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Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences

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Faculty news: Two new grants for Gabbe

Research to focus on parking and climate-safe housing

Urban planner C.J. Gabbe, ESS's newest Assistant Professor, will partner with colleagues from around California on two newly funded research projects.

The first project is a $1.4-million grant from the Strategic Growth Council's Climate Change Research program, which seeks to fund research on reducing carbon emissions, as well as adaptation and resiliency to climate change in California. The funded project will measure the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities with an eye toward designing and targeting policies to help them become more resilient. Dr. Gabbe and colleague Greg Pierce (UCLA) will lead the part of the project that addresses climate change vulnerabilities in the built environment.

People spend most of their time at home or at work, so homes and offices may serve as a protective buffer to mitigate many of the health and economic effects of climate-induced heat shocks, to which vulnerable Californians will be increasingly exposed. The research is aimed at quantifying the potential to enhance the protective capacities of three categories of lower-cost housing—publicly-subsidized multifamily housing, unsubsidized multifamily housing, and mobile homes— in order to buffer the effects of heat shocks to their occupants. Gabbe and Pierce's policy-oriented research will not just quantify the risks to occupants of vulnerable housing types, but will identify pragmatic solutions that agencies can use to mitigate these risks. 

The second project, funded by the UCLA Institute for Transportation Studies, focuses on the economic impact of off-street parking requirements in Silicon Valley. It has long been true in many jurisdictions that new office and housing developments must provide a certain amount of new off-street parking. The minimum ratio of required parking spaces per square foot of new development varies from place to place, but it is very high in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley, of course, has economic productivity ranked among the highest on earth, and land values are also exceedingly expensive. What are the economic and environmental impacts of these minimum parking requirements, in such an expensive market? 

Using Silicon Valley as their case study, Gabbe and collaborators Michael Manville (UCLA) and Taner Osman (UCLA) will examine the opportunity costs of minimum parking requirements to both housing supply and firm productivity. Specifically, they plan to look at how minimum parking requirements may shape the locations and characteristics of new development, distort the location of firms and weaken agglomeration economies, and make driving less expensive. The next step will be to assess the political economy of parking regulatory reforms. 

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