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

Proposed apartment complexes are always controversial…and not just in Glendale, or in this case, Surprise, but in every Valley city. I was surprised to learn of a new type of apartment complex being proposed in Surprise. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/surprise/2017/01/30/surprise-proposed-apartments-prompt-concern-anger/96859410/ . What drew my attention was this, “NexMetro Communities plans to build a complex that does not match up with traditional apartment buildings. For example, the 133-unit complex would be gated, single-story and consist of mostly detached homes with private backyards. Rent prices would be between $1,000 and $1,600 per month.” It’s a hybrid,” said Jacque Petroulakis, executive vice president of marketing and investor relations for NexMetro Communities. “It’s not an apartment, not single-family home for sale — it’s gated, single-family homes for lease.”

Why do so many neighborhoods throughout the Valley oppose apartment complexes, no matter what their configuration? The traditional reasons are traffic, increased crime and lower property values in surrounding subdivisions. These continue to be valid reasons.

But the most obvious reason is often overlooked and that is the lack of investment in a community often displayed by renters. Universally (there are a few exceptions) renters have no investment in the community in which they are residing. At some point they will move on to something bigger, better or more closely meets their current needs. How many renters bother to register to vote within a community? Historically it’s very, very low. How many renters become parts of community life? Virtually none. I can’t remember the last time a renter in Glendale came to a city council meeting to express a concern or comment about Glendale. Maybe that’s because they don’t do it. How many renters volunteer for a citizen board or commission? None, that I am aware of.

Without the investment of ownership renters typically do not maintain the property in which they reside. Just ask any landlord who has had to do major repairs or remedial work after a renter leaves. Often the cost of remediation is far more than the security deposit. Drive down any residential street and you will probably be able to pick out the homes being rented. Renters generally have no pride of ownership.

Yet renters costs to a city are often far more than the sales tax or other forms of tax that they generate for that community. Whether it’s a property owner or renter, a city still must provide basic services of public safety, water, sewer and sanitation, library and recreational services and transportation infrastructure…to name just a few. There is also the issue of schools and the sudden influx of large numbers of new students. I have talked to teachers whose classes are often made up by a majority of children living in apartments and were surprised to learn that by the end of a school year the students with which they started are gone to be replaced by a new group of apartment dwelling students. There is no stability in this kind of education equation.

Rental units put additional pressure on a city’s infrastructure as traffic in the area inevitably increases. Rental units put additional pressure on a city’s public safety departments. Wherever there is residential density (and apartments are the most extreme form of density to be found in any city), logically there will be more calls for service for police and medical response. The quality of a rental complex can do damage to nearby property owners, especially as the complex deteriorates over the years due to inadequate maintenance. We’ve all seen the complexes where the landlord pulls in the money from monthly rents but does not reinvest that money into maintenance.

Lastly, in today’s market monthly rental fees of $1,000 to $1,600 are considered the low to median price range. An upscale apartment complex often has monthly rental fees of way north of $2,000 a month. What is being proposed in Surprise is no more than a dense residential development comprised exclusively of renters. It would be the same as if your neighborhood suddenly became nothing but rental properties. I fail to see how this concept upgrades a city or helps to create a stable, residential neighborhood. A rental property is a rental property be it a house or apartment. This “new hybrid of apartment complex” is simply the developer’s attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

© Joyce Clark, 2017        


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