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Larry A. Rosenthal

Senior Lecturer of Public Policy; Program Director, Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement; Resident Faculty, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

Larry A. Rosenthal


Larry A. Rosenthal JD MPP PhD is Assistant Adjunct Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy. After several years of affiliation with the Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement, he assumed a formal leadership role starting in the 2013-2014 academic year. A product of the masters and doctoral programs at the Goldman School, Rosenthal served as the long-time Executive Director of the Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, working closely with the late Professor John Quigley. Rosenthal was Managing Editor of “The Mortgage Meltdown, the Economy, and Public Policy” (2009), a special issue of The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.  He is coeditor, with John Quigley, of Risking Housing and Home: Disasters, Cities, Public Policy (Berkeley Public Policy Press, 2008), a collection of symposium papers commemorating the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Earlier he coauthored, with David Kirp and John Dwyer, Our Town: Race, Housing and the Soul of Suburbia (Rutgers University Press, 1995), an award-winning social, legal and policy narrative of the historic Mt. Laurel housing rights cases in New Jersey.  Rosenthal has also written a variety of articles, book chapters, and research reports.

Rosenthal’s current research focuses on municipal fiscal distress, civic engagement and participatory budgeting, the intersection between population aging and housing need, and land-use regulatory impacts, among other topics.  At GSPP Rosenthal has taught law and public policy, quantitative methods, introductory and advanced policy analysis, housing and the urban economy, cities and their citizens, and seminars on policy practice and public-private-nonprofit collaboration.

Originally trained as an attorney, Rosenthal served as law clerk to the late Justice Marcus M. Kaufman at the Supreme Court of California and was Governor George Deukmejian's appointee to California's Dispute Resolution Advisory Council. He later was an associate at the San Francisco law firm of Hanson, Bridgett, and acted as statistical consultant to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in its implementation of the Civil Justice Reform Act. He has served in research and advisory capacities for such clients and funders as the MacArthur Foundation, US HUD, the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Bay Area Governments.  Rosenthal also served as policy analyst for the National Park Service's Presidio Transition Team, studying redeployment of the Presidio's housing stock.

Rosenthal holds doctoral and masters degrees in public policy from UC Berkeley, a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an AB from Oberlin College.

Other Affiliations

  • Program Director, Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement
  • Resident Faculty, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues


Curriculum Vitae

Download a PDF (58KB, updated 07-22-2014)

Areas of Expertise

  • Housing & Urban Policy
  • Law
  • Land Use
  • Civic Engagement

Last updated on 02/04/2019

Working Papers

  • Exuberance and Municipal Bankruptcy: A Case Study of San Bernardino, Stockton and Vallejo, CA

    Co-authors: Tracy Gordon, Michael Lens, Paavo Monkkonen

    GSPP Working Paper (May 2017)

    A series of municipal bankruptcies across the United States during and after the financial crisis of 2007-2008 revealed the need for a better understanding of the many factors that shape cities’ fiscal operating environments and solvency conditions. The larger project this study is part of focuses on the role of real estate price changes in the spending and revenues of local governments, examining specifically the issue of irrational exuberance at city hall. We know that property value changes can influence revenue expectations, and ask whether perceptions about future growth conditions may increase propensity to commit to spending revenue that might not materialize. One understudied aspect of this hypothesis is the way in which local governments of various structures process information about local real estate market conditions and revenue expectations. In work completed recently, we analyzed how city councils and fiscal managers learn about real estate market conditions. We found that cities see themselves as budgeting conservatively, and that the housing boom and bust was secondary to declines in sales tax and other revenues during the recession. In this paper, we extend the inquiry to cover the bankruptcies of San Bernardino, Vallejo, and Stockton, CA. We explore these cases relying upon contemporaneous news reports and commentaries, as well as background sources providing municipal history. While exuberance may set the stage for the very extreme policy choice to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, we find that the perceptions of local administrators and lawmakers relative to economic growth and revenue expectations alone were likely not sufficient to predict, or explain, these cases. Instead, a number of political, budgetary, and financial factors must coincide in order to place leaders and managers into the kind of predicaments which place bankruptcy on the table as a rational, if unappetizing, option. 

    Download PDF of the Current Draft (615KB)

  • Challenges Facing Social Housing Organizations in the US: Insights from the Boston and SF Regions

    Co-authors: Rachel G. Bratt, Robert J. Wiener

    GSPP Working Paper (November 2016)

    Nonprofit housing development organizations in the U.S. have played a central role in affordable housing provision for decades, but are now encountering a number of challenges, some of which are arising within the organizations, while others stem from changes in the context in which they carry out their work. Our work in this area constitutes the U.S component of a four‐country study of current and anticipated future challenges and opportunities confronting the nonprofit housing sector. Our previous work reported on the findings from a survey modified from one deployed in England, the Netherlands, and Australia. This chapter summarizes our findings from in‐depth interviews that we carried out with leaders from the 12 organizations in our study in two major metropolitan areas of the US: the Boston and San Francisco Regions.

    Nonprofit Housing Study (481KB)

Selected Publications

  • Risking House and Home: Disasters, Cities, and Public Policy

    John M. Quigley and Larry A. Rosenthal, eds., Berkeley: Berkeley Public Policy Press, 2008.

    “Natural disasters are too often viewed as unpredictable and horrendous ‘one-off’ events.” Edited by John Quigley and Larry Rosenthal, this useful collection of essays and research studies takes a systematic look at how private insurers, governments, and the larger economy respond to floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and terrorist events. Chapters by Howard Kunreuther (on insurance), Alan Berger, Carolyn Kousky, and Richard Zeckhauser (on damage distributions and losses), and Adam Rose (on resilience) are especially welcome for their coverage of the full range of impacts, losses, and recovery approaches across different disaster types and severities.”—John D. Landis, University of Pennsylvania.

    This book is available through Amazon.



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