9th annual Bay Area Policy Forum addresses housing, gentrification, environmental sustainability
By Jake Clark
The ninth annual Bay Area Policy Forum was held on Friday, March 2 at The Laundry, an art gallery in San Francisco’s Mission district. The forum convened experts from academia, nonprofits, the public sector and the private sector to discuss the topics of housing and gentrification, as well as the environment and sustainability.
The event was planned by USC Price School of Public Policy master’s students and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program Administrator, Suzanne Alexander. It brought together more than 75 students from the MPP program and the Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs in Los Angeles, Sacramento and online.
Opening remarks by Professor Richard Green explained the emerging gap between winning cities and losing cities, the economic pressure this places on residents, and the inequalities produced by this gap.
The forum’s keynote speaker, State Senator Scott Wiener, author of the SB 35 housing streamlining bill and the SB 827 transit-oriented development bill discussed the state of housing in California. After tracing the history of development in the state, Senator Weiner explained SB 827’s purpose and progress through the senate.
The housing and gentrification panel featured: Dr. Miriam Zuk, director of the Center for Community Innovation and project director of the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley; Sam Moss, executive director of Mission Housing Development Corporation; Adhi Nagraj, director of the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) and chair of the Oakland Planning Commission; Kate Hartley, director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development; and Alex Shoor, senior manager at Katz & Associates. The panel was moderated by MPA student Ryan Lutz.
The environment and sustainability panel featured: Abigail Dillen, vice president of litigation for climate and energy at Earthjustice; Daniel Witt, senior manager of business development and policy at Tesla; and Adrian Covert, vice president of public policy for the Bay Area Council. The talk was moderated by MPP student Jennifer Lovett.
For the first since the forum’s establishment, attendees were able to participate in small breakout discussions with the guest speakers following each panel. The conversations were led by members of the BAPF planning committee and provided a unique opportunity to dive deeper into the topics with these leading practitioners.
Closing remarks were given by Assistant Professor T.J. McCarthy who spoke about the intersectional nature of policy and encouraged all in attendance to be well-rounded and not to define one’s self narrowly. He noted that it’s more valuable to be looking for interesting answers to interesting problems than to be pigeonholed into one field.
The daytime panels were followed by a special evening reception, which included three generations of Price students: current students, MPP/MPA alumni and newly-admitted fall 2018 students. During the reception, attendees discussed the panel content, comparing Bay Area challenges to similar issues in Los Angeles, while also sharing Price anecdotes as well as personal endeavors and success post-USC.