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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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

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As a councilmember one of the many skills I picked up quite quickly was Zoning and its methods, practices, implications and effects. Quite a few years ago, about 8 or 9 years ago, Jake Long and the Long’s attorney, Jim Miller, met with me as the councilmember representing the Yucca district. The Long family owns a substantial piece of property (384 acres) between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue, Grand Canal Linear Park south to Camelback Road. They shared their proposed development plan for that land. I can’t remember all of it but what did stick in my head was their desire to plant apartments directly south of the Grand Canal Linear Park. I made it clear that I would not support their plan and they went away — until now. Now that I am no longer representing the district their assumption must be that the atmosphere is more conducive to granting their zoning requests. I hope not as it would the lower property values and the quality of life of many residents of West Glendale.

I had long ago signed up with the city Planning Department’s “Interested Parties” notification list. Because I am on that list on November 8, 2013 I received a letter from Earl, Curley and LeGarde, P.C., attorneys representing the Long Trust on its latest zoning applications. Like a bad penny, the same zoning requests presented to me many years ago by the Long family (this time with disastrous modifications) has turned up once again.

The city’s General Plan for this parcel of 384 acres currently designates zoning of 2.5 to 3.5 homes to the acre and a limited amount of Commercial. That current designation yields 960 homes on the low end to 1344 homes on the high end. There are no multifamily residential (apartments) allowed.

These Long Family Trust zoning applications do not contain specificity for the entire parcel. They do state what they plan for 64 of the 384 acres: 27 acres of 5 to 8 dwelling units to the acre which yields a low of 135 units and a high of 216 units; 26 acres of 12 to 20 dwelling units to the acres which yields a low of 240 units and a high of 520 units; and 11 acres of planned Commercial. So we know from the proposal that there could be a low of 375 apartment units to a high of 736 units on 64 acres or 16% of the entire 384 acres. It is not clear where this 64 acre portion is located. South of the Grand Canal Linear Park? North of Camelback Road? Who knows? They’re not sayin’. They call this a Minor General Plan Amendment. Maybe it’s minor to them but it certainly is not minor to the thousands of Glendale residents who live in West Glendale and who do not want more apartments in the area…not 375 or 736 of them.

Their second application seeks to change the zoning designations of the entire 384 acres from R1-8 PRD (single family homes with a minimum lot size of 8,000 square feet; Commercial Office and General Commercial (remember there are no apartment units on the current zoning designations) to a PAD which is a Planned Area Development. Sounds Ok but it isn’t. A PAD grants generalities of a certain amount of acreage as single family density, multifamily density and commercial but allows the developer flexibility as to where these elements are placed. The Planning Department would approve the PAD through a Design Review Process but you and I would not know the particulars or what has been approved. Once the PAD zoning is approved we are excluded from the process.

The applicant is seeking an average of 4.63 dwelling units per acre on the 384 acres for a total of 1,777 units. Their projected population is 4,700 residents. I suspect that is a low ball figure. This proposal is far denser than any other subdivision in the nearby area.  Why seek that kind of density? When land is sold for development the price per acre is dependent on the zoning (and density) allowed on the land. The greater the entitled density the more expensive the land becomes and the more money the land owner makes. As a hypothetical, if the land were zoned for 3 homes per acre it might sell for $10,000 an acre. If the land were zoned for 20 units to the acre it might sell for $100,000 an acre. I am not opposed to the land owner making a profit when his land is sold but I am opposed to granting inappropriate densities that do harm to existent neighborhoods. That is exactly what the high densities that the applicant is seeking will do. The city has an obligation to protect existent neighborhoods and their quality of life and property values.

Interestingly enough, guess when the public meeting is scheduled? How about the Monday before Thanksgiving – you know that time of year when many people leave town to visit friends and family for the Thanksgiving holidays. Do you think this schedule was deliberate, designed to ensure that not many attend the public meeting? I do. By the way, the public meeting is:

Monday, November 25, 2013

6 PM

At Desert Mirage Elementary School Cafeteria

8605 W. Maryland Avenue

We need butts in seats for this meeting. We need to send a message, loud and clear that we do not support the applicant’s plans that directly affect our area. We also have petitions that you can circulate in your neighborhood. You do not have to be a registered voter to sign (these are not political petitions) and multiple persons from the same household may sign the petition. Email me at clarkjv@aol.com and I will email a petition to you. All petitions must be returned no later than Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Why is this a lousy plan for a great area in Glendale? Let me count the ways.

  1. There are many developments surrounding Westgate that have already been approved by the city (they are “entitled”). If I remember correctly those approved developments will yield another 4,000 apartment units. I am going to check with the Planning Department to corroborate this figure from my memory.
  2. North of Cabelas and in Westgate there are already nearly 2,000 apartment units combined. The Westgate units were approved as condos but when the economy went south they were redesignated and auctioned off – some for as little as $79,000 a unit. One of the multifamily complexes north of Cabelas was built as condo units and today they are apartments.
  3. The existing apartments plus the future apartments will allow for 6,000 units in West Glendale.  When is enough, enough? Now. It’s time to hold the line.
  4. Planting small homes (attached and detached) on small lots and dense apartment units will lower the property values and the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods – just to name a few, Camelback Park, Missouri Ranch and Missouri Estates.
  5. The 83rd Avenue corridor from Camelback Rd. to Northern Avenue has historically been the site of most of the large lot properties in West Glendale. There are streets north of Camelback Road like Orange, Montebello and Cavalier that have one acre, irrigated lots. Missouri Ranch and Missouri Estates subdivisions are large lot subdivisions. The Rovey Farm subdivision of 800+ homes was built with the smaller lots of 9,000 square feet on the 91st Avenue side and the large lot, gated communities on the 83rd Avenue side. South of Northern Avenue there is the Bonderosa enclave of large lot properties as well as  gated communities such as Casa de Esueno. The 83rd Avenue corridor is unique and should be preserved as it is the only such corridor in all of West Glendale.

Please send this blog link on to your friends and neighbors. Let them know how important this upcoming public meeting is for all of us. Let’s get butts in seats that night and petitions signed to send a strong signal to the city and the developer that this proposed development is not compatible with the surrounding area. Zoning at any price, especially a price too high to be paid by residents, is not the answer.

© 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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