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.

City logo June 30, 2017

Glendale, Arizona was incorporated on June 18, 1910, and had a population of just over 1,000 people. By 1940, its population was 4,800 and in 1950 it had grown to 8,170. In 1964, the population had grown to 42,000 and when I moved to Glendale in 1968, it had a population of 45,000. By 1975, it grew to 67,000. From then until 2010, in a period of just over 40 years, its population exploded and quadrupled to 226,721. Today, in 2022, its population has expanded to 263,000. Expect to see another 10,000 to 20,000 added over the next five years. It is the 7th largest city in Arizona and the 87th largest city in the United States.

All other West Valley cities, historically, developed much later than Glendale and most of them still contain vast amounts of raw land just waiting for development. Glendale, on the other hand, is truly a mixture of the old and the new. South of Northern Avenue is the old Glendale. You can tell the old Glendale from new Glendale just by looking at it.

Arrowhead Ranch, a premier area in north Glendale, at one time was destined to die and was saved in the early 1980s by a city investment of $80 to $100 million for its infrastructure. The strategy to have all the infrastructure already in place made the area attractive to developers and relieved them of the burden of paying for it.  It caused Arrowhead to take off like a rocket.  If you would like to learn more about the land that became Arrowhead Ranch, I refer you to this article written by Jen Fitfield in 2020:   https://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-arizona-republic/20200223/281947429877999 . The article is substantially accurate although I disagree with some of the material presented.

The city’s investment in Arrowhead included but was not limited to roads and drainage, provision of water and sewer services and operation of the sewage plant. It was not without cost. That major investment sucked the financial oxygen from the rest of the city, especially the older portions. In essence, old Glendale, through its tax base paid for new Glendale. For at least a decade, while dollars were being spent to save the dream of Arrowhead, funding was not available to maintain, preserve or beautify the rest of Glendale. Portions of the city languished while in other portions outright decay occurred. Once decay and blight take hold, unless immediate measures are taken to stamp it out, it becomes like sludge and oozes outward consuming anything in its path.

It is time to pay attention to old Glendale. I’ve been thinking about this idea for quite some time. I am calling for a major campaign by our City Council and senior management to focus on the beautification of Glendale. It should include several elements. Although the city has recently and justifiably spent $125,000 on beautification of the rights-of-way in the Ocotillo district, it has not made the same commitment to other older portions of the city. There must be a commitment to remediate those areas as well. All city rights-of-way (ROW) should be adequately graveled, with abundant desert landscaped plants and trees, and free of litter.

An element of a beautification campaign must include overlay or special zoning designed to protect areas from oversaturation of unwanted uses. City Council must identify those uses which are not positive for an area. Those uses could include but are not limited to tattoo parlors, pawn shops, loan shops, convenience stores, automotive repair/retail uses, liquor stores, etc.

 At one time, the city had a liquor density criteria, limiting the number of retail liquor stores within a one mile radius. Sadly, that has been abandoned. Today, you can travel some of the city’s major arterials and see several tattoo parlors, a couple of tire shops and a couple of package liquor stores, one after another. This should not be my Glendale or your Glendale.

I suggest that the city place a cap on the number of ‘unhealthy neighborhood’ retail establishments. Hypothetically, say the city has 100 tattoo parlors throughout the city. I believe we have every right to say “no more” and that we have reached the saturation point and we will not discriminate but will limit the number of a use within our city. The same type of cap should be placed on other non-beneficial uses determined by consensus of the council.

In addition, the city must offer incentives to attract beneficial, retail uses such as small, grocery stores (that offer wholesome food choices and not incidental to liquor sales), cafes, bakeries, professional services such as insurance, medical offices, etc.

The city over the past several years has rewritten and adopted many code changes. Some of them will be considered as too harsh but that consideration is usually made by the worst offenders. Many, although not all of the changes, were made by a citizens Code Review Committee and approved by the council. Some were generated by employees of various departments.

Often councilmembers have been told that code has been hampered in its ability to do all that has been asked of it because it has been understaffed. To that end, in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 budget a majority of council has authorized the addition of 4 more code inspectors which will make the department fully staffed.

I would like the code department’s use of “Focus Areas” resurrected. This strategy used in the early 2000s quite successfully. A code inspector, often with input from the community, would identify a specific area, usually no larger than ½ mile, as a Focus Area. Letters would be sent to every resident informing them of the designation as well as identifying the most common code violations and that they could expect code to be in their neighborhood to cite all violations. They would be asked to be proactive and to correct their issues prior to a code inspector’s issuance of a warning or violation. The residents in that collective area would be given 30 days to remediate issues after which an inspection would occur, and any remaining violations would be cited. It was very successful because it provided education to the residents, gave them time to correct any violations on their own and resulted in very few actual citations. Many neighborhoods were cleaned up and blight was removed. We haven’t done this program for 15 or 20 years. With full staffing in code there is no valid reason why this program can’t be implemented again.

Another program begging to be reinstituted is the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Prior to the Great Recession in 2007, the city made small dollar grants to neighborhoods that identified a specific beautification project they wanted to accomplish. It was required that the project beautify a neighborhood and that the work be performed by volunteers from the neighborhood. There was an application process and a citizens’ committee that made the decision on awarding the grants. Neighbors would volunteer their time toward the revitalization project and the grant paid for supplies. One of the criteria today should be that this is for neighborhoods 40 years old or older, any neighborhood established before 1982. The Revitalization Office even kept an inventory of tools, such as hoes, rakes, lawn mowers, shovels, hammers, etc. and they were lent out to the neigbhborhood volunteers to undertake their project, much like one would borrow a book from our library.

Another element to recapture our blighted neighborhoods is a return to the “Broken Windows” theory of policing first used in the 1980s in New York City and Boston.  The theory is that when a neighborhood looks trashy, hence the term “Broken Window” (code’s responsibility) and minor crimes are allowed to proliferate, that sends a signal to the criminal element to move in and take over. It takes a concerted effort, a partnership between the Police Department and Code Department to target neighborhood areas of blight. Unfortunately, these are underserved areas of our community.

Lastly, adding art to neighborhoods demonstrates yet another level of city commitment toward beautification. The city has a dedicated arts fund and a beneficial use of these substantial art funds would be to bring art elements into older neighborhoods (to start) signaling that our city is committed to clean, safe and beautiful neighborhoods.

To recap these are the programs I believe Glendale must implement to successfully beautify Glendale:

  • Beautify all rights-of-way throughout the city
  • Implement special zoning to cap certain retail uses throughout the city
  • Implement a city incentive program to attract more beneficial retail uses adjacent to neighborhoods
  • Support city council’s decision to add additional code inspectors
  • Reimplement the use of “Focus Areas” in neighborhoods
  • Reimplement the Neighborhood Revitalization Program
  • Reimplement the “Broken Window” theory
  • Add art elements to neighborhoods

These initiatives will not result in instant remediation but over time we can and will see our neighborhoods improve. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will beautification of our city occur overnight. The first step in the most important and that is to get each of these elements established, funded and up and running.

Every resident in Glendale should be able to live in clean, safe and beautiful neighborhoods, free from crime and blight. It’s a quality of life issue that translates into preserving or even increasing your property’s value.

I am proud of Glendale and all that it has accomplished but there is more work yet to be done. Will you join me in support of a “Beautify Glendale” initiative?  I have created an online petition at the ipetitions website.  Let our city council know that you support such an effort. I will leave the petition up for a month or so. Please tell your friends and neighbors throughout Glendale about this effort and ask them to join us. Can we get a thousand signatures? Please go to: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/beautify-glendale-az . The time is now.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      


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.