Urban Studies & Planning

Ward Thomas

Associate Professor
(818) 677-7247
Office location:
SH 214C



  • Ph.D. 1997 University of California, Los Angeles, Urban Planning
  • M.P.A. 1998 San Francisco State University, Public Administration
  • B.A. 1985, University of Oregon, Sociology

Courses Taught

  • URBS 150 – The Urban Scene
  • URBS 310 - Growth and Development of Cities
  • URBS 408 -  Policy Making for Urban Planners
  • URBS 425 – Social Policy, Environmental Justice and the City
  • URBS 435 – Community Development

Selected Publications and Presentations

“Korean Dry Cleaners in Southern California.”  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association.  Reno, Nevada, (March) 2013.

“Environmental Regulations and the Locational Dynamics of the Wood Furniture Industry in Southern California.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Urban Affairs Association. New Orleans, Louisiana, (April) 2011."

Thomas, Ward. (2009) . “Do Environmental Regulations Impede Economic Growth? A Case Study of the Metal Finishing Industry in the South Coast Basin of Southern California.” The Economic Development Quarterly.

Thomas, Ward. (2008). “Can We Breathe and Be Economically Competitive? Air Quality Regulations and Economic Growth in the Metal Finishing Industry in Los Angeles.” Center for Southern California Studies, California State University, Northridge, Working Paper.

Thomas, Ward. (2007). “Environmental Regulations and the Diffusion of Clean Technologies in the Dry Cleaning Industry.” Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, Vol. 10 (2), pp. 154 – 184.

Thomas, Ward and Paul Ong. (2006). “Race and Space: Hiring Practices of Los Angeles Electronic Firms.” The Journal of Urban Affairs. Vol. 28 (5), 511-526.

Thomas, Ward and Paul Ong. (2004). “Environmental Regulations and Industrial Competitiveness: An Analysis of Air Pollution Control Regulations on the Wood Furniture Industry in Southern California.” The Economic Development Quarterly. Vol. 18 (3), 220-235.

Thomas, Ward. (2003). “The Meaning of Race to Employers: A Dynamic Qualitative Perspective.” The Sociological Quarterly. Vol. 44 (2), 227-242.

Becerra, Rosina, Ward Thomas and Paul Ong. (2002). “Latino and African American Non- Custodial Fathers: Perceptions of Fatherhood and Child Support.” Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work. Vol. 10 (3), 3-30.

Research and Interests

Dr. Thomas is currently studying the relationship between U.S. environmental policy and sustainable economic development.  He has recently undertaken a series of case studies of polluting industries in Southern California that are heavily regulated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, including dry cleaning, wood furniture, and metal finishing.  His research examines the effects of air quality regulations on the growth of these industries, the industrial location decisions of firms, and the diffusion of “green” technologies.  In addition, Dr. Thomas is completing research on the role of Korean immigrant entrepreneurs in communities in Los Angeles.


Economic Development
Public Policy Analysis
Environmental Planning