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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

I belong to a neighborhood website that encompasses my area as well as about a dozen other subdivisions adjacent to Westgate and the Tohono O’odham temporary casino (currently under construction). A few days ago a conversational thread began on the site reflecting residents’ opinions regarding the effects of a casino near all of us. About 7 people have posted their opinions to date. I feel compelled to dispel some of their assumptions.

A local realtor in the Westgreen Estates subdivision said, “I do not recall any values going down as a result of a casino being built.” It’s one of the first questions you hear when someone wants to build a casino somewhere near you. That question is what’s it going to do to my property value?

There is now enough data from other areas of the country and their experiences with a casino to prove property values are impacted negatively from a nearby casino. From American Attitudes on Development comes, “A nuclear power plant, while the least-favored type of power plant, would still be preferable to a landfill, a casino, or an aggregate quarry.” A Foxboro, Maine resident and realtor for 23 years offered this in an op-ed in the Foxboro Sun Chronicle, March 11, 2012. Foxborough was facing the prospect of a casino in its community. Based on his 23 years of real estate experience he said, A casino is controversial. Anything controversial will cause some home buyers to exclude Foxboro and surrounding towns. This potential reduction in buyers will negatively affect the price and resale of homes here.” He went on to say, “A casino will change the demographics and feel of the town. The casino developer is setting aside funds to deal with the increased need in law enforcement the casino will bring. Many families moved to Foxboro because of the community feel. Any significant change in crime, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and, domestic violence, or any other demographics will change the feel and fabric of Foxboro and surrounding towns.”  A 2013 study by economists belonging to the National Association of Realtors concluded that, “the impact of casinos was ‘unambiguously negative’ on a housing market.”

I can hear the outrage from casino supporters now but the fact remains, while they support the casino, few property owners (including casino supporters) actually want to live near this casino. Most people understand that, at the very least, a casino operates 24/7 and will lead to an increase in crime, traffic congestion, drunken drivers, trash, tour buses and road noise – and that these things will be ultimately reflected in a reduction in property values.

None of the local resident responses asked about a casino and its effect on crime rates. Yet it is another area of concern. The following is an Abstract entitled Casinos, Crime and Community Costs by Earl L. Grinols and David B. Mustard, originally published in 1996 but this excerpt is from the Review of Economics and Statistics (February 2006). The authors say,“Casinos increased all crimes except murder, the crime with the least obvious connection to casinos. Most offenses showed that the impact of casinos on crime increased over time, a pattern very consistent with the theories of how casinos affect crime. The crime-ameliorating effects of casinos through increased employment opportunities and wages for low-skilled people will be concentrated shortly after opening. Between 5.5% and 30% of the different crimes in casino counties can be attributed to casinos.

“According to the study, five years after a casino opens, robbery in the community goes up 136 percent, aggravated assault is up 91 percent, auto theft is up 78 percent, burglary is up 50 percent, larceny is up 38 percent, rape is up 21 percent and murder is up 12 percent, compared to neighboring communities. Crime-lowering effects, like additional police and the new jobs represented by a casino are overwhelmed by rising crime increased by the presence of the casino, according to the study.”

Locals responding on this thread believed that traffic would be manageable. A resident of Westgreen Estates subdivision said, “We have enough open space to adapt to any increase traffic (sic).” A Rovey Farm subdivision resident said, “A quick drive around the other casinos in the valley will show you what kind of traffic to expect. (Not much).”

The Connecticut South Western Regional Planning Agency issued a Casino Traffic Impact Study in 2009.  “The purpose of this study was to estimate the possible traffic and air quality impacts of the development of a casino in Bridgeport.” The study concluded, “the development of a casino would have a significant impact on traffic congestion in southwestern Connecticut. Casino traffic is not seasonal because the number of trips to and from casinos is relatively consistent from month to month. Casinos operate 24 hours per day; there is no peak travel period to and from casinos thus traffic impacts of casinos may be experienced at all times of day.”

The increased traffic in the area will not just be due to the number of visitors to the casino. Add to that, traffic from employees as well as vendors and suppliers making deliveries with their semis at all hours of the day and night. Many transportation agencies in many states where casinos have located have done similar studies. All of these transportation studies recommend new transportation infrastructure whose costs are borne by you – the taxpayers. Increased traffic in our area will not be the result of an occasional Cardinals football game. Instead imagine that kind of traffic every day of the year, 24/7.

Yet other studies demonstrate sales tax revenue moving from other, traditional sources to a casino. In essence there is a shifting of sales tax revenue away from hotels and restaurants such as in Westgate, toward gambling facilities. Visitors and residents spend money on gambling that would otherwise be spent on other goods and services. This effect is known as “substitution.” There is also a shift of workers currently in one industry to the gambling industry. This is known as “displacement.”  This new development will take workers from other industries and move them into the casino industry. A New Hampshire study also offered, “For a standard casino, most patrons come from within 30 miles and participation declines exponentially as distance increases.”

So, respondents from Provence, Rovey Farm and Westgreen Estates, to the thread of discussion about casino impacts, be careful what you wish for. Then again, if you don’t mind a reduction in your property value, increased crime and increased traffic congestion, continue to welcome this casino that will most assuredly change the long treasured fabric of our community.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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Recently the John F. Long Family Trust filed two zoning applications. There will be a public meeting on Monday, November 25, 2013 at the Desert Mirage Elementary School hosted by the applicant. I urge local residents to attend.

One effect of these zoning requests is that the Trust is requesting that 53 acres be used for multifamily housing units (apartments). More land will be used for attached single family housing, another very dense concept. They want land with the highest density possible because it makes the land more valuable and they earn a greater profit when it is sold. The 384 acres of Trust land is located south of the Grand Canal Linear Park to Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue.

The City of Glendale’s heart is pumping wildly at the very thought. After all, they are already counting the hefty construction tax, impact fees and sales tax that will be earned as these apartments are built. The heck with its effect on surrounding, existent residents.

They hope that you don’t know that the city has already granted developers (or entitled the developers) the right to build another 4,000 apartment units in West Glendale, the Westgate area.  The last thing that West Glendale needs is another 736 apartments, especially in an area of large lot homes.

If you do a Google search of the effects of multifamily housing on communities you will find positive study after study underwritten by multifamily housing associations or federal government studies as to why multifamily housing is good for us all.

However, I did find one unbiased study done for the Town of Boone, North Carolina by Jud & Associates in 2005. Boone had a moratorium on the building of more apartment units for several years previous to the study and wanted to know if the latest development proposal to build apartments was good or bad for their community. They discovered that it was a question of economics versus quality of life. The study concluded, “A number of academic studies have examined the effects of municipal zoning as practiced in Boone and elsewhere. These studies generally provide support for the idea that proximity to multi-family housing damages the values of single-family homes. An estimated statistical model of housing values in Boone suggests that residential values rise 8.7 percent for every one-mile increase in the distance to the nearest apartment project. The statistical estimates of the housing model provide evidence that proximity to multifamily apartments lowers the values of single-family structures.” In other words multi-family housing damages the values of single-family homes. It lowers property values for existent residents.

An MIT Real Estate Center study identified what it called the “Removal Effect.” It said, “The Joint Center for Housing at Harvard University notes that the construction of rental housing is notable for the way that it impacts the existing neighborhood in terms of what is removed from the neighborhood. While rental housing does have the potential to replace rundown portions of the neighborhood, it also has the further potential to cause the erasure of attractive elements of the community.” In Glendale’s case since the land is currently used for agriculture the removal effect is that it removes the possibility of development of a stable, single family housing subdivision and a grocery anchored commercial center – something West Glendale sorely lacks.

There are other intangible effects of apartments on the health of a community. Apartment renters are by their very nature transient. Did you know that a 1997 study found that 34 % of apartment renters moved in the previous year? If the apartment renter is under 30 years of age that number jumps to 53%. What does this mean to a community? It means that a renter does not invest time or talent in the community. Typically renters do not volunteer in the community. Very few of them vote. They lack knowledge of or interest in local community affairs. Why should they? They will be there a year or two and then move on. It should be noted that senior apartment complexes do not fit this description.

Impact fees paid by developers do not cover the entire cost of increased services needed — water, sewer and sanitation. In fact, apartment owners are free to contract their sanitation services with public or private entities. What about new roads and traffic lights? The developer is usually required to put these elements in at their cost but future operating and maintenance costs belong to the city.

There is also the increased need for public safety – police and fire. Logically apartment units with their much higher populations will have more crime and need these services much more often than a single family subdivision.  In conversations with police officers when asked where crime hot spots are inevitably they will identify an apartment complex.

A case in point about density is the O’Neil Ranch subdivision located from Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road, 59th Ave. to 67th Ave. It is ringed by 10 apartment complexes. Over the years these complexes have not always been maintained, much less upgraded causing their monthly rents to become lower and lower. It is one of the highest crime areas in the city. It has attracted not the normal retail a neighborhood wants and expects but rather 23 package liquor stores, a plethora of fast food restaurants and pawn shops. As a result the 1300+ homes in O’Neil have lost value and their average price is about $90,000. That’s being generous. Some homes have sold for as low as $79,000.

Over the years, I have steadfastly opposed apartment construction. They do not contribute to the overall health of a community. Their residents are transient and do not invest in themselves in the community. Crime increases because of the dense population in apartment complexes. Often the complex may not be a high quality product to start and over time its quality tends to deteriorate. I know that some will point to some spiffy, upscale apartment complex to belie these conclusions but that is not the kind of development that will be built on the 53 acres in question. There will be more apartments in West Glendale’s future  — guaranteed. More are not needed or wanted in an area whose character has been one of large lot development. Oh, by the way, how many apartment complexes are there in Arrowhead?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 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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