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.

An interesting story drew my attention in the wake of the Stonehaven decision by a majority of Glendale’s city council (5 to 2 vote in favor). Apparently these members of the city council, Mayor Jerry Weiers, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and Councilmembers Lauren Tolmachoff, Jaime Aldama and Bart Turner saw no issue with granting the developers, John F. Long Trust and Pulte Homes, the right to plant about 600 small lots (4,000 SF and 4,500 SF) on 130+ acres in the development known as Stonehaven.

The developers have also been granted greater lot coverage of 55%. Typically, Glendale has used 40% to 45% lot coverage. That means the home can use 40% to 45% of the lot. The rest is a front yard, side yards and a back yard. In the approved Stonehaven plan front yards will be 10 to 15 feet in depth and back yards will be 10 to 15 feet in depth. My back patio is 12 feet in depth and I try to envision having a rear yard block wall abutting my patio. It is absurd. Just for kicks measure 10 feet or 15 feet from your back door and imagine having a block wall at that distance.

Then I read an article by Home & Design and republished by AZBigMedia. Here is the link: http://roselawgroupreporter.com/2017/08/homebuyers-willing-sacrifice-square-footage-bigger-yard/?utm_source=Rose+Law+Group+Reporter+Newsletter&utm_campaign=305ef20b62-8-18-2017+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0fa483909f-305ef20b62-17921525 .

The most startling results of a Wakefield Research survey commissioned by Taylor Morrison (national homebuilder) said, “Outdoor living is becoming just as important as the indoors. According to a consumer survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Taylor Morrison, a leading national homebuilder and developer, recent and prospective homebuyers are craving green space. More than half (56 percent) of homebuyers surveyed would be willing to sacrifice a larger house to obtain a bigger yard.

The survey also found the most important exterior feature of a home is distance from neighboring homes. Both millennials (48 percent) and non-millennials (53 percent) believe this breathing room is key, beating other curb appeal elements such as siding, driveway styles, exterior paint color and roofing finishes.”

Well, doesn’t this fly in the face of the pro-Stonehaven rhetoric touting “that millennials and seniors would prefer the least amount of yard possible?” Their rationale was that new home buyers didn’t want to maintain the backyard grass. Many back yards are graveled and xeroscaped these days. Whether it’s grass or patio space, upkeep and work to keep it looking good is required. What they said was illogical and this Taylor Morrison study proves the point.

No, I suspect it was all about the almighty dollar. They demanded greater density because it translates into greater profitability. Since when must a city accommodate a private entity’s demand for greater profitability at the expense of the adjacent neighborhoods (all of whom opposed Stonehaven’s amended plan)?

Think about it. Have you ever seen a millionaire buy a large home on a 4,000 SF lot? Of course not. They buy large homes on large lots to insure their privacy (among other reasons). Privacy in the form of large lot space (or even adequate lot space) is a commodity that today’s developers have decided that the masses of home buyers no longer merit. They decide what you should have, always keeping their bottom lines primary, and then sell the concept to you as the latest and greatest that you must have. So, we buy the bells and whistles while ignoring basic amenities such as sufficient space to breathe and grow families.

I’m thankful I grew up in a different era. Perhaps I’m too old-fashioned but if so, I don’t care. I’m glad I grew up with room to breathe. To this day I value the privacy my property provides. It’s hard to imagine that even millennials don’t want the same and that privacy is no longer important.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               


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