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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Fact: the Stonehaven changes requested are:

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

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

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

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

           8,000 SF lots are eliminated entirely

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

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

Category      Number

RI-6             35,793

RI-7               5,279

RI-8               2,951

SR-17            1,643

RI-4               1,501

SR-12               877

A-1                   521

SR-30               516

RI-10                370

RR-90                   0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

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