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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.

While the applicants attempt to sell you on their proposed changes to the originally approved plan their focus has been on  their investment in Glendale. The issues that should be important and thoroughly vetted are the specifics of the proposed changes such as traffic impacts. Below is a comparison of current daily trips on the 3 major arterials bounding the site to daily counts with and without a completed Bethany Home Road.

                                 CURRENT*          STONEHAVEN                   STONEHAVEN

                                                            W/OUT BETHANY                 WITH BETHANY

Camelback

83-91 Ave                   25,561***              54,000                             41,000

 

83rd Ave

Camelback-

Bethany                       15,104***             33,000                            27,000

 

91st Ave

Camelback-

Bethany                        11,044***            28,000                           23,000

                      

 

*     Current daily traffic count figures dated November of 2015 and provided by the City of Glendale

**   Stonehaven figures provided by applicants and distributed at a neighborhood meeting

*** Combined total of AM and PM daily traffic counts provided by the City, Nov, 2015

Even with a completed Bethany Home Road, Stonehaven with its 1,392 new homes will increase estimated daily traffic counts by:

  • 15,439 daily trips on Camelback Road between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue
  • 15,105 daily trips on 83rd Avenue between Camelback Road and Bethany Home Road
  • 7,044 daily trips on 91st Avenue between Camelback Road and Bethany Home Road

85th Avenue looking north

However, the greatest traffic impact will fall on Camelback Park subdivision. It is a subdivision of approximately 180 homes on the north side of Camelback Road, sandwiched between 85th Avenue and 87th Avenue. They use those two streets to get into their neighborhood.

Currently what makes it worse for those residents is that 85th and 87th Avenues meld to the right into Missouri Avenue where Sunset Ridge Elementary School is located at 8490 W. Missouri Avenue. During the school year they already deal with morning and afternoon parental school traffic as the parents either drop off or pick up their children. Many locals turn left from Camelback onto 87th Avenue or 85th Avenue and cut through up to the traffic light at Missouri and 83rd Avenue to avoid the major intersection at Camelback Road and 83rd Avenue.

87th Avenue

One of the two major access points into Stonehaven is off of 91st Avenue eastward onto Montebello Avenue. The other major access point is off an eventually completed Bethany Home Road southward onto 87th Avenue.  Both of these major accesses into Stonehaven meld onto south bound 87th Avenue – the same current access for Camelback Park. Even with the proposed widening of 87th Avenue by Stonehaven’s proponents, this subdivision will receive the double whammy of Stonehaven traffic from 91st Avenue and Montebello and Bethany Home Road and 87th Avenue. I really feel sorry for these residents. They are about to get hammered. Here is the Open Space Master Plan. It depicts the Stonehaven system of roads about as well as any of their other exhibits.

 

Open Space Master Plan

Proponents say that these changes must be approved in order for the completion of Bethany Home Road. There is a Development Agreement by and between the City of Glendale (COG) and Jacob Long, Trustee of the John F. Long Family Revocable Living Trust (JFLT) dated February 26, 2008. Under the Recitals on page 1 of the agreement it states in Section B, “JFLT has filed with the City a General Plan Amendment application in Case GPA-13-06 and a companion PAD Zoning application in case ZON-13-09 (‘Entitlement’), in connection with the proposed development of mixed-use project (‘Stonehaven’) upon the PAD parcel.” GPA-13-06 and ZON 13-09 represent the original Stonehaven plan approved by city council in April of 2016. This agreement rests upon the original Stonehaven plan, not the changes proposed in the new Stonehaven plan.

Under Scope of Work, 1.2 the agreement states, “The parties acknowledge that the Bethany Home Road Extension will be completed and accepted on or before January 1, 2022.” That is the drop dead date for completion of Bethany using the originally approved Stonehaven of 2016 as its framework. Within this section it goes on to say, “…in the event that JFLT fails to deliver final plans and specifications for the Bethany Home Road Extension by the deadline specified in Section 3.4 (‘Design Deadline’), then as the City’s sole remedy, this Agreement will automatically expire and have no further effect, and the City will have no further financial obligations to JFLT…”

Under Section 2, Land Transfers, 2.2, it states, “On the Transfer Date, JFLT will also convey to the City the following land: (a) the land north of the centerline of the Bethany Home Road alignment, comprising the north portion of the right-of-way for the Bethany Home Road Extension (the “North “ROW’), and (b) certain undevelopable remnant parcels lying north of the north ROW that will be created by the final roadway configuration described in Section 3.1 (collectively the “Remnant Parcel’). The North ROW and the Remnant Parcel, which total approximately 11.85 acres are legally described in…” It goes on to say in this section, “As the fair market consideration for the North ROW and the Remnant Parcel, the City will pay JFLT a purchase price (‘Purchase Price’) of $One Million, Two Hundred Ninety-One Thousand Six Hundred Fifty Dollars ($1,291,650) (based upon the appraisal dated March 4, 2016)…” There are certainly questions that arise about this section. Why is it the city’s obligation to pay for “remnant parcels?” How much of the 11.85 acres make up the remnant parcels? Why if this Agreement was signed and recorded back in 2008 are they using an appraisal date of March 4, 2016? This date is just a little over a month before the city council approved the original Stonehaven plan in April of 2016?

Section 3, Design, 3.4 states, “JFLT will have final plans and specifications for the Bethany Home Road Extension completed by the civil engineer and approved by the Parties prior to the City’s issuance of the 275th building permit for the Residential Development Parcel)…” It is clear that the design is not due to be approved by the city until 275 homes are built.

Section 4, Construction, 4.2 says, “JFLT will cause the general contractor to commence construction of the Bethany Home Road Extension prior to the City’s issuance of the 400th home building permit.”  It certainly appears that it will be a couple of years before a shovel-full of dirt is turned on the construction of Bethany Home Road.

Section 9, Assignment, 9.1 states, “JFLT reserves the right to assign the applicable rights and delegate the applicable obligations under this Agreement to any party to whom JFLT conveys all or any portion of the Residential Development Parcel for purposes of developing the residential communities at Stonehaven, whereupon JFLT will be relieved of any further liabilities with respect to such matters.” This appears to give JFLT the right to assign its obligations to Pulte Homes but it apparently does not grant the $1,291,650 to Pulte to offset the cost of construction of the road.

What do we have?

  • A traffic mess in the making with an extraordinary impact on the Camelback Park subdivision.
  • We have increased daily traffic counts with or without Bethany Home Road. The only difference is that the daily traffic counts are higher without Bethany Home Road connecting from 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. Just think of the number of cars that will leave and return to Stonehaven every day.
  • We have the city paying $1,291,650 for the north ROW for Bethany Home Road. Historically the city has never done this before and it sets precedent.
  • We have an agreement signed in 2008 yet appraisal for the land in question was not done until 2016.
  • We have a road whose design does not have to be submitted and approved until the 275th home is built.
  • We have a road whose construction does not begin until the 400th home is sold.

Is there any good news about Stonehaven? Well, yes sort of. If city council denies the proposed changes and retains the original plan at least it will be a fair and balanced approach to one of the last, major residential parcels in Glendale.

© 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.

If the proponents of Stonehaven are to be believed…hmmm…it is their intent to offer “diversity and flexibility” to attract millennials, seniors and empty nesters to their smallest lot sizes of 4,000 SF and 4,500 SF. In order to attract these potential buying groups it is essential that Stonehaven provide amenities equal to or greater than the sites at which they have been residing. It has been reported repeatedly in various media that these groups are used to a certain lifestyle including upgraded amenities and expect the same as they make a major investment in a home.

This is from the Stonehaven PAD application, page 21, Section 4.4.1, Active and Passive Open Space, “ Stonehaven will provide an abundance of active and passive open spaces, as depicted on Figure 11, Open Space Master Plan ( I have provided a copy of the plan below). Active open spaces will be evenly distributed throughout the community, providing a variety of recreational opportunities within close proximity to all residents. Amenities will include numerous tot lots, sport courts, soccer fields, ramadas, picnic areas, informal play areas coupled with retention, and trails connecting the overall open space center of the community, providing a community-wide amenity for the use and enjoyment of all residents. Additional passive open spaces will be provided throughout the community along primary entry features, along primary roadways, and between active open space areas connecting the community-wide open space system and providing an open, attractive environment. Retention basins will be integrated into the active and passive open space system, while the primary active amenities such as tot lots and sport courts will remain dry during normal rainfall events.”

Open Space Master Plan

In some parts of the Stonehaven PAD application it is very short on detail and this area is one such. They state that there is 60 acres of open space, both active and passive, provided meeting the minimum of 15% of open space required by the city. This appears to be accurate but it’s difficult to confirm since no data is provided on how much acreage of the open space is active and how much is passive. They do offer that the community park will be 9.1 acres. If you look at their map, there seems to be approximately 10 small pocket parks perhaps a half an acre to an acre in size. Again, they provide no data so it is hard to be exact.

Stonehaven looking west from Sunset Ridge Park

What will the potential home buyer in Stonehaven find? A 9.1 acre community park that directly abuts the 5 acre city park (Glendale taxpayer funded) next to Sunset Elementary School. Why go to the expense of putting a tot lot or basketball park in their 9.1 acre community park when the city has already has those amenities in its park so conveniently close?      

Sunset Ridge Park

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Park looking northeast

Reference is also made to the Grand Canal Linear Park (city of Glendale and Maricopa County funded); Camelback Park subdivision’s small 3 acre park (with another convenient access route from Stonehaven); and Heroes Park (Glendale taxpayer funded and still unfinished after 20 years).

Stonehaven does not appear to offer much active open space and instead relies on its residents having access to and using city funded active recreation areas. Stonehaven is like a Remora. A Remora is a small fish that purposefully and continually swims with a shark. They have a symbiotic relationship.  Stonehaven, the Remora, appears to have purposefully skimped on active open space relying instead on nearby city, taxpayer funded amenities (the shark).

Keep in mind that a lot of the green area on their Open Space map is street landscaping on the road system, internal streets and entryways. How much acreage is devoted to landscaping? You can’t tell because there is no hard data provided. Are these deliberate omissions of fact? Who knows? If they don’t provide hard data they can’t be criticized if it is insufficient.

It is also interesting to note that Pulte has no problem creating amenities for their other 18 subdivision under construction throughout the valley. Here’s a list of active amenities they offer elsewhere:

  • splash water park
  • indoor rock climbing wall
  • indoor basketball courts
  • lighted tennis courts, softball stadium
  • community pool
  • basketball courts
  • volleyball courts
  • adventure playgrounds
  • dog park
  • amphitheater

Where are these kinds of amenities designed to attract millennials, empty nesters and seniors? Instead the small 4,000 SF, 4,500 SF and 5,500 SF lots are located behind or adjacent to their planned commercial areas consisting of “restaurant row” and a planned grocery center. The lack of active amenities coupled with the location of the small lots is not designed to attract millennials, seniors and empty nesters. The central question is, would you select a home on a 4,000 SF lot with little to no front, side and back yards; behind or adjacent to the commercial centers with a small pocket park that also serves the subdivision’s need for water retention; and has a 9.1 acre community park with sparse amenities serving the needs of 1,391 other homes? If your answer is ‘no’ then how can you possibly support the changes Stonehaven proponents are seeking?

© 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.

Since the proposed changes to the originally approved Stonehaven plan have 44% of the site as 4,000 SF and 4,500 SF lots, it’s important to understand what this residential zoning district is. In Section 5.320 of Glendale’s Zoning Ordinance, R 1-4’s purpose is, “Preserve and provide for urban detached or attached single residence housing. The primary intent of this district is to encourage the establishment of functional and attractively designed patio home developments. The subdivision and housing product shall be designed for rear yard privacy and useable private open space.”

The Development Standards in the city’s Table 1 include:

  • The minimum net (not gross) lot area must be 4,000 square feet.
  • The minimum lot width must be 40 feet.
  • The minimum lot depth must be 80 feet.

         *Setbacks are the distance from the exterior of the house to the property’s lot line.

  • The minimum front yard setback must be 15-20 feet.
  • The minimum rear yard setback must be 15 feet.
  • The minimum side yard setbacks must be 0 feet or 10 feet (there must be a minimum 10 feet separation between homes on adjacent lots).
  • The minimum setback between the exterior of the home and the street must be 10 feet.
  • The maximum home height is 30 feet with a two story maximum.
  • The maximum lot coverage must be 45% (this is the percentage amount of the lot space a home is allowed to use).

Visually here is what the R 1-4 standards would generally look like:

The Stonehaven applicants under a Planned Area Development  (PAD) application are asking for these standards as an SHD (Stonehaven Devlopment) SHD-4. The Planning Director has the authority to accept these standards if the plan as presented is approved by the city council. The city council has the authority at the June 27th city council meeting to change or amend these standards by offering stipulations.

  • A minimum net (not gross) lot area of 4,000 square feet.
  • A minimum lot width of 40 feet.
  • The minimum lot depth is not presented.
  • A minimum front yard setback of 10 feet.
  • A minimum rear yard setback of 10 feet (rear covered patios may encroach to within 15 feet of the rear property line).
  • A minimum side yard setback of 5 feet (the minimum side yard setback may be reduced to 0’ along one of the two side yard property lines) OR
  • A minimum side yard setback of 8 feet (the combined side yard setbacks may be reduced to 5’ when the home is placed on the opposite side yard lot line).
  • A maximum home height of 30 feet with a two story maximum.
  • A maximum lot coverage of 65%.

Visually here is what the applicants’ R 1-4 standards would generally look like:Under the Stonehaven plan with Option 1 having the house on the property lot line on one side and having 5 feet on the other side with a 40′ wide lot the house could be 35′ wide. On an 80′ lot depth the house could be 60′ deep. In the Stonehaven table of standards no minimum lot depth is provided by the applicants.

Option 2 would have 10 feet with each side yard being 5′ for a total of 10′ and on a 40′ wide lot the house could be 30′ wide and would also be 60′ deep.

Perhaps the most notable difference between Glendale’s adopted by Ordinance R 1-4 standards and the Stonehaven unique proposals (submitted under this proposal but not yet approved by city council) is that lot coverage ( how much of the lot can be used for the home) is Glendale’s standard of 45% lot coverage. This allows for a 15′ front yard and a 15′ back yard. In the Stonehaven proposal lot coverage would be 65% with a 10′ front yard and a 10′ back yard.

As an exercise, measure 30′ or 35′ inside your home. Now measure 60′ inside your home. That’s the size of the footprint of an R 1-4 Stonehaven home. Now, imagine 616 of R 1-4 homes or nearly half (44%) of the entire 365 acres on lots this size with as little as 5 feet between 2 homes. How can this possibly be good for Glendale, let alone the Yucca district?

So, while the Glendale Star, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers try to convince you how important Stonehaven is to the city, remember there is already an approved Stonehaven plan that will require an estimated $350 million investment; that will still produce an estimated $3.5 million annually in tax revenue; and still will require the completion of Bethany Home Road.

© 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.

 

Smoke and Mirrors

Another milestone: Since its inception my blog has had over 400,000 reads. I thank all who have taken time to read my writings. I hope you have enjoyed them and will continue to follow my blog. I’m not finished…

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 simply can’t resist. Someone who attended the Stonehaven ice cream social shared with me. This person reported very few residents in attendance. This is the same report I received after the Stonehaven proponents held their pizza party event. There appear to be fewer suckers in the Yucca district than they expected. I suspect they have been highly disappointed with the turnout at their PR events. Did they really believe that they could buy the goodwill and support of Yucca residents with an ice cream cone of a slice of pizza?

I received the handouts that were provided at the ice cream event. What a hoot! The first page of the handout is a map showing where the Stonehaven site is located. The second handout is a depiction of their Open Space Master Plan. I wonder if they shared the fact that they purposefully planted their 9 acres of park abutting the city’s 5 acre, taxpayer funded park. They wouldn’t be planning on Stonehaven’s residents using the city park so that they wouldn’t be compelled to provide a larger one within their subdivision, would they? Na-h-h-h. Just some smoke and mirrors…

Two of the handouts show wonderfully idyllic photos of the largest homes they could find…but there is no representation by them that the houses depicted in the photos are actually sitting on 4,000 square foot lots. I wonder if they mentioned that there will be 12 feet between two homes? Can you imagine someone actually investing in a 2,500 to 3,500 square foot home on a 4,000 square foot lot? One handout depicts a lot size of 45’X 110’. That actually equals 4,950 square feet. I guess even they didn’t have the nerve to produce a photo of a 2,500 square foot house on a true 4,000 square foot lot. Just some more smoke and mirrors…

The last handout is a conceptual of grocery store/commercial pad located at the northeast corner of 91st Avenue and Camelback Road. Of course it includes the inevitable gas station. On June 18th  I and the rest of the city council received an email in opposition to Stonehaven from a Yucca resident who lives close to the proposed Stonehaven. He sums up the grocery store situation far better than I could and so I will quote from his email, The developer and its PR team have repeatedly touted the perceived excitement surrounding the new grocery store to be developed on the commercial parcel.  As yet, we have not received any information as to the specific grocer or the timing. 

“I am a retired senior level commercial asset manager with over 30 years of experience in the management, acquisition, development, and redevelopment of retail centers, office buildings (including the Biltmore Financial Center), and office/warehouse industrial properties in multiple markets across the country including in excess of 50 retail centers here in the valley over the past 20 years. 

“It is no secret that grocery-anchored and other big box-anchored retail centers are a dying breed.  This trade area already has a Fry’s at 83rd and Indian School, a Safeway at 83rd and Camelback, a Super Walmart at 91st and Camelback, a Target at 91st and Northern, and a Neighborhood Walmart at 75th and Glendale.  That leaves Albertson’s and Basha’s or one of its affiliates as the remaining major players.  Albertsons and Safeway are under the same ownership.  Basha’s has not been in expansion mode for quite some time. 

“If they are thinking about one of the smaller specialty markets like Sprouts or Trader Joe’s that could be a nice addition to the area but they would be more likely to remodel and occupy the Fresh and Easy building at 83rd and Camelback, which has been sitting empty for about the last 10 years.  And what grocery chain would want to open a new store and try to compete right on top of the Super Walmart?

“ If they (Stonehaven applicants) had a signed lease or even a signed letter of intent they would be sitting on the fence crowing about it.  I have serious doubts that there will ever be a grocery store built on this site.  They’ll carve out a pad, put out a ‘coming soon’ sign, and then in about five years come back with a plan to carve it up into a multi-tenant building to house another Vape shop or maybe a medical marijuana dispensary and other unsavory uses.” More smoke and mirrors…

What are the proponents avoiding at all costs? Depicting the reality associated with 4,000 and 4,500 square foot lots.  They have avoided telling you that there will be more 4,000/4,500 square foot lots in Stonehaven than in the entire Barrel district.

The Barrel district has a total of 117 acres containing 690 homes on 4,000 square foot lots but they are scattered over 5 separate sites throughout the district. They are not concentrated on one site. The largest site is Country Hollow built in 1993 (24 years ago). It is a 38 acre site with 234 lots that are R 1-4. Other R 1-4 subdivisions in the Barrel district are: Village Rose built in 2002 (15 years ago) with 62 homes on 10 acres; Tarrington Place built in 2003 (14 years ago) with 192 homes on 28 acres; Beacon Heights built in 2004 (13 years ago) with 15 homes on 3 acres; and Alice Park approved in 2015 with 187 homes on 37 acres.

Stonehaven, in one fell swoop, proposes 616 homes on 4,000 and 4,500 square foot lots on 131 acres. Can you imagine the impact of the intense concentration of this small lot size on more acreage in one spot than on any other R 1-4 site in Glendale? That would be like putting all the R 1-4 lots in the Barrel district in one place. Can you say increased traffic, overcrowded schools and diminished property values?

One would think the Glendale Star, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce and Glendale’s Mayor Jerry Weiers would be embarrassed to have endorsed such a grotesque and intense use of     R 1-4 on one site anywhere in our community. But the smoke and mirrors of PR touting a major investment in Glendale along with the promise of increased annual taxes into the city’s coffers and the promise of a completed Bethany Home Road seems to have blinded them to the realities of this project. Did they not realize that the original Stonehaven plan promised the same? Of course not…for you see, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

In my next blog it’s all about R 1-4 zoning…

© 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.

There have been so many numbers circulating about what Stonehaven is and is not. Did you know that the applicants, the John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes, originally submitted their new plan with 3,000 SF lots? They revised their new plan to 4,000/4,500 SF lots when the Planning Department advised them that there is no R 1-3 zoning category in Glendale and it would not be supported.

The applicants represent verbally that they expect Bethany Home Road to be completed before the contractual drop-dead date of January 1, 2021. The only date that should be relied upon in is the date within the agreement between the city and the John F. Long Trust.

Within this agreement the city must pay $1.2 million to the John F. Long Trust for the north half of the Bethany Home Road right-of-way (ROW). This is precedent setting. The city historically has never paid a developer for ROW to satisfy the transportation needs created by the project itself.

The city plans to pay this $1.2 million for the north half of Bethany Home Road right-of-way from the Development Impact Fees (DIF) generated by every home within the project. Instead of the ability to use DIF paid to the city for Heroes Park or other projects, the city will use a majority of the DIF to pay $1.2 million to the John F. Long Trust.

Proponents of the new plan throw out a figure of $49 million in new revenue to the city. That is over a period of 7 to 10 years, averaging about $4 million a year. The proponents had to really stretch to come up with this figure for they even included the city tax you pay on your electric, gas, cable and phone bills within that number. They also fail to tell you that the majority of the DIF generated within their stated $49 million will go right back to the John F. Long Trust to pay for the Bethany Home ROW.

Another little known fact is that each and every home within Glendale does not earn enough annual tax revenue to pay for the annual services (public safety is just one) the city provides to that home. I do not know what the current annual loss per home to the city is. The figure I learned years ago was $200 per home annually.

Typically, a developer will make a “donation” to the school districts that will be affected by the influx of new students. It could be $200, $500 or $1,000 per home. No one knows the real figure as it is between the developer and the school district. Is it any wonder that school districts never withhold their approval for a new subdivision? Who pays for this “donation?” Not the developer. It is added to the price of the home as is the Development Impact Fee (DIF). That means the buyer of a home in Stonehaven automatically pays for DIF and the “donation” to the school district(s). This should be of interest to the potential home buyer, especially if that person is an “empty-nester” or millennial with no children.

With all of the information flying about, sure to become even more intense, before the vote of the city council is made at June 27, 2017 city council meeting, here are some facts as known as of this date:

  • Fact: It’s an approximate 365 acre parcel located south of the Grand Canal to Camelback Road; from 83rd Ave. to 91st Ave.
  • Fact: the original Stonehaven plan approved by the City Council in April of 2016 had 3 lot sizes:

                  5,500 SF (43% of the site area);

                  7,000 SF (36% of the site);

                  8,000 SF (21% of the site area)

  • Fact: the Stonehaven changes requested are:

           4,000 and 4,500 SF lots ( 44% of the site area);

           5,000 SF lots (22% of the site area);

           6.000 SF lots ( 18% of the site area);

           7,000 SF lots (16% of the site);

           8,000 SF lots are eliminated entirely

  • Fact: Bethany Home Road does not need to be completed until Jan. 1, 2021 per a separate agreement between the John F. Long Trust and the City of Glendale.
  • Fact: Even when Bethany Home Road is completed daily traffic trips on Camelback Road and 83rd Ave. will increase by 15,000 and daily traffic trips on 91st Ave. will increase by 11,000.
  • Fact: There will be 60 acres of park/open space that includes one 9.1 acre community Park. The balance of the 50 acres will be open space in the form of entry way landscaping; perimeter landscaping surrounding the project; street side landscaping; and a few pocket parks and trails that will serve as retention areas to prevent flooding.
  • Fact: The Pendergast Elementary School district has said it can accommodate the new students this project will produce. This project will produce an estimated 800 to 1,000 new students.
  • The two schools most affected are Sunset Ridge and Desert Mirage. The last bond issue by the school district has funds for expansion of Sunset Ridge (they may have to use some or all of the school’s 5 acre Park) but there are no funds to expand Desert Mirage and it is my understanding that portables have been used at Desert Mirage for many years.

Here is some information related to the number of single family residences (parcels) by lot size in the City of Glendale, from the most widely used lot size to the least used. There are ten different categories. This information was provided by the Planning Department in November of 2016 to a constituent who shared it with me. Please note: The Planning Department did not provide figures for R 1-5 lot sizes. (It is strange that this lot size was not included. One can reasonably assume there are somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 of the R 1-5 lot sizes).

Category      Number

RI-6             35,793

RI-7               5,279

RI-8               2,951

SR-17            1,643

RI-4               1,501

SR-12               877

A-1                   521

SR-30               516

RI-10                370

RR-90                   0

It appears that the total number of single family residential parcels in Glendale is 49,451. There are other types of residential housing not included in this list – multi-family (apartments, condos, town homes, etc.). These figures reflect single family parcel sizes only. Although these figures are a year and a half old, the basic ratios will remain consistent.

Please note there are 1,501 of the R 1-4 parcels throughout the entire city. That is .03% of all of the lot sizes currently in Glendale. Stonehaven proposes 616 lots (44% of the entire project) of R 1-4 (4,000 SF and 4,500 SF) within its new plan. If they reflected the .03% of the existent R 1-4 lot sizes within Glendale, Stonehaven’s proposed total of 1,392 homes would have only 42 of the R 1-4 lots. Instead they are proposing to increase the total number of R 1-4 in all of Glendale by almost 50%…all in one spot…Stonehaven.

It is important to note that the vast majority of lot sizes in Glendale are R 1-6 for a total of 35,793. I have noted in previous blogs the following facts:

  • Zip code 85310 within Glendale ranks 24th out of 25 of the wealthiest zip codes in the Phoenix Metro area
  • Glendale has the highest poverty rate in the Phoenix Metro area
  • Glendale has the second to the lowest median household income in the Phoenix Metro area

It is obvious from looking at the numbers above that Glendale lacks large lots with large homes needed to turn these startling numbers around. In other words, Glendale needs to Upgrade. The question that must be answered by the proponents of the changes to the 2016 approved Stonehaven plan is this, “with facts to support your assertion, how does Stonehaven Upgrade Glendale?”

Here’s an alternative proposal. Glendale’s zip code 85310 is one of the wealthiest 25 zip codes in the Valley. Let’s encourage another 85310 on this parcel. The yield would be an estimated 800 homes on 10,000 SF and 12,000 SF lots. It would go a long way toward upgrading Glendale’s image and desirability.

Rovey Farm Estates is comparable in size at 300 acres and contains about 800 homes. You won’t find a 4,000 SF, 4,500 SF, 5,000 SF or 6,000 SF lot within it. The smallest lot size is 7,000 SF. Here is a real life anecdote. Some friends bought a home on a 7,000 SF lot in Rovey Farm Estates during the depth of our recent recession. They paid about $180,000 for it. Their home was recently appraised for $380,000…nearly $400,000.

Stonehaven proponents say there is no market for large lots and large homes. They claim teeny lots with teeny homes create diversity and flexibility to meet current market demands. These are merely code words to justify the density they propose. They say these small lots will appeal to millennials and “empty-nesters.” Yet they persist in using 1970’s style planning by placing these, small, undesirable lots behind or adjacent to the commercial parcels within Stonehaven. Some homes will be as close as 50 feet away from the commercial parcels which consists of their concept of a “restaurant row” and a grocery store center. I hope these millennials and “empty-nesters” enjoy the smells of food cooking emanating from the restaurants and the sounds of delivery trucks at 4 AM at the back of the grocery store.

I can’t help but feel like the boy who said, “The emperor has no clothes.” His declaration released the constraints of others who dared not state the obvious. The John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes act as if they are doing Glendale a favor by making a $400 million dollar investment. The obvious and unstated is that they are in this project to make money and their $400 million dollar investment will repay them handsomely…and don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in the American ethic of profitability but not at the expense of an entire community.

It’s time for this city council to take a stand and send a strong message to the residential development community. That message is that we won’t settle. We deserve better. We are prepared to deny projects that do not contribute to raising Glendale residents’ median income levels and do nothing to reduce Glendale’s poverty rate. We are prepared to walk away from this deal. We are prepared to embrace projects that add real value to the community…and Upgrade Glendale.

© 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 the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In the context of the current discussion about the proposed Stonehaven residential development many readers have asked me to repost this blog.

Glendale is the 6th largest city in the state. Here is the ranking of the ten largest cities in the state:

  • Phoenix
  • Tucson
  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Gilbert
  • Glendale
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Peoria

Glendale has the lowest average median income of the 10 largest cities.

Glendale has the second highest poverty rate of those 10 cities.

Another media story shows that of the 25 wealthiest zip codes in Maricopa County Glendale has but one…85310…ranked 24th out of 25.

Glendale is a very diverse community:

  •     Caucasian                     50%
  •     Hispanic or Latino       37%
  •     Afro-American               6%
  •     Asian                                4%

Today we are going to examine why these facts drive development (or the lack of it) and also what needs to occur in order to improve or “upgrade” Glendale development to enhance our citizen’s quality of life and also make Glendale more competitive obtaining quality commercial/residential projects.

What can Glendale do to turn these numbers around? How does Glendale raise the average median income, lower its poverty rate and have more of its zip codes labeled as “the wealthiest”? It must embrace a new strategy toward future development and a new strategy to remediate some of its struggling neighborhoods.

So let us add some new facts and start to look for effective and reasonable solutions to Upgrade Glendale.

A square mile between Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road; 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue; in zip code 85301 is ringed by 10…yes, 10…low income multi-family apartment complexes? Were you aware that the density of package liquor stores and bars is the highest in zip code 85301? In an effort to upgrade south Glendale shouldn’t Council and the Planning Department be asking, when any developer or business seeks to locate in this area, does this project upgrade the area? Does it serve a family-oriented need? Does this project make the quality of life better for these neighborhoods or are we simply allowing more of the same because it’s easier not to fight the fight for quality commercial and residential development? If developers say they will walk away from a project because that is all that a certain area merits, perhaps the new Glendale paradigm is to let them. If we develop new standards of quality development and advise the development community that is what we expect and will allow, then that is what we will get.

The majority of Glendale’s residential base is comprised of starter homes and middle class homes. The home median value in Glendale is $183,300. Many new residential developments have a price point between $220,000 and $250,000. To some that may seem to be expensive but it is not in today’s market.

Where does one find big, beautiful, expensive homes on large lots? Why, zip code 85310. You can count on no more than two hands enclaves of large lot, expensive homes throughout Glendale. It is time to stop allowing the development community  build to the lowest common denominator of an area and demand that they build adhering to a philosophy of upgrading, not downgrading or adding more of the same in an area.

Glendale must stop allowing developers of infill projects greater and greater residential densities. I once learned that Glendale loses approximately $200 a year per home when providing basic services such as public safety, libraries, parks, streets, water, sewer and garbage collection. What that means is that Glendale spends more in services per home than that home earns in revenue for the city in terms of property taxes, sales taxes, etc. So, how is this imbalance made up? By commercial development with the property taxes and the sales taxes they pay to the city. I’m sure the figure has changed and I don’t know the current number however I plan on asking staff for a new current assessment.

Upscale businesses offering high paying jobs go a long way to offsetting the loss of revenue from the city’s cost of providing its basic services to homes. So how can we get the Intel’s of the world to locate in Glendale?

The quality of its workforce is the life’s blood of any major corporation. These corporations desire to locate where they can attract a highly educated, skilled employee base.

That’s where Glendale’s schools play a major role and unfortunately it is an area over which Glendale has no control. Many, not all, of Glendale’s schools have underperforming high school graduation rates with much of their student populations not moving on to college or technical training. Glendale’s primary and secondary educational system is failing to prepare students to become college or technically bound. They are failing to help the city to attract the quality work force needed to attract the Intel’s. The kinds of corporations we must seek to attract have employees who want to be assured that their children will have access to outstanding educational opportunities. These employees also seek quality, upscale housing with great quality of life amenities. They also require nearby access not just to fast food establishments but to upscale dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities. While a smattering of those kinds of quality of life issues are met in a few Glendale enclaves there is not enough of a mass to attract the kinds of employment providers the city seeks.

I contend a rising tide lifts all boats.

Isn’t it time to upgrade every Glendale resident’s quality of life? Isn’t it time to provide our residents with an abundance of good paying job opportunities? Shouldn’t it be in safe neighborhoods? Shouldn’t it be with Class A dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities throughout all of Glendale? We can do that by insisting and conveying to developers of commercial and residential properties that whether it is an infill parcel or raw land, our expectations for development are stringent. That Glendale now demands a new forward looking vision.

In a coming blog we will examine how Glendale government can move past prior history, Glendale school districts may help both their students now and after graduation and residents can actively engage in this new vision.

© 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.

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 May 18, 2017 as a Council Item of Special Interest the Glendale City Council approved my request for a temporary council subcommittee on business. Its purpose is to review all codes, ordinances, regulations, policies, etc., associated with businesses in Glendale. This initiative has never been accomplished since the city’s inception in 1912. Over the years there are sure to be outdated and redundant regulations that can be eliminated. It’s an opportunity for the business community to tell Glendale what it’s doing right and where there can be improvement.

The article below by Cecila Chan for Your West Valley News of May 1, 2017, sums it up very nicely:

Glendale to establish subcommittee to help businesses

May 1, 2017 Business

Cecilia Chan Independent Newsmedia

“Glendale wants to improve its climate to keep and grow the business community in the city.

City Council last week in study session agreed to move forward with the creation of a temporary subcommittee and to solicit feedback from the business community. Mayor Jerry Weiers was absent. The item is expected to come before Council at its next voting meeting.

” ‘This sends a positive message to all business large and small in Glendale that we are interested in them and what they do,’ said Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who came up with the idea. ‘It sends a positive message to businesses thinking about moving here that we are serious about improving the business climate. I’m not saying it’s bad but it can be made better.’

“The one-year subcommittee will be made up of three council members and representatives from the business community who will review the city’s codes and make recommendations to the Council.

“Ms. Clark said during her time on the Council off and on since 1992, there has never been a review of the city’s policies, regulations or laws pertaining to businesses in Glendale.

“The subcommittee will remove outdated, ineffective and redundant business regulations on the city’s books, she added.

“The committee will look at everything the city does relating to business and see where it can become more business-friendly and enhance its reputation as the premier business community in the Valley, Ms. Clark said.

“Development Services Director Sam McAllen said the subcommittee would take an average of two to three hours a week of staff time. For the duration of the committee, it is estimated to take 1,040 hours to 1,560 hours of staff time, he added.

“Councilman Ray Malnar suggested increasing the seven- member committee to include a contractor or builder because that profession, which creates job opportunities in Glendale, is affected by city fees and policies.

“Councilman Jamie Aldama suggested adding two representatives, one from the minority business community and one from a woman-owned business.

“Councilman Bart Turner said the idea of a subcommittee is a worthy endeavor, however, it is a step too soon.

“He cited the large use of staff hours, a city resource.

“Instead, he suggested the city find out what the issues and/or frustrations are for businesses in Glendale by getting it from the members of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, soliciting input at city hall’s second-floor service counter and establishing a hotline for merchants.

“Try that for a year and then see if the committee is still needed, Councilman Turner said.

“Councilman Aldama asked what the staff hours equated to in money.

“Mr. Allen said staff only went as far as to identify which departments would be involved in the committee. Departments involved include Building Safety, Fire Marshal, Planning, Economic Development and City Attorney.

Councilman Aldama noted despite the cost of creating the committee, its recommendations would generate more revenue for Glendale.

Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff suggested the council move forward on both proposals.

” ‘I have no problem doing both at the same time,’ she said.

“The council also agreed to expand the subcommittee to 11 to 13 members, taking in Councilmen Aldama’s and Malnar’s suggestions.

Staff estimated the new subcommittee could be up and running within three to four months upon approval.”

© 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 belong to an online site called nextdoor.com . This site connects neighbors to neighbors within their neighborhood as well as connecting nearby neighborhoods to one another. You can post general messages, want ads, items for sale, event notices, etc. It’s a great site and I urge you to check it out.

The other day this question was posted, “Does anyone know any updates on casino? It seems like it is in a standstill with moving forward with construction.”  It was posted to 41 neighborhoods in my general area on April 26, 2017. It was as if a bomb had gone off. It generated more replies than any other issue I have seen lately. There was not only a great deal of misinformation posted but there were replies like, “Which casino sorry Glendale?”

It’s time to offer an update on the TO casino. As of today, May 6, 2017 the last Arizona District Court minute entry was posted on February 10, 2017, 3 months ago, “MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Judge David G Campbell: Telephone Conference held on 2/8/2017. Plaintiff State of Arizona request a 45 day extension of the response to 263 MOTION for Attorney Fees . Discussion held. Request granted. Response due 3/31/2017 .”

As you can see from this minute entry there are procedures and pre-trial motions that must be adjudicated (settled) before a bench trial before Judge Campbell may begin. It could be months before the case is argued before the judge. In other words, it’s at a standstill.

This case revolves around the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) attempt to get a Class III license from the State of Arizona. Until this case is settled there will be nothing but bingo (and no liquor) at the Desert Diamond Casino located on a county island in the midst of Glendale, just north of the Westgate area. The temporary casino located in the Tohono O’odham’s warehouse facility will continue as the only operation on the site. Those who have visited this casino are quick to point out that it’s not on a par with Talking Stick Casino and Resort. Factually, it will never be a Class A facility unless the TO get their Class III license. Will that occur? Only Judge Campbell will have the answer when he rules on the current case before him.

Here is the comment from a local resident who used to work at this casino, “They also want to build another one up here somewhere (on the Glendale site). I don’t remember exactly but…on the east side (of the site). I think… they are fighting for both now. When it opened they told us one year to the day we would be walking into the new one. Well that passed Dec 20th.”

This resident’s comment sparked a new round of replies, “For me it was just a crappy sneaky deal all around. As I know the facts, it was a Federal land swap. The feds didn’t ask or didn’t want to ask or didn’t care to ask what their plan was for the property and didn’t put casino restrictions on it, right across the street from the high school, and didn’t inform the local government. Everybody dropped the ball letting the tribe do whatever. I don’t know what the Grand plan and or timeframe, but if they turned the entire property into a family friendly resort with pool, water park, rides, par 3 golf, hotel, etc……. I don’t have an issue with the casino.”

Or this comment, “I’m wondering if the City of Glendale was notified. Isn’t that property within the city limits? If so??? I also wonder what land did the Fed’s swap? The issue for me is if all the tribes signed an agreement not to develop a casino in an urban area and this tribe somehow managed to have the land swapped and designated as tribal land they should not be granted a full gambling license. Just my opinion.”

I must offer a little history in answer to these comments. In 2001 the state began negotiations with all Arizona tribes to craft a gaming compact. At the same time (2001-02) the Tohono O’odham were already land shopping in urban areas of Maricopa County. They formed a shell company, Reiner, which purchased the land in Glendale. This purchase was kept secretly while the TO participated in the negotiations and paid for publicity pamphlets asking voters to approve the Gaming Act of 2002. It wasn’t until the TO publicly announced their intention in 2009 (7 years later…7 years a secret closely guarded) to build a casino on a county island within Glendale that the public or Glendale knew of their plans.

It was not a federal land swap per se. The Gila River Act of 1985 allowed the TO to purchase land in Maricopa County because the federal government had flooded their land when it built a new dam. It made the TO’s land unsustainable for agriculture. No one, except the TO, believe that it was legal to purchase land for a casino in an urban area rather than adhering to the intent of this law which was to acquire useable agricultural land to replace lands that were lost to flooding.

Glendale joined in lawsuits with virtually every Tribe in the state to fight the TO casino…until August of 2014. The city sold its soul for 30 pieces of silver. It entered into an agreement with the TO agreeing to withdraw all official opposition to the project, and would adopt a new resolution expressing support for the Tohono O’odhams’ acquisition of the property and for the casino. 

The Tohono O’odhams, in exchange, would pay for any infrastructure improvements needed in the area to accommodate the additional traffic the casino would generate. It would also give Glendale a one-time payment of $500,000, and annual payments of $1.4 million, which would increase by two percent a year.

As a Glendale city councilmember it is my obligation and duty to uphold Glendale policy. If the TO were to come to the city I have a duly sworn obligation to give them a full and fair hearing without bias. This, I would endeavor to do. On a personal level that doesn’t mean I agree with or even like this agreement.  For I do not.

Another resident comment expressed, “They won’t start building until they get a class 3 license. It is supposed to go back to court in May. The state is still fighting the casino. The state needs to give it up and let them build. They are wasting taxpayers money by fighting it.” Many feel this way but they are willing to overlook the deception and extreme breach of ethics by the TO in dealing with the state and its sister Tribes during the gambling compact negotiations and during the effort to gain voter approval for the compact in 2002. These stakeholders believe the TO lied to them by having secretly already purchased land for a casino in an urban area and that is a very difficult bridge to repair. It’s an action that is precedent setting and puts every Valley city in peril for who is to say which city will become the next host to a tribal casino?

One resident offered this link to a study on the economic impact of tribal casinos. It’s a good read:

http://www.uwyo.edu/shogren/gaming%20and%20casino%20economics.htm . Finally, I end with this resident’s comment on casinos, “Casinos are, in my opinion, a tax on people bad at math. You know who you will never see in a casino? Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerburg… or any of the other richest people in the USA. Because they understand math better than most of us.” Maybe it would help if we all got better at math.

© 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 Friday, April 28, 2017 Glendale city council had another all day budget workshop to continue its review of departmental budgets. Here’s how these department budget totals lined up in terms of total increases or decreases over the Fiscal Years of 2016-17 and 2017-18;

  • Budget, Finance and Non-Departmental     64.76% decrease                                           (this is an anomaly explained by the removal of two line items, Arena Events and the AZSTA stadium tax refund). In actuality this department will see a 6.24% increase in this year’s proposed budget.
  • Public Facilities and Events                         10.10% increase
  • Economic Development                              20.59% increase
  • Public Affairs                                               7.27% increase
  • Office of the Mayor                                      8.9%  increase
  • City Council Office                                     17.06% increase
  • Innovation and Technology                        13.60% increase
  • City Manager’s Office                                  2.15% decrease
  • City Clerk                                                 35.75% increase 
  • Water Services (Enterprise Fund)                 5.21% increase
  • Public Works (Enterprise Fund)                    3.17% increase

Budget, Finance, Non-Departmental. The issue within this department’s budget continues to remain the acquisition of and implementation of a city-wide ERP system called Munis. For years the city has utilized a system called PeopleSoft. From what I have heard some PeopleSoft modules were never fully implemented nor was staff adequately trained on the use of some of its modules. In addition, a year and a half ago the city paid $1.2 million to upgrade the Human Resources component of PeopleSoft. Oracle, the parent company of PeopleSoft has announced that it will continue to support the PeopleSoft system until 2027.

Staff contends that PeopleSoft requires a great deal of manual input and output with modules that cannot be tailored to the city’s needs in the 21st century. It, with the assistance of a consultant, has identified a system called Munis, tailored to the needs of local governmental needs. The cost of acquisition and implementation is $6 million over 3 fiscal years. While I believe they have made a case for acquisition of the Finance modules, I am not convinced that the abandonment of the HR PeopleSoft system, recently upgraded, is critical and warranted right now. Further discussion of this item will occur at council’s next budget meeting of Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Public Facilities and Events.  A great deal of council conversation continues to center on the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and its use of the city’s bed tax revenues. My question continues to be why does it cost the city $407,602 to administer this tax? Up until now the CVB has concentrated its advertising dollars (funded by the bed tax) toward a select group of downtown businesses. Council indicated quite clearly that advertising of downtown businesses must be more inclusionary and that advertising dollars should be directed to all businesses in Glendale rather than just the downtown core.

Economic Development. The major conversation was the acquisition of a Downtown Manager for $125,000 annually. A Request for Proposals was issued and the contract will be awarded to the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.  Major deliverables in this contract include the establishment of a downtown merchants’ association and a full and complete current inventory of all downtown properties. While these are major tasks if they are not or cannot be accomplished during the contract’s first year the contract could be terminated.

Public Affairs.  The realignment of departments under the new City Manager Kevin Phelps created this new department. Its focus is primarily public relations for the city. Within this department is the city’s cable TV division. If you are a Cox subscriber you have the opportunity to visit Channel 11 to see some award winning programming.

Office of the Mayor and City Council Office. The Mayor and City Council are the most visible representatives of our city. We serve in so many ways: representation of the city on national, regional and local levels; we are your voice and our prime directive is to represent your interests and concerns; and we make policy decisions for the entire city. During the recession these two divisions, just as all other departments, reduced the number of support staff making us lean but not so mean. Since my last service as a councilmember in 2012 and my return in 2016 I am surprised that elected officials’ duties and responsibilities have increased significantly. When I returned to council I staffed myself for the first four months. I was able to experience, up close and personally, how much work a council assistant must perform. Yet a council assistant staffs two councilmembers. It is an impossible situation. The move toward a council assistant for each councilmember is long overdue.

Innovation and technology. This is an area that merits further scrutiny. Many departments now have their own IT support or pay for it annually as part of a licensing contract for specialized software. Training on new software is often also included in the purchase of specialized software. Has our IT department become no more than glorified support for the city’s vast numbers of personal computers at work stations? I don’t know but it is an area that deserves in-depth discussion by council.

City Manager’s Office. The city manager sets an example for the entire city and a reduction in his budget is symbolic for the organization. He is demonstrating that more can be done with less in some circumstances. Mr. Phelps has demonstrated his abilities to tackle tough issues and to create new initiatives that will benefit the city over the long-term.

City Clerk. While election season takes a brief hiatus (at the end of this year, 2017, candidates for the Ocotillo, Barrel and Cholla city council seats will be able to take out nominating petitions) the City Clerk’s election budget shrunk to $2,000. Yet in this information age, the number of documents, contracts, correspondence, etc., has exploded. Most of these materials must be retained per state or city policy.  The increase in this department budget is to meet this need.

Water Services and Public Works. These areas are Enterprise Funds meaning they rely upon residents’ use of and monthly payment for these services. Their revenues are your monthly payments for water, sewer, sanitation and landfill. These departments are the worlds of engineers. They understand numbers. As a result, their budgets are very clean and comprehensive. It’s always a pleasure to review these departmental budgets because they are so clear. There are two major initiatives in these areas. During the recession, water services delayed many major repair and maintenance projects. There is now the opportunity to address these issues and in addition, an opportunity to plan for future needs by beginning to build redundancy into the system of water delivery. Public works’ major initiative now and for the next 5 years is the pavement management program. Over the next 5 years the entire system of streets in the city will receive some form of remediation, long over-due. In addition, a suggestion I made will also be implemented by changing the city’s street lighting to LED will save the city approximately half a million dollars a year.

The next budget workshop is Tuesday, May 2, 2017 and begins at 1:30 PM. It had originally been scheduled for 9 AM but a change to the afternoon became necessary. If you would like to watch this workshop you can view it on Cox TV cable channel 11 or online at www.glendaleaz.com, at 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.

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