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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

At the Tuesday, October 10, 2017 city council voting meeting the last agenda item was consideration of council authorization to enter into the Amended and Restated Mixed-Use Development and Settlement Agreement with the New Westgate.

A little history is in order. Steve Ellman was the original developer of Westgate in 2002. He promised to built out at 2 million square feet of office, retail and residential. That never occurred. He and the City were the original developers of the city-funded Gila River Arena, home today to the Arizona Coyotes. Ellman’s promises never came to pass and in 2009 he declared bankruptcy for Westgate. The bank sold Westgate to two investors groups, Credit Suisse and IStar. During Westgate’s 15 history the original development agreements were amended numerous times until what remained was spaghetti of at least 20 various agreements. Oft times these agreements were unclear, confusing and contradictory.

In the Spring of 2017 New Westgate and the City entered negotiation to resolve the requirements of these 20 various agreements. Major issues to be resolved included parking stipulations for the area. After months of negotiation a final agreement was produced and it was that agreement that came before council for authorization. The entire council approved the agreement after having been briefed in a series of executive sessions.

The most important result of this amended agreement is that all previous documents are now null and void. This action has opened the door to the mutual goal of allowing every inch of Westgate (except for the mutually designated parking areas) to be developed. Both entities envision a completed, robust and vibrant Westgate. This agreement opens the door for that vision. The City and New Westgate will work together as partners to ensure this outcome.

On another note I am sharing the city’s press release issued this week regarding the formation of a Business Subcommittee:

GLENDALE LOOKS TO LOCAL BUSINESSES FOR ADVICE ON CUTTING RED TAPE SURROUNDING REGULATORY PROCESSES AND CODES

Business Leaders Needed to Serve on Temporary Subcommittee GLENDALE, Ariz.

The Glendale City Council is in the process of recruiting community business representatives to serve on a temporary (one-year) subcommittee for the exclusive purpose of reviewing and making recommendations that would simplify and streamline city processes related to regulatory codes, business licensing, planning, and development. ‘The committee will be charged with making recommendations to the City Council regarding potential policy revisions and other improvements that Glendale can implement that will foster a more business-friendly environment that makes it easier for businesses to start and grow in our community,’ said Sam McAllen, Glendale Director of Development Services.

In addition to making Glendale even more business friendly, the goal of the new City Council’s business leader subcommittee is to enhance Glendale’s reputation for supporting job attraction, creation and retention. Subcommittee members will collaborate with City Councilmembers and other business leaders gathering information, sharing concerns, and making recommendations to improve the way Glendale works to support businesses.

In an effort to gather wide-ranging business viewpoints, the temporary Business Council Committee will be comprised of three City Councilmembers; one representative of a Glendale small business (1 to 24 employee); one representative of a Glendale medium sized business (25-99 employees); one representative of a large business (100+ employees); one member representing the viewpoint of design professionals such as an architect or engineer; one representative of commercial developers; one representative of residential developers. Additionally, at least one of the representatives from the business community must be from a women-owned business and one from a minority-owned business. The temporary Business Council Committee will act as an advisory body to the Mayor and City Council by making recommendations on ways to make Glendale even more business friendly. Interested persons can complete an on-line application at https://www.glendaleaz.com/boardsandcommissions/CityCouncilandBusinessLeaders.cfm .” I urge all Glendale business owners, large, medium and small to join city council in its effort to make Glendale even more business friendly.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I thought it was only mainstream media that indulged in fake news…but now it looks like our local paper has joined the parade. Well, perhaps it’s not fake news but the headline and article are certainly misleading. The headline reads, Heroes Regional Park Library costs rising. It implies that the West Branch Library costs are too expensive to merit its construction. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_61165fb2-a7c2-11e7-b123-9fc4a27d9987.html .

The initial estimate for construction of the West Branch library has been elusive from the start. The $2.7 million dollar figure used by Director Erik Strunk in 2016 was no more than an educated guesstimate as no design work had been done when this item came before city council in a May 5, 2016 workshop. Here is the link: https://www.glendaleaz.com/clerk/agendasandminutes/documents/2016/0405/Minutes.pdf .

The original estimate did not include technology or underground infrastructure costs. The increase now accounts for those costs.

While it is entirely appropriate to offer an explanation of why construction costs for the West Branch library have increased by over a million dollars, the tone of the article seems to question why an increase is merited for this library branch. It’s almost as if the underlying question is the worthiness of such an increase in our part of town. The implication being do we deserve it?

Perhaps a little history is in order. In April of 1997, twenty years ago, staff brought forward an estimated cost to build the Foothills Library branch of $5.1 million. A year later, in the city’s Fiscal Year 1998-99 Budget book the cost had risen to $6.3 million, an increase of $1.2 million. There was no Glendale Star article questioning that increase…after all, it was for the Arrowhead area, you know. Also keep in mind, the Foothills Library branch at $6.3 million was in dollars of twenty years ago. Obviously, inflation and the rising cost of everything should be considered when considering the cost estimate for the West Branch library.

In Fiscal Year 2008-09 nearly $7 million was budgeted for the West Branch library. That amount was budgeted after a majority of council in Fiscal Year 2006 had diverted $6 million for the library to the Public Safety Training Center.

Then there is the issue raised of modular versus a brick and mortar building. Previously Director Strunk indicated that the costs of either modular or brick and mortar were comparable. Ever since west area Glendale residents heard of the possible modular building they have been vehemently opposed. They were insulted that the city thought so little of them that all they deserved was a temporary modular building. They insisted on brick and mortar. They conveyed this sentiment to staff at every opportunity.

It’s also important to note that recently I received a call from a Glendale resident who asked to remain anonymous, as he worked in the modular building industry for over 30 years. If anyone should know about modular buildings it would be this person. He wanted me to know how pleased he was, after viewing a recent council workshop discussion on the issue, that the city was pursuing brick and mortar construction. He said that modular constructed buildings simply do not last beyond about 7 to 8 years, at which time they begin to deteriorate. He felt that something as important as a city library merited hard construction and that it would be a structure lasting far longer than anything in the modular industry. He also said that special construction of a modular designed to be expandable increased ordinary modular construction costs considerably.

It is also instructive to include some of the discussion that occurred at the April 5, 2016 council workshop. Here are just two excerpts of note:

“Councilmember Aldama asked if it would be the intent to build onto this facility in the future.

Mr. Strunk said they asked this project to be designed to allow future expansion and growth.  The design will accommodate that growth.  He explained the vision for this project is a 33,500 square foot library.

Councilmember Aldama asked if the initial project was considered Phase 1 and if a funding mechanism would be put in place to ensure completion of this project.

Mr. Strunk said he would await Council direction on that issue, but park facilities have been phased in before.”

And this, “Councilmember Malnar said the $2.7 million was being taken away from providing additional services at other Glendale libraries.  He asked if the city was losing more than they were gaining by using those funds to build another library.

Mr. Strunk said the $2.7 million is development impact fee money was specifically collected for a library.  They can be used to construct, equip, build and open a new library.  They cannot be used for operating funds. “

The topic concluded with the following, “Mayor Weiers said there is a consensus to continue on with this project. Mr. Strunk asked if consensus meant to commence design work on the Heroes Park concept. Mayor Weiers said that is the next step.”

Let’s acknowledge that the West Branch library has been in the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) since 1998…going on twenty years. Let’s also acknowledge that during the 20 year reign of the previous mayor it was never destined to be built. Roadblocks were manufactured at every turn to prevent its construction.

It’s time for everyone, including the Glendale Star, to stop sniveling about a major infrastructure project, the West Branch library, and the worthiness of its construction in west Glendale. Instead, it’s time to rejoice in the fact that due to its economic recovery, the city has finally made good on a twenty year old promise…long overdue.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

When I said in a recent blog that the Yucca district and Glendale were hot foreconomic development, it was probably the understatement of the year. In addition to the recent announcement of Top Golf locating in Glendale, our latest blockbuster announcement is IKEA, a leader in home furnishings retail, has chosen Glendale and the Yucca district for its newest store. It’s only other location is in the southeast Valley in Tempe. With the addition of the Glendale location IKEA will now have a commanding presence in the northwest Valley. IKEA stated in its press release, “The proposed Glendale store would complement our Phoenix-area presence established in Tempe and bring the unique family-friendly shopping experience closer to customers in the West Valley and beyond.”

From Glendale’s press release issued today:

“The 348,000 square foot IKEA will be built on 29 acres between the Loop 101 and 95th Avenue on the south side of Bethany Home Road across from the Glendale Sports and Entertainment District which includes the University of Phoenix Stadium, Gila River Arena, Cabela’s, Tanger Outlets and Westgate.

“IKEA choosing our city is further proof that major corporations agree Glendale is the place to grow and build their brand,” said City Manager Kevin Phelps. “The freeway access and visibility, the available workforce and the energy of Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District make it the perfect location for IKEA. The presence of IKEA is a ‘game changer’ that will accelerate additional growth and further elevate one of the most dynamic areas in Arizona.”

“Pending approvals, construction of IKEA Glendale will most likely occur in Fall 2018 with an opening in the Spring of 2020. At build out, IKEA will offer 300 new jobs and create 500 construction jobs. Recognized as one of the top 100 places to work, IKEA offers potential employees competitive pay and benefits for both full and part time employees.

“This city has been amassing an impressive list of corporations that now call Glendale home,” said Economic Development Director Brian Friedman. “These new businesses account for more than two million square feet of new construction in this dynamic district along. We are excited for the opportunity to welcome even more development, jobs and capital investment to the area because of IKEA’s presence.” Friedman says the additional 30 acres immediately adjacent to IKEA will attract further corporate development from businesses seeking to benefit from IKEA’s proximity.

“From my first meeting with the IKEA officials, it was my role as Mayor to impress upon them that Glendale absolutely, positively wanted IKEA to locate in our city when they were searching for possible new location in Arizona,” said Glendale Mayor Jerry P. Weiers. “We demonstrated that by being responsive to their needs and working on their timeline. It was exciting and very gratifying to see Glendale ultimately selected. The announcement today continues the positive momentum that Glendale has been experiencing.

“Visitors to the area already top 10 million per year,” said Councilmember Joyce Clark of the Yucca district, location of choice for IKEA. “The presence of a fun and family friendly IKEA store in Glendale will further enhance Glendale’s reputation as a retail/entertainment and sports destination, not only providing residents and visitors even more reasons to shop and play here but complimenting Tanger Outlet, a premier retail destination in the Valley.”

I am very pleased to welcome IKEA to Glendale, the West Valley and most especially to my district. Glendale, the state’s 5th largest city, is on the economic development forefront. Just imagine what the next few years hold and who else will choose Glendale as their preferred location.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

The 4th floor of City Hall is closed today, September 14th and Friday, September 15th. Staff has been relocated to other city facilities and senior staff and councilmembers’ meetings are off-site. This is a sole occurrence as the A/C for the 4th floor is being repaired.  Everything will return to normal on Monday.

My last blog was about what this councilmember’s activities consist. As a follow up I thought I’d share just two recent activities. I thought I’d flesh out just what these various events are about.

I received a call from a constituent, Mark Werber, inviting me to tour his business located in my district. Mr. Werber owns 3 Tots Unlimited facilities in Glendale and the one I toured is at 8311 W. Glendale Avenue. I didn’t know quite what to expect but I was pleasantly impressed. His facility is clean. Have you ever entered a facility and you could smell urine or something else equally unpleasant? Not so here. It was bright and warm feeling with virtually every wall covered with child-oriented artwork.

At any time there will be approximately 120 to 150 little ones. My favorite was the baby, six-week old and older unit. In every room that I entered the children were engaged in meaningful activities. The kitchen facility was spotless and the food being prepared for lunch was fresh and wholesome.

The little ones are so innocent and unbiased.  They are color blind. It’s a joy to spend time with them. They are curious about everything and they are funny to watch and to talk to. It’s a shame that as they get older the mantle of that child-like innocence is replaced by meaner attitudes.

Although the care provided is primarily for preschool there is also space for after school care for kids from 6 to 12. They can do homework, play games and get an afterschool snack. I spent about an hour touring and asking questions. I was impressed with the facility and would recommend it to the parents of the Yucca district looking for a safe and well run facility for their children.

As an aside, I met an old friend who now manages the facility – Bob Huffman’s granddaughter. Many of you probably don’t remember Bob Huffman. He was a Glendale councilmember when I took office back in 1992. Bob was always a champion for the underserved people of Glendale and well respected by all. The most ironic was that when Bob ran for councilmember for his last time against former Councilmember Goulette, he passed away during the campaign. Yet, even deceased he still won the election. Goulette was second in vote total and ended up with Bob’s seat.

Another event I attended recently was a ribbon cutting event in my district. Union Home Mortgage has established a branch office in Westgate. The firm has been around for 18 years and has branches throughout Arizona but this is their first branch in Glendale. I had the opportunity to meet Roseanna Diaz , Manager and Robert Fettier (sp??), Regional Sales Manager. One of my neighbors and a constituent, Fortunato Beltran, is a loan officer for the company and we had an opportunity to visit for awhile.

The Mayor and I attended and Councilmember Aldama arrived a bit later. Due to a previous commitment the Mayor spoke briefly. I then took up the torch and publicly welcomed Union Home Mortgage to our community representing Glendale. The message was Glendale and especially the Yucca district is booming. New businesses are locating in the Yucca district continually.

Lastly, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra will be at Glendale’s Gila River Arena in early December, 2017. I have FREE tickets to give away for the event. In order to participate for the drawing for the free tickets you must subscribe to my weekly Friday ENews Bulletin. Information for the drawing will be published in the bulletin every Friday in November. You must be a Yucca district resident to be eligible. You must be 18 years of age or older. Tickets are not for resale. Get the latest information about what’s happening in the Yucca District and the city of Glendale by visiting the Yucca Weekly Update page. Sign up to receive these newsletters via e-mail. Read more . Please go to this site to subscribe: https://www.glendaleaz.com/yucca/index.cfmGet the Yucca Weekly Update e-mail Bulletin.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Most people really have no idea what a city councilmember does. I thought I’d share just one month’s worth of activities. I keep all of my calendars and monthly logs. I manage to get a majority of my activities on them but I slip sometimes and some activities never get memorialized. I reviewed one of my previous monthly calendars and logs to see what I actually did that month and compiled this list:

  • Over 60 in person or phone contacts with constituents. I have received calls as early as 7 AM and as late as 10 PM
  • 20 meetings with city personnel from monthly meetings with the City Manager and City Attorney to a city court update to staff briefings on current issues
  • 4 meetings with zoning attorneys to discuss land development proposals
  • 4 luncheon meetings with constituents
  • 1 grand opening of a district business
  • 2 ribbon cuttings for businesses
  • 2 organization formal luncheons
  • 3 trips to look at specific code violations in the district
  • 2 council workshop meetings followed by executive sessions (could last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours)
  • 2 council evening voting meetings (average of 2 hours)
  • approximately 40 hours of reading and researching in preparation for council workshops/ voting meetings along with emailed (or in person) questions for staff on agendized issues
  • produce 4 weekly E News bulletins
  • attend 2 neighborhood meetings
  • a monthly average of about 400 miles driven
  • countless hours of phone, in person or email contact with one’s council assistant
  • going shopping or out to eat often produces an encounter with a district/city resident

This is a fairly accurate snapshot. No two days are alike. As a councilmember one has to be flexible. It’s certainly not a 9 to 5 job. Occasionally there will be a day with just one meeting and a business lunch but there were many days filled from 9 AM to well into the evening.

A councilmember needs to be adaptable to new situations and new concepts. One has to love learning on topics ranging from the intricacies of water delivery, to budget and finance, to code violations, to land planning. It’s important to be curious and to ask questions about anything and everything. I have found it critical to listen for you never know what you will learn by doing so. Upon occasion listening to other points of view has caused me to change my initial opinion on an issue.

A councilmember is not just a representative of the city but is truly its ambassador whether it is locally, regionally or nationally. We are charged with presenting adopted city positions on a variety of issues. We are the public faces of the city whether it is at a local business ribbon cutting, or a formal district meeting, or a local organization’s luncheon, or a city event. We represent our city by serving on regional groups and non-profits and periodically we interface with our state’s congressional delegation. Most importantly we represent you, the citizens of Glendale. We are your voice. This is our greatest and gravest responsibility.

We are the policy makers. We receive assessments and reports on upcoming issues about which we will make a decision from city personnel as well as a myriad of comments from Glendale’s citizens. We must make decisions as important as water and sanitation rates to items as routine as approving a city procurement contract. We must approve or deny dozens of proposed subdivisions every year. We must decide on highly charged issues such as billboards, a library sale, chickens and recently Stonehaven.

We are expected to be diplomats in an effort not to offend on so many different levels. We must be able to interact with all, from janitor to king. We must be empathetic, interested and caring. We are expected to walk into a room full of strangers and to strike up a conversation.

Are we paid for our service? Yes. In Glendale, a councilmember earns $35,000 a year. Other cities compensate their councilmembers at different rates. An individual’s finances often demands that a councilmember be retired or be self-employed. Sometimes it becomes difficult for a self-employed councilmember to juggle the priorities of his or her business with the demands of the position. There is no doubt that their businesses often suffer.

The irregular hours and the varied demands of the job cause us to truly value our private time, especially with family. Holidays often require our presence at a city event. Family dinners usually don’t happen on Tuesdays which are council meeting or workshop days or on other evenings which require council presence at a formal event or attendance at a board meeting. 

It’s a unique position. One must be committed to service for it certainly isn’t about the pay. Yet because the days (and some evenings) are so varied it becomes a job like no other. Some love it. Others find that the demands are more than they wish to give. I love it.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

An interesting story drew my attention in the wake of the Stonehaven decision by a majority of Glendale’s city council (5 to 2 vote in favor). Apparently these members of the city council, Mayor Jerry Weiers, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and Councilmembers Lauren Tolmachoff, Jaime Aldama and Bart Turner saw no issue with granting the developers, John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes, the right to plant about 600 small lots (4,000 SF and 4,500 SF) on 130+ acres in the development known as Stonehaven.

The developers have also been granted greater lot coverage of 55%. Typically, Glendale has used 40% to 45% lot coverage. That means the home can use 40% to 45% of the lot. The rest is a front yard, side yards and a back yard. In the approved Stonehaven plan front yards will be 10 to 15 feet in depth and back yards will be 10 to 15 feet in depth. My back patio is 12 feet in depth and I try to envision having a rear yard block wall abutting my patio. It is absurd. Just for kicks measure 10 feet or 15 feet from your back door and imagine having a block wall at that distance.

Then I read an article by Home & Design and republished by AZBigMedia. Here is the link: http://roselawgroupreporter.com/2017/08/homebuyers-willing-sacrifice-square-footage-bigger-yard/?utm_source=Rose+Law+Group+Reporter+Newsletter&utm_campaign=305ef20b62-8-18-2017+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0fa483909f-305ef20b62-17921525 .

The most startling results of a Wakefield Research survey commissioned by Taylor Morrison (national homebuilder) said, “Outdoor living is becoming just as important as the indoors. According to a consumer survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Taylor Morrison, a leading national homebuilder and developer, recent and prospective homebuyers are craving green space. More than half (56 percent) of homebuyers surveyed would be willing to sacrifice a larger house to obtain a bigger yard.

The survey also found the most important exterior feature of a home is distance from neighboring homes. Both millennials (48 percent) and non-millennials (53 percent) believe this breathing room is key, beating other curb appeal elements such as siding, driveway styles, exterior paint color and roofing finishes.”

Well, doesn’t this fly in the face of the pro-Stonehaven rhetoric touting “that millennials and seniors would prefer the least amount of yard possible?” Their rationale was that new home buyers didn’t want to maintain the backyard grass. Many back yards are graveled and xeroscaped these days. Whether it’s grass or patio space, upkeep and work to keep it looking good is required. What they said was illogical and this Taylor Morrison study proves the point.

No, I suspect it was all about the almighty dollar. They demanded greater density because it translates into greater profitability. Since when must a city accommodate a private entity’s demand for greater profitability at the expense of the adjacent neighborhoods (all of whom opposed Stonehaven’s amended plan)?

Think about it. Have you ever seen a millionaire buy a large home on a 4,000 SF lot? Of course not. They buy large homes on large lots to insure their privacy (among other reasons). Privacy in the form of large lot space (or even adequate lot space) is a commodity that today’s developers have decided that the masses of home buyers no longer merit. They decide what you should have, always keeping their bottom lines primary, and then sell the concept to you as the latest and greatest that you must have. So, we buy the bells and whistles while ignoring basic amenities such as sufficient space to breathe and grow families.

I’m thankful I grew up in a different era. Perhaps I’m too old-fashioned but if so, I don’t care. I’m glad I grew up with room to breathe. To this day I value the privacy my property provides. It’s hard to imagine that even millennials don’t want the same and that privacy is no longer important.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, August 15, 2017 the city council will have a full agenda. One of the items is a staff presentation on a light rail update. Here is the link to the staff report: https://destinyhosted.com/agenda_publish.cfm?id=45363&mt=aacc&get_month=8&get_year=2017&dsp=agm&seq=139&rev=0&ag=71&ln=2184&nseq=&nrev=&pseq=201&prev=0#ReturnTo2184

There are several points within the staff report that are worthy of note. In the Background section it states, “In 2001, the voters of Glendale approved a dedicated half-cent sales tax to fund a comprehensive transportation program known the Glendale Onboard! (GO) Transportation Program. Maricopa County voters also approved transportation funding the regional transportation plan in 2004. These ballot initiatives include a project and matching funds for a high-capacity transit corridor from Glendale’s eastern border at 43rd Avenue to downtown Glendale (my bold). Based on these successful elections, the city and regional transportation plans include funding to complete a high-capacity transit corridor in Glendale by 2026 (my bold).”

Sometimes one has to read between the lines a bit. A high-capacity transit corridor does not imply light rail exclusively. Among other options, it could be a beefed-up bus system. In the 2001 transportation ballot measure the exact route was never identified. Rather it identified a study area from Northern Avenue to Bethany Home Road. If a light rail route were to run along Northern Avenue or Bethany Home Road neither route would touch downtown Glendale. Any route does not necessarily have to go through or accommodate downtown Glendale. Lastly, there was no ‘drop-dead’ date for completion of this corridor identified in the 2001 ballot issue. Light rail is not an issue that must be decided immediately.

The Background section goes on to say, “…the ongoing maintenance and operations is a local (city) cost. Glendale’s GO! Program and $105 million programmed for capital costs (construction and design) and $3.8 million programmed for ongoing operation and maintenance in the 25-year balanced program.”

On page 4 of the staff report is a table that estimates Glendale’s share of construction cost for light rail. The least expensive which ends at 43rd Avenue and Glendale ( 1 mile) projects Glendale’s share of construction costs at $30 million and the most expensive ending at 61st Avenue and Glenn Drive (crosses over Grand Avenue and is 3.5 miles) is $123 million. Based upon the stated $105 million available for Glendale’s share of construction costs funds are available for all options with the exception of the last and most expensive option – crossing Grand Avenue.

However, Glendale’s operating costs are considerable. According to the staff report, there is $3.8 million available in GO’s 25-year programming.  The least expensive and shortest distance option would require $1.6 million a year. That $3.8 million would be expended in 2 years. The most expensive option and longest distance would require $5.7 million a year to operate. Obviously the $3.8 million GO programmed funds would not even cover one year.

Where would a shortfall in annual operating costs have to come from? It would have to come from the General Fund…you know the same fund that issues debt for the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for such things as parks and libraries. It could require competing against Public Safety (police and fire) or employee raises or any other departments for funding resulting in fewer dollars for other departments. The central question for residents may be, do you want to take precious resources away from other departments and capital projects to annually fund the O&M costs of light rail?

Under the Community Benefit/Public Involvement section it states, “In addition to improved mobility and access, high capacity transit projects can also serve as a catalyst for economic redevelopment along a corridor. The original regional 20-mile light rail “starter segment” cost $1.4 billion to completer, but has generated an estimated $8.2 billion in private and public investment along the light rail corridor.” That’s about an 8 to 1 Return on Investment (ROI). Okay, that sounds great but it should be proven by providing specific, verifiable data. How much was the public (governmental) investment after light rail was completed along with a list of specific redevelopment projects and their investment cost? How much was private redevelopment and what were their projects and investment cost after light rail completion? These ROI figures cannot just be thrown out there without some kind of corroborating data. To date none has ever been provided.

Lastly, on page 3 of the staff report under Cash Flow Requirements, it says, “With the relatively short time frame until Prop 400 funding program expires in 2025, it is not fiscally sound to issue bonds, but will rely on existing fund balances and local funding to cover these upfront costs (design, right-of-way acquisition and construction). Glendale staff has told us that funding these upfront costs will negatively impact the GO program prior to construction.” In addition to the lack of long-term GO funding to support  O&M costs, staff has determined that there is not enough GO funding available to pay the upfront costs of construction. This is reminiscent of Camelback Ranch and AZSTA’s lack of ability to reimburse Glendale for those upfront costs. “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” Do we really want to go there again?

I have always wondered why Camelback Road has never been considered the option of choice. Phoenix would be required to build from 19th Avenue to 43rd Avenue, a distance of 3 miles. From 43rd Avenue to 91st Avenue, a distance of 6 miles Phoenix and Glendale would share the costs; and from Camelback Road to Glendale Avenue, a distance of 2 miles Glendale would be required to fund construction exclusively. But think about it. This route would accommodate 2 major destinations: Grand Canyon University and Westgate. That is exactly what light rail is designed to do — move large numbers of people to specific and major destination locations. In addition, it would run through 2 of the poorest demographic areas in the entire region: Maryvale and south Glendale and serve those whose need for mass transit is the greatest. If it really does spur economic redevelopment these two areas could certainly benefit from that kind of economic boost.

If you wish to follow the light-rail discussion on Tuesday, August 15th, at city council workshop which begins at 1:30 PM and is the last item on the agenda, please go to the city website, www.glendaleaz.com and click on the link to Glendale Channel 11 TV. It is broadcast live on the city’s site and also on Cox TV Cable Channel 11.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Monday, August 7, 2017 the City of Glendale’s city council meeting agenda for Tuesday, August 8, 2017 was amended and reposted within the appropriate time constraints. The item added to the agenda is the city council’s consideration and approval or denial of the city’s sale of 13.1 acres located on the north side of Bethany Home Road and on the east side of 99th Avenue to Topgolf. The land is directly north of American Furniture Warehouse. The purchase price is $5,713,730 that will go back into the city’s Water and Sewer Enterprise fund. The land was originally purchased by the city’s Enterprise fund for a water treatment plant but became unnecessary when the city built the Oasis Water Treatment Plant on Northern Avenue and approximately 72nd Avenue. Currently Topgolf has two locations in the Valley — in Scottsdale and in Gilbert.

The major investors in Topgolf are WestRiver Group, Callaway, Dundon and Providence Equity. Worldwide they have 33 venues with over 10 million visitors a year.

What is Topgolf, you say? It’s the hottest form of golf as an entertainment venue for all. Every Topgolf facility has dozens of high-tech, hitting bays. One to six people rent a bay by the hour and there are free clubs for use in each bay. The average bay rental is two hours. They also offer a full service restaurant and bars with unique menu items that can be found nowhere else in the Valley.  There are private event spaces and meeting rooms along with a rooftop terrace with a fire pit.  Customers can find original content shows, simulator lounges, competitive tours and pop-up social activities. There are HDTVs all over the place as well as everyone’s ‘must-have,’ free Wifi.

You don’t have to be a traditional golfer to enjoy their activites. Nearly 40% of their patrons are non-golfers. Two thirds of patrons are male and one third is female. The largest age group using the facility is people between the ages of 18 and 34 (53%).

If you would like to learn more about Topgolf please visit this link: https://topgolf.com/us/ . I couldn’t be more pleased. If the sale of land to Topgolf is approved by city council the city will have made its first move to extend its entertainment district beyond the Loop 101 and signals development of the west side of the Loop 101 for further entertainment venues. It’s a logical progression that moves entertainment to eventually join with the city’s MLB spring training facility, Camelback Ranch. It also can become a catalyst for further commercial development between Westgate and Camelback Ranch. The west side of the Loop 101 has suddenly become a hot location for more development. Look for more to come in this area.

This is yet another concrete example of Glendale, and especially the Yucca district, as a premier location for development. Glendale is on the move…and more is to come. As the Yucca district city councilmember with what I hope will be a vote of approval, I welcome Topgolf and wish it much success as the only venue of its kind in the West Valley.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, August 1, 2017 city council, after a month’s vacation (sort of), will convene by holding its first workshop meeting. There are 3 agenda items: presentation of the proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocations; update of the city’s website; and further discussion of the proposal to raise water/sewer and sanitation rates.

So far CDBG federal funds remain basically intact with the city’s total entitlement at $2,270,348.00. With a new administration in place we will have to wait to see what new federal policies are implemented that will affect allocations in the future. We are moving into uncharted territory. CDBG funds cannot be used throughout the entire city but rather in specific areas recognized as slum and blighted. Most of this area is located in zip code 85301 (not all of this zip code has this designation) and generally includes downtown Glendale.

There was one area that received no funding this year and I believe should have. That is the City of Glendale’s Neighborhood Services in the area of Neighborhood Preservation and Code Compliance. The request was for $94,945.00. Yet it received nothing. This funding can be used to board up vacant properties, distribute ‘roll-offs’ to neighborhoods and for its ‘clean and lien’ program. The city should be more aggressive in these areas as all benefit neighborhood preservation. Boarding up properties and cleaning up vacant properties can be expensive. Even though a property has a lien placed upon it, it may be years before the lien is paid and in the meantime the city has fronted the cost. “Roll-offs’ are those very large garbage bins. They are frequently used by neighborhoods when they call for a general clean-up. They are expensive and the charge for one is somewhere in the $500 range. Many neighborhoods, especially those older neighborhoods without an HOA, simply cannot afford the cost of a ‘roll-off.’ In an effort to maintain these neighborhoods it just makes sense to offer them, free-of-charge, to neighborhoods willing to self-clean.

Community Revitalization has a set aside of $654,050.00. It would make sense to allocate $100,000 of that amount to Neighborhood Preservation.

The second agenda item is that of updating the city’s website. Goodness knows it needs it desperately but before council gives direction to upgrade, I sure would like to know what the cost of such an effort will be. The request before council will be to approve the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) and then to eventually approve a contract for web hosting for the city. I think a cap of fund expenditure should be provided within the RFP. Without that, the sky is the limit for all bidders.

 It also raises a question that I continue to ask. What is the purpose and mission of the city’s Information Technology (IT) Department? The city is about to embark upon the implementation of a new citywide operating system called Munis. As part of this contract, the city will be paying nearly a million dollars a year for support of this system. If council decides to award a contract for hosting its website that becomes another major area that IT will not have to support. It appears as if IT is becoming no more than a glorified support system for all of the city’s equipment such as PCs. As the city moves into cloud computing, IT will no longer have to support servers for the city’s operating systems. IT receives a substantial allocation each fiscal year. It’s time to ask what are we paying for?

The last agenda item is further discussion about water/sewer and sanitation rate increases. A little history is in order. For approximately 8 years there have been no rate increases due to the Great Recession. No one felt it was appropriate to raise rates during that period. The economy is now rebounding and it is time to adjust rates. In addition, during those 8 years, the cost of materials and equipment has risen as well as the fact that employees in these departments are seeing their first pay increases in many years. So, a case can be made that the rates should be reviewed.

I have several major concerns that I expect to have addressed.  One is the need for a less dramatic initial rate increase. Rate increases need to be phased in and gradual. Let me give you a real example. My June billing was in the amount of $100.44 for 21,000 gallons broken down as follows:

  • Water                               $76.92
  • Sanitation & Recycling         16.30
  • AZ Water Quality Tax            0.14
  • Taxes                                  7.08                 

With a proposed 7.5% increase in water in the first year, that $76.92 jumps to $82.69; and with a proposed 10% increase in water the first year $76.92 becomes $84.61. The $16.30 for sanitation could increase in the first year by 17% to $19.05 or 25% to $20.50.

Over the next 5 years a water bill could increase by 29% adding approximately $27.72 to the average single family billing.  The sanitation bill could increase by 52% or approximately $8.50.

That does not include an increase in the AZ Water Quality Tax or taxes on each bill.

These increases are dramatic and mandate that city council look at the proposed projects that rather than being committed to at one time are rather phased in allowing a more gradual approach to the proposed rate increases.

City council has historically adopted a tiered rate approach to water. Those who use the minimal amount per month would see the smallest increase. Those who consume the greatest amount of water per month see the largest rate increase. This approach was designed to uphold the philosophy of water conservation and to recognize that minimal water users are often seniors and retired on fixed incomes. The proposal as presented does not take this strategy into account.

There is plenty of time for further discussion. The citizen comments are very important to this discussion. The city is holding a series of public meeting for citizens:

Open House Public Input Meetings

  • Wednesday, July 26, 2017 Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center 6-8 p.m. 11550 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, AZ 85307
  • Thursday, August 3, 2017 Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center 6-8 p.m. 5600 W. Union Hills Dr., Glendale, AZ 85308
  • Saturday, August 12, 2017 Glendale City Hall – Basement Level 10 a.m.-12 noon 5850 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, AZ 85301
  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 Glendale Adult Center 6-8 p.m. 5970 W. Brown St., Glendale, AZ 85302

Lastly, citizen commentary from participants on the newly established Utilities Commission, seem to indicate that there was never a discussion of the central questions: do we need rate increases? and how can we mitigate the increases? From what I have heard the commission discussion began with these are the projects we must do and do you prefer a rate increase based on Option 1 or Option 2?

The city council workshop discussion of these agenda items can be seen on Channel 11 if you have Cox cable or live on the city’s website under Cable Channel 11 tabs.  It’s an important discussion.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Hold on to your hats, folks. This will be a rather long opinion piece as I have much to say.

I am mindfully aware that one of the prime directives of my job as a councilmember is to represent my constituency…the residents of the Yucca district. Their voice is my voice. They do not possess the power, money and privilege of the pro-Stonehaven contingent. Over 1,000 of my district residents have signed a petition in opposition to Stonehaven’s latest version of its proposed residential plan. These are the people who live in adjoining neighborhoods and will receive the full negative brunt of this proposal. They are the people for whom I speak.

Since this is my last term as a councilmember I possess a precious freedom that no others serving on Glendale’s council may have and that is, complete freedom. I can advocate for and take positions that I believe to be right without fear of retribution when the next election season rolls around. In this context, the opinions I am about to express regarding the Stonehaven application are mine and offered without fear or favor. Some will agree and others will disagree. That is to be expected.

Just as we have all heard of the Washington “establishment” aimed at protecting its power, money and privilege, every community in the country, large or small, has its own version of the “establishment.” Glendale is no different.

Lately, the local Chamber, the local newspaper and the local fire union (no surprise there) have announced their support for the latest iteration of Stonehaven. They all represent elements of Glendale’s “establishment.” The “establishment” circles the wagons when one of their own is in danger for that danger could spread and diminish them as well. All it takes is a well placed phone call or conversation with the “right” people. In “establishment” code it’s a plea for help with the veiled notion that it may be their ox gored next and if they expect reciprocal support, then it’s time to ante up.

Then we have the city’s Planning Department. I understand the tremendous pressure they are experiencing. When the Stonehaven applicants proposed 3,000 square foot lots, the Planning Department made it clear that it could not support the concept for Glendale doesn’t even have a zoning classification for 3,000 SF lot sizes. Hence the applicant’s quick pivot to 4,000/4,500 SF lots for Glendale does possess such a zoning classification. The Planning Department cannot be discriminatory and if it has accepted other projects with 4,000 square foot lots, it must be fair and do so in this case. You will hear the statement from the Planning Department that the Stonehaven amendment is “consistent” with Glendale’s General Plan.

But what you will not hear is that 4,000/4,500 SF lots have never been implemented on such a large scale. Yes, Glendale has seen small tracts of such sized lots and it may be used on small-scale infill projects. Hence the Planning Department’s statement of “consistency” with the General Plan. But it has never, in the city’s history, been used where 44% of a new 365 acre subdivision will have such small lots. It is incumbent upon the Planning Department to show where a subdivision of similar size and scope was permitted with at least 40% of the project consisting of 4,000/4,500 square foot lots. If that is their position I expect them to defend it with some relevant examples.

The pro-Stonehaven contingent is touting their $400 million dollar investment in Glendale implying that we should be ever so grateful. Don’t kid yourselves. They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. We’ve all seen the term, Return on Investment (ROI). That $400 million dollar investment will reap them a hefty profit (ROI). How much? Only they know but we can assume it is substantial or they wouldn’t be pulling out all of the stops to make it happen.

The Stonehaven proponents also tout the benefit of the connectivity to be derived from the construction of Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue. In an agreement between the city and the John F. Long Trust Bethany Home Road does not have to be completed until January 1, 2021.  What you don’t hear is that the city will pay $1.2 million for the north half of Bethany’s right-of-way (ROW). Where will this payment come from? From the Development Impact Fees (DIF) paid to the city.  Each home buyer pays DIF as it is incorporated by the developer into the price of each home in this subdivision. DIF is used to improve the infrastructure surrounding the new development in terms of libraries, parks, roads, etc. Not in this case, the DIF will be used to pay for right-of-way. This is precedent setting for historically the city has not had to pay for ROW for a new subdivision.

The applicants like to refer to Stonehaven as an “infill” project. Here are some conclusions from national studies done on infill:

  1. The smaller homes associated with the increased density of the project will generate lower property tax revenues, yet it increases the burden on the city’s cost for the provision of services as the new residents use them.
  2. Existent nearby residents bear all of the costs associated with this new infill development in increased traffic and congestion in local schools even though it may provide a benefit to the community as a whole as the city receives state shared revenue benefits from an increase in population.
  3. There is a negative impact for those properties in close proximity to the new, denser subdivision, but a positive impact for those properties at a greater distance.
  4. Lower income neighborhoods tend to benefit from infill development and higher income areas had property values decline.
  5. Larger projects, such as this one, magnify the negative effects more so than smaller infill projects.

What did the April 16, 2016 approved Stonehaven plan consist of? It was a balanced plan that the adjacent neighborhoods accepted.

  • R 1-5 (5,500 SF lots) on 43% of site area
  • R 1-7 (7,000 SF lots) on 36% of site area
  • R 1-8 (8,000 SF lots) on 21% of site area

Now look at the changes requested in the new proposal.

  • R 1-4 (4,000 and 4,500) SF lots on 44% of site
  • R 1-5 (5,000 SF lots) on 22.4% of site area
  • R 1-6 (6,000 SF lots) on 17.9% of site area
  • R 1-7 (7,000 SF lots) on 16% of site area

As a comparison Rovey Farm Estates built 10 years ago is a subdivision of 300 acres north of this proposed project. It is comparable in many ways and has 800 lots ranging in size from 7,000 to 17,000 SF. More recent subdivisions close by such as Boardwalk Place built in 2010 has lot sizes from 7,000 to 12,000 SF and the newest subdivision still under construction is Catania, with lot sizes that start at 5,000 SF. Yet another new subdivision, Horizons at Camelback, has lot sizes ranging from 5, 750 SF to 9, 179 SF. All of these subdivisions demonstrate lot size diversity but not one of them in west Glendale has lot sizes as small as 4,000/4,500 square feet.

The applicant rationalizes the diversity of small lots as more appealing to millennials. Yet an article in the May 12,2017 Wall Street Journal said, “Outside Las Vegas, Tri Pointe home builders has introduced a new-home design that is specifically targeted to millennial buyers, featuring indoor-outdoor patio areas and deck spaces, as well as a separate downstairs bedroom and bathroom suite that could be rented out to a housemate. Building executives said one challenge is that many are buying first homes later in life, meaning they have higher incomes and greater expectations molded by years of living in downtown luxury rentals.”

Perhaps the most impactful to adjacent neighborhoods and families is increased traffic and overcrowded schools. Before Bethany Home Road is completed in January of 2021 and while Stonehaven is being built out, daily traffic trips on Camelback will grow from its current daily count of 25,000 to over double, 54,000 trips. When Bethany is completed the daily trip count on Camelback will drop to 41,000, considerably more than the current count of 25,000. Similar situations occur on 83rd Ave. and 91st Ave. between Bethany and Camelback. This subdivision will intensify local traffic even with the eventual completion of Bethany Home Road.

Who is most impacted by this traffic increase? The Camelback Park subdivision just east of Stonehaven will bear the brunt as well as the traffic to Sunset Ridge Elementary School. 87th Avenue is one of only two primary entries for Camelback Park residents. Now it will also serve as a primary entry for Stonehaven. I am very concerned for the Camelback Park residents for even with a widened 87th Avenue their ability to get in and out of their subdivision will be aversely compromised.

These very same residents will face other difficulties as a result of Stonehaven. While Stonehaven offers the requisite 15% of park/open space, the applicants emphasize and seem to rely upon the connectivity of Stonehaven to Camelback Park’s 3 acre Pasadena Park, Sunset Ridge’s joint 10 acre school/city park and of course, the 20 year, still unfinished Heroes Park. While Stonehaven has 9.1 acres of community park, the balance of 50 acres of open space includes entryway landscaping, perimeter landscaping, street landscaping and the inevitable retention areas doubling as open space and trails.

Pulte currently has about 20 subdivisions. In one of them, Parkside at Anthem, Florence, the house price starts at $146,990. At that subdivision Pulte is offering a recreation center with indoor rock climbing and an indoor basketball court along with a splash water park, lighted tennis courts and a softball stadium. At its Bella Via subdivision, Mesa, they offer adventure playgrounds, basketball courts, a dog park and an amphitheater. Pulte is offering no such amenities in Stonehaven. Why not?

There is no doubt that the two closest elementary schools, Sunset Ridge and Desert Mirage, will be under tremendous pressure. The applicants have received approval from the Pendergast Elementary School District and the Tolleson Union High School district. Little noted is another common practice usually unrecognized by the general public.  Built into the cost of every Stonehaven home will be a dollar amount that will be donated to the school districts to offset the cost of accommodating new students. Could any school district’s, including these districts, motive for approval of this increased density be the result of this typical practice of a home builder donation per house built? It is quite possible that the Pendergast School district will have to accommodate another estimated 1,000 K-8 students. In the last Pendergast bond issue recently approved by voters there is money to expand Sunset Ridge Elementary School but there is nothing allotted for an expansion of Desert Mirage Elementary School.

Finally Stonehaven proponents emphasize the $40 million the city will derive in taxes. In that amount they even count the utilities tax that we pay on our phone, cable bills, etc. They forget to mention this amount is over the lifetime of the project…10 years or better. They make it sound as if the city will receive this amount in one fell swoop.

However, one interesting factoid I learned many years ago is that roof tops (homes) do not pay for themselves on a long term annual basis. In other words, a city loses about $200 per home annually (that is an old figure. I don’t know the current figure). What does that mean? The amount of annual tax generated per home in sales tax, property tax, etc., does not cover the cost of services provided by a city. That is why the life blood of any city isn’t in roof tops but in its commercial, retail, manufacturing, etc. development for those facilities produce taxes that help to offset the loss caused by homes.

This proposed project does not hold the promise of upgrading Glendale. It reminds me of old, 1970s zoning and planning where the smallest lots and consequently the smallest homes are placed behind or adjacent to commercial development. That’s the promise of the Stonehaven plan for the 4,000 SF and the 4,500 SF lots are behind the proposed grocery store center and the proposed restaurant row.  Can you imagine millennials or seniors wanting to live behind a grocery store or restaurant with the lights, the smells and the noise of delivery trucks an estimated 35 feet away from their property?

This kind of plan also reminds me of the old Maryvale. The only difference being is that at least John F. Long offered the public 6,000 SF sized lots…not lots of 4,000 or 4,500 SF in size. This proposed amendment and zoning does not upgrade our community. This large, 365 acre parcel of land deserves to be developed in a manner designed to showcase living in west Glendale and to which all can point with pride.  How much pride will these 4,000 and 4,500 SF lots and homes evoke 5 or 10 years after they are built?

What do power, money and privilege get? They get their way… at the expense of nearby residents who live in stable communities and who don’t want the increased traffic, school overcrowding, and even more pressure on their scant park system. They don’t want small lots with small homes destined to become a sea of rentals harvesting nothing but lower property values for those residents surrounding it.

What was so terrible about the existing, approved plan of 2016? Nothing with one exception…it isn’t dense enough for the applicants. Do you ever wonder how much an additional 204 homes will raise the profitability quotient for those involved? And is it worth it… to us?

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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