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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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.

Prior to the September 10th city council workshop meeting, reporters representing a local TV station descended upon us and incessantly questioned the mayor and councilmembers regarding the hiring of former Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John as the city’s first Public Safety Director. Not surprisingly Councilmembers Aldama and Turner offered sound bites intimating that the council had authority over this City of Glendale employee hire.

It’s time to set the record straight.

It states explicitly in the city’s charter with regard to the city council, “Sec. 19. – Interference in administrative service. “Except as otherwise provided in this charter, neither the council nor any of its members shall interfere with the execution by the city manager of his powers and duties, or order, directly or indirectly, the appointment by the city manager of any person to an office or employment or his removal therefrom.”

The charter then goes on to specifically authorize as a power of the city manager,”Sec. 3. – City manager; powers and duties. “The city manager shall be chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the city government. He shall be responsible for the proper administration of all affairs of the city and to that end, subject to the provisions of this charter, he shall have the power and shall be required to:

        “(3) Appoint, and when deemed necessary for the good of the service, lay-off, suspend, 

               transfer, demote or remove all department heads, officers and employees of the city,

               subject to such merit system regulations as the council may adopt;”

The city council, by charter, has no power to hire, fire, suspend or in any way affect the position of any city employee. The only direct hires of the city council are the city manager, the city attorney, the city clerk and the city’s chief judge. That’s it. The council has no authority regarding any other employee position. The city manager could have hired the Easter Bunny for that position and council has no say…no authority with regard to his choice.

The only way the city council has any power over employees is during the budget cycle. Council can approve or deny new employee positions or can increase or decrease the number of full time employees (FTEs) within any city department’s budget appropriation. In June of 2019, council approved the creation of several new city positions by authorizing the funding of those positions. Among them was a Public Safety Director and a Council Assistant. I mention these two positions specifically to demonstrate what occurred after those positions were approved by city council at its budget process.

Here is a case in point. Council approved the addition of one FTE who would be destined to become my new Council Assistant. In July the position of Council Assistant was posted. It is my understanding that there were nearly a 100 applicants. The Human Resources Department went through every application and determined which of the applicants met the qualifications for the job. I asked and was told the process reduced the list to about 60 applicants. Those applicants were then reviewed by an appropriate staff member based upon specific criteria for the council assistant job requirements. Those finalists were interviewed by a panel of city employees resulting in a final list of three applicants. Since I was the councilmember who would be using this new hire, I was invited to meet the three finalists. Please note it was not within my authority to demand or even to ask to interview the finalists. I was asked for my opinion and offered it knowing full well that I had no authority in choosing the person who would be my council assistant. Fortunately for me, the person I felt would do the best job was the choice of senior management. That position was filled in early August.

In the case of the Public Safety Director, city council authorized the position’s funding with its approval of the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget. On August 27, 2019 city council approved an agreement with Interim Public Management LLC (IPM) to secure candidates for the position. As was stated by Jim Brown, Human Resources Director, the applicants for the position were narrowed down to three finalists. I do not know who or when or how many staff was involved in the interview process but Mr. Brown stated that the selection was made after interviews were conducted. The decision was strictly within the authority of the city manager. It was not city council’s decision to make and the city charter does not grant the council any authority over the process or the selection.

Occasionally, and not in every instance, council has been invited to attend a reception for the finalists for a position such as Assistant City Manager. It is a reception open to many employees not just councilmembers. Sometimes a few of the city councilmembers will attend. Rarely, if ever, are our opinions solicited and even if they had been, they have no bearing on the final selection.

Why the intense media scrutiny? Is it to gin up their ratings? Does it reflect anti-police sentiment expressed by some of the general public? Perhaps because they haven’t done their homework as to how the selection process works? Or does it have to do with the intense media attention given to “use of force” policy by the Glendale Police Department?

I would just remind everyone that government employees are terminated all the time and knowing government as we all do, it’s got to be something pretty serious to get fired or to resign in lieu of termination. Yet I don’t see the media hounding any local governmental leaders if an employee other than a police officer or fire fighter is terminated. This statement in no way diminishes employee bad conduct for public safety employees are held to a higher standard since their mission is to protect the public. All leadership within Glendale does not condone or support bad acts committed by any employee within the City of Glendale. It doesn’t matter if it’s within the finance department, the water department or the police department.

Within any organization, public or private, there are employees who are terminated or should be. Why, I bet there are one or two at your place of work that you’ve wondered why they haven’t already been fired. That does not mean that aberrant, out-of-the norm behavior is condoned by the organization’s leadership. It does signify that there is a long process, often expensive and often painful for both sides, designed to protect the rights of both sides and sometimes the outcome satisfies no one.

Glendale is deserving of criticism when criticism is due but in this case I suspect the media didn’t do all of their homework on this one or perhaps they are in a vendetta mood. Who knows? It may be both.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

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.

On Tuesday, August 28, 2019, the Glendale City Council held a workshop session. Mayor Weiers was an excused absence as was Councilmember Malnar, although Councilmember Malnar could listen to the deliberations telephonically and could text periodically. One of the agenda items was a recommendation from senior management based upon the downtown Strategic Leadership Group’s (SLG) advisory recommendations regarding special events. The SLG suggested that it was time to rethink how Glendale offers special events downtown. Rather than one major weekend event they suggested offering 4 April weekends of music as a way of generating more foot traffic over a longer period of time. They characterized it as an experiment designed to collect data on the change to compare to the data generated in past years from one major weekend event.

The SLG started meeting this past spring and did not finalize nor present its recommendations to senior management until June and by the time senior management received their recommendations the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget had already been approved as part of the city’s balanced budget. The amount of dollars allocated for special events downtown was already established. Senior management would have to reallocate dollars within the $186,015 special events budget to accommodate the group’s advisory recommendations.

Council’s mandate for that workshop was to come to some sort of consensus on the advisory recommendations that the SLG offered to Glendale’s senior management for presentation to the city council at a workshop session. The recommendations finalized by senior management were:

  • Allocating $56,805 for 3 weekend Friday and Saturday nights in December
  • Adding $4,210 to Glitter and Glow event
  • Allocating $90,000 for 4 weekends of music in April
  • Adding $15,000 to other special events
  • Allocating $20,000 to Arrowhead Towne Center and Westgate for special events

The original budgeted amount for special events of $186,015 would remain the same. The recommendation included the removal of hosting the Chocolate Affaire for one weekend in February and those funds would be reprogrammed as shown above. That was council’s charge at the workshop: to accept, amend or reject these recommendations. Several councilmembers questioned SLG’s origins, its method of operation and its advisory recommendations. Here’s a sampling of their comments and questions:

  • Councilmember Aldama, “So 16 individuals on that leadership committee would be guiding those decisions being brought to the city manager, bringing to us for decision. Any idea that would occur downtown would have been made up by this group here?”
  • Councilmember Tolmachoff, “I have a question about leadership group. Is every person on this list able to vote or is it just the business owners that’s able to vote? There’s a city employee on here and there’s two Chamber people. Do they vote? Or is it just the business owners?”
  • Councilmember Turner, “Who appointed this Strategic Leadership Group? or elected? or how was this created?”

The origins of this group were that the Glendale Chamber decided to advance this idea by inviting those identified downtown merchants and leaders who, while representing diverse points of view, were committed to achieve consensus on the advisories it would present to the city. Their mission is to positively advance the downtown interests.

What is amazing is that never in the long, one hundred years plus history of downtown Glendale has such a group ever coalesced. Over the years, there have been many think tank sessions that made suggestions. I go all the way back to the 1990’s “Miracle Mile” group’s discussions and all of the iterations that followed. All resulted in…nothing.

There remains a small group of downtown merchants who abhor the SLG’s efforts and prefer to reject change and want things to remain exactly the same. Hence, former Vice Mayor Knaack’s comment to Councilmember Tolmachoff’s recitation of the definition of insanity, repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. This small, dissident group resents the activities of the SLG. If the SLG were to say the sky is blue, they would dispute that notion. They sat in the back of the council chamber holding up already prepared signs impugning the comments of the SLG.

So, instead of discussing the proposed recommendations council spent the first hour of discussion about the Strategic Leadership Group. Once it got past that discussion, the next issue to arise was the fate of the Chocolate Affaire in February. The proposed recommendation was to take the funds from that event and reallocate it with the bulk of the funding to go to four musical weekends in April. Here is a sampling of councilmember’s thoughts on the elimination of the Chocolate Affaire:

  • Councilmember Turner, “But we’re being asked to eliminate the Chocolate Affaire which to me is an event that has very positive, um, connection to the city of Glendale plus to one of our major tourist attractions here in the downtown area.”
  • Councilmember Tolmachoff, “But moving on to the Chocolate Affaire, um, was there any discussion? Because the Chocolate Affaire is something that is widely recognized all across the Phoenix area and it’s a recognizable Glendale event.”
  • Councilmember Aldama, “…I vehemently…completely think it’s absurd to end the Chocolate Affaire. It is absurd to suggest that we do that.

These councilmembers, as is their right, expressed real concern about eliminating the Chocolate Affaire. After they expressed their points of view the discussions began to take on a more positive tone as councilmembers struggled with a way of preserving the Chocolate Affaire:

  • Councilmember Malnar texted that he supported the work of the merchants’ SLG group.
  • Councilmember Tolmachoff, “But try the Chocolate Affaire if we can do it in the Civic Center this year. We can try it this year and let’s see if we can do it.”
  • Councilmember Turner, “If that’s where we’re at with the Chocolate Affaire then let’s look at it. I like the idea of doing something in the Civic Center.”
  • Councilmember Aldama, “I don’t want to end the Chocolate Affaire but I want you to recreate it. If that’s what this consensus is, recreating but not eliminating it, then I can give my consensus.”
  • Councilmember Hugh, “Let’s try it in the Civic Center and I bet it’s a huge success.”
  • Vice Mayor Clark, as Chair of the meeting, agreed with the council’s final recommendations.

Two contentious hours later, consensus had finally been achieved. Allocating $56,805 for 3 weekend Friday and Saturday nights in December; adding $4,210 to Glitter and Glow event; and allocating $90,000 for 4 weekends of music in April were accepted as presented. Adding $15,000 to other special events and allocating $20,000 to Arrowhead Towne Center and Westgate special events for a total of $35,000 were reprogrammed by city council  to be using for hosting the Chocolate Affaire in Glendale’s Civic Center this coming February.

I suspect the small group of downtown merchants opposed to any change will not be happy with the amended recommendations consented to by city council. There was another, more subtle consensus achieved that day and that was that council publicly acknowledged that change is needed in downtown Glendale and they seem hopeful that the Strategic Leadership Group will be the catalyst to finally make it happen.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

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.

Yesterday, August 13, 2019, the city council’s workshop was devoted exclusively to a potential sale of Glendale’s cemetery. I wanted to wait to write about the issue but waited until I had all of the information I required, including the staff presentation and my own research.

Let’s begin with some history. The Glendale Cemetery Association, comprised of 3 local churches, established the Glendale Memorial Park Cemetery in 1900. By 1962 the Association realized it was struggling financially and asked the City of Glendale to assume ownership of the cemetery. The city agreed and received all land owned by the Association to be used exclusively as a cemetery as well as $12,831.21 in cash and $40,005.00 in stock investments.

Within that agreement there was no restriction placed on the city preventing it from selling the cemetery or its assets. For the past 57 years the city has faithfully owned and managed the property. Sometimes it did it well, sometimes (during recessions), it did not.  For nearly 60 years the city has supported the operation and maintenance of the cemetery from the city’s General Fund (taxpayer funds) while putting the proceeds from burial plot sales into a Perpetual Card Fund. Staff researched old records and could establish that the city subsidizes the cemetery at an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 a year. It also provides indirect support (personnel and equipment) from the Landfill, Solid Waste and Transportation departments. The Perpetual Card Fund is now about $5.8 million dollars and the city can document that an estimated $3.2 million dollars has come directly out of the city’s General Fund to pay for annual operations and maintenance. If a sale occurs, the city would retain about $2 million as reimbursement to its General Fund to offset what had been spent over the years for operations and maintenance. The buyer would retain about $3 million that would stay in the Perpetual Care Fund.

If you wish to see the workshop discussion you can go to the city’s website or the city’s Facebook page. The city is now live streaming all city council workshops and voting meetings. In my remarks from yesterday I delivered the following thoughts. The city council is not part of a nefarious plot (this was a pun…note the word ‘plot’ in reference to our discussion of the cemetery. Only the city manager got it…oh well). City council’s (and mine) decision will be based on a great deal of research and deliberation. We have a fiduciary responsibility to be wise stewards of your taxpayer dollars and that responsibility is taken very seriously.

It appears there are 3 options:

  • The city can continue to operate the cemetery as is. It would continue to subsidize the operations and maintenance from the General Fund. The city would use capital only to make repairs that were absolutely necessary and would continue to only allow services Tuesday through Thursday. It would continue to do little to no marketing. There is no guarantee under this model as to what future city councils may decide to do.
  • The city can enhance the cemetery operations and maintenance and make further capital investments. There are some things cities are good at doing and some things cities are not so good at doing. Running a cemetery is one of those things cities are not so good doing. It can hire a professional to run the operation and it can invest taxpayer funds to build infrastructure for cremation niches (which the city does not provide at this time). I estimate the additional cost to implement this model at an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 a year in addition to capital for infrastructure improvements. Again, there are no guarantees as to what future councils may decide to do.
  • The city can sell to a professional within the industry with a proven track record of successful management. The proposed buyer and the industry are heavily regulated. It seems the state legislature takes death and burial very, very seriously.

One of the emails I received implied that the proposed buyer may not have the financial credentials necessary. So I did some research by going to Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 32, Chapter 20, Article 6 which contains all of the regulations with regard to cemeteries. I won’t cite all but I do want to highlight several regulations that should put Glendale residents’ concerns at ease.

  • 32-2194.19. Investigation of applicant before granting of certificate of authority where needed. “Upon receipt of an application for a certificate of authority to operate a cemetery, the commissioner shall cause an investigation to be made of the physical status, plans, specifications and financing of the proposed cemetery, the character of the applicant, including its officers, directors, shareholders or members, and any other qualifications required of the applicant under this article.”
  • 32-2194.24. Trust fund to be established before certificate of authority granted. “No certificate of authority shall issue to a corporation or limited liability company organized for the purpose of maintaining and operating a cemetery unless the articles of incorporation or organization certify to the establishment of an irrevocable trust for maintenance and operation in accordance with the provisions of this article…”
  • 27. Restrictive use of income from endowed-care fund; obligation. “There shall be designated a trustee for the endowed-care fund that is a financial institution authorized to do business in this state…The principal of the trust fund shall remain permanently intact, and only the income …shall be expended…the fund shall be used solely for the care of the plots or other burial spaces sold to third persons with a provision for perpetual or endowed care…The fund or its income shall never be used for the development, improvement or embellishment of unsold portions of the cemetery…”
  • 32-2194.30. Restriction on the use of endowed-care funds. “Endowed-care funds shall not be used for any purpose other than to provide for the care of burial spaces…”

State regulations require a thorough background check, including financial,  of the potential buyer and associates and also require the Perpetual Care Fund to remain intact and only the interest earned on the Fund may be used for specific, regulated purposes. There are so many state safe guards to prevent fiduciary abuse and that should ease concerns of anyone who is frightened about a proposed sale.

There are positives to a sale. A professional would keep the cemetery open seven days a week. The proposed buyer has promised to keep the name of the cemetery as is and would still recognize preferences to Glendale residents. There are only 1.000 burial plots left. At an average of 100 plots purchased per year this model only has a life span of another 10 years. The buyer has indicated that his model will emphasize cremation niches and has plans to develop the infrastructure for such.

How will I vote? I don’t know. I am leaning toward a sale but council has requested further information that will result in a second workshop on the issue. Once I believe that I have all the information I need, I will make my final decision.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

 

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.

At a recent city council workshop further medical marijuana dispensary restrictions were considered. Councilmember Ray Malnar, as a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI), asked for a more explicit definition of “schools.” It will be brought back to council again in the near future because Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Tolmachoff said that the proposed definition of schools was too restrictive. Here is an article from Your Valley Net: https://yourvalley.net/yourvalley/government/glendale-council-to-decide-if-pot-dispensaries-must-separate-from-more-than-just-schools/ .

I guess another background narrative is in order. In the state-wide November 2, 2010 election voters weighed in on Proposition 203, approving the use of medical marijuana by 50.13%. That’s a slim margin but it is all that was needed to permit the use of medical marijuana throughout the state. In order to implement this new mandate, the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) created approximately 126 Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAA). One dispensary is allowed per CHAA. Here is a map of all of the CHAAs in the state.

CHAA map

I said something during the city council discussion I had read somewhere and it resonated with me. That was, “It is one thing to permit marijuana but it is another to promote it.  I am not interested in doing anything to promote marijuana.” I think it is a good concept to adopt and so I have.

 Cities have no choice. Voters have approved it use and the state mandates that cities may not prohibit a dispensary in any CHAA. Cities can, however, use their zoning authority to regulate the location of dispensaries…but that’s about all the authority a city has.

Federal research on the effects of marijuana is in its infancy despite its use (legal or illicit) for many years.  As more states have authorized its use, medically and now recreationally, the federal government is pursuing greater research on its use and the effects of such use.

Preliminary results suggest that marijuana is not a gateway drug. It appears if one is predisposed to use marijuana the disposition to graduate to harder drugs is already there. That preliminary conclusion is at least comforting. Other preliminary data is not so comforting.

It appears that marijuana can have negative effects on the brains of adolescents. These effects can include and are not limited to:

  • Changes to the brain’s structure (including size and how areas are connected)
  • Lower quality of brain connections
  • Less blood flow to parts of the brain

Preliminary research has demonstrated it’s possible that marijuana use can hurt brain functions in teens. Marijuana use in teens has been shown to lower IQ scores and create poor memory and attention. These findings are important because young people’s brains are building the connections to improve executive functioning ( self-control, creative thinking, and decision-making skills). Do we really want to encourage a generation of “dumb-downed” teens?

In consideration of these preliminary research findings I am not inclined to promote the use of marijuana. By broadening the definition of schools we, as a city, will discourage the location of an “attractive nuisance” close to all types of schools.

Why bother? Well, not everyone who patronizes a marijuana dispensary may be a pillar of the community and an upstanding citizen. It has been reported previously that there is a growing industry of “pot doctors” who locate nearby dispensaries and are prone to facilitate the approval of medical marijuana cards to those who ordinarily would not qualify for such a card.

I also think it’s not OK to trivialize the use of marijuana in order to make it so acceptable within our society. As our society changes rapidly not all that comes with change is in and of itself good. Are we becoming a society that promotes individual indulgence no matter the consequences?

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

One more swipe at the state legislature

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.

In a previous blog I shared how the state legislature mandates fiscal policies that often harm cities. This issue is more nuanced. It is the issue of short-term rentals. In fact, the Arizona Republic has a front page story today about this very subject.

Two years ago, Debbie Lesko, now a congressional representative for Glendale and the surrounding area, sponsored a bill which became known as the “AirBnB Bill.  Governor Doug Ducey signed it into law. The original intent was give property owners the ability to rent out a bedroom as a way of making extra money.

Sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for as there are often unintended consequences. This bill has delivered more consequences than anticipated. What has occurred is far different from the bill’s original intent. In places like Sedona investors are buying homes or building new ones and turning them into mini-hotels. This action is unsustainable and destabilizing. One consequence has been to reduce the amount of available long-term rentals for those who work in a community. It has also reduced school age populations as long-term renters with families are frozen out of the market in favor of short-term, far more lucrative rentals.

This turn of events has hit Arizona’s major tourist destinations the hardest but it has also set up every city in the metropolitan area to become a victim during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, Final Four and major NASCAR races. Homeowners from all over the state are now complaining about issues such as increased traffic and noise in their once quiet neighborhoods.

A bill sponsored by Representative John Kavanaugh passed through the legislature this year. It was designed to deal with these very issues but a funny thing happened on its way to passage by the state legislature…it was emasculated. The very restrictions on investor-owned rentals and limiting the number of guests per rental that would have alleviated the situation were stripped from the bill.

No doubt this is a difficult question. At what point do rental properties diminish existent homeowners’ quality of life? How are we to balance a property owner’s right to do what he or she wishes to do with the property against quality of life issues for nearby residents leading to a loss of their property value? Who prevails and how? Perhaps the state legislature’s passage of the original Air BnB Bill mandating how cities can regulate short-term rentals within their communities was ill advised. After all, Arizona is the only state in the Union to have imposed this mandate on cities. We should wonder why no other state has messed with this issue. Sometimes local control is the best control.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

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.

The state legislature seems to have a love/hate relationship with every city in the state. Here are some of the more egregious examples. One is the state’s diminishment of the cities’ ability to collect Impact Fees; another is the state usurpation of every city’s ability to collect sales tax; and lastly the state’s reduction in the distribution amount of Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) it is required to share with every city in the state.

In 2011, the Arizona legislature passed Senate Bill 1525. This bill restricts cities’ ability to collect Impact Fees from the development community. This diminishes the amount of money needed for libraries, community parks, streets and infrastructure, open space and trails.

So what, what do you care? Well, you should care because the restrictions on the collection of Impact Fees don’t mean that these things are not built. They still are…only now; you the taxpayer are paying for new growth in your town or city.

How does it impact you? It used to be in this state the mandate was “growth should pay for growth.” That no longer applies. Here’s a hypothetical. A developer wants to build a subdivision of 250 new homes on the periphery of your city. That developer would have to pay a set Impact Fee per house to help cover the cost of infrastructure to support and provide services to the new subdivision. Perhaps the arterial street abutting the subdivision would now require widening to accommodate the new traffic from the subdivision. Or perhaps the nearest fire station or library was pretty far away requiring a new fire station or library.  The Impact Fee charged by the city would help to defray the cost of widening the street or putting in a new fire station or library. The Development Impact Fee cost to the developer is added onto the price of each new home. The developer might raise the price of the new home by a $1,000 or $2,000. That money would go into the city’s accounts to help pay for the new infrastructure causing new growth to help pay for itself.

What happens when the Impact Fees have been reduced or eliminated by the state legislature? The city still needs to widen that street or to build that fire station or library. Where will the money come from? Why, the taxes you pay, of course. Now you are paying for that new growth.

There is one case when the loss of Impact Fees is not as detrimental to a city or town and that is with Infill Development. With Infill Development a developer takes a piece of land within an established area of a city and builds maybe 30 or 50 new homes on it. That land has been vacant for years but already has an adequate arterial street and a nearby fire station or library. There is no need to build new infrastructure. In that case the Development Impact Fees are used for any needed expansion of nearby infrastructure.

Yet in its heavy-handed way, the state legislature makes no distinction on the imposition of Impact Fees between an Infill Development in an established area of a city and new development that is sited where there is no city infrastructure. Why has this happened? Because the pro-development lobby is the 900 lb. gorilla with deep pockets that contributes to every state legislator’s election campaign (if the legislator is on the ‘right’ side of the issue). Taxpayers have no such lobby and therefore in a battle between the pro-development lobby and the taxpayer, guess who wins?

Another example of the heavy handedness of the state legislature is the mandate passed in 2016 requiring all cities and counties sales taxes to be collected by the state by January of 2017. To add further insult to this injury, cities must pay the state to collect sales tax…they must now pay the state to do what they did for a hundred years. Glendale paid over $650,000 this fiscal year to the state to pay for what it had collected on its own previously.

To make matters worse, in an audit of the state Department of Revenue released in June of this year it was revealed that the state does a lousy job of collecting sales tax. The department simply missed identifying businesses and erased a bunch of active businesses that were paying their taxes. After the department took over collection from the cities at one point just stopped checking to see whether all businesses were even licensed.

Cities are now forced to retain their employees that check payment of business sales tax. In other words cities have to double check the work of the state department to insure that not only the tax is being paid but that it is a correct amount. So much for a better state ‘mouse trap’.

Why would the state take over sales tax collection? The state says it’s in the name of efficiency and simplicity for businesses paying sales tax. If a business does business in more than one city, it has to file a sales tax return in each city monthly. Now the business, no matter where or in how many jurisdictions it does business sends all sales tax collected to the state who then distributes it to the appropriate jurisdiction.

But there could be another reason. When cities collected the sales tax they would send the state’s portion to the state in a day or two or perhaps even in a week. While the cities hold the sales tax funds the cities are collecting interest on that money. Obviously the amount of sales tax collected monthly is enormous. With the state collecting the sales tax, it puts the proceeds in an interest bearing account and now the state is receiving the interest until it remits the proper amount to each jurisdiction.  Now the state earns the interest on the funds it collects until it disburses it to the jurisdictions.

Some of the money every taxpayer pays to the state is known as state shared revenue. One is the Highway User Revenue Fund (the tax you pay on each gallon of gasoline and is known by the acronym HURF). There is a formula that dictates a portion of HURF must be distributed to cities based upon their population. When the Great Recession occurred the state unilaterally slashed the amount of HURF state shared revenue it distributed to each and every city to help cover the state’s shortfall in its budget. While that was a great move to keep the state budget whole, it hurt every city that relied upon HURF dollars for part of the revenue for their budgets during that same recession. The state is only now beginning to share all of the state shared revenue amounts with cities that it is mandated to do.

It often appears to city leaders that the state will favor the interests of their business or pro-development friends over those of cities. Often that means that you, the individual, pays for the state’s decisions that favor interests other than yours.  The state continues to demonstrate over the years that it is not always fiscally friendly to the city in which you reside.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

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.

The blog with no attribution of authorship or sponsorship has surfaced again. It refers to an audit issued on March 21, 2019 performed by the former City Auditor, Candace MacLeod. It appears Ms.MacLeod’s intent was to get this audit publicized three months before her position was riffed on July 1, 2019. She seemed to know that her position with the city was in jeopardy and this audit is presented in such a way that it seems to be payback.

Once again, dear reader, it’s time for another Glendale history flashback. When former City Manager Dr. Martin Vanacour retired, Ed Beasley became the City Manager of Glendale and retained the position until 2012 when the news media exploded with the scandals of the juicy consultancy pay Beasley authorized for the former City Finance Director Art Lynch as well as Beasley’s authorization allowing Alma Carmichel, former HR Director, to commute telephonically from Mississippi.

With Beasley’s departure, two city factions arose. One faction supported appointing former City Attorney Craig Tindall as the Interim City Manager. The other faction supported appointing Horatio Skeete to the position. After the blood had dried, in June of 2012, Mr. Skeete was appointed Interim City Manager. He remained until Brenda Fischer was hired as the new City Manager in June of 2013. She lasted less than 2 years and almost brought the city to its knees, fiscally and internally. In 2015, after Ms. Fischer’s departure the former Scottsdale City Manager, Dick Bowers, in retirement, was appointed as Interim City Manager during the search for a new permanent City Manager. In 2016, the current City Manager, Kevin Phelps, was hired and he remains City Manager to this day.

Why all the history on City Managers? Because they play a role in the city auditor saga. When Beasley reigned, and he did indeed reign, there was silent and tacit recognition that he had an ‘inner circle’. Many believed this inner circle (all now gone) included:

  • Art Lynch, former City Finance Director and subsequent financial consultant to the city
  • Mark Burdick, former Fire Chief and former mayoral candidate (perceived as a fire union advocate)
  • Julie Frisoni, former Marketing & Communications Director and then a former Assistant City Manager appointed by former City Manager Brenda Fischer
  • Craig Tindall, former City Attorney and subsequent (albeit simultaneously) legal counsel for the Coyotes
  • Candace MacLeod, former City Auditor

One would assume that people in these senior positions would be the epitome of ethical behavior by adhering to strict neutrality and serving all within the city equally. It now appears that was not the case. For example, when Tindall and Skeete sought the Interim City Manager’s position, several of those identified above actively lobbied the councilmembers for Tindall’s appointment. I know because I was lobbied and was asked to support Tindall. I was not approached by anyone on Skeete’s behalf.  I also know of their political bias because I was ‘sandbagged’ by some members of this inner circle during my 2012 election (but that’s for a future blog).

A city auditor is required to be ethically neutral. Yet her past actions seem to belie that neutrality as demonstrated by her support of Mr. Tindall’s quest for the Interim City Manager’s position.  Her present activities also seem to belie neutrality. Since I returned to city council in 2017, she seemed to perform audits the production of which appeared to be deliberately designed to diminish the work of City Manager Phelps and senior management.

In addition, Ms. MacLeod is a Canadian who had been working with a green card as the City of Glendale City Auditor for about the past dozen years. The first question to arise, Was there no qualified American citizen who could do this job?

A succession of city managers appeared unconcerned about the former auditor’s perceived bias, political activity or job performance because she was on the right side, seemingly their side.  

What does all of this have to do with the blog in question? It’s a trashy, hit piece aimed squarely at the current City Manager and the motive seems to be because the City Auditor’s position had been in jeopardy for several years and there was consideration of replacing the position with an audit committee. Apparently Ms. MacLeod may have thought of this (and another audit she performed) as an insurance policy.

It also takes another swipe at the mayor’s late reimbursement of his spouse’s expenses on a Sister Cities trip. The audit fails to acknowledge the mayor’s misinterpretation of reimbursement polices corrected after the City Attorney’s guidance was sought.

MacLeod’s audit covered from June 14, 2018 to September 13, 2108. Sloppy and inadequate Pro Card practices had been going on for many years, under the administrations of Beasley, Skeete, and Fischer. Pro Card use was never addressed as an audit in the 10 years previous.

The writer(s) of this wacky blog were selective in what was chosen to share about the audit. There is no mention that 90 cardholder statements (22%) out of 392 cardholders were selected for review. While eagerly relating the statistics of failed practices, it neglects to mention the conclusion of the audit. The City Manager and all departments concurred with every recommendation (except one by the Budget and Finance Department regarding interpretation of standards) and those recommendations were implemented in late 2018 or mid- 2019, under the current City Manager’s watch.  

A timeline of six months to a year to adopt best practices does not give me any cause for concern as I have expressed repeatedly that city governments are slow to react. I’ve used the analogy of turning a battleship around…it’s slow, deliberate and careful.  Since the blog failed to share the responses of management, here is the list of recommendations provided in the auditor’s report and management’s concurrence: Audit Appendix A

It is obvious that the blog is selective in what it chooses to use. Why? It is also becoming obvious that it will be used to sway voters in the upcoming 2020 election for elected officials in Glendale. You should treat it as such. Make no mistake, it will advocate for their selected candidates and work to diminish their chosen candidates’ opponents.

It takes money to publish on the internet if for nothing else, for domain registration and a web hosting company. Without knowing who is behind this effort it’s fair to consider this a ‘dark money’ effort. It will never achieve legitimacy until those who are behind the effort are unmasked. Nothing remains a secret for very long. It’s only a matter of time until the identities of those behind this effort are exposed. Then we will know their biases and will consider their effort in that context.

In the meantime we can wonder what garbage will be offered next…but is it worth our time? I think not. Only cowards or those who would be embarrassed to be revealed because of their biases would write stuff like this. Anyone who takes liberties with and shades the truth cannot be trusted. Remember, unattributed hit pieces like this are only fit to be used as a puppy poo training aid.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

 

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.

 Many people assume the most powerful person in local government is the Mayor. Unless it’s a ‘strong mayor’ form of government, that isn’t so. I contend the city manager is the most powerful person in local government. This debate has existed as long as local government has existed. Over the years many U.S. cities have done 360s reversing their government structures to a strong mayor form of government and then back to a manager/council form. Neither satisfies completely.

What are the powers and responsibilities of a city manager? Generally, he or she coordinates and oversees the activities of all city departments, provides direct staff assistance to city council members, including the mayor, and council committees. His/her staff leads the financial and budget management process for a city and directs its planning and economic development efforts. His/her staff also conducts research, develops policies, and evaluates potential public programs.  He/she deals with all personnel issues exclusively including the hiring and firing of personnel.  More often than not, councils accept and act on his/her recommendations. What he/she and staff do behind the scenes has a very real impact on the policies and direction of a city.

In Glendale the city charter states in Section 2-53 (a), “Pursuant to article III, section 3 of the Glendale City Charter, the city manager is the chief executive officer of the city and shall have all authority and powers, not inconsistent with the city Charter, to manage and administer the affairs of the city. The city manager, as he or she deems appropriate, may delegate and assign duties and responsibilities to the administrative officials, department heads and employees of the city.”

Under Section 3 of the city charter, the city manager’s role is more specifically defined, “The city manager shall be chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the city government. He shall be responsible for the proper administration of all affairs of the city and to that end, subject to the provisions of this charter, he shall have the power (bold is mine) and shall be required to:

(1)

Devote his entire time to the discharge of his official duties, attend all meetings of the council unless excused there from by the council or the mayor;

(2)

See that all ordinances are enforced and that the provisions of all franchises, leases, contracts, permits and privileges granted by the city are observed;

(3)

Appoint, and when deemed necessary for the good of the service, lay-off, suspend, transfer, demote or remove all department heads, officers and employees of the city, subject to such merit system regulations as the council may adopt;

(4)

Prepare the annual budget estimates and submit them to the council and be responsible for the administration of the budget after adoption;

(5)

Keep the council advised at all times of the affairs and needs of the city, and make reports annually, or more frequently if requested by the council, of all the affairs of the city;

(6)

Repealed (3-16-76);

(7)

Have such other powers, duties and functions as this charter may prescribe, and such powers, duties and functions consistent with this charter as the council may prescribe.”

As can be noted, the city charter goes into rather specific detail about a city manager’s role and responsibilities. That is not the case for the city council. The charter broadly states in Article II, Section I, “All powers of the city, not in conflict with the constitution and subject to the limitations of this charter, shall be vested in the council, who shall enact appropriate legislation and do and perform any and all acts and things which may be necessary and proper to carry out these powers or any of the provisions of this charter.”Generally, a city council oversees local policy decisions, reviews and approves the city budgets and appoints a professional city manager (as well as the City Attorney and City Clerk) to handle administrative tasks on a day-to-day basis.

In Glendale as with all other cities money is power. In other words, a city’s budget is where the power resides. Based upon that premise is the City Manager the most powerful person in a city? I say ‘yes’. The City Manager reviews and approves all budget items that are presented to a city council. He/she reviews and recommends to city council any increase in the number of employees and where those new employees will work. He/she reviews and recommends all departmental supplemental requests for additional funding that are presented to a city council.  A city council does not see any supplemental requests until after they are reviewed and approved by the City Manager. He/she, by virtue of departmental line item recommendations to a city council, determines the direction and the priorities of the city for the upcoming Fiscal Year.

 A city council is never presented a raw budget that offers options for the direction of placement of new revenue. Quite frankly, there is continual pressure by city councils to get more of the raw data from which budgetary decisions are made. It’s the silent, often unrecognized by the public, power struggle that occurs every year prior to a city’s formal Fiscal Year budget adoption.

What some City Managers and senior staff rely upon is the lack of a committed majority of opinion on any city council. Without a clear majority of council, that council cannot give direction to a City Manager. Sometimes it is easy to pick off councilmembers by doing what are commonly called “walk-arounds.” That is a practice where city staff talks individually to councilmembers making the case for or against an issue. Obviously, you can see how this practice could be used to work in favor of senior staff. They can make an argument for or against any issue or initiative virtually guaranteeing the outcome they desire.

In addition, many councilmembers have not been educated on the scope of their authority. Many city councilmembers do not realize that there is, indeed, power in numbers and that they have the absolute authority to shape policy and therefore the priorities and direction of the city requiring that funding be used to accomplish those identified priorities. City Councils are the 400 lb. gorilla in the room but often they don’t know it or they remain divided with the inability to create the majority needed to craft direction for the City Manager or senior staff. The only ones to blame for a City Manager’s absolute power are city councils themselves. So until city councilmembers unite the most powerful person in a city will continue to be the City Manager.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

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.

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Fireworks: We are two days away from Independence Day, July 4th. It’s a time to celebrate the greatness of America. This is the only country in the world that people will lie, cheat, steal and fight to enter so we must be doing something right.  Fireworks are a tradition but abuse of their use is becoming more and more prevalent. Did you know that shooting any fireworks into the air is illegal in Glendale? Here’s another interesting piece of trivia. Consumer Reports states that 31% of all July 4th emergency room visits are injuries to a hand or finger. If you are not worried about losing these appendages shoot off those fireworks, by all means…but not in the air.

I will be at Westgate representing Glendale and leading the countdown to the kick-off of the fireworks. Please join me in our nation’s day of celebration.

Do you have pets that you generally keep outside? You had better bring them in or risk them taking off in a panic and ending up lost or at the pound as those fireworks go off all around your house. Our German Shepard, 10 years old, absolutely goes nuts and is scared to death when those fireworks go off. We are now well trained and automatically put her in the house from about 6 pm until the next morning.

Our Pond: I haven’t written about our pond in awhile. It’s hard to believe but it is over 8 years old and certainly is a ‘mature’ pond. I’ve included some photos of our filter systems and what the pond looks like today.

Looking down into the filter box you can see the rigid hosing that leads to the two major filter pumps…one for the large waterfall and one for the small waterfall. Another photo shows the filter media. The green pad is a major component. It can be fine to very coarse. We use a medium value. These pads also serve the filters at the top of each waterfall. The net goes in front of the green filter media and collects very coarse material such as decaying lily pads. The white grate is something we started to do a very long time ago as it prevented small fish and the tiny Gambusia (mosquito fish) from being pulled into the filter system which has a strong pull.

This photo shows the pond as it looks today. The vegetation in and around the pond is mature and generally only requires pruning. The photo of the fish shows one of my favorite Koi. The Koi with the red spot on its forehead is called a Tancho by the Japanese. The rounder the red spot the better.

The blue barrel contraption is of our own making. After a year or two, we realized the two main filters were not adequate, especially in dealing with algae in the summer so we devised our own system. Each blue barrel has a different filter media in it. The water travels from one barrel to another, past a UV light and then into the pond. Using this in conjunction with our main filters has solved the problem and algae are kept to a minimum.

It’s finally officially hot but no monsoon yet. According to weather forecasters, the high pressure ridge sitting over us has to move farther north, around the four corners area. That has not occurred yet because the jet stream is too far south and is blocking the heat ridge from moving north. We can still expect the monsoon but perhaps a little later than normal. I remember previous July 4ths as not only hot but humid as well…not this year.

Look for the grand opening of the Aloft Hotel this month. It becomes the latest addition to Glendale’s inventory of hotel rooms in the Westgate area. There are four more hotels either already under construction or in the planning stages. Before the next Super Bowl in Glendale the city will have a minimum of 2,000 rooms to accommodate visitors. Also look for the development of more office space in the Yucca district. Glendale currently has no inventory of office space so the city has prioritized more development of that kind of space as a goal. Ballpark Boulevard, designed to connect Camelback Ranch to Westgate is now under construction and will be completed next year. This will open the undeveloped land between 99th Avenue  and Camelback Ranch for development. The property owners of the land along the new extension of Ballpark Boulevard are currently designing a master plan for that area.

When will Bethany Home Road be extended between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue? That is up to the developers, Pulte Homes and the John F. Long Trust. Apparently, they not happy that the city, after seven or so years, has raised its Development Impact Fee rates. They want the city to mitigate the increase in fees. I don’t think that’s going to happen so it might be awhile before we see Bethany Home Road punch through. That’s OK with me and many of the Yucca district residents. The minute that stretch of Bethany is completed the traffic along 83rd Avenue will explode.

Do you have a subject or topic about Glendale and want more information? Is there a topic you would like to see a blog about? Just make a comment on this blog or send me an email at: clarkjv@aol.com .

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

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 Council vacates all activities during the July of each year. Whether you love my blogs or hate them, this break time provides me the opportunity to write a series of them. This one deals with an age old problem, that of new development versus older neighborhoods.

I happened to run across this story in the local Glendale Republic. Here’s the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/surprise/2019/06/22/surprise-grows-quickly-residents-question-if-its-growing-right-way/1491785001/ .

It’s about a couple who bought a large lot home on at least an acre in the desert area of Surprise only to discover in the coming years they will be swallowed up and surrounded by a possible total of 4,130 residential units with an average of about four homes per acre. Add to those homes new businesses along 163rd Avenue creating a new urban center and their dream and their investment evaporates.

I would hope the City of Surprise would be sensitive to their life style as it allows new development to surround them. It can be done with what planners call “transitional” development. Under that scheme the development surrounding them would be large lots of 1 acre or better and as development moves farther away from them it becomes denser. It’s not ideal as far as this couple is concerned but it employs a certain amount of sensitivity. After all, they and their neighbors were there first.

It also brings up another issue for which cities should be mindful. All of those new homes and new residents are great. After all, it will increase the amount of state shared revenue that flows into their coffers. However, a stunning fact to remember and I am using Glendale as an example, is that it cost the City of Glendale $973 to provide services to each and every resident. That figure includes public safety which comprises the lion’s share of any city’s budget. For a family of two in a home that comes to $1946. Yet each home (not citizen) generates approximately $400 in property tax and sales tax to offset the city’s costs of services. The imbalance is readily apparent. A city is ahead when it allows development of commercial, industrial and manufacturing.  That type of development does not typically use city services to the extent of a home and they are job generators.

Another type of development that requires sensitivity is that of new infill development. Infill development should not only compliment but should raise the value of older neighborhoods. Sticking a bunch of apartments whether they are the traditional multi-story or single story “Built for Rent” units in the middle of existent residential areas is a recipe for disaster. Multifamily dwellers, as nice as they may be, are not usually invested in the community in which they reside. On average they move every three years. That dynamic does not offer stability to the residential neighborhoods adjacent to such a complex or to the fabric of community as a whole in terms of public participation.

When multifamily units are new they hold their value as the developer/investor seeks to recoup the original investment and turn a profit. But there are no guarantees in life and there is certainly no guarantee as to how long the original owner will hold that investment. At some point there will be sale and now begins the inevitable slide into decline. The new owner may not be as assiduous about keeping the property up while profiting. Little things are not attended to and then the bigger things are not taken care of.  Over time it becomes an underperforming property that diminishes adjacent property values even further.

There are places in a city for multi-family and that is where density and mass will complement existing retail and commercial development. A good example where density is positive is in and around Westgate. With Westgate’s nearly two dozen restaurants, Tanger Outlets for shopping and sports entertainment choices of hockey and football, density is important in terms of providing a consumer base. Another scenario can be in an area of all new mixed use development that establishes new single family and multifamily neighborhoods served by new retail and commercial. A purchaser of a home in that kind of area is already aware that multifamily will be part of the mix.

Cities have a responsibility to their current residents to be sensitive in the placement of new or infill development. Diminishing the property values of one part of the community to accommodate the bright, shiny new development that may not be appropriate for the existent area does a disservice to the very fabric of the community they seek to create.

As the couple in Surprise said about their home in the middle of nowhere, “We thought we had really found something.”  Let’s be careful as a home owner who had moved into a neighborhood years ago and thought they had really found something special becomes threatened by adjacent, incompatible development.

 

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

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