Header image alt text

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.

Since city council sold the St. Vincent de Paul building in downtown Glendale to C Plus D Industry in September questions have arisen about the deal. In 2008 the city purchased the building and a nearby parking lot for $735,000 with the goal of future redevelopment. For ten years it sat vacant, slowly continuing to deteriorate. At the time of purchase, no one on city council expected to recoup the purchase price and innately acknowledged that the city would have to incentivize any resale of the building.

Councilmember Ray Malnar and I submitted an Op Ed to the Glendale Star on this subject. Here is the link: https://www.glendalestar.com/glendale-star/st-vincent-de-paul-building-package-bow-deal-or-down-heel-deal .

In a recent news story Cheryl Kappes, owner of the Country Maiden, said she would have bought the building. Another downtown property owner, Richard Vangelisti, expressed the same sentiment. Keep in mind the true cost of the building is not just the $25,000.  It is the sales price plus the cost of the renovation and a commitment to do so promptly.  In the ten years, from 2008 to 2018, anyone could have approached the city and made an offer on the property. No one did. They may have thought about it but they never took that first major step of contacting the city with a written offer. Such an offer to purchase the property would have included a commitment toward making a significant investment to renovate the building resulting in a tax revenue producing business downtown. C Plus D Industry took that chance by making an offer that could have been rejected. They were the first to try. Now that it has been sold, suddenly there are cries of a lack of “transparency.”

What exactly did the city sell for $25,000? It sold a 60 year old building requiring total restoration with no dedicated parking. According to a Facility Management Group analysis submitted to the city in October of 2017, “It is a building that requires complete restoration. Everything but the roof structure, exterior walls and floor slab will need to be replaced.”

The Facility Management Group analysis offers an estimate of $1,225,000 to renovate the 7,000 square foot building. It goes on to report that an estimated $1,750,000 would be required to tear the building down and build a new 7,000 square foot building.

In a report prepared by Lisa Amos, Glendale’s Real Estate Program Manager, dated June 15, 2018, “If this building were in good condition and had parking, @ $40/sq ft, it could list for $280,000.” But it’s not in good condition, is 60 years old, requires a complete renovation and has no parking.

It is unrealistic to expect a retail or office developer to purchase a building with no parking spaces. Ms. Amos, in her report, states that, “Demolition was estimated at $5.00/sq ft = $35,000.” Her conclusions were, “City contribution to improvement of building condition, including new build, will not yield return at sale” or “Demolish and sell land or accept nominal sale price if Buyer accepts ‘as is’ including no parking.”

What did the city accomplish with this sale? It avoided renovation at a price of $1.2M; it avoided tearing down the building and constructing new at a cost of $1.7M; and it avoided demolition costs of $35,000.

What does the city get for selling the building for $25,000? Keep in mind, C Plus D Industry came to the city and offered to buy the building ‘as is’ while committing to renovate the building to code at a substantial cost to them, not the city. They will maintain a small showroom expecting a minimal amount of local foot traffic and will sell on site but their primary focus is on the manufacture and sale of high end furniture nationally.

An added benefit is that the city has collected zero taxes on this property for many years. Current city estimates are that C Plus D will increase taxes collected from just this one project in downtown Glendale by 10%.

C Plus D are not professional investors. As part of their commitment to the city, they must renovate within 6 months bringing it up to code. The sale is not final until they receive a Certificate of Occupancy. The city estimate to renovate is over one million dollars. That’s at city cost. C Plus D expects the renovation to cost them between $350,000 and $500,000. They won’t be paying city prices to renovate and they will also contribute sweat equity.

Keep in mind the city is not selling its parking lot which was part of the original 2008 $735,000 purchase price. Lastly, according to Ms. Amos in the above cited report, the assumption is that once the building is renovated and if it had parking, it could be listed for $280,000. Without dedicated parking, the sale price would obviously be lower than that figure.

Senior management and city council concluded that this was a good deal for Glendale’s taxpayers. There was no special treatment for the buyer.  The property was sold for what it was worth. It was simply a business opportunity brought to the city that senior management and city council concluded was a good deal for Glendale’s taxpayers.

As for transparency, city land sales are rightly, according to the state’s Open Meeting Law, a subject for discussion in city council executive sessions. In a recent news story Councilmember Turner said, “It’s not always just about getting the highest dollar. But we can have a process that is open, transparent and still accomplishes our vision.” In the same story Councilmember Aldama said, “The city should be transparent in everything it does and everything it does should benefit the citizens. In hindsight, I don’t feel this sale benefits the citizens.” Their comments are disingenuous and provocative.  Both of these gentlemen know that land transactions are subjects for executive session to protect the city’s position.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Recently the Arizona Republic aired a story about the city’s sale of the St. Vincent de Paul building implying that something nefarious occurred. Expect me to post a blog very soon laying out the facts behind that sale.

The latest story from the same news media implies that the city may be preparing to enact the same methodology of sale with the Brown lot. The Brown lot, located south of Kellis High School and east of 91st Avenue, is called that because it had been used by the city to provide color coded parking for the State Farm Stadium. With the development of the Black lot south of the stadium the Brown lot is no longer needed.

In a recent story a reporter says the following with regard to the Brown lot, “A City Council member said she expects a developer to build apartments on the high-profile corner near the city’s sports and entertainment district.” The reporter went on to say, “About a month later, Councilwoman Joyce Clark wrote a blog post about how she expected apartments to come to the site of the old parking lot, which is on that intersection’s southeast corner”.

 Here is what I really said in a September 18, 2018 blog entitled,  Apartments in Yucca district? “Another possible site for an apartment complex is the city-owned Brown lot north of the Provence subdivision. In this case an apartment complex is appropriate for the location.” I did not say that apartments would be built on the Brown lot. I speculated that it is possible…not a certainty.

Since there are apartments to be constructed on 95th Avenue across from the Super WalMart, I expressed thoughts in my blog about the possibility of any other locations within the district that might be suitable. The only one I could think of was the Brown lot. Does that mean it is happening? No. It means I thought it could be a possibility. Do I have any definitive knowledge that there will be apartments on this site? The answer is a simple ‘no’.

Then the reporter says, “Clark told The Republic that, at the time of her blog post, the council hadn’t discussed the site in executive session. But that contradicts a statement she made on her Facebook page as she responded to someone about her blog post. She wrote there that she couldn’t give details about the asking price of the land because ‘that is executive session information’.” 

This one is on me because I didn’t make myself clear in a response to a Facebook query. Someone asked what the sale price of the Brown lot was with this question, “Its 17 acres. What are we asking for it Joyce?” My answer was, “I am sorry that is Executive Session information and under state law I may not discuss.” My answer was not precise or clear. In my mind I was answering broadly and generally to indicate that prices of any city owned land are executive session discussions. It was not intended to be a confirmation (or a denial) that a Brown lot sale price had been discussed in executive session.

I contend that the reporter was also not precise in reporting on what I said, wrote or didn’t say, write.

I bring these items to your attention because the news media often slants a story. It’s understandable. They need a “hook” to entice the reader. If you have ever been interviewed by a reporter and then see the subsequent story, you might have remarked, but I didn’t say that.

 I didn’t say that apartments are coming to the Brown lot in my blog. It was mere speculation.  I didn’t affirm or deny in answering a Facebook question that the price of the Brown lot had been discussed in executive session. Those were inferences made by the reporter. Unfortunately they were not accurate inferences. What’s new? It happens all the time. I guess we might understand when the news media is called the “fake news.”

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

There continues to be much angst about downtown Glendale much of it recently resurfaced as a result of the city’s sale of the St. Vincent de Paul building to C Plus D Industry. It’s time for fresh ideas, innovation and creation to create a new, vibrant downtown. How?

First, eliminate the entire concept of “Historic Downtown Glendale.” It may have been an appropriate concept when downtown hosted over 100 antique shops but those days are long gone. I don’t pretend to have an answer to a new branding concept but what about something like “Downtown on the Rise” or “Downtown’s New Direction” or “Discover our New Downtown” or “Downtown: Something Old yet Something New”?

Next, place art everywhere. I remember other cities that hosted traveling art exhibits, especially sculptures placed in every downtown nook and cranny. Art doesn’t have to be so expensive that it prohibits its creation. Take a look at the slideshow I created. In the slideshow there are traditional sculptures but there are also examples of simple but powerful street art — on buildings, sidewalks and yes, even on the roadways.

The city has an art fund that requires 1% of the construction cost of new development to be placed in this fund. I know at one time during the national recession it was raided for other needs within the city. Currently there is slightly less than one million dollars in the fund. The city could utilize this funding as a source to begin to add whimsical sculptures throughout the downtown. The idea is to place creative art that causes people to notice – to stop and look and perhaps take a photograph.

The city could use CDBG funding to spruce up downtown. What about new benches that are not wood and do not require extensive maintenance that never seems to occur in a timely manner? Or using this source of funding to repair and maintain the sidewalk lighting? Or using the funding to power wash the sidewalks on a regular and timely schedule?

Make no mistake to succeed this resurgence; this movement cannot only be a city government responsibility. There is only so much the city can or should do. In order to succeed it requires the commitment and participation of all 123 merchants/services located in downtown.

Does that mean someone downtown has to go out and buy an expensive piece of art? No, of course not. Look at the slideshow. Art can be placed on any building. Building art can be simple. Take a look at the slides where art was added to a simple crack on the building’s façade to the slides depicting Trompe-l’œil. Trompe-l’œil (French for “deceive the eye”) is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. The possibilities are endless and exciting. Art can create the vibrancy and excitement that downtown has not experienced in many years.

It’s time…time for downtown owners and tenants…and yes, the city…to break out of its antiquated rut of complacency. It’s time for downtown interests to get off their butts; to accept that their destinies and livelihoods are their responsibility…that drawing people downtown begins with their efforts. It’s time to cease relying upon the city for everything, everywhere.

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem government IS the problem.”

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Who would you vote for today?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

If you were to vote today, who is your choice?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
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 Wednesday, August 8, 2018, the Glendale Women’s Club hosted its biennial candidate’s forum. Present were: Barrel District candidates Bart Turner and Ray Strahl; Ocotillo District candidates Jamie Aldama and Emmanuel Allen; and Cholla District candidate Lauren Tolmachoff (unopposed).  Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce him or herself. Their responses often mirrored their campaign mailers including how long they have resided in Glendale, their backgrounds, etc.

The forum was about two hours in length and can be viewed following this link:

http://www.glendaledailyplanet.com . There was time enough for each of the candidates to give one minute responses to the following questions. Since I am not a professional stenographer I am paraphrasing the questions:

  • Question 1: Blight is a concern for many cities. How would you address blight in Glendale?
  • Question 2: Would you vote to support the current downtown festival budget?*
  • Question 3: What are your thoughts about the newly created Historical Downtown Merchants Association?
  • Question 4: Since light rail has been cancelled what should be done with those transportation sales tax dollars?*
  • Question 5: List two major achievements in your district.*
  • Question 6: What is your position on Glen Lakes Golf Course?*
  • Question 7: Should there be a citizen’s commission on city charter review?
  • Question 8: Many residents still believe there is north versus south when it comes to the allocation and use of city funds. Do you concur?*
  • Question 9: What is your position on the city construction of the new parking lot by the Cardinals Stadium?*
  • Question 10: How have you allocated your council budget resources?*
  • Question 11: Would you change the current vision for downtown?
  • Question 12: Do you support raising the mayor and council salaries?
  • Question 13: In 2012 a .7 sales tax was instituted. Should it be eliminated?*

As you may note, I have placed asterisks on seven of the questions. These questions can only be answered competently based upon in depth information received through the actual experience of serving on city council. These particular questions were loaded in favor of the incumbents.

I love the Women’s Club Candidate Forum and hope the organization continues to provide this valuable service to our community. But there may be ways to make it even better. All questions are submitted by the public at large. As nearly everyone knows, the questions are usually submitted by each candidate’s supporters, often at the request of the candidate.  In addition, the questions seem to reflect geographically localized Glendale issues (i.e., downtown Glendale) rather than broader policy issues affecting all of Glendale.

Perhaps there is a better way to craft questions that do reflect broad policy issues. Maybe it is time to consider using questions that come from some kind of independent panel. Some questions that could have been used:

  • If you are elected what are your three priorities for your district? for all of Glendale?
  • How would you work to decrease the city’s debt?
  • The city’s budget determines expenditure priorities. For example, public safety versus parks and recreation. How would you balance competing needs for limited available funding?
  • What attributes do you have that would make you a better representative than your opponent?
  • Do you believe public transportation is a priority for Glendale? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever received a traffic ticket, been charged with a DUI, been charged with a felony? had a bankruptcy?

I would also note that answers provided by both incumbents and challengers at this forum were generally the same. There was nothing offered that provided major distinctions between the candidates. This election may well be decided on several things: a candidate’s personality; a candidate’s ability to get out the vote; and I kid you not, since some voters have no idea about the candidates, it comes down to position (first) on the ballot and whether they like your last name.

It was an interesting evening and I am glad that I took the time to attend. Seeing who was in the audience was very instructive. There’s also nothing that can surpass seeing candidates in person because it helps one to get a feel for their characters and personalities, something that just doesn’t come through on TV.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Who would you vote for today?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

If you were to vote today, who is your choice?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
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 July 19, 2018 the Glendale Star ran a story entitled “Petitions ready to keep festivals in place.” Bud Zomok, a local downtown Glendale resident, was interviewed about his effort to run an online petition using the internet site ipetitions.com. The purpose of the online petition was to garner support for preserving Glendale’s downtown festivals exactly the way they have always been.

Let’s take a closer look at the representations of support depicted in these petitions. Zomok said he collected 958 signatures. That is factually correct. He said that people for all zip codes in Glendale responded. That is factually correct.  I reviewed all of the petition signatures Zomok presented to each member of the city council. Here is the signature break down by zip code in Glendale:

  • 85301 43 signatures
  • 85302 40 signatures
  • 85303 10 signatures
  • 85304: 30 signatures
  • 85305: 5 signatures
  • 85306: 18 signatures
  • 85307: 1  signature
  • 85308:  21 signatures
  • 85310: 11 signatures
  • Glendale, AZ no zip code:    8 signatures

The total number of identifiable, provable signatures representing Glendale total 187. The balance of the signatures, another 771, had no zip code or if a zip code was entered it was outside of Glendale. In fact, one signature was from France.

Yet Mr. Zomok says, “There were 400 signatures from within the city, while 500 were from the rest of the state and beyond.” I went back and took a closer look at the petitions to see if there was some marker that I missed that would allow Mr. Zomok to definitively identify 400 signatures from within the city. I could not find anything. Did he contact all of these people by email to confirm their residency in Glendale? I doubt it and you should as well. It would be difficult to convince anyone that he had personal knowledge of the claimed 400 Glendale residents.

Now, it is possible that more of the signatures could be from Glendale residents but without a zip code or other descriptor it is not possible to verify. Therefore the only rational course is to accept those petition signatures with stated Glendale zip codes.

While many of the 187 Glendale residents who signed the petition left a comment in support of the festivals there were many more respondents who did not leave any commentary at all.

I selected one page, page 27, at random and reproduced it below:

There is nothing wrong with the use of petitions to convey support for an issue. However, an online petition becomes suspect when anyone who is online can sign it, without claiming a Glendale zip code and without any comment about the festival which indicates a lack of knowledge about the festival. Petitions generally work and have meaning (except for the 1,000 Glendale residents who signed a petition in opposition to an amended Stonehaven plan and were ignored) when locals circulate them among the local population. It does a disservice to every reader of this news article to represent that there is overwhelming support from scads of Glendale’s residents.

No one has suggested that the festivals be eliminated in their entirety. Far from it. In fact, it appears that the city manager has identified enough funding to add one of the three weekends back to Glendale Glitters. So instead of four weekends of city funded programming there will be two. 

In an informal poll that ran with this blog 53% of the respondents approved of changing the festivals while 47% of the respondents did not.

There is nothing to preclude the downtown merchants from getting together, seeking sponsorships and developing programming for the two weekends that will not be funded by the city. It’s not too late to do so. I am sure the city would work with the merchants to facilitate their needs should they decide to take up the task. The merchants would have to raise the money needed for associated production costs such as police, security and sanitation. The city has made clear that it believes the dollars used to cover the costs associated with four weekends can be used more effectively with other initiatives to achieve the goal of driving visitors downtown on a yearlong basis.

The general sentiment seems to be that the festivals need refreshing, not elimination in their entirety. I have some ideas and I have heard some good ideas from the merchants as well. I hope they will come together as one voice and share those great ideas with the city. Let’s work together.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Should downtown festivals be changed?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
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.

Below are some of the comments I received in response to my blog on downtown published a few days ago. They are a combination of responses from Facebook (my blog links to FB and some comments were made there) and my Word Press blog. Some comments are from festival attendees and some are from downtown business owners.  I purposefully did not attribute any of the comments by name to encourage others to express themselves on this issue. I will reserve my comments at the end of this blog.

“As a business owner, I would love to see the city put money into “revamping” or “beautifying” the area the directly surrounds my business. Ohh but wait.. it’s my responsibility to care for my business and move it forward. It’s my responsibility to pay for the marketing that reaches my potential customers. It’s my responsibility to be open hours, and do split shifts, to accommodate my potential customers, as most don’t even get off work till 5pm. It’s my responsibility to make sure my clients are accommodated the best I can. NOT THE CITY’s responsibility!

 “It’s absolutely ridiculous how some of the downtown merchants are acting, as if they are owed something from the city and the taxpayers. Any other business owner would move/relocate if that area wasn’t sufficient enough. Granted, I like downtown Glendale, it has potential, but unfortunately it will never be the go to place in Glendale anymore. Half of the stores are rundown shops that look like swap markets. I try to make it to one of the shops before they close at 5pm to get a treat, and many times it’s closed earlier, so I stopped trying. Many need new windows and paint. And I highly doubt the city manager would deny you the breakdown of the $1million and where that money went. For the tax revenue for downtown, wasn’t it like 300-400k?? If that’s true, then that sounds like a BAD INVESTMENT.
“Where is the responsibility of the business owners? Keep complaining about the city, the mayor, the council, the city manager, or whoever else and I would fully support the potential for all of the city offices to pack up and relocate to Westgate. Getting sick and tired of hearing about the squabbling and how downtown is suffering. There are other needs in the city and more important problems that should be addressed. Don’t be selfish, put in your own time and MONEY and try to help the situation. If you have put in the time and money and it hasn’t worked, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your business.

“ I know I sound harsh and I’m apologize Joyce if I’m coming off too strong, but I’m just not understanding how these business owners are fighting the city so much. Glendale Glitters is great, but unfortunately it’s not a crowd I want to be around, I feel unsafe. I don’t know how anything will help that. It is time to change things up. Not completely redo everything, but up the ante on the vendor booths. The quality has gone down (but don’t get rid of the candy apples), and many of the booths seem to be selling trinkets. Sorry but that’s not what I’d go down there for. Maybe someone needs to do some recon on the Prescott festivals and see how they do it. Much cleaner look and reputable vendors. It come back to design psychology, if the look is unappealing, no one will stay or come back. Hope I wasn’t too blunt.”

“Glendale Glitters has very popular over the many years we have been here. My wife every year expects me to take her downtown to see the lights and sometimes walk around when not crowded. We like the stage performances which seems to be well attended.
The city overall should make money on this popular event,however add something new and I am not sure what that would be,expand the area if necessary nothing wrong with a big crowd, encourage the businesses someway to stay open. Change is good just leave the beautiful lights on please.”

“Thank you for your excellent explanation regarding the changes for Glendale Glitters 2018.Now I completely understand the reasoning behind the decision. Like everything – and everyone – else, a lot changes over 20 years time. Hopefully, this change will be for the good.”

“I am a downtown merchant & property owner. Councilmember Clark you are exactly correct in that we need to update and make changes to the festivals. The merchants will be the first to agree. We are not happy with the direction they have gone. However, it is not completely fair to compare last year’s results due to the fact that the festival vendors were greatly cut and THE BIGGEST factor is that marketing was cut by 1/3rd of the budget!!! You invite less people, less people will show… Another HUGE factor is that the person in charge of last year’s festival admittedly had no experience putting together events. She was brought in from another city department because of lack of staff. We questioned the decision to put someone in charge of the city’s biggest festival with zero qualifications. Not only was she put in charge, she was given the instructions to change it…. Again, she has NO EXPERIENCE!!!
“Merchants had zero input! Yes we need to change the festivals but I do however think that the merchants need to be involved in the changes. This cannot happen this year because of the time restraints and the city employee delays in action. It’s a shame because this is the 25th Anniversary and should have been put as a priority. The merchants are not in favor of the proposed changes in the budget to add more lights and fireworks. We need to revert back to the year 2016-2017 festival footprint and programming and start ASAP restructuring for the following year 2019-2020. This will allow the affected business community to utilize the budgeted ‘Downtown Manager’ to create a better festival plan.”

“Fun to visit the first few years, got to be a major pain to actually enjoy it.
Shops are too small in size to accommodate the amount of visitors, and half close down because the traffic is too heavy for them, producing the fear of being overwhelmed and theft.
It won’t be a popular opinion, but the class of visitors is lower, as they are just seeking out ‘county fair food’ and don’t actually frequent the retail stores as patrons.
“This should be considered to be moved to a more accommodating location like cardinal stadium parking lots. The traffic setup is already there for large events, the area is very easily viewable from all around for security reasons. It certainly would allow more food truck vendors to participate as the space is available as well.”

“Downtown business leaders are frustrated with the events staff working in a vacuum. We are constantly asking to be included in the planning and find ourselves shut out. The most recent presentation to the council concerning changes to the Glitters event is one such example. I am working with other business leaders and the downtown manager seeking to make the downtown area more attractive to foot traffic. We need for people to linger in order to generate sales, and if the events are a rush in and out, without highlighting the existing businesses then what is the point in remaining open. It is lack of customers that is forcing the businesses into odd hours, they cannot afford to retain employees in order to remain open.
“The entire city is in need for an image upgrade. You know that I have often mentioned that we don’t want to be an extension of Maryvale, but the press views the city that way.
The city has a major responsibility to make people feel safe and comfortable when visiting, everything from beautification and regular maintenance to amenities and positive looking press releases are necessary to overcome the lack of comfort, lack of desire to linger, in our city.”

“Totally agree with you on this one. People want the festival but are unfamiliar with the costs and lack of adequate services for how large it has become.”

“I totally agree with you! Why are they trying to fix something that wasn’t broke until last year? Very hypocritical comments being made. There should have been a solid Merchants Association a long time ago working with the city. A lot of money has been invested in downtown and now they are throwing it away in favor of Westgate??? Oh that’s where the money is and the wealthier folks? Never mind the businesses that have hung in there hoping for more! I am really disgusted with this council and the city manager. And why aren’t they fixing the staffing issues since they seem to have money now? The library is still closed on Fridays. Enough said.”

“Well, according to Kevin Phelps (City Manager) they spend $1,000,000 on downtown annually, but we have made repeated asks to break that down. That 1 million is more than the city gets in sales tax revenue downtown, so it isn’t like this is a profit center, but it does go a very long way toward impacting the perception of Glendale as a whole. Westgate, as Joyce points out is not apples to apples. 
“We have a superbowl coming up, so now is the time to decide if downtown is worthy of a renewed focus, or be written off as a loss. 
“I myself am trying to convince staff and our council to revive it, which is going to take some new priorities new business incentives, and unbudgeted expenses.”

 “So if Westgate is paying for itself, then why is downtown being ignored? Where is the money??? Follow the money. I’m sorry folks but when they “cut” the festivals when the financial crisis hit they KEPT Glitters because it MADE money for the city – the others did not. That was public information. Now all of a sudden it loses money? Last year part of the problem is they cut the vendors out, etc. People come to these events for all different reasons. I never heard a complaint until last year. Not everyone hates crowds!”

“The majority of the businesses are not asking for more than for the city to maintain its own property and to remedy safety, reputation and appearance issues. We are asking for a level of maintenance that downtown once had but were abandoned during the downturn and looking for the city to enforce its own codes. Apparently things like some sign codes are now unenforceable yet remain on the books.
“Most strong businesses have already moved away or closed, the remaining businesses are hanging by a thread so money to improve downtown is not coming from them. If the downtown area is to be reinvigorated it will have to come through attracting new businesses, not through blaming the existing businesses. Apparently it sounds like whining if we ask the city to work on improvement in order to attract new business, and through those new businesses attract more potential customers in the area. The city could help with new business incentives to bring in fresh blood.
“I already moved my business, so I certainly do not have a horse in the race any more, yet I continue to invest my time toward a vision of a thriving downtown. I get no benefit back so I am certainly not whining or looking for a handout. 

“Some issues are unique to the downtown area. Like the sidewalks, they are not owned by the building owner, in fact you need special permits and enhanced insurance to place anything on the sidewalk. There is an assumption that the business owners should maintain the sidewalks in front of their store, and some do, but what do you do about the city sidewalks in front of empty buildings or that are not adjacent to any business? It isn’t like a mall where the mall property management maintains common areas, the city is the property management in this case, but doesn’t maintain the common areas except directly around city buildings.
“Another unique issue is having normal access to your business blocked during the large events. Events that may not attract your typical customer. Now imagine a generator for lighting and barricades for foot traffic placed in front of your doors. Events bring a lot of issues with them, so is it really unreasonable to ask the event staff work with the businesses, and strive to increase communication with the businesses they may inconvenience?

“Nobody said the City manager refused to provide the information, only that is hasn’t been forthcoming. The claim was made four months ago, and the past three months have been the busiest time of the year for his office –the closing of the budget cycle. I am currently digging through the budget on my own to be able to help businesses know the impact of the requests they make. We want to understand what any tradeoffs would be. Like giving up an event to get sidewalks and crosswalks cleaned. 
“Even with the downtown manager and some of the staff working with us things happen very slowly and get frustrating.
“I will say that Glendale Star and other press have not helped in how they portray the remaining businesses as whiners (well Ok, some are), we actually have a partnership, but it doesn’t look that way from the outside.”

“Downtown has a lot of potential to be a destination and I think some of the merchants there are working towards that. Cuff and Off the Cuff are great examples, but they operate like a business. The Astrology store is cool too. I used to try to do all of my holiday gift shopping downtown and in Catlin Court but the shops were rarely open. I’d love to see more restaurants, cafes, and fun boutiques so that it is a destination where I can hang out. That isn’t going to happen with a few events a year, it’s going to take time, effort, and institutional changes.”

What these comments reflect is a great deal of disunity and confusion. Some believe the purpose of the festivals is to drive shopping traffic into the surrounding businesses during the event. Some believe it is to familiarize people with the downtown to attract potential customers in the expectation that they will return to shop. Merchants, what is your ultimate goal for downtown Glendale?

Many expect the city to use its resources to beautify the downtown. There is much that can be done. But there is no articulation of priorities in terms of what the beautification should be. There are some actions that the downtown merchants can take without anything other than working with the city for approval. One is the idea of unified signage. Here are some examples:

The merchants can get together, decide on a palette of approved signage and ask for the city’s approval if the designs are not allowed under the current code. Amendments are made to the city code all the time. Another action could be the use of sidewalks in front of a shop. That doesn’t mean a tacky sandwich board but creative use that protects the pedestrian’s free movement along a sidewalk. Again, merchants have the freedom to create a proposal and present it to the city as a code amendment. What about a schedule of cleaning not only in front of your store but your window displays? As a former bookstore owner I changed my window display weekly. Is the front of your shop clean? Does it look appealing and inviting to a potential customer? Elbow grease does wonders.

Downtown merchants must form their own Merchants Association that will finally afford them some political clout with the city. Dues don’t have to be exorbitant. They could be as little as $5 a month. 50 merchants would generate $250 a month or $3000 a year; 100 merchants would generate $500 a month or $6000 a year. It may not seem like much but it’s a start to fund some small collaborative and collective actions that benefit all and just like saving your loose change in a jar…after awhile it becomes real money.

This may be the toughest nut to crack. The downtown merchants (and throw in the Catlin Court merchants) are like the Hatfields and the McCoys; or the Democrats and the Republicans. There are factions and some hate each other. As long as this persists the downtown will never succeed. It’s time to bury the hatchet, hold your noses, and cooperate with one another for not only your ultimate survival but ultimate success.

If you’ve ever listened to President Trump he rails about the U.S. being a ‘sucker’, for example, with NATO. We pay the most to protect European nations while many of these countries pay little toward their obligation. The city, at times, feels like a ‘sucker’. It pours tens of thousands of dollars annually into downtown with few merchants paying anything that could be viewed as their ‘fair share.’ The merchants can’t get along with one another to present a viable goal for downtown. Is it any wonder they don’t get along with the city as well?

I have not lost hope. There is much the downtown merchants can do at little to no cost if they can just come together and adopt a unified approach. Create your vision. Collectively adopt your goals, both annual and long term. The city wants to be your partner but it should not continue to pour money into the downtown aimlessly only to be berated because it wasn’t want you expected or envisioned. Heck, we have no idea what your vision is…do you?

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Should downtown festivals be changed?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
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.

Let’s talk about Glendale Glitters, the city’s major downtown festival. First let me preface that it was former Marketing Director, Paula Illardo, and I, as a brand new councilmember, which asked the city council in 1994 for the very first investment of funding for 50,000 Christmas lights in Murphy Park. Over the years the number of lights has increased year over year and this year downtown Glendale will have 2 million lights – not just in Murphy Park but throughout the downtown footprint.

Courtesy of the Arizona Republic

I have always supported the downtown festivals but lately, in at least the last 5 years, I no longer enjoyed visiting on any given weekend. Rather my family and friends would visit during the week when one could actually look at and enjoy the light display.

What turned us and many others off? Councilmember Malnar is correct in his council workshop comment that it had become a carnival rather than a festival (and there is a distinction). The footprint for the event was too small to accommodate all of the attendees. It was no fun to walk the park packed in like cattle. It became too difficult to actually visit a vendor or to truly enjoy the lights. Over the years, the quality of merchandise offered by the vendors declined as well.

Let’s look at some facts. I don’t think anyone expects the downtown festivals to be money makers but I believe the expectation is that the revenues should cover the cost to the city to produce them. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16 total revenues for Glendale Glitters and Glow were $442,789 and in FY 2017-18 total revenues were $313,846. Revenues declined by $128,943 in every measurable statistic:

  • Vending fees were down by $88,461
  • Sponsorship fees declined by $23,500
  • Beverage sales were down by $3,731
  • Parking fees declined by $13,240

Festival attendance has also declined with an attendance in FY 2015-16 of 235,000 and an attendance in FY 2017-18 of 216,000 totaling a decline of 19,000 visitors. It is fair to say some of the decline is attributable to the changes made in FY 2017-18 with fewer vendors. However, until a visitor arrived at the festival that visitor would not have known there were fewer vendors or perhaps a first time visitor would not have even realized that there were fewer vendors. Attribution to the changes made in FY 2017-18 is not sufficient to explain the decline.

Why are the festivals declining? I am sure to receive many opinions as to why and many will lay the blame at the feet of the city, most specifically the city manager and city council. But there is more to the problem. Glendale now faces competition from all over the Valley. Many communities saw the success of Glendale Glitters and mimicked the event. You can now attend a Glendale Glitters-like event all over the Valley.

I think it’s also fair to say the event has become stale. It’s the same template year after year. A certain percentage of visitors having attended once will opt for a newer, fresher event knowing exactly what they can expect from Glendale Glitters. With the exception of last year, Glendale has not attempted to refresh the event for over 20 years. Admittedly the changes did not help but if we don’t try we won’t learn what new things work and what doesn’t.

An equally important factor is the inconsistency of hours of downtown shops and restaurants. What does every business do during the holiday season (which is typically when they earn 70% of their annual revenue)? They extend the hours when they are open. Today’s customers are spoiled and expect merchants to be open until 10 PM in the evening, every day of the holiday season. It should also be acknowledged that online shopping is having an effect driving local merchants to offer unusual or original items not usually found online.

Courtesy of the Arizona Republic

 It is so disappointing to view the downtown lights and to discover that half of the shops and restaurants are closed. I know I will hear from some downtown merchants saying they are open and I congratulate them for their entrepreneurship. But there are many others that are closed and they do no favor for those fellow businesses that do stay open. They harm the entire downtown business community.

As I said at the recent city council workshop, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I do not want to eliminate these festivals. I don’t think anyone wants to do that. But it is time to try to do something different.

That’s where merchants and general public can weigh in. The solution is not to ‘resist’ and to cling to past practices especially with a petition to ask that the festivals remain exactly the way they have always been.

I urge you to use this platform to share your ideas and comments. I promise to share them with the city council and senior management. I ask that you remain respectful of all individuals whether it be a citizen, merchant, elected, or city management.

It’s time to take a fresh look at these festivals and to offer your solutions to refresh them, to make them equally competitive with other Valley holiday events, and to preserve the spirit of its 1994 original intent – the celebration of the holiday with all of its wonders to be shared with our children.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

%d bloggers like this: