Students host eighth annual Bay Area Policy Forum, exploring civic innovation, transportation issues
By Nick Weinmeister
Graduate students from across the USC Price School of Public Policy gathered in downtown San Francisco on Feb. 10 for the eighth annual Bay Area Policy Forum. This year, the central themes of the forum were civic innovation and transportation.
The event was again hosted at SPUR, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, located in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The symposium was organized by USC Price students from a variety of master’s programs, along with Master of Public Policy administrator Suzanne Alexander.
Assistant Professor T.J. McCarthy delivered opening remarks, speaking about the links between transportation, civic innovation, and the daily lives of citizens.
The civic innovation panel featured individuals from the public, technology and philanthropic sectors. Participants included: Efrem Bycer, director of economic development for Code for America; Julie Lein, managing partner for the Urban Innovation Fund; Marc Hérbert, design anthropologist for the City and County of San Francisco; and Jay Nath, chief innovation officer for the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation. The panel focused on the ability of innovative industries to improve the function of government and societies, and how governing institutions can welcome such efforts.
The keynote address was provided by Patricia Martel, city manager of Daly City. Martel has vast experience in local government, including working for municipalities, water districts and regional governmental organizations. Martel discussed the government’s unique position to bring together community needs and the services provided by private interests, to improve life for residents. She also emphasized the need for government to look to the future.
The transportation panel consisted of practitioners who work in transportation software, technology, public management and nonprofits. Participants included: Nicholas Josefitz, board member of BART; Randy Iwasaki, CEO of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority; Annabel Chang, director of public policy for Lyft; Arielle Fleisher, transportation policy associate at SPUR; and Janice Park, transportation planner at Remix. The transportation panel focused on the rapidly emerging realities of new technology in transportation, and the challenges they pose for labor and communities in general.
Associate Professor Juliet Musso closed the event by highlighting some of the immense challenges to ethics and standards of living that technological innovation can present. She also engaged with students about methods of analyzing these issues and how to construct strong solutions.