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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.

Too often we read in the media about all the things that are wrong with Glendale (or any other city, for that matter) because community wrongs, weaknesses and failures – in other words, any form of sensationalism, sells. I can’t remember the last time the media reported good news about Glendale.

Most of us are not even aware of the improvements made in our city or may take them for granted. There is much to be proud of in Glendale. This city council has made many good policy decisions that have positively affected your quality of life. Over the next couple of blogs I want to share just some of the improvements that have become part of the fabric of life in Glendale.

The three years of my city council term, from January of 2017 to January of 2020,  have proven to be amazing for Glendale. Here are just some of the often unnoticed improvements affecting all residents. In this edition of my blog I have chosen transportation first because traveling through our community you will have likely encountered one or more of them.

HAWK at 65th Ave. and Bethany Home Rd.

A HAWK is an acronym for a High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk. It is a pedestrian activated traffic light that stops traffic at pedestrian critical crossing locations proven to be very dangerous for those attempting to cross a major street. Historically they are at locations that account for many pedestrian fatalities. To date four of them have been installed throughout the city at:
                    *  60th Avenue and Bethany Home Road
                    *  65th Avenue and Glendale Avenues
                    *  63rd Avenue and Beardsley Avenues
                    *  65th Avenue and Bethany Home Road

Flashing Yellow

Flashing Yellow Arrows have become more and more commonplace throughout our city. These blinking yellow traffic signal lights allow motorists to make a left turn during a green light period as long as there is no oncoming traffic. Their purpose is to relieve traffic congestion at major intersections. They have been installed at 16 different intersections throughout the city and more are to come:

  • 59th Avenue & Glendale Avenue
  • 59th Avenue & Olive Avenue (during nighttime and weekends)
  • 51st Avenue & Peoria Avenue
  • 59th Avenue & Union Hills Drive
  • 51st Avenue & Glendale Avenue
  • 67th Avenue & Deer Valley Road
  • Dysart Road & Glendale Avenue
  • 75th Avenue & Deer Valley Road
  • 99th Avenue & Cardinals Way
  • El Mirage Road & Glendale Avenue
  • 83rd Avenue & Bethany Home Road
  • 91st Avenue & Montebello Avenue
  • 95th Avenue & Camelback Road
  • 67thAvenue & Pinnacle Peak Road
  • 67th Avenue & Bell Road
  • 59th Avenue & Thunderbird Road

The city continues its pavement management program to rehab all 748 miles of city streets. Council directed that $5 million dollars a year for each of five years be used to rehab residential streets. Streets that have not been done yet can expect some treatment in the next two years. Unfortunately one of the contractors was found to have performed sub standard work and those streets will be remediated. In tandem with improving residential streets throughout our city there are major arterial streets over 20 and 30 years old that require reconstruction. These will be done as funding becomes available. In addition to these two strategies there are some instances where a new street needs to be constructed to spur further economic development. One such case is Ballpark Boulevard.

Ballpark Boulevard will connect the Camelback Ranch training facility with the Westgate area and is scheduled to open in February of 2020 to coincide with the start of the Spring Training season. This roadway extension closes a significant gap in the city’s transportation system and provides traffic options for getting between the two venues. The effect of constructing this road along the Maryland Avenue alignment is that it opens up a great deal of land for economic development. Knowing that this road is almost completed has caused the property owners along this new street to master plan their land concentrating on more job opportunities with commercial, retail and office space. There will be some residential but very little as the primary goal is to provide Glendale residents with more jobs.

The same objectives are being realized along 95th now that it is open and connects Glendale Avenue to Bethany Home Road. Many land parcels along this corridor are about to come forward for approval. The plans include a mix of apartments, office spaces, retail and entertainment venues.

The last piece of the immediate connectivity puzzle is the construction of Bethany Home Road (it will be called Cardinals Way) between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue. The construction of this road is the responsibility of the developers of the Stonehaven residential subdivision, Pulte Homes and the John F. Long Trust. Even though Stonehaven was approved in June of 2018 it is just now that the developers have finally begun any work on the road. At their current pace do not expect to see it completed until sometime in 2021.

Camelback Rd. looking west from 43rd Ave.

Major street reconstruction projects have begun with the reconstruction of Camelback Road starting on its east side from 43rd Avenue to 51st Avenue. I have lived in Glendale since 1968. That’s 51 years and in that time Camelback Road has never been reconstructed. Major arterial streets last usually have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. This type of work carries a large price tag of anywhere from $2 million to $5 million dollars per mile dependent upon the condition of the street. In this case, the city is also replacing the waterline that runs under this street.

Northern Parkway

The city in conjunction with its partners, Maricopa County, Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), El Mirage and Peoria, continue its relentless move of the Northern Parkway Project starting from its western side, the Loop 303, to its eastern termination at Grand Avenue (US 60). Currently work is being done in the El Mirage Road area. The next segment will extend to the western side of the Loop 101.

There are bus routes and street lighting that have changed for the better. The bus route on 83rd Avenue used to run from Camelback Road to Northern Avenue. In conjunction with Peoria, this route has been expanded and now goes beyond Northern to P83 and Bell Road. In this budget cycle I will be asking for funding to improve many of the bus stops that have a sign planted in the dirt identified as a bus stop.

All street lights in Glendale have now been converted to LED lighting. This initiative was my “ask” in the budget cycle of 2017. As a result of the completion of this initiative Glendale saves about half a million dollars a year in the cost of operating and maintenance. In addition it has received an annual rebate from APS of about another half million dollars resulting in one million dollars of reduced street light costs.

There is certainly more to call out and to brag about with regard to the progress Glendale has made in transportation. It would take far too much space to share it all. I have tried to highlight some of them. The point is that this city council  has made major investments in transportation to improve everyone’s quality of life, to catch up on long overdue roadway maintenance, to provide greater interconnectivity that will spur new economic development, and to adopt new cost saving initiatives that save taxpayer dollars.

My next blog will concentrate on economic development within the city. As a preview I continue to say that Glendale is hot! Glendale is the preferred location in the West Valley for some extraordinary development projects. Stay tuned…

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

The next Yucca district meeting in Glendale is Thursday, November 14th at 6:30 PM at Heroes Park Library (northeast corner of Bethany Home Road and 83rd Avenue).

Speakers will be:

  • City Manager Kevin Phelps
  • Assistant City Manager Chris Anaradian
  • Interim Police Chief Chris Briggs
  • Director of Transportation Trevor Ebersole
  • Planning Director Lisa Collins

These speakers will use the first half hour.  After their remarks, the floor will be open for residents to ask general questions and to make comments. Please use this time to make comments or ask questions that apply to the city as a whole and not specific to your situation.

After resident questions and comments, the speakers will be available to meet you individually and you can ask questions or make comments that are specific to you or your neighborhood.

Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP by Friday, November 8th so that we have a count on how many refreshments to provide. RSVP to sbeck@glendaleaz.com or call Shannon Beck at 623-930-2250.

Thank you. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Joyce

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

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

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

CHAA map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

One more swipe at the state legislature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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.

What is a BFR?  It stands for “Built for Rent” and is the current ‘flavor of the year’ in the building community. It is a community of single family rentals between 100 and 250 units.  That number of units is required to make it a viable project. Usually three or four different floor plans are available. The amenities vary by community and builder.

 Here are some photos of one such community under construction by Hancock Builders on the west side of 99th Avenue, just north of Camelback Road in Phoenix. . Hancock has already built 1,300 of the single family rental homes with 4,000 more in the development pipeline spread across 10 communities.

 

The builders producing these communities have similar business models. They build the communities themselves and then turn maintenance over to a third-party property manager with experience in multifamily. After the community is fully leased and operational, the builders have the option to sell individual houses within the community or sell the entire community itself to a high-net-worth individual, a multifamily real estate investment trust (REIT), or a single-family rental (SFR) operator like Invitation Homes or American Homes 4 Rent.

Ideally they are designed to be located where there is mass transportation and nearby amenities available such as in a Westgate or Zanjero. A BFR within or very near the Westgate/Zanjero developments is appropriate. But it is not appropriate in an area farther away from commercial/retail/entertainment areas and instead is surrounded by a sea of residential, owner occupied properties. The location at 75th Avenue and Bethany Home Road is not appropriate with the kind of density a project such as this brings.

Yet that is the request of Gammage & Burnham, attorneys representing the proposed developer, Elux and the Brown Group, is desiring to put a BFR community at the northeast corner of 75th Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Since 1984 the property has had a zoning designation of R 1-6 (residential, one to six homes to the acre).

 

Let’s look at what surrounds this parcel. To the east and south is R 1-6 zoning with established neighborhoods. To the west, just across 75th Avenue is Tessera, a gated community of R 1-7 (larger properties and homes). To the north it is zoned R 1-6 but the properties are at least one acre in size. Most are larger and are horse properties and include Griffin Avenue, a historic area.

The proposed developer has the property in escrow and it is assumed that a decision will not be made until after the neighborhood meeting occurring this week. That neighborhood meeting scheduled for:

this Wednesday, June 5th

at 6 pm

at Heroes Library (at northeast corner of Bethany and 83rd Avenue)

It will be your opportunity to learn the proposed details of this project but more importantly it will be your only opportunity to express your approval or disapproval of the proposed project.

I believe the location as well as the assumed density is not appropriate and I have expressed that to the applicant’s attorney already. But now they need to hear from you. I’d like to see 50 or more people at this Wednesday evening meeting. That would be a strong voice to convince the developer that their project is in the wrong location.

Please share this blog freely with your neighbors and friends. Information is critical. It is important that the people of Glendale come out to this meeting.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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