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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Decision and a Decision to be Made

Organized disruptors — both students and non-students — who shut down a pro-Israel gathering at University of California Los Angeles in May 2018 might not be prosecuted, according to information from LA City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office. Instead, they will be called to a confidential but mandatory proceeding called a “City Attorney Hearing,” an alternative to prosecution that can be described as a “warning” not to repeat the conduct in question.

One legal expert compared it a “deferred prosecution,” but stressed that a full trial could still result. Victims generally do not appear at such a hearing, the City Attorney’s office explained, and usually no criminal record is attached. Still, the prosecutor retains the right to issue charges later if he feels the illegal conduct has recurred or may recur. Los Angeles conducts hundreds of such closed-door hearings each year to dispose of minor misdemeanors arising from, for example, neighbor disputes, domestic disharmony, or curfew violations.

To the south of Los Angeles, newly-installed Orange County Prosecutor Todd Spitzer is still undecided about prosecuting rambunctious disruptors of a pro-Israel event at the University of California Irvine that also took place last May, according to official university sources. Spitzer’s office has asked for additional police investigation to develop more facts...

Full story at https://www.algemeiner.com/2019/01/17/mixed-reactions-after-prosecution-efforts-against-anti-israel-disruptions-at-ucla-and-uci/

Note: The item above is the only account yours truly could locate, albeit a month after it appeared.

Friday, February 15, 2019

More Title 9 Problems in Court (and a reminder of our earlier suggestion) - Part 2

Yours truly has noted in prior posts that universities, including those in the UC system, would do well to follow the precedent they themselves have set with regard to union grievances, namely using an outside neutral to decide Title 9 cases.* A system cannot be unbiased if the prosecutor and the decision maker are one and the same. You can fiddle with rules of evidence, etc., but combining the two roles is a fundamental flaw. Below, an article from the LA Times notes that university administrators are now scrambling to revamp their decision systems in the light of a recent court decision - previously referenced in this blog - and possible new rules from the U.S. Dept. of Education.

Colleges and universities across California are scrambling to revise the way they handle sexual misconduct cases after a state appellate court ruled that “fundamental fairness” requires that accused students have a right to a hearing and to cross-examine their accusers.

The decision last month came in a USC case but applies to all California public and private colleges, and prompted many to immediately halt Title IX investigations while they reshape their procedures. California State University, the University of California and USC, Claremont McKenna and Occidental colleges confirmed that they have made or soon will be making changes...

Suzanne Taylor, University of California’s interim systemwide Title IX coordinator, said UC began exploring how to create a “fair and compassionate” hearing model after DeVos unveiled her proposed rules, but Taylor said the court ruling has given that effort “more urgency.” She said the process will take time, but the university expects to issue an interim policy in the next few weeks...

“Obviously we have to comply with the law, and we will,” Taylor said. “We’re really going to do everything we can to protect both our community and the integrity of our process.”...

Full story at https://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-california-universities-title-ix-20190215-story.html

It's likely that even with revamped procedures, courts - which are steeped in the idea that prosecution and decision maker should be separate - will continue to second guess university decisions when they involve significant penalties.

===
*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/01/more-title-9-problems-in-court-and.html

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Blocked Path

From an email circulating at UCLA. It might be noted that many employees will be preparing tax returns in the period covered and will need access for their W-2 forms:

During the month of March 2019, UC Berkeley, UC Davis and Agricultural Resources will transition to UCPath. Due to the transition, the UCPath system (including UCPathOnline) will be unavailable to all UC employees. Please keep in mind that during the outage periods, you will not have access to your check advice, W-2 (print/view), benefits information, etc., so please plan ahead.

Since new employees cannot be entered in UCPath during the outage periods, employees hired during this time will not receive Employee ID #’s, have access to their benefits, nor receive payment until after the outage.  
Following are the dates UCPath will be unavailable:

·         Outage 1: Friday, March 1st at 5 p.m. until Thursday, March 7th at 8 a.m.
·         Outage 2: Thursday, March 14th at 5 p.m. until Wednesday, March 20th at 8 a.m.

Collateral Damage

In Merced, some are bewildered by Newsom’s high-speed-rail decision

...University administrators have long advocated for the statewide project. In a recent opinion piece in a valley newspaper, Chancellor Dorothy Leland said that UC Merced, known for its strong science and engineering programs, was poised to gain from “technology transfer” and private-sector partnerships with Silicon Valley.

She declined an interview on the subject this week.

Full story at https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/In-Merced-some-are-bewildered-by-Newsom-s-13614875.php

Our annual Valentine's Day posting

No, I don't know how Trang and Nam are doing at present. But they got off to a good start in 2011:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Billion+ Didn't Arrive

Actually, he probably never said it. But anyway, according to the latest cash report through January from the controller, state revenues to the general fund are running something over $1 billion below estimates made last June when the current budget was enacted.

Note that the state is not facing a crisis. It has, according to the same report, unused borrowable reserves of over $42 billion. These reserves include the various accounts directly related to the general fund plus other accounts from which internal borrowing is allowed. And April, for obvious reasons, remains a very important month for yearly revenue. So we will see.

The controller's latest cash report is at:
https://www.sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/January%202019%20Statement%20of%20General%20Fund%20Cash%20Receipts%20and%20Disbursements.pdf

One liner

In Tuesday's State of the State address, Governor Gavin Newsom talked about all kinds of topics.

He truncated Jerry Brown's high-speed rail so that it would be confined to the Central Valley. He cut Jerry Brown's twin tunnel water project in half (one tunnel only). He talked about immigration, K-12, and various other matters for a total of about an hour.

He did talk about creating a new Master Plan, but it was a Master Plan on Aging, not higher ed.

There was in fact only one line in the address about higher education:

We have more scientists, researchers, and engineers, more Nobel laureates, and the finest system of higher education anywhere in the world.

Source: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2019/02/12/state-of-the-state-address/

Well, we can hope that the neglect was benign.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Listen to the Regents' Health Services Committee meeting of Feb. 11, 2019

We continue our practice below of archiving the audio of Regents meetings below since the Regents preserve their recordings for only one year.

At yesterday's meeting of the Regents' Health Services Committee, there was an extended period of public comments. (There were probably more comments than occurs when the Committee has met at a less accessible location than the UCLA campus.) Public comments covered food security of students, UCLA patent rights to drugs in India, sexual assault policy, cost of student health insurance, the Hawaiian telescope, gender pronouns, and bicycle and other transportation on campus and other issues.

A budget report and strategic plan were the next topics. One regent pointed out that the strategic plan was so complex that it was unclear what the priorities were. There was then discussion of student mental health services. A program for dealing with doctor burnout was outline.

You can listen to the session at the link below. Note that there is a silent period in the recording from about 2:42 to 2:59 for a lunch break.

Or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/RegentsHealthComm21119

Vacant Westwood

The endless tale of vacant storefronts in Westwood continues. From the Bruin:

Westwood Village may be able to fill vacant storefronts and bring in new businesses by loosening restrictions on dining and parking requirements. The Westwood Village Improvement Association, a nonprofit organization tasked with improving the state of the Village, submitted amendments to the Westwood Village Specific Plan, the master planning document that outlines zoning regulations. The amendments seek to relax food definitions and parking requirements for current and prospective businesses in Westwood Village. The Los Angeles City Council voted Jan. 30 to approve a motion directing the Department of City Planning to conduct a review of the Westwood Specific Plan and the WVIA’s amendments. The council’s decision was finalized Feb. 1, and the Department of City Planning has 90 days to report back regarding its recommendations for the plan and the WVIA’s amendments. Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association, said the motion signals a significant achievement for the WVIA and the Village...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2019/02/12/potential-zoning-revisions-to-beckon-business-to-villages-vacant-storefronts/

Isn't the real problem that commercial retail rents being demanded are too high? There seems to be a collective failure in Westwood. Empty stores make the overall business location less desirable, reducing demand for space in the face of too-high demands for rents. Filling the spaces through a cooperative and coordinated rent drop would make Westwood more vibrant and attractive. Empty stores produce no revenue. Realistic rents are better than zero revenue. Is zoning really the key issue? Just asking.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Things to Come This Week

Various events will be occurring this week with potential impact on UC. The California Supreme Court will be hearing a challenge to the "California Rule," a longstanding court decision that prevents retroactive reductions in public pensions. Although the case involves CALPERS, a ruling will likely affect UC's pension system. Blog readers will know that former Governor Jerry Brown was pushing for a decision to modify the California Rule before leaving office. However, the Court did not move fast enough for his taste.

The Court's hearing will be live-streamed and eventually put on the web.*

In addition, the Regents' Health Services Committee will be meeting later today at UCLA.** We have already posted the agenda.*** As usual, yours truly will later post the audio of the meeting.

Finally, Gov. Newsom gives his State of the State address on Tuesday, 11 AM. Possibly, there could be some components that affect UC.****
===
*http://majlabor.com/pension-case-oral-argument-this-wednesday-watch-live/
**https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/meetings/agendas/feb19.html
***http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/02/some-regents-are-coming.html
****https://www.gov.ca.gov/2019/02/04/sots/

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Another Donation Salute

We periodically salute donations to the university that don't involve construction and do involve research, teaching, scholarships, etc.

From the Bruin:

A philanthropist donated $1 million to provide scholarships for art and music students, a university press release announced Thursday.
Jerry Moss, who co-founded A&M Records with Herb Alpert, gifted the donation to UCLA’s Moss Scholars program, which has awarded full-tuition scholarships to art and music students for 15 years.
The UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholars Match program matched the donation with a $500,000 gift to the program.
The Moss Scholars program has provided scholarships to 30 undergraduate and graduate students in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. The scholarships cover the full tuition costs of the students’ degree programs.
The recipients of the scholarship meet with Moss and fellow beneficiaries each fall. Moss has funded the scholarship since it was founded in 2004...

Saturday, February 9, 2019

More CRISPR

Patent Office: 1924
From Science Magazine: The University of California (UC) has received good news on a patent for the invention of the genome editor known as CRISPR—and it likely moves a fierce legal war over who owns the valuable intellectual property for this powerful tool closer to a peace treaty. ...(T)he U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, posted a “notice of allowance” on Friday for UC’s CRISPR patent, which it applied for in March 2013. The patent should be officially issued to the school within 8 weeks.

The fight over who invented CRISPR has raged for several years, and many scientists predict its creation will lead to a Nobel Prize. UC earlier lost a high-profile fight over a CRISPR patent issued to a team led by the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Various companies have licensed the CRISPR-related intellectual property of Broad and UC, even as the patents have been in dispute. The invention of CRISPR technology spawned a multibillion-dollar industry as it promises to lead to new medicine, crops, and fundamental insights about biology...

Full story at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/new-patent-win-university-california-upends-crispr-legal-battle

Friday, February 8, 2019

Loquacious Verbosity

From Inside Higher Ed:

A new study in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology analyzed the words used in the abstracts of National Science Foundation grants. The analysis found that projects received, on average, larger awards when abstracts were longer, used fewer common words and were written with "verbal certainty." In some ways, the findings raise questions about NSF requests that scientists "communicate in a plain manner," the study says.

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2019/02/08/study-words-used-nsf-grant-proposals

Well, with Valentines Day coming up, perhaps verbosity pays off in more ways than one:

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Private Student Housing Complex - Part 4

From the Bruin: A student coalition endorsed a high-rise housing project in Westwood in response to various community organizations that have opposed the development.

The Westwood Forward student leadership committee endorsed The Agora housing development, a proposed 16-story apartment complex on Hilgard Avenue, at their meeting Jan. 31. The developers filed the plan for the housing project with the city of Los Angeles in November and have since spoken to stakeholders and advisory boards on the project.

Michael Skiles, a leader of Westwood Forward and its student leadership committee, said the committee voted in support of the project because they recognized the need for student housing in Westwood. Skiles said the only way to raise the quality of housing and increase the quantity of affordable housing is through large housing projects like The Agora. Westwood Forward is a coalition of students and stakeholders who aim to revitalize Westwood.

The current tenant of the site The Agora aims to develop, PodShare, has 90 beds and charges residents $840 a month, PodShare Manager Ashley Miniard said. However, the location is only 60 to 70 percent occupied each day. If The Agora’s application is approved by the city, PodShare’s lease would end prematurely to accommodate the new housing development.

Aaron Green, a spokesperson for The Agora, said the development will offer 462 beds for $1,000 to $1,200 a month, with at least 52 beds offered for less than $500 a month in accordance with Measure JJJ, meaning the beds will be priced less than the proposed standard rent range for Westwood.

Skiles said he thinks The Agora would allow more people to benefit from affordable and high-quality housing than PodShare, based on information provided by Green.

In addition, PodShare’s longest rental period is eight months, Skiles said. Miniard confirmed that most people don’t stay at PodShare for more than eight months.

Skiles added PodShare’s housing is more suitable as a temporary residence than as permanent student housing.

Skiles said his coalition’s platform aims to provide student housing in Westwood.

“If we don’t rally behind this single attempt to build student housing, then it will signal to the community that even with Westwood Forward and all the progress we’ve made, there’s no political difference in the reality that it’s impossible to build housing in Westwood,” Skiles said.

The Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association voted in opposition of the project while the UCLA Graduate Students Association endorsed it. The Westwood Neighborhood Council voted against the housing project as well at their January meeting, but now plans to repeal their initial vote...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2019/02/07/westwood-forward-endorses-the-agora-citing-potential-as-affordable-student-housing/

Uniting

From Science Magazine: After 5 years as a postdoc—four of them at the University of California (UC), Los Angeles—molecular biologist Christina Priest hit the university’s time limit for postdoctoral appointments and transitioned to a university staff position as a project scientist in the same lab. Now an at-will employee in a job with no set end time, she says she finds her work “continuing the project I initiated as a postdoc … not enormously different, [despite] more responsibility.”

But she has less of something important: income. “I was making more as a fifth-year postdoc than I am making as a project scientist,” not to mention a “huge increase” in health insurance premiums, “from about $40 a month to about $260 a month,” she says. Beyond that, she has lost some of the fringe benefits she enjoyed as a member of the union that has represented the roughly 6000 postdocs in the 10-campus UC system since 2008, when it succeeded in a years-long effort to create the nation’s second, and by far its largest, union of postdocs. (UC graduate students are also unionized.) “It seems unfair to be doing a similar job and to lose benefits,” Priest continues.

The illogic of gaining experience and responsibility while losing pay and fringe benefits she had as a “trainee” inspired Priest to sign on as soon as she heard, in 2017, that the same union that represented her as a postdoc, UAW Local 5810, had a campaign underway to establish a new bargaining unit for people like her. The proposed new unit, Academic Researchers United (ARU), hopes to represent people who, like Priest, are UC professional researchers but neither postdocs nor tenure-eligible faculty members. These workers hold a variety of titles, including project scientist, specialist, and researcher, and people like them work under still other designations at other institutions. All, however, share a common goal: doing research and “contributing to the main mission of the university,” says Priest, who serves on the proposed union’s bargaining committee. A number “are also bringing in grant money” as principal investigators on their own grants...

Full story at https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2019/02/university-california-staff-researchers-opt-form-union-joining-postdocs

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Still Opaque?

State auditor says UC’s Napolitano has not implemented transparency reforms

Nanette Asimov, Feb. 6, 2019, San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly a year after a deadline for the University of California to overhaul business practices at its headquarters, UC President Janet Napolitano has made improvements but is still doing business in a way that lets her office amass “virtually an unlimited amount” of money.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from state Auditor Elaine Howle, who has monitored UC’s progress since a 2017 audit found the president’s office had set aside $175 million in reserves without properly disclosing them to the UC Board of Regents. Napolitano was supposed to put policies in place by last April to limit reserves and demonstrate how the public university would return money to campuses, among other fixes. The audit found that $32 million of the reserves came from fees paid by campuses that could have been spent on students and that much of it should go back to the campuses.

“We are still concerned about the lack of sufficient transparency related to fund balance amounts,” totaling $122 million for seven specific programs, in Napolitano’s budget for the current fiscal year, Howle wrote in a report released Tuesday that assessed UC’s progress as of October. “Perhaps of greater concern, the absence of sufficient reserve policies allows the office of the president to retain and maintain virtually an unlimited amount of fund balances and reserves.”

Howle added that the president’s office “continues to lack sufficient transparency that would allow the governor and the legislature to understand what fund balance awards are available to reallocate to campuses.”

Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/State-auditor-says-UC-s-Napolitano-has-not-13595656.php

Note: The report at this moment does not seem to be on the state auditor's website.

Lab Explosion at UCLA Yesterday

When this story first appeared yesterday, the report was sketchy and was a possible reminder of a much more serious accident several years ago that led to major legal ramifications. It appears that this time, however, the incident was much less serious:

One injured in lab explosion at UCLA

By City News Service | February 5, 2019 | LA Daily News

One person was injured Tuesday in an explosion in a laboratory at UCLA. The blast, reported at 2:18 p.m., involved acetone and occurred in a lab fume hood, according to Amy Bastman of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The victim, a UCLA employee, sustained “superficial injuries to his hand and has been treated,” according to a university statement. The explosion, described by UCLA as a “minor accident,” occurred in the Boyer Biochemistry and Molecular Biology building.

Because the work was taking place under a laboratory hood, there was no chemical spill, and there is no danger to anyone in the building. UCLA Fire and the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the incident, which has now been cleared,” according to the university’s statement.

Source: https://www.dailynews.com/2019/02/05/one-injured-in-lab-explosion-at-ucla/

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Donation to Med School

We always like to salute donations that don't involve pouring a lot of concrete, but do involve research and teaching:

Garry Shandling was always known as a generous spirit to his friends. He died nearly three years ago, but is still proving that. Shandling has bestowed $15.2 million to benefit medical research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Shandling earmarked the funds to benefit three units — the division of endocrinology, diabetes and hypertension; the division of infectious diseases; and the UCLA Agi Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases — as well as general medical research at the David Geffen School of Medicine, establishing a meaningful philanthropic legacy.

His gift will establish and endow the Garry Shandling Endocrine Surgery Research Fund, the Garry Shandling Infectious Diseases Innovation Fund and the Garry Shandling Pancreatic Diseases Fund. The remainder of the bequest will establish the Garry Shandling Medical Research Fund, which will operate under the direction of the medical school’s dean. In his honor, UCLA also has named the Garry Shandling Learning Studio, a 6,400-square-foot multipurpose space located in Geffen Hall, the school’s medical education building...

Full story at https://deadline.com/2019/02/garry-shandling-bequeaths-15-million-ucla-david-geffen-school-of-medicine-1202549677/

Private Student Housing Complex - Part 3

Some students, at least those writing editorials in the Bruin, seem to be having second thoughts about the virtues of a planned housing project. It puts them at odds with the new neighborhood council formed in part to promote more housing in the Westwood area:

Affordable housing is yet again a dashed hope in Westwood.
The Agora, a proposed private 16-story apartment complex, came to town in November, claiming to offer affordable student housing in Westwood. The two physicians behind the project had filed plans with the Los Angeles Department of City of Planning, promising amenities such as a farmed vegetable garden, a teaching kitchen and a meditation garden. While several community organizations, such as the Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association and the Westwood Neighborhood Council, spoke out against the project on the basis of zoning technicalities, the endeavor seemed a noble attempt to bring – for once – a good deal for students.
We should have known it was too good to be true... 

Community leaders appear to have missed this nuance. Both the [new] North Westwood Neighborhood Council and the Graduate Students Association have shown support for The Agora, neglecting to examine the finer intricacies of the project. But when students at UCLA are forced into homelessness for exorbitant rent prices, we ought to hold developers to higher standards before deeming their property affordable – especially when they only manage a price tag that is a couple hundred bucks off university housing costs...

Full editorial at http://dailybruin.com/2019/02/03/editorial-the-agora-is-an-overwhelming-mirage-with-an-underwhelming-delivery/

Monday, February 4, 2019

(Some) Regents Are Coming

Just a week from today: Yours truly will - as usual - preserve the recording:

HEALTH SERVICES COMMITTEE
Date: February 11, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Locations: Centennial Ballroom, Luskin Conference Center, Los Angeles Campus
===
Public Comment Period (20 minutes)
Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of December 11, 2018
H1 Discussion: Remarks of the Executive Vice President – UC Health
H2 Action: Consent Agenda: UC Health Capital Financial Plan
H3 Discussion: Strategic Plan and Fiscal Year 2019-20 Budget For UC Health Division, Office of the President
H4 Discussion: Update on Student Mental Health Services
H5 Discussion: The University of California Collaborative on Physician WellBeing
H6 Discussion: Overview of Parnassus Heights Planning, San Francisco Campus
H7 Discussion: Canopy Health Progress Report and Strategic Plan Update, UCSF Health, San Francisco Campus

Source: https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/feb19/hs.pdf

Grandma: What a big house you have!

From CALmatters: Finding housing was one of the first challenges Alyssa Mathiowetz faced as a new graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. She landed a room in a shared house near campus, but it came with a steep price tag: $1,500 a month.
“It’s definitely on the expensive side,” said the PhD student in metabolic biology.
Mathiowetz’s rent could soon decrease, however, thanks to a new homesharing program that matches graduate students looking for housing with retirees who have extra space in their homes. Its organizers hope the program will prove successful enough to export to other UC campuses.
College students have been hit hard by California’s housing crisis, struggling to find affordable digs near campuses that in many cases are located in the state’s priciest markets.
The median apartment rent in Berkeley tops $3,500 per month, according to real estate website Zillow. On-campus housing is scarce, and ten percent of students in a recent survey reported being homeless at some point in their college careers.
Meanwhile, along the city’s idyllic, tree-lined streets, aging homeowners who bought in decades ago have stayed put as property values rose around them.
Staff at Berkeley’s Retirement Center started strategizing last year about how to bring the two groups together. They won a grant from the chancellor’s office for a pilot program that will match six students with senior hosts for the spring semester.
“People want to continue living in their homes, and people are living longer and retiring later,” said Andy Gaines, the executive director of Ashby Village, a non-profit serving senior citizens that’s partnering with UC Berkeley on the project. “And oftentimes as people retire from the workforce and their friends and family die or move away, they are left more isolated.”
Sharing their homes with students can provide seniors with a sense of community, Gaines said.
Students will pay below-market rent—less than $1,000 per month—for bedrooms inside the homes of retired university faculty and staff...

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Private Student Housing Complex - Part 2

We posted on the controversy below back in December.* Now there is more (from the Bruin):

Westwood community members oppose a proposed housing project because they think it will replace existing affordable housing and cause traffic congestion.

Two physicians filed a plan with Los Angeles to build a 16-story housing development, called The Agora, on Hilgard Avenue in November. Several community organizations, including the Westwood Neighborhood Council and the Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association, oppose the project.

The developers stated in their original proposal there were zero residential units and that the building was vacant. In fact, two businesses currently occupy the Hilgard property, including 27 residential units.

Aaron Green, an Agora spokesperson, said Agora developers bought the property in 2016 and subsequently rented out the current building’s three stories. NuORDER, an e-commerce brand company, occupies the first story. Ashley Miniard, manager of PodShare, said the co-living affordable housing company operates residential units on the second and third story.

Green said the vacancy classification was due to a clerical mistake and the developers will revise the application.

Green added the project is estimated to take two years to gain approval from the city. If the city council approves the project, NuORDER and PodShare’s five-year lease will end a year and a half early due to a clause in their lease which states the developers have the right to develop the building after three years, Green said.

Construction will begin after approval from the city and continue for three years.

PodShare offers 90 beds at $840 a month for one bed, Miniard said. Residents can also stay for one night or a week at varying costs.

The proposed Agora project would house 462 beds at $1,000 to $1,200 a month per bed, said Ted Khalili, co-principal developer of The Agora. At least 52 beds will be Measure JJJ-compliant, which means they will be priced less than the proposed standard rent range. However, Agora representatives did not specify how much this would equate to.

The initial application said the housing project would only house 231 beds. Green said the developers decided to double the beds after listening to community feedback. Each room will now have two beds, rather than the single-person bedrooms as originally planned. However, rental rates remain unchanged despite the decreased room space.

Greg Billo, a PodShare resident, said he thinks the proposed project is misguided because The Agora would replace what already exists on the property. Billo said more than half of PodShare’s beds are empty each night, and he thinks filling the proposed high rise would be difficult.

Earl Goldstein, a board member of Holmby Hills Homeowners Association, said stakeholders shared similar concerns with Billo at their January meeting, adding that the association opposed the project at their monthly meeting due to concerns of traffic congestion along Le Conte Avenue and the feasibility of the project.

Several homeowners created Save Hilgard Avenue after estimating the project would cost $100 million, which they believe is too costly for the property’s proposed rent prices. However, Green said the cost of the project is about 50 percent less than the homeowners’ estimates.

Marcello Robinson, a member of the WWNC, said Agora developers asked the city attorney’s office to prevent the neighborhood council from speaking on the matter even though it was placed on the agenda for their January meeting. The council voted in opposition of the project at the meeting.

Green said the developers also offered to purchase three homes surrounding the Agora building out of courtesy so that residents would not need to live by a construction site. The developers have already purchased one of the neighboring houses in November, according to a city grant deed. Green said the developers have no plans to use the adjacent property.

Soon Chung, a pastor at University Presbyterian Church, said the University Presbyterian Church owns the house directly behind the Agora and fears the project would devalue his property and neighboring properties. Chung added he was contacted by brokers from the Agora developers but did not respond.

Green said over the next two years, the developers will conduct a large-scale environmental impact report and will work with nearby residents to amend the project to address their concerns.

Several homeowners also expressed concerns regarding the unauthorized usage of the photos in the project’s ad campaign and the campaign’s suggestion that the Agora project would help combat homelessness in Westwood.

To promote the housing development, The Agora project used a social media campaign featuring a UC Berkeley student holding a sign saying “Hug me I’ve been a homeless student,” as well as statistics on UC student homelessness and a petition to LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz to approve the project.

Taylor Harvey, the subject of the photo and a fourth-year art practice and social welfare student at UC Berkeley, said she was offended when she saw her photo on the ad from the Agora developers.

“I never gave them permission to use my photo,” Harvey said. “It’s exploitative and an invasion of privacy.”

The photo was initially used for other campaigns by UC Berkeley’s Homeless Student Union, a school organization she founded four years ago to combat homelessness, Harvey added.

Green said they found the picture from a German student publication. The developers removed the social media advertisements Monday, after the Daily Bruin inquired about the photo. The German publication was not immediately available to comment on where they found the photo.

Several students said they think the Agora project could provide much needed housing in Westwood, but they do not think it will be very affordable...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2019/01/30/westwood-groups-oppose-student-high-rise-project-cite-planning-discrepancies/

===
*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/12/private-student-housing-complex.html

Saturday, February 2, 2019

UC-Berkeley bans new research funding from Huawei

From Nature: The University of California, Berkeley, will not enter into new research collaborations with the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, after the US Department of Justice brought criminal charges against the company on 28 January.
The University of Texas at Austin has also confirmed to Nature that it is reviewing its relationship with the company — which is a major investor in research worldwide.
The move comes two weeks after the University of Oxford, UK, said it would stop seeking new funding from the firm, citing “public concerns raised in recent months surrounding UK partnerships.”
Since late 2018, Huawei — a major electronics manufacturer headquartered in Shenzhen — has been under mounting scrutiny from international governments. Several countries have raised security concerns over its devices and the company’s involvement in developing their telecommunications networks...

Friday, February 1, 2019

Stormy Weather

From the Bruin: The Sunset Canyon Recreation Center was evacuated due to structural damage caused by a lightning strike Thursday morning.

Lightning struck a structural wooden beam outside the recreation center’s building, causing the building to be evacuated and restricted to emergency personnel until the structure is deemed safe, said Nurit Katz, executive officer of facilities management.

Katz said the lightning strike was reported to her office at around 9:47 a.m., but she does not know when exactly the strike occurred.

Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck said in an email statement the lightning strike also caused a gas leak, which has since been controlled.

He added there were no injuries as a result of the lightning strike...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2019/01/31/lightning-strike-causes-structural-damage-evacuation-at-sunset-canyon-rec-center/

Open vs. Closed - Part 3

UC and Elsevier faced a UC-imposed deadline concerning open access of Jan. 31. That deadline has apparently been suspended and talks continue:

UC and Elsevier Negotiations Continue; UC Retains Access to Articles for Now

As of Jan. 31: The University of California and Elsevier have agreed to continue good-faith discussions for the time being. For now, access is expected to continue. Should we learn of any changes to access at UC, we will notify our community.

The University of California is re-negotiating its systemwide licenses with some of the world’s largest scholarly journal publishers, including Elsevier, to provide additional open access options for UC authors. 

In these negotiations, UC is seeking a single, integrated contract with each publisher that covers both the university’s subscriptions and open access publishing of UC research in their journals — what are often known as “publish and read” agreements.

Source: https://osc.universityofcalifornia.edu/open-access-at-uc/publisher-negotiations/uc-and-elsevier/

Previous blog posts on this issue are at:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/12/open-vs-closed.html
and
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/12/open-vs-closed-part-2_20.html

See also:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/10/university-librarian-asks-for-help-from.html
and
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-elsevier-dispute-is-not-just-with-uc.html