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Is Sprawl a Bad Thing?

UC Riverside Hosts Conference on Suburban Development

Is the Inland Region Really the Center of the Nation’s “Sprawl?”

(February 10, 2003)

The University of California, Riverside will hold a three-day planning conference for the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development that will take a clear-eyed look at the recent claim that the Inland region is the center of sprawl in the nation.

Reid Ewing, Rutgers professor and lead author of the report issued last fall which garnered national news coverage, will face off against John Husing, a local economist who’s been critical of that report and its methodology.

The debate will happen on Friday, Feb. 21 in the Terrace Rooms on campus. Former Riverside County supervisor Tom Mullen will also be on that panel, along with Samuel Myers, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

The free conference, starting on Thursday, February 20, will also feature Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros as one of many nationally known thinkers and writers concerned with suburban issues, all talking about the Inland region. Cisneros, now president of American CityVista in San Antonio, is particularly knowledgeable about Inland Southern California because of his strong interest in housing for the Hispanic market.

The Center for Sustainable Suburban Development has been proposed as a think tank for Inland Southern California, taking advantage of UC Riverside’s location in one of the fastest-growing suburban areas in the country.

“This area provides a laboratory for studying the wide range of issues related to growth and development,” said Gary Dymski, a professor of economics at UC Riverside and the designated director for this planned center. “We want to study the social, environmental, political, educational and economic problems, the questions about traffic and infrastructure development and air quality that we face here.”

Two panels with the Inland region as their focus will dominate Friday afternoon. One will look at lessons to be learned from other areas of the country. The other will pose the challenge of making the Inland area’s economy not just bigger, but better.

Dean Edward Blakely of the Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at New School University in New York City, will speak at dinner Friday evening. Blakely previously has overseen the urban planning and development programs at both USC and UC Berkeley.

Schedule for the Conference on Sustainable Suburban Development

All activities, except where noted, are held in Terrace Rooms B, C and D in the UC Riverside Commons area.

Thursday, February 20

UCR faculty research on policy issues in the Inland Empire
9 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.
Carlos Velez-Ibanez, Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Ernesto Galarza Public Policy and Humanities Research Institute, UCR: Modes of agricultural organization, vertical mobility, and household sustainability in the Coachella and Hatch Valleys
Robert Calfee, Dean of the Graduate School of Education, UCR: Accomplishments, Opportunities and Challenges for K-12 education in Inland Southern California
Joel Martin, Professor of Religious Studies and History, Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian History, UCR and Dr. Katherine Spilde, Research Associate, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, Kennedy School of Government: Cultural Sustainability and Economic Development among the Native American Nations of Inland Southern California
Max Neiman, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Social and Behavioral Science Research, UCR: Explaining Local Competition for Economic Development.
Discussant -- Steven P. Erie, Professor of Political Science, UC San Diego

10:40 a.m. to Noon
Scott Coltrane, Professor and Chair of Sociology, UCR: Family stress and its consequences in Inland Southern California
Gary Dymski, Professor of Economics, UCR, and Carolyn Aldana, Associate Professor of Economics, California State University, San Bernardino: Housing Separation, Discrimination, and Affordability in Inland Southern California
William Jury, Distinguished Professor of Soil Physics, Department of Environmental Sciences, UCR: The UCR Environmental Initiative and Inland Southern California
Discussant -- Lois Takahashi, Professor, School of Public Policy and Social Research, UCLA

Lunch break

1:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m. -- Speech
Henry Cisneros, President and CEO, American CityVista, formerly Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, former mayor of San Antonio: Sustainability and community in the 21st Century

2:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ecological Sustainability in Suburban Development: From Human Islands in the Wilderness to the Landscape of Sprawl
Rutherford Platt, Professor of Geography and Planning Law, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Jennifer Wolch, Professor of Geography and Co-Director of the Sustainable Cities Program, USC
Mike Allen, Professor of Plant Pathology and Chair of the Center for Conservation Biology, UCR
Mark Pisano, Executive Director, Southern California Association of Governments
Dan Silver, Coordinator, Endangered Habitats League

5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Reception: Sweeney Art Galley
Remarks by Patricia O’Brien, Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, UCR, and Susan Straight, award-winning novelist and writer.

Friday, February 21

9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Sprawl in the Inland Empire
Reid Ewing, Research Professor, Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
John Husing, President, Economics and Politics, Inc., San Bernardino
Tom Mullen, formerly Supervisor, Riverside County
Samuel Myers, Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Buffet lunch and Speech: Myron Orfield, Director, Metropolitan Area Research Corporation, author of American MetroPolitics

1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
What can the Inland Empire learn from other California growth experiences?
John Landis, Professor of City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley
Mark Baldassare, Director of Research, Public Policy Institute of California, San Francisco
Fernando Guerra, Professor of Political Science and Chicano Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University
Nick Bollman, President, California Center for Regional Leadership
Carol Whiteside, President, The Great Valley Center, Modesto

3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
The challenge of economic development in the Inland Empire
Rick Peiser, Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development, Graduate School of Design, Harvard
Allen Scott, Professor of Geography, School of Public Policy and Social Research, UCLA
James Mulvihill, Chair, Department of Geography, California State University, San Bernardino
Paul Ong, Professor of Economics, School of Public Policy and Social Research, UCLA

6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Dinner and Speech (Caféteria)
Edward Blakely, Dean of the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University, New York City


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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