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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.

City logo June 30, 2017

Glendale, Arizona was incorporated on June 18, 1910, and had a population of just over 1,000 people. By 1940, its population was 4,800 and in 1950 it had grown to 8,170. In 1964, the population had grown to 42,000 and when I moved to Glendale in 1968, it had a population of 45,000. By 1975, it grew to 67,000. From then until 2010, in a period of just over 40 years, its population exploded and quadrupled to 226,721. Today, in 2022, its population has expanded to 263,000. Expect to see another 10,000 to 20,000 added over the next five years. It is the 7th largest city in Arizona and the 87th largest city in the United States.

All other West Valley cities, historically, developed much later than Glendale and most of them still contain vast amounts of raw land just waiting for development. Glendale, on the other hand, is truly a mixture of the old and the new. South of Northern Avenue is the old Glendale. You can tell the old Glendale from new Glendale just by looking at it.

Arrowhead Ranch, a premier area in north Glendale, at one time was destined to die and was saved in the early 1980s by a city investment of $80 to $100 million for its infrastructure. The strategy to have all the infrastructure already in place made the area attractive to developers and relieved them of the burden of paying for it.  It caused Arrowhead to take off like a rocket.  If you would like to learn more about the land that became Arrowhead Ranch, I refer you to this article written by Jen Fitfield in 2020:   https://www.pressreader.com/usa/the-arizona-republic/20200223/281947429877999 . The article is substantially accurate although I disagree with some of the material presented.

The city’s investment in Arrowhead included but was not limited to roads and drainage, provision of water and sewer services and operation of the sewage plant. It was not without cost. That major investment sucked the financial oxygen from the rest of the city, especially the older portions. In essence, old Glendale, through its tax base paid for new Glendale. For at least a decade, while dollars were being spent to save the dream of Arrowhead, funding was not available to maintain, preserve or beautify the rest of Glendale. Portions of the city languished while in other portions outright decay occurred. Once decay and blight take hold, unless immediate measures are taken to stamp it out, it becomes like sludge and oozes outward consuming anything in its path.

It is time to pay attention to old Glendale. I’ve been thinking about this idea for quite some time. I am calling for a major campaign by our City Council and senior management to focus on the beautification of Glendale. It should include several elements. Although the city has recently and justifiably spent $125,000 on beautification of the rights-of-way in the Ocotillo district, it has not made the same commitment to other older portions of the city. There must be a commitment to remediate those areas as well. All city rights-of-way (ROW) should be adequately graveled, with abundant desert landscaped plants and trees, and free of litter.

An element of a beautification campaign must include overlay or special zoning designed to protect areas from oversaturation of unwanted uses. City Council must identify those uses which are not positive for an area. Those uses could include but are not limited to tattoo parlors, pawn shops, loan shops, convenience stores, automotive repair/retail uses, liquor stores, etc.

 At one time, the city had a liquor density criteria, limiting the number of retail liquor stores within a one mile radius. Sadly, that has been abandoned. Today, you can travel some of the city’s major arterials and see several tattoo parlors, a couple of tire shops and a couple of package liquor stores, one after another. This should not be my Glendale or your Glendale.

I suggest that the city place a cap on the number of ‘unhealthy neighborhood’ retail establishments. Hypothetically, say the city has 100 tattoo parlors throughout the city. I believe we have every right to say “no more” and that we have reached the saturation point and we will not discriminate but will limit the number of a use within our city. The same type of cap should be placed on other non-beneficial uses determined by consensus of the council.

In addition, the city must offer incentives to attract beneficial, retail uses such as small, grocery stores (that offer wholesome food choices and not incidental to liquor sales), cafes, bakeries, professional services such as insurance, medical offices, etc.

The city over the past several years has rewritten and adopted many code changes. Some of them will be considered as too harsh but that consideration is usually made by the worst offenders. Many, although not all of the changes, were made by a citizens Code Review Committee and approved by the council. Some were generated by employees of various departments.

Often councilmembers have been told that code has been hampered in its ability to do all that has been asked of it because it has been understaffed. To that end, in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 budget a majority of council has authorized the addition of 4 more code inspectors which will make the department fully staffed.

I would like the code department’s use of “Focus Areas” resurrected. This strategy used in the early 2000s quite successfully. A code inspector, often with input from the community, would identify a specific area, usually no larger than ½ mile, as a Focus Area. Letters would be sent to every resident informing them of the designation as well as identifying the most common code violations and that they could expect code to be in their neighborhood to cite all violations. They would be asked to be proactive and to correct their issues prior to a code inspector’s issuance of a warning or violation. The residents in that collective area would be given 30 days to remediate issues after which an inspection would occur, and any remaining violations would be cited. It was very successful because it provided education to the residents, gave them time to correct any violations on their own and resulted in very few actual citations. Many neighborhoods were cleaned up and blight was removed. We haven’t done this program for 15 or 20 years. With full staffing in code there is no valid reason why this program can’t be implemented again.

Another program begging to be reinstituted is the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Prior to the Great Recession in 2007, the city made small dollar grants to neighborhoods that identified a specific beautification project they wanted to accomplish. It was required that the project beautify a neighborhood and that the work be performed by volunteers from the neighborhood. There was an application process and a citizens’ committee that made the decision on awarding the grants. Neighbors would volunteer their time toward the revitalization project and the grant paid for supplies. One of the criteria today should be that this is for neighborhoods 40 years old or older, any neighborhood established before 1982. The Revitalization Office even kept an inventory of tools, such as hoes, rakes, lawn mowers, shovels, hammers, etc. and they were lent out to the neigbhborhood volunteers to undertake their project, much like one would borrow a book from our library.

Another element to recapture our blighted neighborhoods is a return to the “Broken Windows” theory of policing first used in the 1980s in New York City and Boston.  The theory is that when a neighborhood looks trashy, hence the term “Broken Window” (code’s responsibility) and minor crimes are allowed to proliferate, that sends a signal to the criminal element to move in and take over. It takes a concerted effort, a partnership between the Police Department and Code Department to target neighborhood areas of blight. Unfortunately, these are underserved areas of our community.

Lastly, adding art to neighborhoods demonstrates yet another level of city commitment toward beautification. The city has a dedicated arts fund and a beneficial use of these substantial art funds would be to bring art elements into older neighborhoods (to start) signaling that our city is committed to clean, safe and beautiful neighborhoods.

To recap these are the programs I believe Glendale must implement to successfully beautify Glendale:

  • Beautify all rights-of-way throughout the city
  • Implement special zoning to cap certain retail uses throughout the city
  • Implement a city incentive program to attract more beneficial retail uses adjacent to neighborhoods
  • Support city council’s decision to add additional code inspectors
  • Reimplement the use of “Focus Areas” in neighborhoods
  • Reimplement the Neighborhood Revitalization Program
  • Reimplement the “Broken Window” theory
  • Add art elements to neighborhoods

These initiatives will not result in instant remediation but over time we can and will see our neighborhoods improve. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will beautification of our city occur overnight. The first step in the most important and that is to get each of these elements established, funded and up and running.

Every resident in Glendale should be able to live in clean, safe and beautiful neighborhoods, free from crime and blight. It’s a quality of life issue that translates into preserving or even increasing your property’s value.

I am proud of Glendale and all that it has accomplished but there is more work yet to be done. Will you join me in support of a “Beautify Glendale” initiative?  I have created an online petition at the ipetitions website.  Let our city council know that you support such an effort. I will leave the petition up for a month or so. Please tell your friends and neighbors throughout Glendale about this effort and ask them to join us. Can we get a thousand signatures? Please go to: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/beautify-glendale-az . The time is now.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      


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.

It has been 17 years and 100 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

shopping cart 2Broken windows remain a problem in so many Glendale neighborhoods, especially in south Glendale. There are many “Broken Window Neighborhoods” (BWN) in Glendale but they are especially prevalent in the Ocotillo, Cactus and Yucca council districts.

The Broken Window Theory (BTW) is a result of a 1982 article by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. The Broken Window Theory states that signs of disorder, like graffiti, dirty streets, overgrown weeds, abandoned shopping carts, illegal dumping in vacant lots, etc., leads to social disorder…not just petty crimes but eventually more serious crimes such as robbery, burglary and murder. The authors of BTW offered that one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares and ignoring little problems creates a sense of irreversible decline that leads people to abandon the community (neighborhood) or to stay away.

A case in point is a Broken Window Neighborhood in the Ocotillo district in the area of 70th Avenue and Sierra Vista Avenue. The people who care in that neighborhood are frustrated and angry beyond belief. Over 6 months ago they contacted their council representative, Jamie Aldama. His response was to send them thank you notes for their concern and a promise that he would take action.graffitti Since then the neighbors contend that he has been AWOL. Their contention to Aldama, in part, remains to this day, Not only are things still not resolved, (some of them you claimed to already be working on prior to meeting with us), and some situations have become worse.  I have spoken with many City employees regarding the outreach you claimed to have been involved in to solve several of these issues.  No one has reported any interactions from you and/or representatives of your office.”

They feel it is almost a full time job for them to fight the City to take care of these issues. They recognize that city silence and its consequent inaction is acquiescence and they believe that is the root of the problems they have in their neighborhood.

This is an age old problem but perhaps it is time for this city council to take a fresh look at a cancer that can consume a neighborhood almost overnight.  Here are some initiatives that have been suggested over the years by neighborhood leaders fighting this persistent issue:

  • The action to save a neighborhood must involve all city departments, from the city attorney’s office to zoning. All departments must play a part in a concerted and targeted effort to revitalize a neighborhood.
  • For purposes of code compliance and action, legal or otherwise, a special zoning designation of “Broken Window Neighborhood” (BWN) must be created.
  • Within the BWN specific, targeted code enforcement and legal action will be allowed.
  • Any businesses within a BWN should be audited to make sure that they have a business license and are paying the required sales tax.
  • Multi-family within a BWN would be required to have its management take the city’s Crime Free program that targets apartment complexes.
  • Code compliance often falls back on rhetoric that they do not have the legal authority to enforce certain actions. It’s time they were tasked with creating innovative actions that would not only allow them to do so but would actively require such action.
  • City attorneys often do not take code infractions to court claiming that the case is not strong enough and therefore not winnable. It’s time that these attorneys worried less about their win-loss records in court and realized that making a bad actor go to court to defend irresponsible actions are in and of itself a deterrent to future bad actions.
  • Some specific codes will need review and reform. One that comes to mind is window coverage of a business. Have you ever seen a convenience store where nearly every inch of front window space is covered with ads? Not only is it a safety issue but it is one that contributes to visual blight. What about a business that puts 20 or 30 items out in front of its store? An example is a tire repair store with racks of tires in front of the business. More visual blight.
  • Codes relating to residences also need review but more importantly code compliance needs to be aggressively enforcing existent codes. If they achieve compliance without going to court, that is wonderful. But if the resident does not comply, the situation should not be allowed to fester for months and months.
  • While code compliance is working within the BWN, it requires the public works department to repair broken sidewalks, make sure all existent street lights are functioning properly, adding further lighting where necessary and applying resurfacing of streets where applicable. The fire department should be checking all fire hydrants in the BWN neighborhood and offering fire hazard education and smoke detectors. Even the police department has a role to play by intense patrolling of the BWN and enforcing even the most minor violation. Streets and transportation can check to see if there are streets that are more prone to speeding and following up with actions to decrease the activity. The water department can outreach neighbors whose yards are less than spectacular and work with them to install an irrigation system or to desert landscape. Sanitation can educate about the appropriate time to place trash receptacles on the street and can enforce existent law when some put out loose trash the day after it has been collected for the month. How about putting out a dumpster to encourage neighbors to clean up their properties and remove visual blight? What about using the Community Action Program to assist low income or seniors to get a house painted or a yard desert landscaped? When you start to think about it, there is so much that could be done that is not being done.
  • Other departments, such as media and communications need to join in the effort by preparing and distributing media that alert and educate a neighborhood to the action about to begin. The councilmember should hold a district meeting in the designated neighborhood to offer contact information and to educate. Even parks and recreation has a part to play by creating neighborhood activities for children that brings families together, introduces neighbor to neighbor and also becomes another catalyst for action and education. The point is, every city department has a role to play, working together to attack one BWN at a time.
  • All of the above should be applicable only within a specific, newly created zoning designation of Broken Window Neighborhood.

shopping cartThe first BWN should be small as a pilot project to see what works and what doesn’t work. Make no mistake, so many of these neighborhoods have been ignored for years. Attacking a long festering problem is like guerilla warfare. It’s tough, brutal and takes no prisoners but many of these neighborhoods need the city’s attention with new and innovative strategies. They need city departments that say “I can” rather than “I can’t because…”.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Glendale created a model program that is emulated by other cities? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Glendale generated positive publicity about itself rather than having the world focus exclusively on its financial stresses? You bet it would.

© Joyce Clark, 2015


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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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