why Benton Harbor, Michigan, Flint, Michigan, and Cleveland, Ohio, entered into food system planning and policymaking. Based on analysis of in-depth interviews, document review, and direct observation, I discuss the roles and motivations of advocates who came together to put food on the municipal policy agenda, and consider the political, economic and social contexts that influenced their advocacy strategies. Consistent with theories of the policy process, I argue that local governments are compelled to add food system issues to their agenda when effective advocacy coalitions demonstrate widespread popular support for the proposed food policy and strategically link desired policy actions to issues important to decision-makers, such as unemployment, vacant land, and social equity. Several dimensions of the socio-political context diminish opportunities for policy change including limited government capacity, high administrative turnover, and disagreement over whether allowing food production would help or hinder economic development goals. This study identifies two opportunities for improving policy process theory to apply to the local context. First, I propose a construct of the "local mood" to capture the collective and ever-changing sense of city identity, which influences how local decision-makers and citizens view a new policy issue such as urban agriculture. Second, these cases suggest that the municipal policy development process is more iterative and collaborative than the national process, on which most theories are based, due in part to the closer proximity of citizen-advocates to policymakers.

2011

Land Use, Land Conservation, and Wind Energy Development Outcomes in New England.

by William Cameron Weimar

This dissertation provides three independent research inquiries. The first examines how inter-governmental policy, site-specific, and social factors lead to the success, prolonged delay, or failure of inland wind power projects in New England. The three case studies examined include the 48 megawatt Glebe Mountain Wind Farm proposal in southern Vermont, the 30 megawatt Hoosac Wind Farm in western Massachusetts, and the 24 megawatt Lempster Wind Farm in southern New Hampshire. To ascertain why the project outcomes varied, 45 semi-structured interviews were conducted with a range of stakeholders, including wind development firms, utility companies, state regulatory agencies, regional planning commissions, town officials, land conservation organizations, and opposition groups. The second study establishes a comprehensive set of thirty-seven explanatory variables to determine the amount of suitable land and the corresponding electricity generation potential within the prime wind resource areas of Western Massachusetts. The explanatory variables are incorporated into Boolean GIS suitability models which represent the two divergent positions towards wind power development in Massachusetts, and a third, balanced model. The third study determines that exurban residential development is not the only land use factor that reduces wind power development potential in Western Massachusetts. A set of Boolean GIS models for 1985 and 2009 find the onset of conservation easements on private lands having the largest impact. During this 25 year period a combination of land use conversion and land conservation has reduced the access to prime wind resource areas by 18% (11,601 hectares), an equivalent loss of 5,800-8,700 GWh/year of zero carbon electricity generation. The six main findings from this research are: (1) Visual aesthetics remain the main factor of opposition to specific projects; (2) The Not-in-my Backyard debate for wind power remains unsettled; (3) Widespread support exists for regional land use energy plans; (4) The wind resources of Western Massachusetts can significantly contribute to the state’s current renewable portfolio standard while balancing conservation and renewable energy development objectives; However, (5) a combination of exurban residential development and conservation easements significantly reduces wind power development potential over time; and (6) a need exists to legally define wind as a publicly beneficial resource.

2010

How the Built Environment Influences Driving: Insights from Global Positioning System Data

by Xiaoguang Wang

The sprawling low-density car-dependent urban developments in many metropolitan areas in the United States have contributed to severe transportation consequences in the last five decades. They demand intensive automobile travel which exacerbates the nation's oil dependency, and increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which contribute to global warming. While automobile travel patterns have been related to the built environment in current literature, few studies have made the direct connections between the built environment and vehicle fuel consumption and emissions. This dissertation establishes a methodology for understanding the relationships between specific attributes of the built environment, people's driving behavior, and the associated vehicle fuel consumption and emissions. This dissertation applies a disaggregated analysis scheme, through which an individual driver's travel behavior and travel outcomes are related to the built environment. In addition to the built environment near drivers' home and work places, this dissertation provides detailed examinations on the urban corridors along drivers' commuting routes, an important and yet understudied urban space. A rich global positioning systems (GPS) dataset collected from 73 automobile drivers over 30 days on a second-by-second basis in the Detroit metropolitan region is used to quantify driving behaviors and to estimate fuel consumption and major tailpipe emissions. Multivariate statistical techniques are applied to test the influences of the built environment on driving outcomes, controlling for other factors. The results of this dissertation demonstrate that built environment features near home and work locations do not have significant associations with total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and total fuel consumption and emissions on non-work travel. Rather, the influences of built environment along commuting routes on these travel outcomes are statistically significant. Denser and more diverse non-work destination choices are associated with lower level of driving, less fuel consumption and less air pollution. This research also indicates that denser and more diverse land use patterns near drivers' homes lead to lower vehicle fuel efficiency with higher emissions per mile.