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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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.

On Thursday evening, May 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm Yucca district residents decked out in red…shirts, T-shirts, blouses, jackets…started streaming into Council Chambers for the 6 pm scheduled Planning Commission meeting. I lost count after 80 red garbed people passed by me. Many of them had never been to a city meeting of any sort but they came for this one because they knew that the applicants’ request for greater density and small lot sizes would not create a residential community of distinction.

I did not attend the Planning Commission meeting. Several years ago, when Gary Sherwood was a councilmember (now recalled and replaced by Councilmember Ray Malnar), his habit and practice was to attend Planning Commission meetings on issues of importance to him. The commissioners quietly voiced their concerns leading to an issuance by the city attorney advising councilmembers to refrain from attending. In compliance with that advisory I was not there.

The order of presenters on Stonehaven was the Planning Department presentation first, followed by the applicants’ presentation and then the public hearing calling for citizen comment. As one would expect the Planning Department’s and the applicants’ presentations were polished and professional. The citizen comments were not. Some were nervous. Some were intimidated by the environment of Chambers and the Commissioners seated above them. Some rambled. But all shared a common conviction delivered with sincerity and passion. Some managed to speak to the facts of increased local traffic, school overcrowding, the increased pressure on the very few parks available in the area and the fact that the proposed project is surrounded by large lot, semi-rural properties. I was very proud.

However, I wasn’t so proud of their break with accepted behavior. They were rude and there were several outbursts for which they were admonished. I would hope that when they are before the city council that will be corrected.

Of the 26 citizen speakers 21 were people who live in the area of Stonehaven. Five persons spoke in favor of Stonehaven. Four of them lived no where near this proposed project: 72nd Avenue and Tonapah; 5900 block of Pershing Avenue; 4600 block of Kahler Circle; and 6200 block of W. Keim. There was one Yucca resident who described me as being vehemently opposed and questioned whether my position was a conflict of interest since I will vote on the project on June 27th. For the record, it is a councilmember’s duty to represent its citizens and does not pose a conflict of interest.

 

The Planning Commissioners listened. They did what we all hoped they would do and that was to listen, really listen to the people. It was not an easy decision for them to make. There sat Jacob Long and Jim Miller (the Long family’s attorney) and the lawyers hired to represent them. There sat Pulte Homes and their representatives and technical experts. Lastly, there sat a sea of red shirts worn by the citizens united in their quest to be heard.

The Planning Commission vote was 4 to 1 to recommend denial to the city council of the applicants’ request. Planning Commissioners Garcia, Lennox and Moreno (representing the Yucca district) voted to deny the changes sought by the Stonehaven applicants. Chairman Dobbleaire was truly torn and that is perfectly understandable and reasonable. In the end, he too voted to deny the applicants. The only Commissioner to vote in support of the request was Commissioner Gary Hirsch. I have put out a query to Commissioner Hirsch to ask why he voted as he did for I would really like to understand his reasoning. I have received acknowledgement of my query and we will have a conversation soon.

 I hope that the city council will accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation of denial. I have no way of knowing the outcome as I am prohibited from discussing this issue with the councilmembers. To talk to them would be a violation of the Open Meeting Law and is referred to as “daisy-chaining.”

This action, no matter the final outcome should be symbolic of hope. Outcomes that reflect the interests of the affected citizens occur very rarely.  My thanks to all of those committed citizens who took the time to attend the Planning Commission meeting and my thanks to the Planning Commissioners who listened to the people of their community and who agreed that perhaps the changes requested did not benefit 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.

TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT TO WEAR RED!

JOIN YOUR NEIGHBORS IN

OPPOSITION TO STONEHAVEN

GLENDALE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING

MAY 18, 2017 AT 6 PM

GLENDALE COUNCIL CHAMBERS

59TH AVE AND GRAND AVE

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.

There are Yucca district residents circulating petitions in opposition to the Stonehaven residential plan that will be heard before the Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 6 PM at City Hall in the Council chambers. I have been asked to provide information about the proposal:

2016 city council approved Stonehaven plan. Now add applicant’s request for another 300 homes.

  • The applicants, John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes have submitted GPA 17-01 and ZON 17-01. It will be heard by the citizen Planning & Zoning Commission on May 18, 2017.
  • The land is about 365 acres located between Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road and from 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. The land is currently being farmed.
  • There is a plan for this land that was already approved by Glendale’s City Council in 2016. The density of that plan is 1,100 homes on lots ranging in size from 5,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet. The applicant is requesting more density (more homes) on smaller lot sizes.
  • Their application asks for an increase (more density) in the number of homes from an approved 1,100 to 1,406 homes.
  • Their request asks to reduce lot sizes from a minimum of 5,000 SF to 4,000/4,500 SF and to reduce the largest lot sizes of 8,000 SF to 7,000 SF.
  • If approved 45% (nearly half) of the project would be on the minimum lot sizes described above (4,000 SF and 4,500 SF).
  • The applicant proposes to develop an 8 acre park within the subdivision. This equals .02% of the total 365 acres. No additional open space has been identified by the applicant.
  • Typically a developer will provide 10% to 15% of a planned subdivision for parks and open space. This applicant has not done so. For this project parks and open space should be a minimum of 36 acres (that is 10% of 365 acres).
  • It is estimated that the construction of Bethany Home Road would not have to be completed until 2021 per an agreement between the John F. Long Trust and the City of Glendale or…until 200 homes are sold and the design for Bethany must be submitted and when 475 homes are sold, construction of Bethany must begin (per the agreement).
  • Until Bethany Home Road is completed additional traffic pressure from this new subdivision will increase traffic on 83rd Avenue, Camelback Road and 91st Avenue.  
  • With new residents and no Bethany Home Road, we can expect average daily traffic loads of an estimated 54,000 vehicles on Camelback Road; 28,000 vehicles on 91st Avenue; and 33,000 vehicles on 83rd Avenue (statistics provided by applicant).
  • If this proposed subdivision is approved the Pendergast Elementary School District will experience the addition of an estimated 759 (conservative estimate) new K-8 students with a need for 25 new classrooms (at 30 students per classroom).
  • The two closest elementary schools that will experience the pressure of 759 new students are Desert Mirage at 8600 W. Maryland and Sunset Ridge at 8500 W. Missouri.
  • Typically a residential developer will donate $1000 per home to the affected school district virtually assuring that the required approval assuring no detrimental impact from the school district will be granted.

© 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.

At the city council meeting of April 11, 2017 there were two residential projects approved by the council. I voted against both of them. Since I was a minority of one I did not explain my vote only because I considered it an exercise in futility.

Alice Park Plat Map

One approved residential project is called Alice Park (FP 16-02) located at 8348 N. 61st Avenue. It consists of 37.9 acres. The applicant proposed 187 lots 45 feet wide by 115 feet deep. The typical lot size is 5,175 square feet. The density of the project is nearly 5 homes per acre (4.9 DU/AC).  The only element of this residential project that should be applauded is a dedication of 5.6 acres of open space. That’s about 14% of the entire acreage. Typically, developers will dedicate 10% to 15% for open space. Another plus of this project is that the developer could have retained the R-2 zoning designation and instead rezoned this land to R 1-4 resulting in a decrease in the density of the project. 

 

 

The other residential project approved by council is Deer Valley Villas (FP 16-04) located at 18800 N. 51st Avenue. This is a very small project of only 4.2 acres with 18 homes approved.

Deer Valley Villas Plat Map

The typical lot size is 5,250 square feet with a density of about 4 homes to the acre (4.3 DU/AC). This developer is dedicating 20% of the land for open space rather than the typical 10% to 15%.

Why oppose either project? The answer lies in how does either one of these residential projects upgrade Glendale? It is generally accepted that the size of the lots helps to dictate the price of the homes. These projects can be considered as “starter home” developments with assumed price points in the $179,000 to $200,000 range. Glendale has an abundance of “starter home” neighborhoods. Where are the high median and high end developments that contribute to enhancing Glendale’s reputation as a desirable community in which to live, play and work?

It’s no wonder Glendale’s median household income is one of the lowest among all Valley cities. It’s no wonder Glendale has the highest poverty rate  among all Valley cities. We keep accepting residential projects that do nothing to turn these numbers around.

These kinds of residential projects do not raise Glendale’s statistics in terms of median income and the poverty rate. These are projects where people move up and out as soon as they are able to do so. As these homes age, they tend to turn into a sea of rentals. Rental properties do not enhance the stability of any community. Those who rent typically do not invest their time, talent and interest in a community.

Every piece of land, especially infill parcels, where these two projects will be located, is precious to our community. At the very least, these two residential projects should have been required to be R1-6 (standard 6,000 SF lots).

It’s no longer acceptable, in my view, to accept residential projects that do nothing to enhance the demographic profile of any area of the city. If the city continues to accept infill that is comparable to the lowest common denominator of standards for an area, it does nothing to make that area a more desirable location in which people will want to locate.

It doesn’t say much about how we value ourselves and our community if we are continually willing to settle just because whatever is proposed eliminates another vacant parcel.

Glendale can do better…

© 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 two months since I returned as the Yucca district councilmember I have met with developers of at least 6 proposed residential developments in the district. Some good…some not so good. I will support those that support my goal of Upgrading Glendale. Occasionally there will be a project that doesn’t Upgrade Glendale but also does no major harm either. In those cases there may not be an opportunity to upgrade the proposal. Here is an overview of the current crop of applicants:

  1. Bethany Ranch – the property is located at the southwest corner of Bethany Home Road and 71st Avenue. The current zoning on the property is R 1-6 (6,000 square foot lots). All of the existent homes surrounding this property are also R 1-6. The applicant is asking for a Rezoning to R 1-6 PRD (Planned Residential Development) and approval of its Preliminary Plat. As much as I would like to see this property “upzoned” it is not realistic when all of the homes in the area are on the same lot sizes. I am concerned about the very skinny lots adjacent to 71st Avenue and will ask for further explanation at the applicant’s announced Neighborhood Meeting on March 1st at 6 PM at Coyote Ridge Elementary School, 7677 W. Bethany Home Road. I hope you will join me in learning more about this proposed project.
  2. Stonehaven – the property is located between the Grand Canal and Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. The applicant, Pulte Homes is asking for a “Minor General Plan Amendment” increasing the density from the council approved 1,100+ homes to over 1,400 homes with some lots as small as 3,000 square feet. I do not support this proposal as it is not in keeping with Upgrading Glendale. I hope you will join me in asking the Planning Department to recommend denial and asking the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council to deny the applicant’s request.
  3. Unnamed – the property is located at the southeast corner of Northern Avenue and 83rd Avenue (Yucca district’s large lot corridor). The applicant is proposing R 1-6 (6,000 square foot) lots. Across 83rd Avenue to the west are one acre, irrigated properties. To the south are two gated, large lot communities on the east side of 83rd Avenue. I do not support this proposal as its proposed lots are not comparable to the properties closest to it. It does not advance Upgrading Glendale. The applicant is in the preliminary stages and has not held a Neighborhood Meeting yet.
  4. Jaafar Estates – the property is located on the east side of 83rd Avenue, just north of Glen Eden Estates (at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Glendale Avenue). It is a long, skinny piece of property, a little over 5 acres in size. It is on the east side of 83rd Avenue and just south of the Tennis Ranch. In its Neighborhood Meeting the applicant is requesting R4 zoning allowing approximately 24 lots. The Glen Eden subdivision is R 1-7 (7,000 square foot lots) and across the street on the west side of 83rd Avenue is Rovey Farm Estates with its minimum sized lots of R 1-8 (minimum of 8,000 square foot lots). I will not support this proposal as it does not advance Upgrading Glendale.
  5. Orangewood Terrace – the property is located on the south side of Orangewood Avenue, just west of 79th Avenue. The applicant has held its Neighborhood Meeting and has been sensitive to the requests of the adjoining neighborhoods. The applicant will place its largest lots abutting 79th Avenue (a street of acre, irrigated properties) and the balance of the project will be R 1-8, matching the lot sizes of West Glenn Estates. The applicant has made sure to accommodate the adjacent neighborhoods by making sure  Myrtle Avenue has no connection to 79th Avenue or to the streets in West Glenn Estates. It is a project that I can support.
  6. Bella Vista Homes – the property is located south of Bethany Home Road and east of 83rd Avenue. The existent zoning is SR-17 (17,000 square foot lots) and the applicant proposes to keep that zoning. The applicant has not held its Neighborhood Meeting yet and is in preliminary discussions with the city’s Planning Department. Based upon what I have learned to date it is a project that exemplifies the goal of Upgrading Glendale.

So there you have it. All of these proposals have further steps in the process to gain approval that have not been taken yet. Some will succeed. Others will fall by the wayside. As residents of the Yucca district it is our responsibility to support those projects that help to make our district and our city a better place to live. It’s also our responsibility to disapprove those projects that do not meet that goal.

In the coming months there may be the opportunity to welcome some wonderful commercial developments to Glendale. They are still in the “talking stage” and thus must remain confidential. When the principals are comfortable with making their announcements, I will be introducing those to you as well.

As the economy rebounds, the Yucca district has once again become the “hot spot” for residential and commercial development. It’s up to us to be discerning and to remember, does this proposed project 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.

On February 1, 2017 the Arizona Republic had a front page, above the fold story (meaning really important) on Phoenix’s lobbyists’ rule. Its lobbyist registration ordinance is not worth the paper it’s written on. Here is the link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/01/31/phoenix-council-letterhead-revealed-toothless-lobbying-rules/96549540/ . The Republic story reports, “Phoenix’s law states that lobbyists must register and disclose their clients if they are paid to contact the mayor or council members to influence official decisions. Lobbyists must also report campaign contributions and money they spend on meals, gifts or other expenses that benefit elected city leaders, according to the ordinance.” One of many problems with Phoenix’s law is there are no penalties associated with any failure to follow their law.

The article goes on to say, A high-profile Phoenix law firm did not properly register as a lobbyist with the city for two years, and recently filed falsely dated documents that made it appear the firm had followed the law, according to the Phoenix city attorney.

But the city of Phoenix can’t do anything to penalize the firm or others that do not comply with its lobbyist regulations. That’s because the law is toothless and there is no way to enforce it, city officials said they realized last week.” It’s up to the Phoenix City Council to reform its lobbyist law.

If you are relying on the state to keep an eagle eye on lobbyists and their expenditures, forget it. Justin Price, for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting states, “Less than 14 percent of the roughly $333,000 spent to lobby Arizona lawmakers in the first half of 2015 identified who the money was spent on, continuing a trend of scant disclosure going back years.

“Since 2010, the portion of lobbying records that include beneficiaries has averaged about 12.5 percent. This is according to data maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office and includes lobbying records for the first half of each year, which typically includes Arizona’s annual legislative session.

Lobbyists are required to report their expenditures in quarterly expense reports submitted to the secretary of state. But loopholes and minimal regulatory oversight leave room for lobbyists to spend without reporting who benefited, ultimately leaving the public in the dark about who is influencing the people they have elected to craft Arizona’s laws, budget and taxes. For 2015, lobbying records include a beneficiary for $1 out of every $8 spent.” Here is the link to Mr. Price’s research: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/11/23/arizona-lobbying-records-little-disclosure/76068724/ .

Lobbying can be and is done by consulting firms and zoning attorneys advocating for a land project or the same entities may represent industries/interests seeking a specific law or project for which they are trying to attain passage for their client. Glendale, the state’s 6th largest city, has no lobbyist laws and it is way overdue.  It’s not just a matter of registering lobbyists who operate in Glendale, it’s also a matter of developing rules regarding the city’s hiring of lobbyists. In 2011, the city had a stable of lobbyists: Husk Partners, Inc.; Hyek and Fixx, Inc.; Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc.; and Policy AZ. They were hired while Ed Beasley was Glendale’s City Manager and paid a boatload of money to lobby on behalf of the city.

There is little to no transparency when it comes to lobbyists, what they do, how much they spend and which lawmakers receive their benefit. It’s not a problem just for Glendale and Phoenix but for the state as well. The state’s lobbyist laws are as meaningless as those of Phoenix.

It’s time for us, the citizens of the state, to know who is paying whom and who is supplying trips, gifts, meals and campaign contributions to all lawmakers…state, county and local.

© 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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