Recent Alumni Dissertations




Ahmed Al-Noubani

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Geography, Birzeit University

Dissertation: Dynamics of land-use and land-cover change: the case of Palestinian West Bank.

Ahmed Al-Noubani

 

Limited land resources of the Palestinian West Bank have been under mounting stress particularly since its occupation in 1967. Land use and land cover change (LUCCs) are a major aspect of this pressure. LUCCs are driven by several factors including geopolitical, socioeconomic, and biophysical ones.

This study examines the trajectories and patterns of LUCC in the West Bank over a nine years time period (1994-2003) and investigates key drivers. The study seeks also to model the near future spatial distribution of LUCC. I use satellite images to detect LUCC during the study time period. I use logistic modeling of LUCC to study drivers of change and assess the likelihood of the near-future LUCC in the West Bank.

The findings of the study emphasize the influence of geopolitical factors as important drivers of LUCC, particularly urbanization. The administrative division of the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C, settlements, their road systems, and the distance from Jerusalem and ceasefire line are significant in driving land use/cover transitions. The influence of some socioeconomic drivers is mediated by geopolitical factors as indicated by the observed sprawl in rural areas instead of urban centers. The study shows that there could be a continuous Palestinian urbanization from southwest of Nablus in the north to southwest of Hebron. Israeli settlement expansion is most likely to intensify in areas of geopolitical importance to Israel. Palestinian community expansion is predominantly restricted to agricultural land in Areas A and B. Israeli settlements expand exclusively to Area C, predominantly to areas of natural vegetation and, to a less extent, to agricultural land.

Dynamic interactions among geopolitical, socioeconomic, and biophysical factors have important implications for the future of the West Bank. Saving agricultural areas and protecting natural resources may require taking measures such as directing Palestinian urbanization to non agricultural land. To reduce the implications of constraining urbanization in urban centers, Palestinian planners might think of building shared utilities on regional, rather than individual community bases and directing urbanization to rural areas. Promoting transfer of land from Area C to Areas A and B would lessen the pressure on land resources, particularly in urban centers.


David Hsu

Assistant Professor, Dept. of City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania

Dissertation: An evaluation of the effects of a pricing policy on the water consumption of heterogeneous households in Seattle.

David Hsu

 

In 2001, the City of Seattle implemented a new pricing policy for residential water con- sumption, intended to target high water users. This dissertation evaluates the impact of this policy and contributes to the water demand literature in three ways. First, this dis- sertation extends the use of instrumental variables to represent the effect of nonlinear price structures on heterogeneous users. Correlated random coefficient models, specified with coefficients that vary by groups such as households and neighborhoods, allow a realistic specification of heterogeneity while addressing simultaneity bias. Price elasticity estimates for the entire population range from -0.15 to -0.52, depending on the model used and the point of consumption, and are consistent with the literature. Second, this dissertation uses a hierarchical linear model to link the varying intercepts and coefficients to the underlying properties of heterogeneous individuals and groups, and to allow meaningful, policy-relevant interpretation of the estimates, as well as a sensitivity analysis of factors affecting the pol- icy impacts. A household-level model finds an average price elasticity of approximately -0.41; the average household price elasticity also varies as expected with lot size and house value. Third, based on these predictive model results, this dissertation explores the statis- tical properties of welfare measures for heterogeneous groups in order to characterize the distributive impact of this pricing policy. Estimated losses in consumer surplus as a result of the pricing policy range from 5-45% of existing total bills.


Phil Hurvitz

Research Associate, Dept. of Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington

Dissertation: BEST MoveS: the built environment space-time MOVEment study, a framework for objective measurement of behavior, movement and exposure in urban environments.

Phil Hurvitz

 

Exposure to features of the built environment is commonly theorized to affect important health-related behaviors and conditions, such as active transportation and access to healthy foods. However, built environment has generally been measured solely within proximity of the home location. This research provides a method for measuring and summarizing environmental properties for the complete space-time realm of experience using high resolution objective data on environment and behavior. A convenience sample of fifty-one subjects was enrolled in a one week cross-sectional study, in which individual movements and activity during waking hours were tracked at a one second interval using a novel multi-sensing device that included a GPS receiver/data logger. Subjects also completed a sociodemographic survey as well as the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, a self-report based instrument for estimating physical activity levels. The characteristics of their sensed location traces were obtained using a newly developed set of analytical raster data sets known as SmartMaps, which represented spatially continuous measures of localized neighborhood values for variables within the built environment domains of neighborhood structure; utilitarian destinations; recreation; transportation and traffic; and land use composition and configuration.

Three basic movement types were identified: dwells (places where no movement occurred across XY space), trips (traces that represented movement across XY space), and stops (relatively brief non-moving intervals within trips). Characteristics of different built environment variables were found to differ significantly for traces sensed at home vs. non-home locations, for trips vs. dwells, for short distance vs. long distance trips, and for fast vs. slow trips. Built environment characteristics did not differ by overall levels of self-reported physical activity.

This research shows that environmental characteristics differ for home and non-home locations and for a variety of movement types. Given the amount of time that is spent away from home, estimates of the effects of environment on behavior should include not only built environment measures near home, but measures of environment for the entire realm of movement through space and time. To address this need, this research presents an operationalized method for linking objective measures of localized environment and behavior through space and time.


Junfeng Jiao

Assistant Professor, Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Dissertation: The relationship between built environments and the grocery shopping travel behavior

Junfeng Jiao

 

This dissertation included three essays. The first two essays explored the relationship between built environments and people’s travel mode and travel frequency to grocery stores they reported using. The third essay investigated people’s access to supermarkets in King County, Washington and whether there were any food deserts in the area.

The grocery shopping travel data and the travelers’ socioeconomic characteristics came from the 2009 Seattle Obesity Study (SOS) telephone survey, which included 2001 respondents sampled within King County, WA. The detailed neighborhood level GIS data was collected and generated by the Urban Form Lab at the University of Washington.

Fourteen socioeconomic status and built environment variables were significantly related to mode choice. The strongest predictors of driving to the grocery store were more cars per household adult member, more adults per household, living in a single-family house, longer distances between homes and grocery stores (both the stores used and the nearest stores), and more parking at ground around the grocery store used. Higher street density, more quick service restaurants around homes, and more non-chain grocery stores near the primary grocery store used were related to not driving.

Fourteen variables were significantly related to grocery shopping frequency. Shopping at high-cost grocery stores, the number 12-18 years old children in the household, and having an indoor fitness facility around the store were the three strongest predictors for individuals making more grocery shopping trips per week. Having a golf or tennis court around home, driving to grocery store, and thinking food should be inexpensive were the three strongest predictors for fewer grocery shopping trips per week.

In the third essay, access to a supermarket in King County was measured using four different travel modes (walk, bike, take bus, and drive) to three different supermarket types (low, medium, and high-cost). The results showed that 11% or 95% of the King County population within the Urban Growth Boundary (KCUGB) was within a 10-minute walk or drive of a supermarket. The above service areas also included 24% or 99% of the residential units within the KCUGB. There seemed to be few food deserts in the County.


Lin Lin

Assistant Professor, East China Normal University, Shanghai

Dissertation: An ecological study of children commuting to school.

Lin Lin

 

Active commuting to school had been an overlooked source of s physical activity for children. This study first aimed to provide insights on how the individual activity-travel patterns of adults in the Puget Sound Region of Washington State were impacted by the presence of children in the household. Secondly, this dissertation investigated environmental characteristics for school base trips and explored the reciprocal relationships between children and adult’s travel patterns.

This study highlighted differences in activity-travel patterns between individuals or households with and without children aged 18 or younger. People who lived with children generated more non-work related trips and spent more time on daily travel. Other differences in travel between parents and non-parents were explained by complex interactions between gender and work status. Women in general made more trips than men, but had a smaller daily activity realm. Interestingly, men who did not work but lived with children traveled the least. On the other hand, men who worked part time and lived with children had the longest travel time and the largest daily activity realm. Individuals who lived in higher residential density had smaller size of individual activity realm, and were less likely to be automobile dependent.

A strong inverse association between network distance from home to school and active commuting to school was found in all school age groups, even for those who lived near to their school. Age was positively associated with active commuting in elementary school children only. Gender has been consistently shown to be a non-significant association with travel modes to school for all school age groups. Elementary and middle school children whose household heads worked part time were more likely to be driven to school, whereas it was more likely for high school children whose household heads did not work. Different environmental attributes were associated with different travel modes by different age groups.


Seunghoon Park

Dissertation: Urban form correlates of crime

Seunghoon Park

 

Abstract coming soon.

Alon Bassok

Senior Planner, Puget Sound Regional Council

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Affiliate Instructor, Dept. of Urban Design & Planning, University of Washington

Dissertation: The effectiveness of regional growth centers policy in increasing transit use.

Alon Bassok

 

Under the Washington State Growth Management Act (1990) and Vision 2020 (1990, the regional long range land use plan), the Seattle metropolitan area introduced Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) and 21 urban centers to accommodate population, housing, and job growth. The primary purpose is to accomplish jobs and housing balance and reduce the needs for vehicular travel by promoting public and nonmotorized transportation.

This thesis investigates the effectiveness of the growth-center strategy in relation to transportation mode shifts in comparison with prior-to- and post-urban center policy. The hypothesis of this work is that the growth-center strategy had a positive influence on transit usage between 1990 (the year the policy was initiated) and 2000. A counterfactual planning method is introduced, and for comparative purposes U.S. Census block groups within urban centers in the Puget Sound (King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties) are matched using propensity scores to ones in a reference region, Minneapolis (seven county metro area), where centers are defined based on employment density. The same matching process is repeated for non-center block groups in the two regions to control for geographic effects. The analysis relies on variables related to socio-economic demographics, jobs and housing balance, commuting behavior, land use and transit system characteristics. Data sources included the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Decennial Census, the Census Transportation Planning Package, county parcel and road network information and transit route and stop records from the various transit agencies.

It is shown that urban centers have an impressive, positive impact on the increase of transit usage in Puget Sound. Based on this analysis, the impact of the urban center policy on transit usage increase over other similar areas controlling for policy and location is roughly 3.7 percent. This result is striking because of its large magnitude, especially given that total passenger trips in Puget Sound transit increased by 22 percent over the same time period. The additional 3.7 percent transit mode share in the centers represents roughly 5,000 new transit users who would have otherwise traveled by other modes.

Andrew Bjorn

Planner, O2 Planning + Design Inc., Calgary, Alberta

Dissertation: Essays on examining the impacts of forest cover on housing prices using Bayesian model averaging and geographically weighted regression.

Andrew Bjorn

 

This dissertation presents four essays that address two general research questions. First, what is the proper role of model selection in hedonic price modeling of residential real estate? While there is usually uncertainty about the correct model to use for pricing models, this model specification uncertainty is not usually considered consistently in the final results. The second general research question involves specific characteristics of the housing good: how does the amount vegetative land cover affect the willingness of homebuyers to pay for a housing unit in the market, all else being equal? Although there are recognized benefits to having urban forest cover and other types of natural vegetation within a local neighborhood, are these features valued by local residents?

Each of these four essays is used to address these questions, using single-family residential property sales in King County, Washington. The first chapter details a multidisciplinary analysis comparing measures of the social, ecological and economic functions of forest cover along an “urban forest gradient”. This analysis contains a hedonic price model for sales from 1998 to 2001 including the urban forest gradient as a semiparametric term. The remaining chapters assess the correlations between price and measures of the amount of distinct types of classified land cover within the local neighborhood of properties sold in 2002 in King County and Seattle, Washington. This incorporates the use of “Bayesian model averaging”, or BMA, a technique to evaluate all possible likely models and combine the results into a single estimate to account for model uncertainty. Models are developed using standard and BMA models, for the entire area and for localized models calculated with geographically weighted regression.

The results show that there is promise for the use of BMA with hedonic price modeling. Averaging can select appropriate variables for use in modeling, and improve inference when drawing conclusions from output. Increases in model fit are negligible, however, due to the larger data sets used, and management of collinearity can be an issue with BMA in some cases. Modeled price effects of urban forest cover are complex and site-specific, and larger patches of urban forest may not be valued in some locations. In urban areas, there are clearer price effects from increasing vegetative cover in heavily urbanized areas over creating or maintaining large patches of urban forest in many urban neighborhoods. Future work should focus on describing these location-specific effects.

Brian H. Y. Lee

Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, and Transportation Research Center, University of Vermont

Dissertation: Accessibility and location choice: innovations in measurement and modeling.

Brian Lee

 

Transportation planning has traditionally focused on travel demand forecast models that assume land use as exogenous inputs and ignore the feedback effects between changes in the transportation system and urban development. Research advancements in this arena have been shifting away from these narrow views towards large-scale integrated transportation and land use micro-simulation systems. The increasing recognition of the transportation-land use feedback relationship provides numerous timely research opportunities. This dissertation explores two such active areas of research, accessibility and residential location choice, and presents innovations in measurements and modeling in a series of three related papers. The first paper presents a parcel-level measure of public transit accessibility to destinations that explicitly considers the spatial, transportation, and temporal dimensions of accessibility, and uses disaggregate land use and transit schedule information. The second paper shows an operationalization of a time-space prism accessibility measure in a building-level framework and explicitly examines the influence of non-work accessibility at both the local- and person-level. The final paper presents a novel nested logit model of residential mobility and location choice with sampling alternatives and a proposed procedure for sampling bias correction.

Liming Wang

Postdoc Fellow, University of California-Berkeley

Dissertation: Advances in integrated urban modeling: microsimulation models of the housing market, real estate development, and workplace choice

Liming Wang

 

Abstract coming soon.