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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.

I haven’t written anything since early December when I announced that I would be running again in 2020 for the Yucca district city council seat. Then I enjoyed our holidays. Just like everyone else, I spent the time shopping, mostly on Amazon; baking annual Christmas treats; wrapping presents, decorating the tree and preparing a scrumptious Christmas dinner.  All the things with which we become preoccupied during the season occurred. The new year of 2019 has begun replete with traditional resolutions sure to be broken within the month. I wish all of you a Happy New Year.

City Council resumed its activities with its first workshop and voting meeting of the year on January 8th. One of the more high profile issues of that first voting meeting was city council’s approval of a distracted driving ordinance mirroring the one passed by Surprise. It takes effect on February 7th but staff has begun a six month education period that will delay ticketing of offenders. It is a primary offense and drivers can be stopped for using hand held devices resulting in a fine of $250. This action would not be necessary if the state legislature had done its job and passed a statewide law. That may actually occur this year after the untimely and unfortunate death of a Salt River Police Officer by a distracted driver. Arizona is one of a handful of states that does not have a statewide ban.

Another significant action to have occurred at that council voting meeting is the selection of Vice Mayor for 2019. It is a job that rotates on an annual basis. It is primarily ceremonial with the Vice Mayor acting only when the Mayor is unavailable to chair a council meeting or other event. I wish to thank the Mayor and City Council for selecting me for the position. It is an honor to serve in that capacity.

One of the upcoming issues on council’s January 22nd workshop meeting is that of motorized scooters. The birds, er, Bird brand motorized scooters, are popping up all over Glendale — especially downtown. While they serve a purpose for some residents in our community it has become abundantly clear that they, without any regulation, are becoming a nuisance to many others. Council will give direction on this issue at its workshop meeting.

Another problematical issue coming before council at its January 22nd voting meeting is a request to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to deliver marijuana to customers. Malcom Gladwell said in a recent New Yorker magazine article, “Permitting pot is one thing, promoting its use is another.” The general consensus in society seems to be that marijuana is pretty benign. Not so fast, there is a book out by Alex Berenson entitled “Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence.” It’s well worth the read and raises the issue that marijuana may not be quite as gentle as we have been led to believe. The voters of the state have spoken and approved the use of medical marijuana but it is up to local leadership to decide just how much they are willing to promote its use.

This year promises to be another busy one. In addition to the Business Subcommittee, which I chair, continuing its effort to enhance Glendale’s business friendly reputation, I will also serve on the Council Code Review Committee seeking reform of the operations of this department as well as looking for ways to strength those parts of Code that have not served the interests of our residents.

The creation of the annual budget is always a challenge. It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that when times are financially tough it’s very easy to create council consensus on allocations for limited resources but as the budget gets healthier there is bound to be more friction to secure funding for projects that have waited a long time to get funded.

Council is focused on job creation for our residents as well as rehabilitating infrastructure — something that could not be addressed during the years when the city concentrated on maintaining services and nothing else. There are sure to be issues that will arise that no one can anticipate or foretell. Could it be Glen Lakes development? the Thunderbird campus development? taking downtown Glendale in a new direction? or Loop 303 economic development opportunities? Who knows? But be assured that council will try to make the best decisions that it can for all of Glendale.

I announced last month that I will run for the Yucca district city council seat in 2020. This month I will file my campaign committee paperwork with the City Clerk in order to begin fund raising for the campaign. My goal is to raise $50,000 this year to position myself to mount a successful campaign against any candidate, especially one promoted and funded by the fire union, a very likely proposition.

Please join me this year by subscribing to this blog as I continue to offer my perspective on the issues Glendale will face. Simply sign up at the top of the column to the left of this article and every time there is a new post it will be emailed to you. As I enter the fifth year of writing this blog I am very close to having had half a million reads of my posts. Thank you all for not just following me but for continuing to take an interest in Glendale and its governance.

© 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.

 I felt compelled to react to Bill Toops’, Glendale Star’s Administrator, editorial of November 15, 2018, regarding downtown Glendale. Here is the link: https://www.glendalestar.com/glendale-star/downtown-dissidents-nix-city-manager%E2%80%99s-vision . Mr. Toops said, “In a Nov. 2, 2018 letter to the mayor and City Council, Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said he’s had enough opposition from downtown merchants to shift the focus of city resources elsewhere. While detailing a number of significant accomplishments since his hire in February 2016, the continuing frustration from a vocal band of naysayers has effectively halted his efforts to pursue a new strategy for the city’s downtown district.”

I support our City Manager’s take on downtown Glendale.  Here is the link to his comments regarding Glendale and downtown: https://www.glendalestar.com/glendale-star/city-manager-shifts-economic-focus-away-downtown .

 There is an old saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” For years…no, for decades… the city has underwritten 3 major festival events downtown – Glendale Glitters, Glendale Glow and the Chocolate Affaire. Granted these festivals bring shoppers to downtown for a brief period and I suspect during those few weeks they generate as much as 70% of a downtown merchant’s annual net. But at what point do diminishing returns set in? I contend they already have.

The downtown merchants have been content to allow the city to do the heavy lifting. In what other area of the city does our government finance any major festivals especially for the benefit of private businesses? Arrowhead Mall area? Westgate area? Nope.

Successful businesses and downtowns are constantly reinventing themselves by changing what they offer and how they do business offering the customer a new, fresh, convenient and relevant experience. If downtown merchants don’t embrace change they will be swept aside by, among other things, internet shopping. The change required for downtown is to offer experiences that cannot be acquired by shopping on the net.

Has it occurred to anyone that as Westgate grows always seeking new entities within it, that it has a direct impact on downtown? What will motivate anyone to go downtown when they can go to a sporting event, a movie, shop at Tanger Outlets or dine at a dozen different restaurants? What will downtown offer to attract those very same people? To make them want to visit downtown as part of their Glendale experience?

The city manager came to Glendale three years ago and offered a fresh look at many things, including downtown. His proposal was designed to create a destination location all year long. Instead a small group of perhaps twenty downtown merchants, newly created as the Historical Downtown Merchants Association, protested in horror at the very thought of change. I should note that there are over 250 downtown merchants yet this small handful was silently allowed by the majority to determine the destiny of all.

Mr. Toops goes on to observe, “While many downtown merchants prefer to hang their financial solvency on a handful of mega events they say ensure throngs of visitors over two weeks’ time, city management sees greater value in scaling events back and adding frequency, up to 150 annually. Further, merchant perspectives tend to support little or no change to the traditional festival concept with the exception of additional funding, yet city management contends downtown Glendale needs an entirely new direction for long-term prosperity.” The city was willing to invest in innovation and change while using its success as a catalyst to attract new, vibrant business entities. A relatively small group killed the concept.

So the city will continue to pour $1.2 million annually into the downtown sieve but it has also announced that this amount will remain constant and not increase. Mr. Toops rightly observes, “While many merchants may be pleased with this decision for now, rising costs within a fixed budget will only serve to erode the glitz and glitter of every event and the commensurate draw from each.” Add to this observation that other cities have created their own events that now directly compete with the 3 events hosted by Glendale government.

Downtown saw its last “hey day” when it had over 100 antique shops. It was the antique capital of the west. Visitors could be seen going from one shop to another, even on the hottest days of summer. But that is long gone with only a few antique shops remaining.  It has become stale and tired with no destination to attract those same visitors.

Make no mistake. I want a proud downtown bustling with visitors and shoppers. We all do. I want to able to boast about its vibrancy instead of apologizing because a visitor went to a restaurant during the week only to find it closed because there was not enough business to warrant it being open. What a sad state of affairs.

When will a majority of its 250 merchants embrace change? When will they reclaim their voice instead of allowing a few, very vocal merchants clinging to the status quo determine their destiny? When will they realize the insanity of repeating the same thing expecting a different result? When will they realize that we’re all in this together eager and willing to work toward reinventing a vibrant, successful and proud downtown?

© 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.

About a month ago we all received our latest property tax bill from the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office. Included in the billing are the amounts in your individualized bill that are received by various governmental and school institutions.

My bill went up by 6.7% due to a strong economy that is increasing property valuations. Take a look at the graphics that are provided in every bill:

I happen to live in the Pendergast Elementary School District and the Tolleson Union High School District. In 2018 I will pay the Pendergast Elementary School District $1,261.57 or 44% of my entire property tax bill. I will pay another $835.84 or 29% to the Tolleson Union High School District. The Maricopa Community College District gets $258.63 or 9% and West-Mec receives $28.10 or .009%. Education represents about 82% of all of the property tax that I pay.

Maricopa County’s General Fund and Special Districts account for $391.23 or 13%. The City of Glendale receives $371.64 or 13% of my total property tax bill. Since the city has not increased the property tax levy my payment to the city decreased by 36 cents. Surely it’s not much but at least the city is holding the line while the school districts and county levies have increased from .4% to a high of 29.4% (Tolleson).

 In Glendale your property tax payment goes into its General Fund. The General Fund supports Public Safety and represents a minimum of 75% of the entire General Fund. So, 75% of your property tax payment supports the police and fire protection you receive. The remaining 25% supports Parks and Recreation, Code Enforcement and a myriad of other services you, as a Glendale resident, receive. It is also used to pay off bond debt for projects that may have been completed years ago as bonds usually pay off in 20 or 30 years.

In the Yucca district of Glendale, which I represent, I was surprised that neither the Pendergast Elementary School District nor the Tolleson Union High School District objected to the tremendous increase in their student enrollment that will come as a result of the city approval of Stonehaven, a residential community of about 1,360 homes. I used an estimated average figure of $1,000 for the elementary district in annual property tax per home and $800 for the high school district. To my surprise the Pendergast Elementary School District will receive an estimated $1.3 million dollars annually in property tax from the Stonehaven residents and the Tolleson Union High School District will get an estimated $1 million dollars a year. No wonder both school districts didn’t object to the horrible density in Stonehaven. Each home represents about $800 to $1,000 a year in property tax.

I think there are questions for these school districts. If, on average, they receive an average of $1,000 a year in property tax from each and every home and they receive funding from the state as well (Remember RED for ED?), where is all of the money going? And for what?

The annual Quality Counts report by Education Week study found Arizona ranked No. 46 in 2018. The ranking earned the state a D+ grade, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Arizona’s ranking has remained pretty consistent in the last 10 years, sometimes moving up or down by a number or two in ranking. We continue to throw money at public education and nothing seems to change. Everyone is willing to contribute to educational funding but that support diminishes over time when the results remain consistently abysmal. When we actually see the money going toward teacher pay and the students?

There are many other factors other than money that affect the quality of education in Arizona. Too many to discuss here. They need to be addressed.

Glendale residents you get a lot of bang for your property taxpayer buck. The average of $300 to $400 a year that you contribute provides the services upon which you rely every day. Looks like a good deal.

© 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.

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.

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.

Here’s a true story. Since 1992, for 18 years, I have been the Yucca district city councilmember with the exception of two periods: 1996 to 2000 and 2012 to 2016. During 1996 to 2000 while off council, the San Bellismo Apts at the southeast corner of 83rd Ave and Glendale Ave were approved and supported by then Councilmember Martin Samaniego. They are primarily  Section 8 apts. Between 2012 and 2016, the period during which then Councilmember Sam Chavira served, two apartment complexes in Zanjero were approved. All three of these apartment complexes were not approved during my terms on council.

My reputation has been to oppose apartment complexes in the district based upon: 1. if they are proposed for an inappropriate location and 2. if they are not quality, upscale projects with many major amenities.

However, there is one apartment complex at 95th Avenue, north of Camelback Avenue, directly east across from the Super WalMart that I do support. The developer and owner is P.B. Bell and I made it a point to visit their Aspera apartment complex in Arrowhead. It is an upscale complex and I am supporting it for that reason and for another.

Lowe’s bought the land in question 15 years ago with the intent of building a Lowe’s on the site. For whatever the reason, perhaps because there is a Home Depot just to the west, they changed their minds and a year later, put the property up for sale as a commercial parcel. It has remained a dusty, vacant lot ever since. There had been no interest in this site and no takers interested in developing it. This site is an appropriate one for an apartment complex and the fact that it will be upscale with lots of amenities makes it a supportable project.

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.

Let me share another true story with you.  In 2003 a subdivision of 37 acres with 215 homes at a density of 5.78 homes to the acre with an average lot size of 4,000 square feet was proposed for our district, the Yucca district. Approximately 60 neighbors attended the neighborhood meeting and vigorously opposed the project citing the density of the project, resulting lower adjacent property values, the traffic congestion and the increased crime it would bring. It was approved. That project was Provence. Today, Provence is a stable, well maintained, high density residential parcel within our district and the city.

A possible apartment complex on the Brown lot is supportable based upon its location within the Westgate/Zanjero area and only if it is upscale with major amenities. The Brown lot is 13.598 acres, about 1/3 the size of Provence. At medium density of 3.5 to 5 homes to the acre the home yield is approximately 47 to 67 homes. The property’s close proximity to Westgate/Zanjero makes the property very expensive to buy. There simply isn’t a residential, single family home builder that can afford to buy the property and develop it and make any kind of profit. If it were to stay zoned medium density residential it would probably remain vacant for another 20 years. Realistic development would be either commercial or high density residential.

Both of these sites, the 95th Avenue site and the Brown lot are within what could be called the Westgate/Zanjero area. The Westgate area now and into the future will be a dense area with considerable traffic congestion, much like Bell Road. That premise became viable in the early 2000s the minute the Gila River Arena and the State Farm Stadium were approved.

As an aside note, council recently approved funding for the design of Camelback Road between 83rd Avenue and the Loop 101. The design is mandated to create mitigation measures that will assist in accommodating the traffic on Camelback Road in that area. I would expect that in Fiscal Year 19-20 funds will be allocated to do the work. Will it be a magic bullet? I doubt it but it should mitigate some of the traffic jams we experience today.

I would never approach the support of an apartment complex lightly. Before I could support such a complex, I would need to see a plan and the amenity package and the price point for rental of various size units. I would need to be comfortable that it would be a quality project in the right location that would offer increased value to the area. As of this date no such plan has been offered. I would need to be comfortable that it is proposed in an appropriate location which, in my mind, is the Westgate/Zanjero area.

No, I am not suddenly going to abandon my principles and support apartments all over the district but I will support a select few that make sense within the Westgate/Zanjero area and if they are upscale and bring value to our district and to the city.

I would suspect that this blog will generate a lot of comments and I look forward to seeing them.

© 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

First let me recognize and thank this city council for approving Phase I of a permanent West Branch Library currently under construction. However, Heroes Park is far from complete. It’s a twenty year commitment by Glendale still not met. Heroes Park still lacks its Recreation & Aquatics Center (a la Foothills), its water feature, a dog park, a Phase II expansion of the library and its ball/soccer fields.

Heroes Park Concept Plan

 

 

 

 It drives me nuts when I pick up the paper and read that Phoenix will invest between $80 and $100 million to upgrade Margaret T. Hance Park (also known as the “Deck Park”) to include a jogging loop, a skate park, a splash pad area, enhancements to its events area and more trees for shade. Or that Avondale will spend $12 million to upgrade its Festival Fields Park with a lake, dog park, splash pad, ramadas, new lighting, restroom and playground equipment replacement and volleyball, pickleball and basketball courts. Or that Goodyear is investing in a 30-acre park with a recreation center and an outdoor aquatic facility.

I accept that Glendale faced enormous fiscal adversity and the decisions of the current councilmembers and mayor were critical in reversing those problems. I accept that Glendale, as every other city, weathered the Great Recession. But now Glendale is facing a bright financial future and the completion of this park is a moral debt owed to the citizens of south and west Glendale.

They have waited for 20 years…marking a full generation of children that never had the opportunity to use Heroes Park. This is a city council promise that must be fulfilled for all of the people that bought homes in the area on the reliance that there would be a park nearby.

What angers south and west residents is that Foothills Recreation & Aquatics Center was placed into the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in Fiscal Year 98-99 (the same year as Heroes Park) as a Multi-General Center North and in addition in Fiscal Year 01-02 a Recreation & Aquatics Center was also added. In Fiscal Year 03-04 both projects were merged into the Foothills Recreation & Aquatics Center. Groundbreaking occurred in 2005 with completion of the project in 2006. It took 7 years from identification in the CIP until it was opened for business. And yet Heroes Park remains in large swaths of dust, dirt and weeds. It is not only an eye sore but an embarrassment to all.

Until this park is completed with all of the elements of its master plan, people will continue to believe in a sentiment I have heard expressed often and bitterly. They point to Foothills with its library and recreation & aquatics center and say, north Glendale is placed before the rest of Glendale and there is some truth to that belief.

In the 1980’s the Hunt brothers had acquired most of the land known today as the Arrowhead area. Their plans were to develop a master planned residential community. However, the brothers attempted to corner the silver market resulting in their bankruptcy. The leaders of Glendale at that time made a commitment to save the dream of Arrowhead pouring at least $70 million into the area to guarantee its development. Their action saved Arrowhead but at what cost? Dollars that would have been used throughout Glendale were instead diverted to Arrowhead. For several years Glendale’s financial resources were targeted up north while the rest of the city’s needs were unanswered. That well intentioned action caused tremendous citizen resentment that persists to this day.

Sometimes that resentment becomes exacerbated when over 1,000 citizens sign a petition to moderate the proposed Stonehaven residential project and their voices are ignored or when O’Neil Pool, waterless and no longer useable remains a gaping scar for years within O’Neil Park. People shrug their shoulders with a palpable sense of embitterment and defeatism.

Fixing the O’Neil Pool problem and completing Heroes Park will go a long way to restoring peoples’ faith that the city will treat all of its areas with some sense of equity. No longer would south and west residents have cause to believe that they are step children, often ignored.

Everyone acknowledges that these promises – Heroes Park and O’Neil Pool — were not made on the current senior management’s or council’s watch but now that Glendale is back on track financially it is incumbent upon them to finally fulfill these promises. These two projects will restore a sense of pride in their city for south and west Glendale residents.

Every district within Glendale has its “Points of Pride,” those recreational amenities created for the use of our residents.  

  • Cholla district has the Foothills Library, the Foothills Recreation & Aquatics Center and Thunderbird Conservation Park.
  • Sahuaro district is proud of its Paseo Racquet Center & Park; Skunk Creek Park and Thunderbird Paseo Park.
  • The Barrel district can point to the Adult Center, the Main Library and Sahuaro Ranch Park.
  • The Cactus district residents enjoy the Elsie McCarthy Sensory Garden, the Rose Lane Aquatics Center and Manistee Ranch.
  • The Ocotillo district claims the Velma Teague Library, the Civic Center and Murphy Park & Amphitheatre.
  • The Yucca district has the Grand Canal Linear Park and …???? An unfinished Heroes Park.

When will our promise be fulfilled?

© 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.

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