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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.

This is a blog way overdue. There are so many issues revolving around the city’s code compliance department that it’s difficult to know where to begin. As councilmembers code is by far the issue that we and our staffs deal with constantly. There isn’t a day that goes by that we all don’t receive code complaints.

Ever since he joined council, Councilmember Ray Malnar has pushed for code reforms. Shortly he will put together an informal working group to review code and to make recommendations for reform. I am happily looking forward to joining his working group. After all, we councilmembers deal with code issues on a daily basis and know what the greatest issues are.

Let me begin by relating some history. In July of 1993, council passed Ordinance Number 1772. It was the first major revision to code in many years. This ordinance encompassed major revisions to the entire body of city code. Here is the first paragraph of this ordinance: Section 1.100 Title. The ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the ‘Zoning Ordinance of the City of Glendale, Arizona.’ Within the ordinance text, it shall be cited as ‘this ordinance’. (Ord. No. 1772, 7-23-93)”.

The ordinance goes on to state, 1.204 Repealer and Severability. The provisions of this ordinance, insofar as they are substantially the same as the provisions of ordinances repealed in Subsection A of this section, shall be construed as restatements and continuations thereof and not as new enactments (bold mine).” In plain English the provisions of this ordinance did not create new law but were crafted to further clarify existing law.

The ordinance clearly states that if any provisions create greater restrictions they are to be followed as stated in this portion of the text, “1.205 Conflict With Other Rules or Regulations. Where this ordinance imposes a greater restriction on land, buildings or structures than is imposed or required by other existing provisions of law, ordinance, contract or deed, the provisions of this ordinance shall control (bold mine).” This provision seems to reject the concept of “grandfathering” which allows a property or home existing prior to 1993 to be exempt from the new ordinance provisions. Based upon the language of this ordinance any new code provisions or regulations will be considered as refinements of existent code and it mandates that greater restrictions are to be recognized and applied.

One of the new provisions within this ordinance addresses the subject of residential parking specifically with reference to zoning districts R 1-10 (10,000 square foot lot sizes), R 1-8 (8,000 SF), R 1-7 (7,000 SF) and R 1-6 (6,000 SF). The text reads as follows:

“Section 5.300 URBAN RESIDENTIAL

R1-10, R1-8, R1-7–Single Residence.

Section 5.313 R1-6–Single Residence.

5.3184 Parking.

Refer to Section 5.312.

(Ord. No. 2090, § 3, 7-27-99)

5.312 Parking.

  1. Parking and driveways are permitted as follows: (See Figures R-1 and R-2)
  2. A parking area may not exceed thirty (30) feet of contiguous area or fifty (50) percent of the lot width as measured at the front yard setback, whichever is less.
  3. Within the front yard, a parking/driveway area is only allowed between the garage or carport and the street, except an area contiguous to the allowed parking/driveway which is consistent with the dimensions in #1 above.
  4. No parking is permitted in the front yard when the parking area:
  5. Is detached from the allowed parking/driveway area; or Would result in an area greater than the allowable width as described in #1 above.
  6. Circular driveways and similar circulation may be permitted within the front yard so long as:

                      A.  No long term resident parking occupies such circular drive; and

                      B.  The front yard contains no more than fifty (50) percent of the total square                                 footage in parking/driveway or other circulation.

           (Ord. No. 1772, 7-23-93)”

Does it occur to anyone that you almost need a PhD to understand the language and to apply the code? Although I’m sure the language meets the technical requirements of the law but as is usually the case, it’s difficult for the ordinary citizen to understand much less follow its requirements.

Now let’s throw this into the mix. The ordinance also grants the Planning Director the right to interpret provisions of the ordinance, “Section 3.400 Interpretations, Administrative Relief, and Administrative Review.

3.401 Interpretations.

  1. The Planning Director shall be responsible for interpretation of the Zoning Ordinance. Interpretations may be considered if there is a question of clarity of any development standard or other provision of this ordinance, or a review is required (bold mine) within the permitted use categories of a specified zone district.
  2. Prior to determining that a use is permitted within a specific zoning district, the Planning Director shall find that:
  3. The use is described and included in the zoning district;
  4. The intensity of the use will not adversely affect other properties within the district; (bold mine)”

This provision will become more relevant as I relate a series of current code complaints. Recently the city council has received a series of complaints from residents in the Ocotillo district about front yard parking. It appears that our code department is not acting upon them. Last year I had offered the same concerns about the very same issue to our code department. What seems to be occurring these days is that some residents are covering their entire front yards with concrete or pavers and then using the entire front yard as a parking lot for multitudes of their vehicles. In my district I have seen entire front yards covered with pavers and concrete.  Here’s an example from my district. As you can see the entire front yard has recently been concreted. I have seen multiple vehicles parked there and in this photo some are parked right in front of the front door of the residence.

I filed complaints about this activity with the code department last year. In response I was advised that these were not violations or the case was closed. Why you ask? Clearly (or maybe not so clearly) the 1993 ordinance spells out that that “no more than 30 feet of contiguous area or 50% of the front yard lot width” may be used for driveways and parking.  Common sense would seem to dictate that if you have concreted or paved your entire front yard and then use it for parking more than 3 vehicles you are in violation of code.

Ahh… but not so fast. Within the material  of the ordinance I cited above, the Planning Director can interpret any provision of this 1993 ordinance. Never, ever, in all my 17 years on city council have I ever seen the code department go to the Planning Director to ask for an interpretation of whether something is a code violation. That is exactly what code did in the Ocotillo district where front yard parking was becoming a major problem last year. In response to the code department’s request, the Planning Director toured the area in question and said that since the homes in that area were built prior to 1993 they were grandfathered in and the 1993 ordinance regulating front yard parking did not apply. He further stated that he did not believe it was out of character for the affected neighborhood.

Last year after the Ocotillo district complaints, I complained about exactly the same problem. Code used the Planning Director’s interpretation for that unrelated neighborhood in the Ocotillo council district as the basis for not citing exactly the same activity in my district and led me to believe that the Planning Director had toured my area of complaint as well. In fact, he did not. The opinion he offered in a memo to the code department was in direct response to the Ocotillo neighborhood parking issue, not mine.

Correction at 9 PM Feb. 9, 2018: After reviewing my code material I find that I misrepresented the Planning Director’s opinion. When I said Code can be confusing, I wasn’t kidding. The Planning Director was asked by the Code Department to tour the Maryvale Terrace area in the Ocotillo district last year. His opinion centered strictly on the installation and use of auxiliary driveways. In his opinion regarding that area he supported the installation of an auxiliary driveway to be used to enter an RV gate thereby allowing the property owner’s RV to be parked behind the gate. At that time he opined that auxiliary driveways were not out of character for that neighborhood and were permissible for that purpose. In addition, my notes indicate that the Planning Director did in fact tour the neighborhood in my district where I had registered complaints. He indicated that it is not a violation to have pavers or concrete to serve as additional driveways that are to be used for access through an RV gate to park in a backyard. He also opined that it is a violation to park on these surfaces where it is considered to be front yard parking and a code violation.

The question remains, why is the code department using this narrowly crafted opinion as a rationale to not cite for front yard parking? This photo clearly shows the homeowners are definitely in violation of front yard parking. The second question that remains valid is why was historical precedent ignored by the code department by asking the Planning Director to decide whether an issue is a code violation? As I stated previously, this is a first in my 17 year history as a councilmember.

What happened to Section 1.205 of the 1993 ordinance that states that greater restrictions within this ordinance prevail? If you follow the logic of code’s request of and acceptance of the Planning Director’s interpretation on this code matter in an Ocotillo neighborhood built before 1993, what does mean for other ordinance provisions that apply to all neighborhoods built prior to the 1993 ordinance? For instance, group home restrictions are enhanced in the 1993 ordinance. According to the code department’s reliance upon using the Planning Director’s interpretation for just one neighborhood built before 1993, it now opens the door for all other neighborhoods established prior to 1993. It would appear if a group home is established in a home built before 1993, then the 1993 restrictions do not apply. I didn’t go through the entire code but I bet there are other restrictions in the 1993 ordinance that also could be interpreted as not applying to a home built prior to 1993.

These actions raise several very important questions. Which concept within the 1993 ordinance is to be followed? The concept that greater restrictions prevail or the concept that the Planning Director can waive or interpret code requirements for neighborhoods built before 1993 (the concept of “grandfathering”)?

Code’s action of requesting the Planning Director to decide code requirements is precedent setting and opens the door wide for an unequal application of the 1993 ordinance as code has now accepted a rationale that enables it not to follow the proscription, “Where this ordinance imposes a greater restriction on land, buildings or structures than is imposed or required by other existing provisions of law, ordinance, contract or deed, the provisions of this ordinance shall control.”

My frustration is with code’s inability or unwillingness to address issues such as excessive front yard parking. It’s no wonder citizens are upset. I have heard repeatedly from folks all over the city that Glendale doesn’t look good anymore and they point to code’s ineffectiveness. I am not the only councilmember dissatisfied with the code department’s performance. Many, but not all, councilmembers have expressed the same dissatisfaction.

The leadership of the code department has expressed the belief that my and other councilmembers’ dissatisfaction with the department’s performance is a direct result of a lack of staff. But that is not the issue. It’s not whether there are 5 or 15 code inspectors but rather the effectiveness of the results of the actions taken by whatever the number of staff the department has in resolving an issue (and yes, that should include citing a resident for not following code).

Another code department rationale for a lack of successful resolution is that the department states that unless the complaint is ironclad in terms of proof of violation, city prosecutors will not file a case. Perhaps what is needed is the department taking more time and making a greater effort to meet the requirements of the prosecutors’ office to bring forward successful cases for adjudication. If the prosecutors’ office requires greater proof of a violation by completing actions A, B and C it would seem that is what code should be striving to meet. Leadership has said that they have taken cases to the Prosecutors’ Office only to be told that the case is too weak. Then it becomes incumbent upon code to do further work on a case to make it strong enough to be prosecuted.

I am anxious to participate on the working group that Councilmember Malnar will lead. If parts of code are outdated, we will recommend their removal. If parts of code are too weak, we will find ways to beef them up. If there are new issues that need remedies, we will find them. Keep in mind that this working group will have no formal authority so its conclusions may or may not be accepted. Perhaps most important of all, it is time for greater transparency and accountability and those are elements we must require of this department.

It’s time to make all  of Glendale look good again.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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 a recent city council meeting the city received a rebate check from Arizona Public Service (APS) in the amount of over $430,000. Here is the link to the Glendale Star story: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_b7fdec58-fba7-11e7-9db1-3bd587ba3532.html. This rebate is due to the city’s conversion of its street lights to LED. In addition to the rebate, the city projects an annual savings in its APS electric bill of $494,000 and another $180,000 in annual maintenance. This year the city, between the APS rebate and lower electric bill, has over a million more dollars in its General Fund to spend on other needs.

Glendale City Council receives APS rebate

Here’s a little of the back story. During last year’s council budget workshops, I discovered that this LED conversion project was not scheduled to begin for another three years and to be implemented over two years. I requested that the LED project be moved up to the current year and it should be completed within one fiscal year. After all, it was a no brainer. If the city had a chance to save money why wouldn’t we be doing it immediately? There was push back on council and not every councilmember immediately embraced the idea. However, after further council discussion, my request was approved. I am glad my persistence paid off for the city.

Recently, I requested another initiative that I believe will also generate revenue for the city. Those who have residential rental properties in Glendale are required to be licensed and to pay a monthly residential real estate tax. I heard from a constituent about a friend of his who had 8 residential rental properties in Glendale yet only self-reported and paid tax on one property. I suspect this is more common than is generally known. To this date the city has no mechanism to verify and capture all residential rentals. As a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI) I have requested that the city’s Finance Department initiate a pilot program to identify and capture all residential rentals within the city. It has been approved by council and I anticipate that the city will capture an estimated $500,000 annually in unreported and under reported residential rental tax. If it generates the kind of money I anticipate, there’s additional city revenue that can also be used to meet other needs.

During my sixteen years as councilmember I often initiated pilot projects that were eventually adopted throughout the city. As you drive through Glendale you will see blue and white street identification signs as you approach a street. They are low in height and specifically designed to assist motorists. What started as a pilot project in my district, the Yucca district, can now be found citywide.

Former Glendale Communications Director, Paula Illardo, and I requested the very first funding in the amount of $50,000 for Christmas lights to be installed in downtown Murphy Park. That initial request is now known as Glendale Glitters.

I also initiated a pilot project by purchasing tablets and lending them out to Yucca district residents. The surveys and feedback the users provided convinced our Glendale Library system to replicate the system city wide. I don’t believe it is still being used as tablets and smart phones are so prevalent these days and everyone and his brother has one.

I was successful in getting the city to adopt a League of Cities partnership program that enabled the issuance of Glendale insurance cards (at no cost to the city) for residents’ use in saving money on not only their prescriptions but that of their pets as well.

Over my long history as a Glendale city councilmember I have always sought out ways to save the city and our residents money or to initiate a project that benefits all residents. My request to move up the LED light conversion project was not my first money saving initiative for the city and I suspect it will not be my last.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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 haven’t opined on the Coyotes in a long time. It’s sad that they remain in limbo, still seeking the Holy Grail of a new location…in or out of Arizona. You’d think that Andrew Barroway, owner of the team, would take a reality pill and acknowledge that no one is going to build them a new arena and then subsidize the team to play in it. The fans deserve better. They deserve surety and the team stubbornly refuses to provide it.

I have only attended 2 or 3 games this season but from what I hear from fans this season’s performance was dismal. Out of the 8 teams in the Pacific Division they ranked dead last with 45 games played to date turning in 10 wins, 28 losses. While the brand new Vegas Golden Knights, number one in the division, turned in 29 wins and 10 losses. The Coyotes also rank dead last in the league standings.

Having no other place to go, the Coyotes silently did nothing in December of 2017 triggering an automatic lease renewal at Glendale’s Gila River Arena. Here is the link to Craig Harris’ December 19, 2017 story in the Arizona Republic: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2017/12/19/arizona-coyotes-staying-1-more-year-glendale-gila-river-arena/963379001/ .

Mr. Ahron Cohen, Coyotes’ Chief Operating Officer, is quoted as saying, “We are absolutely planning to play next season at Gila River Arena and are focused on building a winning hockey team, positively contributing to our community, and achieving success in all aspects of our business.”

Let’s take a look at the reality of that statement. Forbes magazine annually determines the worth of professional sports teams and it has valued the Coyotes at $300 million. It is the least valuable franchise in the 31-team NHL. The team lost at least $19 million last season.  Forbes stated the team’s debt ratio was 83 percent, meaning the franchise has very little liquidity or room to borrow money. In this financial atmosphere, it is painfully obvious that the team simply cannot afford to move – anywhere, in or out of the state. To date there has been no legislation offered at the state level to assist the team in some sort of relocation effort and it does not seem to be a viable option.

The Coyotes have the league’s lowest payroll of $54.8 million, according to the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Again, with an 83% debt ratio it’s no wonder that the team’s payroll is in the basement. Clearly with that kind of debt ratio the ability to build a winning team, as Mr. Cohen suggests, is unrealistic.

There is a lot of work to be accomplished by Mr. Barroway and his senior management to turn this team around. To accomplish that goal long term stability is required. Perhaps it’s time for him to create the stability of location, get serious and commit to a long term lease at the Gila River Arena. Once that issue is resolved and the distraction of seeking a bigger and better location (in their minds) is settled, they can focus on three major initiatives: The first and most important is ‘butts in seats’ despite the current quality of team play. It’s time to develop a major, effective marketing campaign to attract new fans. Get those ‘butts in seats’ to generate a greater proportion of revenue; the second is with better revenue comes the ability to pay for seasoned, successful players. Fans are fickle. They pay to see winners not losers. They cannot rely upon fan loyalty in the Valley. Just look at the Suns and Diamondbacks. Respectively their attendance is down and continues downward when they don’t make the playoffs; lastly it’s all about the fan experience these days. At the game I attended last week I witnessed a format that hasn’t changed since the team started playing in the arena, 15 years ago.

There are new strategies available to attract millennials and women. One has just to look at the Cardinals to notice what they have done to make the fan experience worth the price of a ticket. Their model remains successful as their season ticket holder base remains stable. Oh by the way, I haven’t heard the football fans that come from all over the state complaining that the venue is too far away. Yet Coyotes’ team management continues to point the finger at distance as a rationale for lousy attendance. When they were winning and made the playoffs there was no mention of distance. Come on, it’s time to bury the excuses, including this one.

The city and AEG would like to have the Coyotes stay at Gila River Arena. After all, it was built for hockey as its main tenant. The city has also learned that it should not be in the business of managing and that its arrangement with AEG is a winner. It has no intention of terminating the relationship for AEG has done an outstanding job in its first year of management.

It’s time for Barroway to stop playing games…off the ice. Commit to stay at Gila River and get to work on creating a better team performance and building a super fan base. Glendale has publicly offered to help but it will never go back to the old model of subsidizing the team. It’s time for Barroway to make a major effort to turn things around. Will he…or won’t he? That is the question.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

It seems whenever there is a city holiday I can play catch up and find the time to write. Monday, January 15, 2018 is MLK Day and a national holiday. Fortunately I’ve already received the material for our next council workshop scheduled for Tuesday, January 23rd and have done my ‘homework’. Please remember that now city council only meets two Tuesdays a month and they double up on the meetings that day. Now on those two Tuesdays council meets at 12:30 PM for workshop followed by an Executive Session if needed. Then on the same day it reconvenes at 5 PM for its voting meeting. Please note this is an hour earlier than previously scheduled. It makes it more difficult for the public to attend if they work and don’t get off until 5 PM.

The only workshop public agenda item is staff’s request for direction from city council regarding naming Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 99th Avenue as well as Loop 101 freeway signage as Cardinals Way. This is a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI) raised by Mayor Jerry Weiers.

The facts of the request include renaming 12 highway signs by the Arizona Department of Transportation at a cost of $75,000. Five Glendale city street signs would also be renamed at a cost of $5,000. The total of $80,000 would have to be paid by the city.

The Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority (AZSTA) has offered to contribute but they have not specified how much they would pay.

This is all of the information city council has received on the issue. So pretend you are a city councilmember and have to give direction (we don’t vote at workshops) to move forward or not to move forward and stop it. I’d be interested to see how all of you would weigh in if you were the decision maker. I’ve put a new poll to the left of this column. Please take a moment to cast your decision.

Last week the Arizona Republic published a story that APS is seeking approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission for a rate decrease. Who would have thunk?? Here is the link to the story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/energy/2018/01/09/aps-now-seeking-rate-decrease-thanks-federal-tax-cuts/1018865001/ . APS is seeking a cut of, “… about $4.70 from the average residential customer’s monthly bill thanks to the tax changes that President Donald Trump signed into law last month.” Unfortunately, SRP customers will not see a similar rate reduction due to the tax changes. It is an Agricultural Improvement and Power District, and does not collect federal income tax through its customers. Municipalities that provide water are not for profit and like SRP do not pay federal taxes. The expectation is other for-profit utility and water providers in the state and nationally may also offer rate reductions due to the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

© Joyce Clark, 2018                 

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.

First a little history. Twenty years ago, in 1998, what is today known as Heroes Park first appeared in the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Today Heroes Park remains unfinished…after 20 years of waiting. Residents who bought in this area expected its timely completion. Instead they raised a generation of children without the benefit of this quality of life amenity, especially a library.  Now they have grandchildren whom they hope will be able to enjoy a completed park before they too become adults with their own children.

Heroes Park Concept Plan. Items depicted in yellow are completed. All others have not.

One of the planned components of the park has always been a West Branch Library. Again, more history. The former mayor (Scruggs) used every ploy to deny funding for the library and park completion. She and I butted heads on virtually every issue and she was not about to give the person (whose nickname for me was “Evil”) any kind of victory – especially a park, rec center and library. Her most infamous raid occurred in 2006 when she and her “mushrooms” (the gang of four whom always did her bidding) diverted $6 million dollars from library construction and allocated it to the construction of the Glendale Public Safety Training facility (GRPSTC). The result being funding for library construction vanished in an instant.

When the great recession occurred every possible residential amenity was cut from the CIP including completion of Heroes park, rec center and library. These were not the only amenities to get the axe. Library hours were cut and many youth recreation programs disappeared or were severely diminished. O’Neil Pool in the Ocotillo district (formerly part of my district, the Yucca district) received no funding during that period after it was closed due to the need for major repairs. To this day it remains closed and in need of significant funding to repair or replace it. It is a disgrace.

Over the past 20 years south and west Glendale often were ignored when it came to allocating city funding for amenities with one exception – Rose Lane Aquatic Center, in the Ocotillo district, was constructed. To this day it is heavily used by an economically challenged area of our community many residents of which are unable to afford a pool at their homes. Other than using the ramadas at Heroes Park or a school cafeteria, the Yucca district continues to have no community meeting location as is found in every other district in the city.

Ever since I returned to the city council in January of 2017 my focus and priority has been to get the library built and the park completed. In 2017 I have achieved some success in getting the library concept approved and funded by city council. I had hoped to see it open as a 2018 Christmas present for Yucca district residents. Alas, although it will be built the timeline continues to slip. Here is the most currently available timeline:

  • 12/4/17                         100% construction drawings submitted to city Building & 
  •                                      Safety Department for review and approval (takes a minimum
  •                                      of 30 days)
  • 1/29/18                         Construction drawings approved for a permit
  • 2/8/18 through 2/15/18  Advertisement for construction bid published
  • 3/7/18                           Bid opening
  • 4/10/18                         Council approval and award of construction contract
  • 5/7/18                           “Notice to Proceed” (NTP) issued to contractor to start work
  • 5/7/18 through 2/7/18     Construction phase (approximately 9 months)
  • 2/7/18                            Possible “Soft Opening”
  • 3/30/18                          Final acceptance by the city of the building 

I will accept some responsibility for the delay for I did not like the original design and requested modifications…some of which were approved. However, I pleaded, begged and stamped my feet to accelerate the process…all to no avail. I’m not sure any sense of urgency was conveyed to the consultant, DFDG, in design of the construction drawings. I question why it takes a month from a 3/7/18 bid opening to bring it to council for approval on 4/10/18. I question why it takes another month (4/10/18 –5/7/18) before the contractor gets a “Notice to Proceed” to actually begin construction.

I am so anxious to get this project underway. I know I am impatient but we have waited so long. I am disappointed that the only one who feels a sense of urgency is me…sigh.  

© Joyce Clark, 2018                 

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.

It is New Year’s Eve day and I have absolutely no commitments, personal or city-related. No plans for celebrating New Year’s Eve in a wild and crazy fashion. My spouse and I will have a quiet dinner and plan to watch the celebrations on TV, wish each other a Happy New Year and toddle off to bed. It’s sensible and boring but when you get to our age it’s incredibly satisfying.

It’s a great time to reflect and to write some pent up blog thoughts. I wanted to share some thoughts about what’s happened in Glendale during the first year of my term as a returning councilmember. I think the biggest story is twofold. Glendale has rebounded financially as reflected in all credit rating agencies raising Glendale’s rating. I think in 2018 you will see Glendale reaching its goal of a $50 million fund balance (read ‘unappropriated’ or ‘rainy day’). These are major milestones and demonstrate beyond pure rhetoric that Glendale has indeed recovered financially.

Another major story is that Glendale is on the move economically and has become the location of choice for major office, retail and commercial entities. In 2017 Glendale had many blockbuster economic locates and here are just ten of the most memorable:

  • In March of 2017 BMW announced its newest dealership to be in Glendale
  • In July of 2017 Aloft Hotels announced construction in Westgate
  • In July of 2017 Conair’s Distribution Center, the second largest in the state, opened
  • In August of 2017 Fairchild Freight selected Glendale for its corporate headquarters
  • In September of 2017 new building activity in the Westgate Area saw the construction of the Lofts, the Olive Garden restaurant, a Twin Peaks restaurant, a Dutch Brothers coffee shop and a new, 9,000 square foot multitenant retail
  • In September of 2017 Jaguar – Land Rover announced its decision to locate in Glendale
  • In September of 2017 IKEA selected Glendale for its latest and greatest retail store
  • In October of 2017 TopGolf chose Glendale and immediately began construction
  • In December of 2017 Alaska USA Federal Credit Union selected Glendale for its corporate headquarters
  • In December of 2017 SRK Development announced expansion of its hotel chain in Glendale

IKEA in and of itself turned many heads throughout the Valley toward Glendale as the city of choice in which to locate. Add 3 high-end car dealerships, new hotels and restaurants and several corporate headquarters – all showcasing Glendale as the prime location of choice.

There is much more to this good news story and I will continue in my next blog to highlight those as well. So, Happy New Year Glendale! I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

On Monday, November 13, 2017 we were all shocked to learn of the death of George Gosbee,48, former owner and Governor of the Arizona Coyotes. He was also a well respected member of the Calgary, Canada community. What hasn’t been reported until today, November 15, 2017 is that he died by his own hand…he committed suicide. Here is the link: https://news–of-the-day.com/2017/11/15/yedlin-george-gosbees-death-a-devastating-reminder-of-mental-health-effects/ .

He was a man who had everything – a wonderful family, prestige within his community and wealth. Yet due to some mental illness he believed he had nothing; that life was not worth living and so, he took his life. My deepest condolences go out to his family.

Then I ran across another article posted just today by Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic detailing current investigations by the National Labor Relations Board related to the Coyotes allegedly not paying employees properly and possible union busting. Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2017/11/15/arizona-coyotes-accused-not-properly-paying-employees-union-busting-nlrb-complaints/867408001/?hootPostID=ac31f1c4a3f168b754f5d5951be6049e .

What has happened to our Coyotes? How far have they fallen? Just a few years ago they were riding high with blockbuster attendance and a slot in the playoffs. Remember the nights of “white outs?” The fans’ enthusiasm was palpable.

Today their starting season is 0-10-1. They have the worst record in the NHL with 2 wins, 15 losses and 3 ties. Their attendance quite frankly, sucks. They have the smallest payroll in the NHL at about $55 million. Unless there is a reversal of fate, they are slated to lose at least $20 million this year.

They have sold off, traded or retired a majority of their players of note, most notably Shane Doan.  It is certainly not the fault of the players. A majority are new and relatively inexperienced. They are eager and hungry to win but they have yet to gel as a cohesive unit. It takes time.

The current owner, Andrew Barroway, and the NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, have threatened to leave Arizona if someone or some entity does not build the Coyotes a new arena and subsidize their playing in such a venue. Their decision and actions are certainly not the way to encourage the realization of their “ask.”

There is an alternative that Barroway has stubbornly rejected and that is to stay in Glendale and to end the ongoing saga of uncertainty. It’s also time to invest in building a team that is, at least, competitive.  Glendale has always said that it wants the Coyotes to succeed in Glendale and will offer assistance to help rebuild the fan base. A year-to-year contract does nothing to reassure fans that the Coyotes are committed to staying. It’s as if the fans keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I’m on the outside, obviously, looking in. I have no inside knowledge but there has always been the undercurrent of suspicion by some that these are deliberate acts. Suspicions borne from the time Anthony LeBlanc, et. al., took ownership. Some believe that their motivation has always been to leave Arizona. What better way to accomplish that goal than to decimate the team, drive down attendance and then proclaim that Arizona never was, isn’t and never will be a successful market for hockey. A season of attendance at the very bottom of the league’s barrel may finally convince Gary Bettman that Arizona is not the hockey market he believed it to be.

Seattle has plans to locate an MBA and an NHL franchise in its arena after its renovation. Bettman has always wanted to grow the league and put an expansion team into that slot. Could that change? Could he throw in the towel, as he has threatened if the Coyotes do not get a new venue here, and bless a Coyotes’ move to Seattle? I don’t know but you can bet that Barroway and Bettman do…right now.

UPDATE: NOV. 16, 2017 Today’s Arizona Republic reports that support for Phoenix’s bearing the lion’s share of the cost of renovating the Diamonback’s venue is waning. It appears politicians are finally getting it and that pouring money into the money pit of sports venues is not the best use of taxpayers’ dollars. In that same article Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton seems to have dropped his support of planting the Coyotes in the same venue. His latest statements about the Diamondback’s facility has dropped any mention of using it for the Coyotes as well. 

 

© 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.

Almost a year ago on November 2, 2016 I published a blog entitled “Two Glendales.” In it I drew a distinction between north Glendale and south Glendale and how the city reacted to each geographic area. Obviously, north Glendale is more affluent and educated and its residents are more likely to be internet savvy…and they vote in greater numbers than any other area.

For years the more vocal residents made sure the city was aware that certain uses were acceptable to them and they did not expect what they perceived as more onerous uses to be foisted upon them. In other words, while certain uses may be acceptable elsewhere they were not to be placed in north Glendale.

The recently proposed Goodwill slated for the northwest corner of 59th Avenue and the Loop 101 once again demonstrated this dichotomy. Now, to be fair in discussing this issue, there is an old development agreement that stipulated that ‘thrift stores’ such as Goodwill would not be allowed in this shopping center. So, it is likely that unless the city council was willing to overturn that stipulation the proposed Goodwill would not have been approved. If it had been approved by council there is every likelihood litigation would have ensued. However, Goodwill, bowing to the pressure exerted by residents pulled its application. It is now a moot point.

It should be noted that when Peter Hollingshead, the representative of the shopping center owner, appeared before the Planning Commission he stated the building has been vacant five years and his client has sought to find a tenant for the building. He added that if Goodwill were to be denied, the entire shopping center could end up in foreclosure.

The contrast between the Stonehaven application and the Goodwill application could not be more stark.  Mayor Weiers’ public statement announcing Goodwill’s withdrawal is a good example of the disparity of treatment toward citizen protest. In June of 2017 over 1,000 Yucca district residents signed a petition in opposition to the proposed amendment to the Stonehaven residential development asking for lots as small as 4,000 square feet on 136 acres of the 300+ acre site. Innumerable emails and calls were made to the mayor and council expressing the residents’ opposition. I am not going to relitigate all of the reasons for residents’ opposition but they (and I) felt that over 1,000 residents’ voices would be heard via a petition, emails and calls and that the mayor and council would do the right thing and represent them. After all, never in Glendale’s history had so many residents taken the time to become politically active. Yet it was not to be so. The amendment increasing the density and allowing 4,000 square foot lots was approved on a 5 to 2 vote of council with only Councilmember Ray Malnar joining me. For you see, he listened. While Mayor Weiers offered his various explanations for approval, he did not acknowledge the vast number of residents in opposition.

Along comes Goodwill and in the mayor’s public announcement of Goodwill’s October 17, 2017 withdrawal from the process he stated, “My office received many emails and phone calls in opposition to this project, and as an elected official, it is extremely important that I give serious consideration to the will of citizens. I thank them for making their voices heard.”

Say what? He was willing to listen to the voices of a hundred or so Arrowhead residents and give them “serious consideration.” I know I personally received no more than 100 emails expressing opposition. There may have been more than that but the numbers were nowhere near those of the Yucca residents in opposition to Stonehaven. Why didn’t the mayor show the same deference and “serious consideration” to the 1,000 voices of Yucca district residents?

Because there still are two Glendales. Not all, but some of the emails I received from north Glendale residents expressed the same theme of arrogance and condescension.  Comments such as, “we live in the 85310 zip code and Goodwill is unwelcome” or  “a Goodwill store does not fit with the surrounding area” or “Goodwill would be just north of the Citadelle Plaza, which conveys an upscale atmosphere” or  “we would rather see a Trader Joe’s not a thrift store.” Can you imagine the firestorm if a pawn shop or an auto loan shop was to try to locate there?

I check every Friday’s edition of Glendale Republic to look at the sales prices for homes in zip codes 85308 and 85305. They are quite comparable. One week 85308 will have a slightly higher median sale price and the next week 85305 will be higher than 85308.  The population counts of Cholla and Yucca districts are also comparable – somewhere between 40,000 and 45,000 residents. That’s because when the 6 districts were drawn one of the federal imperatives requires making the population count for each district as equal as possible.

All geographic areas of Glendale should be heard and their opinions respected equally and equitably. No area of Glendale is better than another area and it’s time the city stopped making decisions based on this discriminatory sentiment.

I wonder what decision council would have made if there had been no stipulation and Goodwill had proceeded with its application. We’ll never know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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