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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.

Every ten years, Glendale is required to redraw its City Council districts based on data from the U.S. Census. The process is called redistricting and the goal is to make sure each Council district has approximately equal population.

Let’s begin with the Census data for 2020 provided to the city.  On July of 2019 the Census Bureau’s estimated population for Glendale was 252,387. It’s final, official count of Glendale is 248,325.

Everyone in the State believes the Bureau’s count is wrong and the population was undercounted. Experts said they expected to see even higher rates of growth. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., who specializes in census data and urban populations, said he expected to see a higher growth rate in Arizona. Cities with council districts redraw those boundaries every 10 years after each U.S. census.

Four cities looking to redistrict by the next election in November include: 

  • Mesa
  • Glendale
  • Peoria
  • Buckeye

Other Valley cities, such as Chandler, Scottsdale and Goodyear, don’t use a district system,      instead electing council members on a citywide basis.

Look at this chart for Glendale.

City-data.com got its numbers from the Maricopa County estimates. I have no idea how the County arrived at these figures.

Please note, according to Census data, that every council district but the Yucca district added from 2,000+ in population to 6,000+ in population. Yet the Yucca district supposedly lost 315. Can anyone in their right mind believe this? The Yucca district has exploded over the last 10 years with new residential subdivisions (Copper Cove, Bethany Ranch and Positano to name just a few) as well as new apartment complexes. Yet, in the past ten years the Yucca district lost 315 people? Ridiculous. It’s nuts. The data makes no sense. The city should be requesting a recount of the Yucca district data. Someone, somewhere screwed up. If you put garbage in, garbage comes out. I suspect that the Yucca district, in fact, gained about 10,000 in population over the last decade.

Not only that, but the Census Bureau has also been late in releasing census block data (will do so this month, September) on population counts, the very data needed to redraw districts.  As a result, Glendale has until December 15, 2021, about 3 months, to submit their new council districts to the State.

Here are the guidelines, city council adopted, that shall be used to redraw the districts:

  • Each district shall respect communities of interest as much as possible;
  • District borders shall follow visible natural and man-made geographical and topographical features as much as possible;
  • District borders shall be drawn to avoid locating more than one current Councilmember in any one district as much as possible;
  • Each new district shall preserve the corresponding existing district’s population and territory as much as possible;
  • Districts known to be areas of higher-than-average population growth in the two to five years following redistricting, based on development projects that have received final plat approval from the City, may be under populated within the population deviation amounts allowed by law;
  • To the extent possible, consistent with constitutional law and the requirements of federal and state statutes, each district shall contain a substantially equal number of electors.

 

 

 

The city has created a dedicated web site allowing all Glendale residents not only information about the redistricting process but on or about September 16th the public can see the population data by census block and draw their own redistricting maps. Here is the link to the web site:

https://glendaleaz.com/your_government/connect/departments/city_clerk/redistricting/current_district_map

You can learn more and get involved by attending one of three public Glendale workshops. By the time of these city hosted workshops occur the appropriate data should be available on the city website to any citizen who wants it. Here are the workshop dates:

 Monday, September 20  2:00 p.m. Glendale City Council Chambers
5850 W. Glendale Avenue
 Wednesday, September 22  10:00 a.m. Glendale Main Library Auditorium
5959 W. Brown Street
 Monday, September 27  6:30 p.m. Foothills Recreation & Aquatics Center
Coyote Room
5600 W. Union Hills Drive

Why should we focus on redistricting whether it be on a local, state or national level? We all vote for those representatives that most closely align with our values and goals. With redrawn districts you may find that now you are in a district that has a representative with whose values and goals with which you disagree. By involving yourselves in the redistricting process your input will contribute toward making sure that your representative actually represents you.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 is more practical and factual information that comprised Glendale’s business decision to decline to renew the agreement with the Coyotes.

Perhaps the most important reason driving Glendale’s decision is the fact that the 18-year-old arena is due for face lift. If you have attended a game at the Cardinals Stadium, you would be aware that for the past few years the Cardinals and AZSTA have invested in upgrading the stadium making a more comfortable and accessible fan experience. The stadium these days is truly amazing, and the fans love the new look and the new accommodations.

The city is planning for the future of the arena. Should it renovate the arena to accommodate the Coyotes’ fan experience when Alex Meruelo is insistent on a short-term lease arrangement of 3 to 5 years? Does that make sense? Where is the cost benefit to the city in doing so? There is none. 

With the Coyotes gone and a renewed emphasis on concerts and other events over the next 20 years, the configuration of the arena can be designed to accommodate the concert and event goers experience. In other words, the arena upgrades would be designed one way for sports fans and a totally different way for concert and event attendees.

That is why when the city began to negotiate with the Coyotes ownership a year ago its goal was to obtain a long-term lease of 18 to 20 years. If the city were to upgrade the arena to accommodate fans it needed the assurance of a long-term lease. Unfortunately, the ownership group made clear that they were only interested in a 3-to-5-year lease time frame.

Decisions regarding an upgrade to the arena are critical. That is why Glendale did not make its decision regarding the Coyotes agreement lightly and without consulting our partners and stakeholders or looking critically at the economic facts.

Another reason is related to historical revenue sharing agreements with every Coyotes ownership group. To retain the team and to assist with their financial viability, the Coyotes retain nearly all of the revenue generated by games. The team historically has kept all the revenue earned from naming rights for the arena and parking revenues. Their rental payment was extremely generous and arguably one of the best deals in the country.

The Applied Economics study says per capita, the Coyotes generate $28 per game in spending as opposed to a concert where the per capita is $58 and another event per capita is $35. Coyotes’ fans tend to stay inside the arena and buy food, etc., within it. Due to the Coyotes revenue sharing agreements, the city earns very little revenue on purchases inside the arena and none on parking or naming rights. On the other hand, concert and event attendees often dine in Westgate before a concert or event or may book an overnight stay at a Westgate hotel. There are no revenue constraints and therefore the tax revenues earned by the city are greater.

I’ve related why Westgate and the city have come of age. Both entities see an even more exciting future ahead. Reliance upon the Coyotes to keep Westgate financially viable is no longer a reality. I’ve also related the history of the Coyotes ownerships. A turnover of 6 different entities with differing agendas and a historical lack of partnership with the city made the situation extremely difficult during the past 18 years.

The decision to decline renewal of the agreement was a reasoned one based upon sound economic data and the need to make critical decisions regarding the arena’s future use.  Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, still believes our decision is strictly a negotiating ploy to get more money from any deal. Someone should be whispering in his ear that nothing could be further from reality. The city’s decision is final. I wish the Coyotes much luck and success in their future endeavors.

There is one more thought that I want to share, and it is this. Over 18 years the City of Glendale has demonstrated, with financial investments, its commitment to keeping the Coyotes in the State of Arizona. We invested $185 million in the construction of the arena. For goodness’ sake, we paid the NHL $50 million to keep the Coyotes in Arizona while it searched for a new owner. Over the 18 years the city has invested about $307 million keeping the Coyotes in Arizona — with no help…from the state, the county or any other entity in the region. We did it alone. We put skin in the game – literally.

As Arizona Republic sports columnist Kent Somers said, When is the last time you heard of a city kicking a sports franchise out of the house?”

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 very first owner of the Coyotes to land in Glendale was Steve Ellman. Ellman bought the team from Richard Burke in 2001. How did Ellman end up in Glendale for he dearly wanted to be in Scottsdale? When Scottsdale rejected the idea, Ellman went shopping, looking for cheap land for his grand vision of a hockey arena to be surrounded by commercial/retail to compliment the arena. I remember at the time, early 2000s, staff indicated to city council that they wanted to show Ellman the old Valley West Mall parcel at 59th Avenue and Northern Avenue as a possible site. Council gave the go-ahead. Staff took him on a helicopter ride over Glendale. When Ellman saw the Valley West Mall site he said it would never work because the arterial roads would not be able to handle the anticipated traffic. On that same fateful visit he saw all of the agricultural land adjacent to the Loop 101 and said that was his preference for a site.

When staff reported back to council with Ellman’s feedback, I was aghast. I was not supportive of a hockey arena in Glendale. In an effort to perhaps kill the deal, I insisted that Ellman be tied to Valley West Mall in a redevelopment project. I thought he would balk and walk away. I was wrong. He agreed to redevelop Valley West Mall and did so. The hockey arena would be built.

Ellman never engaged with Glendale or worked to develop a real relationship as a partner. Who knows why? I don’t. The city tried to engage him, but nothing ever developed. Ellman was very successful in booking major recording artists into the arena during his ownership tenure. I remember in particular, seeing Bette Midler, among others, perform there in the arena’s early years.

Jerry Moyes, Swift Trucking Company owner, became the team’s second owner when Ellman sold the team to him in 2005.  Moyes, a businessman, appeared to many observers, to take little interest in the team. There were also rumors that he was reluctant to invest in the team. He, too, never engaged with Glendale to build a mutually successful partnership. In 2008, Moyes declared bankruptcy and after a yearlong legal battle, the NHL took ownership of the team in 2008, according to bankruptcy court documents.

In essence, the NHL became the team’s 3rd owner in the space of 8 years. The NHL was merely a caretaker for the team while they desperately tried to acquire a new owner. I remember there were 4 or 5 entities in the race to buy the team. The one that impressed me the most was Greg Jamison. He was a true gentleman and eager to create that long missing partnership with Glendale. He had tons of hockey knowledge and experience due to his many years with the San Jose Sharks. He knew what it would take to put a good team on the ice. He put together a consortium of investors willing to invest their own money rather than saddle themselves with enormous debt but unfortunately, he was out maneuvered by one Anthony LeBlanc, one of Jamison’s very own investors and soon to become the new owner.

The 4th owners became Ice Arizona, led by George Gosbee/Anthony LeBlanc in 2013. The trouble with this ownership group was money. LeBlanc et. al., used very little of their own.  They borrowed nearly all the purchase price from various institutions and even got a loan of $70 million from the NHL. They were always cash poor. To observers it appeared as if they were a group of guys who got together to acquire a new play toy. They seemed to revel in owning a hockey franchise but when it came to creating a great product on the ice, they were not very adept. Again, no partnership with Glendale ever developed.

Andrew Barroway was one of the original Ice Arizona partners. By 2016, he acquired a majority interest in ownership and became the 5th owner of the Coyotes. I never met Mr. Barroway and I’m not sure anyone on city council ever met him either. I have no idea as to whether he was good or bad for the team. But, again, no partnership with the city ever developed. He seems to have been an absentee owner.

Which leads us to the latest and 6th owner of the Coyotes. In 2019, Alex Meruelo bought the team. I have never met Mr. Meruelo and only know that he is a successful businessman. From the day of his purchase he has publicly stated, along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, that Glendale will not be a part of the Coyotes future and he planned to actively pursue a new location. Obviously, there has been no development of a partnership with the city.

How does the Coyotes saga of ownership compare with other Valley Sports teams? Here’s a graphic that depicts the string of ownerships of all of our teams:

The multiple ownerships in Coyotes history would appear to play a significant part in its ability to become a successful team. A string of different owners with their own agendas did nothing to stabilize the team and to create a successful product on the ice.

I, and the city, harbor no ill will toward Mr. Meruelo. He has made what he believes to be his best business decision to create a successful team. I respect that. In my next blog, I will comment on why retaining the Coyotes is not the best business model for Glendale.

The long-held myth has always been that Glendale was not a good site because the fan base is in the East Valley. I don’t necessarily buy into the myth. If that were the case, the Cardinals would never successfully fill their stadium, game after game.

I remember attending a West Valley economic summit years ago. The one comment made by the featured speaker, Elliot Pollack, a well-respected Arizona economist, was that Glendale was destined to become the geographic center of the Valley. As each year passes, this concept comes closer and closer to reality. West Valley cities, such as Buckeye, Avondale, Litchfield Park, Surprise and Peoria are all experiencing population explosions. At some point, the West Valley’s population will surpass that of the East Valley’s. That appears to be coming to fruition now. As the media have reported, Buckeye and Goodyear are both among the 10 fastest-growing cities in the United States. Buckeye has grown faster than any city in the country as its population grew in the last decade by 80%. There is the potential explosion of a fan base in the West Valley, but a team must work to cultivate it. All the team’s past owners failed to do so.

Another concept never fully appreciated is that we are primarily a population that moved here from somewhere else. I came from New Jersey. Over the years, I have overwhelmingly met “transplants” as opposed to native Arizonans. We came here with team favorites already encoded into our DNA and it’s difficult to embrace a new team as one’s favorite, especially when there is no compelling reason to do so.

We are “fair weather fans.” What would constitute a compelling reason to become an avid fan? It’s pretty obvious. A good team…a winning team. Witness the Suns and their recent run for the basketball championship. Everyone wanted to attend a game and tickets were selling like hotcakes at exorbitant prices. Every time the Coyotes were in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup, the fans came out selling out the arena and the “White Out” was born. There was no talk of East Valley fans vs. West Valley fans.

I am not trying to sell the notion of the Coyotes remaining in Glendale. That ship has sailed. It is not in our best business interest for the Coyotes to remain and the city has stated repeatedly that its decision is not a negotiating ploy. I just wanted to highlight other factors that are contributory to poor attendance.

The old saying, “build it and they will come” is still a valid statement but with a jaded society with so many entertainment choices, it’s incumbent upon every sports team to create a compelling reason for a consumer to spend what is often a great deal of money to attend a sporting event. The Coyotes, under a series of confusing ownerships, never created a compelling reason to become an avid hockey fan.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 Coyotes Press Release issued on Thursday, August 19, 2021, stated, We are hopeful that they (Glendale) will reconsider a move that would primarily damage the small businesses and hard-working citizens of Glendale.” It appears to be a veiled reference to Westgate’s businesses and seems to infer that they will suffer mightily with the loss of 42 Coyotes games per season.

It’s time to look back at the history of Westgate. It’s only rationale for existence in 2003 was the deliberate development by the city of Glendale’s hockey arena. When it opened in 2003, it was surrounded by a sea of vacant land, some of it was still agricultural. Fans came to the arena for the games and left immediately after the games because there was nothing for them to do or experience.

Steve Ellman failed to develop any of the adjacent commercial/retail for 2 years. It wasn’t until 2006, limited development opened with a few restaurants. Westgate, now in its infancy, began to grow and take shape. The Cardinals Stadium, Cabela’s, the AMC Theater and a few restaurants also opened in that year. Followed a year later, 2007, by the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. This is what the early Westgate looked like.

By 2012 Ellman could not weather the aftereffects of the economic storm and shed himself of Westgate as it went into bankruptcy. One of institutions that had loaned him the money for the project, IStar, took over Westgate.

Back then, the arena and stadium were the anchor tenants that kept the nascent Westgate afloat especially through the national recession that ended in 2009. Even though the recession officially ended in 2009, everyone, including Westgate felt its effects for several more years. IStar, as a major lending institution, held on to this property knowing its future potential. It did a credible job of keeping Westgate intact and growing. Since 2012, iStar had executed over 50 retail and office leases totaling in excess of 260,000 square feet, converted two floors of vacant office space into 76 luxury loft-style residential units, and brought to the district multiple new entertainment options including Dave & Busters and Tavern+Bowl.

Tanger Outlet Mall opened in 2012 and everything changed. iStar partnered with Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. to build the successful 400,000 square foot Tanger Outlets, Westgate. Tanger with its nearly 90 stores became the catalyst for more restaurants landing in Westgate for there are no restaurants within Tanger. Tanger patrons began crossing 95th Avenue to eat at Westgate’s restaurants. More restaurants located in Westgate as a result. Tanger Outlets was the beginning of less reliance on Coyotes games to keep Westgate alive.

In 2018, Bob Parsons, GoDaddy founder, bought Westgate for $133 million. Parsons said at the time of purchase, The potential at Westgate is huge. Westgate currently offers visitors a wide variety of entertainment options, but we’re looking to develop features that will entice even more visitors and residents to this unique and vibrant Valley location.”

In the past four years, due to Bob Parsons and his team (YAM Properties), Westgate has become even more vibrant with 38 restaurants, hotels, condos, apartments, and office space. It has become an economic powerhouse in the state and where businesses want to locate. Coming next to Dave & Buster’s will be Tiger Woods’ Pop Golf and Tesla has built a service center on the south side of Glendale Avenue. Some of the long tenured tenants, despite learning that the Coyotes are leaving, remain enthusiastic about investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into upgrading their venues. They know there is more to Westgate than the Coyotes and that more exciting development is coming before the Super Bowl in 2023.

YAM has done an exceptional marketing job for Westgate. Everyone in the Valley knows of Westgate. On any given night you can find some kind of activity in and around Westgate. Westgate is truly a sports and entertainment district.

Just to reemphasize how well Westgate is doing, this week in the Business Journal there was an article about the 7 new businesses coming to Westgate:

  • The Tesla Service Center will offer remote diagnostics, pre-diagnosed repairs and a retail showroom for model vehicles
  • Tacos Culichi, a popular Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, will open another location near Sunrise Boulevard.
  • First Watch is an American restaurant chain that offers a mix of breakfast, brunch and lunch classics. 
  • Bruster’s Ice Cream, another American chain, will open its third Arizona location at the district next to the Aloft Hotel. 
  • Pokitrition, a local shop, serves customizable poke bowls and sushi burritos. 
  • PopStroke Entertainment, which is owned by golf legend Tiger Woods and Greg Bartoli, announced plans to open in the Westgate Entertainment District. 
  • Cupbop, opened at the northeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Hanna Lane in the entertainment district,
  • NakedQ BBQ, a barbecue joint, opened its third Valley location at Westgate

As reported in the Business Journal, “Oren Hartman, the owner of the NakedQ BBQ and head pit boss, said he’s looked at moving to the area for years, but decided the timing was right with ‘all the great growth out here’. He went on to say, ‘With the continued growth and population out here, with the commitment from YAM and Westgate to keep building up and making the facility better, and just to be around some world-class tenants, those were all the main reasons that we came over’.”

In a previous statement as part of the city’s Press Release, Dan Dahl said he supports the city’s decision to end negotiations with the Coyotes. The Business Journal received further comment from Mr. Dahl, “Westgate is not solely dependent on sports programming and the announcement doesn’t take away the endless potential we have to offer the area,” he said in an email on Tuesday. “Several of our tenants, including many restaurants, are experiencing increased activity and strong sales numbers every night of the week. Many even exceed pre-Covid numbers despite the events and activities still coming back slowly.” 

Perhaps the most consequential development scheduled to open in the Fall of 2023 is the Crystal Island Lagoon Resort located at 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way in the Westgate footprint. With its 3 hotels, 7 specialty retail islands, a 12-acre lagoon for public use, Mattel Amusement Park and much, much more it is anticipated to attract between 2 and 5 million visitors in its first year.

Westgate has grown up as has the City of Glendale. The city commissioned an economic study of the fiscal impact of Westgate with the Coyotes and without the Coyotes (replacing the team dates with other major events). The Applied Economics report revealed that, “In terms of spending at Westgate only (outside the arena) it would take approximately 20 additional concerts or large other events (with attendance of 10,000+) to equal the same amount of sales tax revenues to the city as 43 Coyotes games.”

Another important element of the Applied Economics study revealed was a comparison of per capita spending for a Coyotes game vs. a concert vs. another event. Per capita, the Coyotes generate $28 per game. A concert per capita is $58 and another event per capita is $35.

Currently, discounting last year which was severely impacted by Covid, the arena already books about 10 – 12 major events a year. With the Coyotes no longer consuming 42+ days (game days and practice days), there is confidence that an additional 20 days of major events can be booked. Keep in mind, the Coyotes actually tie up 200 days a year. Let me take a moment to explain what that means to the arena. In the fall, arena management must submit to the NHL 200 open days during which games can be scheduled there. However, the NHL doesn’t post its league schedule until the following spring at which time the arena finally learns which 42 game days must be preserved. Imagine trying to book other events when 200 days are in limbo for 6 months of the year.

When the Coyotes claim that their departure “would primarily damage the small businesses,” that is no longer an accurate statement. Like Pinocchio, their nose continues to grow longer and longer.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 want to emphasize that these comments reflect my position and do not represent the position of the city council as a whole or that of senior management.

I have received many queries about Glendale’s recent announcement and I wanted to take the opportunity of posting in my blog to share my position on the issue.

On Thursday, August 19, 2021, Glendale issued a Press Release announcing that it would not renew its year-to-year agreement for use of its arena by the Coyotes. Both parties have been operating under a year-to-year agreement for several years. Within the agreement is the stipulation that either party can decide not to renew the agreement for an additional year by providing written notice each year on or before December 31st. Glendale has provided notice to the Coyotes that it has declined to renew this year-to-year agreement. This means that the upcoming season will be the last in our arena, and they must vacate the facility by June 30, 2021.  As a courtesy the city provided notice before December to allow the Coyotes as much time as possible to realign their future.

I have been on city council for over 20 years, during the long and tortuous history of the Coyotes. I was there when the city built the arena. I was there when the city paid the NHL to manage the team for 2 years to keep the team in the state.  Over the years I have supported the Coyotes through 5 different ownerships because I believed they were necessary for the financial vitality of a fledgling Westgate area. I know that Glendale, time and again, took action that kept the Coyotes in Arizona for the past 18 years. Glendale has proven its historical commitment to the Coyotes.

For me, my reasoning is based on a sound, business decision. I am guided by what is best, at this time, for Glendale and its 253,000 residents. This impactful decision was not made hastily or in a vacuum. Input was sought from key stakeholders, the city’s expert economist and our arena management firm. In fact, there will be a positive budgetary impact to the arena and the city with no hockey team or hockey operations taking place.

I bear no animus toward the team or its ownership. In fact, I wish them good luck and much success in their future. They, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, have repeatedly said they have no future remaining in Glendale and I concur. They believe they will regain their financial health by playing somewhere other than Glendale. That is their belief and their choice.

Westgate has come of age. I believe the Westgate area is successful in its own right. There are limitless and wonderful opportunities for the Sports & Entertainment area turning it into an even greater powerhouse, unparalleled in the Valley. That is my belief and guides my choice.

In 20 years, the Westgate area has grown and matured, earning its present success. Westgate’s Sports & Entertainment District has never been more financially healthy than it is right now. More than a billion dollars of investment has occurred during the past three years. Witness the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort project, Tiger Woods’ Pop Golf project and Tesla’s project. Economic development is booming in the area at an unprecedented level. Over the next year, the city will be announcing many new projects coming to this area. In addition, long time commercial tenants in the area are planning on updating and refreshing their venues.  They know that Westgate is integral to their success. There is a tremendous sense of optimism throughout the area.

Westgate Entertainment District/Yam properties issued the following in support of Glendale’s decision, “The City of Glendale has been a great partner for us, and we support its decisions regarding the arena, said Dan Dahl, Director of Real Estate for YAM properties.”

It’s time to split the blanket. The Coyotes have wanted to do so for several years. Glendale now realizes that it is in their best business interest to agree.

In the coming week I will offer more commentary on this event. Stay tuned.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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.

For the past twenty years in my role as Yucca District councilmember a major goal has always been to preserve 83rd Avenue as a large lot corridor. Nearly every acre of land between Bethany Home Road and Camelback Road on either side of 83rd Avenue based upon Glendale’s General Plan is classified as Low Density Residential (1 to 2.5 dwelling units to an acre) and is zoned SR-17 (Suburban Residence, minimum lot size 17,000) and has been since the 1980s.

If you travel north on 83rd Avenue from Camelback Road to Bethany on the east there is Orange Drive (large lot properties); an area of custom-built homes on large lots centered around Georgia Avenue; Missouri Estates (circa 2006), a large lot gated community; and Montebello Drive (large lot properties). On the west side of 83rd Avenue traveling north, there is a series of 4 homesteads all on 4 acres or more; Oregon Avenue (large lot properties); then Missouri Ranch, a large lot subdivision; and even the dreaded Stonehaven residential development has its largest lots abutting 83rd Avenue.

About a month or so ago I was invited to meet with Jon Froke, representing the property owner at 5136 N. 83rd Avenue, and the daughter of the property owner. They indicated that her parents, owners of the property, had become older and were ready to sell their 4.58 acres. They asked what I thought would be appropriate for the site and I indicated that historically 83rd Avenue is a large lot corridor and had been so for at least 30 years.

This is something Jon Froke knows quite well. For years he worked in Glendale’s Planning Department ending his career in Glendale as its Planning Director. He had worked with me in the past to preserve 83rd Avenue as one of the very few large lot corridors in Glendale.

Now he works for clients that want to maximize the sale of their properties and assists them in getting zoning that ensures that goal. I understand the property owners’ desire to sell their property at the best possible price per acre. How is that achieved? By getting city permission (it is called ‘entitlement’) to place as many residential units per acre as possible. That is why the property owners are asking to change the zoning from SR-17 (Suburban Residence, 1 to 2.5 housing units to the acre) to R-2 (Mixed Residence, up to 12 housing units to the acre). As important as it is for the property owners to get as much as possible for their land, it is not appropriate to do so at the expenses of every large lot owner in this incredibly special 83rd Avenue corridor. It also sets an example for the 3 large lot property owners to the north of this parcel that they, too, will be able to succeed in getting the same zoning, R-2, for their land. It is a poor precedent for this area.

According to Glendale code, those on the Planning Department’s persons of interest list and property owners within 300 feet of the boundaries of this parcel can receive notification letters of changes or neighborhood meetings. This is the letter that was sent out:

June 4, 2021

Adam Froke

Jon M. Froke Urban Planning LLC

11225 North 28th Drive, Suite D 105

Phoenix, AZ 85029

(623) 256-9207

adam@frokeurbanplanning.co

Subject: Village 83

Dear Neighbor,

This letter is to inform you that I am applying for a General Plan Amendment and Rezoning Application with the City of Glendale. The property is located along 83rd Avenue about 1,000 feet north of Camelback Road and the street address is 5136 North 83rd Avenue. The property is in the Yucca District. The request is for a General Plan Amendment from LDR 2.5, Low Density Residential to MHDR 12, Medium High Density Residential and a rezoning from SR-17, Suburban Residence to R-2, Mixed Residence.

The project envisions redeveloping a single-family home into a multi-family development featuring attached townhomes. The entire lot is 4.58 acres, and the units are envisioned to be modern and high-quality, having a height of no more than 30 feet. (My editorial note: ‘high-quality’ is a very subjective term. The 30 feet height is what is required in the R-2 zoning district) The property will have a mix of two- and three- bedroom units. (My editorial note: For rent? Or for sale?) We will be working closely with the staff at the City of Glendale to ensure our project meets all development standards and is appropriate to the surrounding area.

I have included a conceptual site plan with this letter for your review. The site plan proposed 36 townhomes to be constructed on the site. However, the R-2 zoning district we are applying for would allow for up to 54 units. (My editorial note: If project is approved expect 54 units as opposed to 36 units) Note that the final design of the site will be developed at a later date. (My editorial note: It sounds as if the property has not been sold to a developer yet as they are waiting to successfully gain entitlement for an R-2 project).

A neighborhood meeting will be held at the property and the date, time and location are provided below. The meeting will be used to provide further details regarding our project and to receive comments and questions from attendees. Refreshments will be provided at the meeting. If you are unable to attend, please write, email or call me at the contact information above. You may also contact George Gehlert with the City of Glendale at (623) 930-2597. Please provide any comments by July 5, 2021.

                            Date:          6/21/2021

                            Time:          6:00 PM

                            Location:    5136 N. 83rd Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85303

Sincerely,

Adam M. Froke, AICP

Project Manager

Here is their site plan:

This site is most appropriate for about a dozen, large lot (10,000 SF) homes. While the lot sizes are slightly smaller than those that would surround them, they would fit in with the area.

You do not have to have received this letter to attend this neighborhood meeting. Anyone from the general public can attend, learn more and most certainly comment on the appropriateness of this project for this area.

I will be attending this meeting. I urge you to attend as well. Please don’t count on your neighbor doing your job for you. Plan to attend. I especially call on those residents of Orange Drive; Missouri Estates; Montebello Avenue; the Georgia Avenue area; Oregon Avenue; and Missouri Ranch to attend. This proposed project will directly affect you.

It is important that you work together to preserve your property values in this area and your quality of life. As more and more small lot (45 ft. wide) subdivisions are built in Glendale, our large lots become more and more coveted.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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’ve wanted to write this particular blog for nine months but confidentiality imposed by the principal developers precluded me from doing so.

Last September, the Glendale city council approved documents for the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort at Glendale. At that time David Leibowitz published an article disparaging the project. Here is the link to his original article: https://www.eastvalleytribune.com/opinion/valley-theme-park-plans-all-smoke-no-sizzle/article_50d85836-f6ab-11ea-a6a8-47e43bc1f48b.html .

In it he said, “Not to be outdone, the Glendale City Council last week approved ‘Crystal Lagoons, Island Resort,’ an 11-acre water paradise purported to include paddle boarding, scuba diving and boogie boarding – plus ‘water jetpacks.’ Whatever the hell those are.

“Naturally, Glendale electeds voted to waive $1 million in fees for the developer and employ a sweetheart financing deal known as a GPLET, which allows the builder to avoid paying property taxes for 25 years. That’s predicated on the project being built, of course, which I doubt. Not to sound cynical, but, like I said, I’ve been following theme park news for years. 

“The projects all follow a similar pattern: They get announced amid much braggadocio, make zero progress for years, then quietly expire.

“In this case, the political burbker du jour was Glendale Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who said at the Council meeting: “I am just so excited. … (This is) a blockbuster project that’s going to put Glendale on the map, not just in the Valley but in the Southwest.” Which I’m sure is what some elected yoyo said when the Garden of Eden was built – and with nary a tax break, if you can imagine that.”

Well, Mr. Leibowitz, today was the official groundbreaking for Crystal Lagoon Island Resort at Glendale. The project will be completed prior to the Super Bowl of 2023. I think it’s time you pound sand regarding your commentary about this project and I invite you to Crystal Lagoon Island Resort at Glendale when it is opened to pound said sand.

A project of this magnitude is not built nor planned in a day. The sale of the land has been completed at a cost of $27 million. Conceptual plans have been rendered and engineering/architectural plans are nearly completed. So now it is time to begin grading the land and that is exactly what is occurring now.

I suspect that Mr. Leibowitz’s motive for disparaging Glendale’s project had more to do with the election atmosphere in the fall of 2020. Add in his close connection in working with the Glendale fire fighter union. Glendale’s Primary Election was in August, 2020, a month before this blockbuster announcement. In that Primary Liebowitz and the Glendale firefighter union took a whippin’. They had backed and had poured tons of money supporting the opponent of Mayor Weiers and my opponent as well. They lost…again. You would think that they would learn the lesson to not mess with Clark and Weiers.

Liebowitz, stung after another firefighter election loss in Glendale, probably thought his article would be great payback and would be a perfect opportunity to go not to go after not only Glendale but me as well. It was like killing two birds with one stone. In this case, his stones missed their mark. I think we can write off Mr. Liebowitz and his opinions regarding anything Glendale related.

When the official groundbreaking occurred this past Thursday, June 10th, I said repeatedly this is the most significant project to come to Glendale since the arena opened in 2003 and the stadium opened in 2006.

Think about it. Why do so many of us escape to California for vacations? The incredible weather along the coast, of course, but it is the beach and water fun and the myriad of theme parks. I can’t think of a single theme park over there that combines a beach with rides.

That’s what makes Crystal Lagoon Island Resort such a unique venue, especially in the Arizona desert. I’m not sure the public realizes just how much one can do.

  • Do you want to swim, scuba dive, water jet pack or boogie board all day? No problem. You and your family can do that with a lunch break at one of the dozen or so restaurants available.
  • Or maybe it’s a day with the kids or grandkids at the Mattel Amusement Park including Thomas the Train and Hot Wheels rides. Over the coming months Mattel will be announcing more components for their amusement park. So be on the lookout for them.
  • Perhaps the older kids would prefer the “fly”or 4 D theaters similar to the “Soarin’ Around the World” attraction at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.
  • Have some visitors? They will be able to stay at Crystal Lagoon Island Resort where 650 hotel rooms will be available. Then you can all meet for a leisurely lunch followed by shopping at one or all five of the themed retail/restaurant island areas.
  • Looking for something unique to show off? Go to the Aerophile’s Aerobar for extraordinary food and drinks 130 feet off the ground. Want to show off the entire Valley of the Sun? Then the tethered hot air balloon rising 400 feet is just the ticket.
  • Need a bit more? Then plan on attending a live outdoor musical concert with well known musical artists nearly every night of the year. More announcements will be made about this element when the principals are ready to do so.

Marry Crystal Lagoon Island Resort with the Westgate/Zanjero area and it becomes a major vacation destination. Want to golf? Go to TopGolf or PopStroke (Tiger Woods designed mini golf). Professional sports venues of NFL football, NHL hockey or MLB spring training baseball await. If your passion is bowling there’s even a bowling alley! Professional shoppers beware as you head off to Tanger Outlets at Westgate or the unique, themed shops at Crystal Lagoon.

Just imagine! When Glendale hosts the Super Bowl in January of 2023, a couple or family can stay at one of the dozen hotels (nearly 2,000 suites available) and be within walking distance of all that I have mentioned above.

I hope I have been able to convey the magnitude of Crystal Lagoon Island Resort and its impact on Glendale with expected visitors of 5,000 to 6,000 a day. It is significant and truly incredible!

So, David Liebowitz…go pound sand…at Crystal Lagoon Island Resort. It’s coming despite your negativism and disbelief.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 March 16th, Brian Friedman, Glendale Economic Development Director, and Tony Lydon, National Director of Jll, Inc., offered a virtual WestMarc presentation on the state of economic development in Glendale. Here is the link: https://www.westmarc.org/city-of-glendale/ .

There were several important ‘take aways‘ presented to viewers. One concept was there are 3 major skylines in the Valley – Phoenix, Tempe and now, Glendale. Elliot Pollack said 15 years ago that Glendale would become the geographic center of the Valley. Not only is that happening but it is growing into a major economic presence within the Valley. Much of the material Brian and Tony presented prove it.

Did you know that when Glendale hosts the Super Bowl in 2023, there will be a dozen hotels in the Westgate/Zanjero area offering over 2,000 rooms? There are already 50 restaurants in the Westgate/Zanjero area, and more are coming. In addition, the Crystal Lagoon project will offer an additional 3 hotels with another estimated 600 rooms. Add the stadium and the arena along with AMC Theater, TopGolf and a future indoor shooting range. Shopping preferences are offered from Cabela’s to Tanger Outlets to small boutique shops.

Another ‘take away’ was the abundance of the work force. The West Valley now has a population of 1.7 million and as new, affordable residential communities spring up more people arrive every day. Many of the new residents are highly technically trained and as the new breed of manufacturing and distribution centers come online these are exactly the work force being hired.

A third ‘take away’ is new infrastructure that attracts major industrial/manufacturing/commercial users. Through significant partnerships water and sewer is becoming abundant in the area of the Loop 303, necessities for large users. Transportation corridors are in place from Northern Parkway (which will connect with the Loop 101 by 2026), the Loop 303 and the Loop 101. All provide easy and fast access to the I-10 and the I-17, interstate highways. There is also a railroad spur that serves large manufacturers like White Claw and Red Bull.

Here is a recap of the 11 commercial projects in the Yucca district either approved, under construction or completed:

  • Westgate district shops, 9405 W. Glendale Avenue
  • EOS Fitness, 5070 N. 83rd Avenue
  • En Fuego at Westgate, northeast corner of Glendale Avenue and Zanjero Blvd.
  • Fox Aviation Hangar 6781 N. Glen Harbor Blvd.
  • Glendale Avenue Storage, 10911 W. Glenn Drive
  • Great Lawn Pavilion, 9600 W. Sportsman Park
  • Starbucks Coffee Shop, 91st Avenue and Glendale Avenue
  • Westgate Tesla Service Facility, 9245 W. Glendale Avenue
  • Jack in the Box, 9152 W. Glendale Avenue
  • Westgate Medical Office, 9950 W. Glendale Avenue
  • Holiday Inn, 6151 N. 99th Avenue

Here are the 12 industrial projects in the Yucca district either approved, under construction or completed:

  • T2/Red Bull expansion, 10501 N. Reems Road
  • Polar Bear-White Claw expansion, 9601 N. Reems Road
  • Park 303, Buildings A and B, 6620 N. Sarival Road
  • Ball expansion, 15101 W. Peoria Avenue
  • Barclay 303 Logistics Center, 16801 W. Glendale Avenue
  • G303, 6605 N. Sarival Avenue
  • RBNA, 10001 N. Reems Road
  • 303 Project, Sarival Avenue and W. Maryland Avenue
  • Bethany Business Park, Cotton Road and W. Bethany Home Road
  • Commerce 303, 15600 W. Camelback Road
  • The Cubes at Glendale, Reems Road and Orangewood Avenue
  • 303 Commerce Center, N. Cotton Lane

Here is one miscellaneous project in the Yucca district, ether approved, under construction or completed:

  • Zanjero Sante Assisted Living, 7410 N. Zanjero Blvd.

Here are the 7 multi-family projects in the Yucca district, either approved, under construction or completed:

  • Bungalows at Westgate, 7403 N. 91st Avenue
  • Bethany Crossing, 6253 N. 69th Avenue
  • Cardinals 95, 9600 W. Georgia Avenue
  • Zanjero II, 7200 N. 91st Avenue
  • Acero at the Stadium, 5550 N. 95th Avenue
  • Mera Westgate, 7460 N. Zanjero Blvd.
  • Glen 91, N. 89th Avenue and W. Glendale Avenue

Here are the 8 residential subdivisions in the Yucca district, either approved, under construction or completed:

  • Olive Grove, 71st Avenue and Olive Avenue
  • Orangewood Ranch, 7606 N. 83rd Avenue
  • El Prado, N. 80th Avenue and W. Camelback Road
  • Stonehaven, Phase I, Parcels 2-8 and 13A and 14, 9050 W. Camelback Road
  • Cadence at Westgate, 89th Avenue and W. Glendale Avenue
  • Jaafar Estates, 7111 N. 83rd Avenue
  • Orangewood Terrace, 8079 W. Orangewood Avenue
  • Rovey Park, 8806 W. Emil Rovey Parkway

This is a snapshot of the various projects occurring in the Yucca district. I can assure you that there are more projects in the pipeline. I read a statistic about the Yucca district that so impressed me I have never forgotten it. At the last census in 2010, the Yucca district had a population of about 41,000 and was comparable to all the other districts in Glendale. Since 2010, in the past ten years, the population in the Yucca district has doubled. I find that projection to be mind boggling! There is a staff projection (that I think is way off) that anticipates the growth in Glendale of another 40,000 people by 2024. If that is correct (which I doubt) most of that population growth occurred in the Yucca district. It would not surprise me to learn, after the 2020 census figures are available that the Yucca district’s population has doubled to about 75,000 people. It is mandated that each district have approximately equal population to all the other districts. Yucca’s population will be so great that when new district boundaries are adopted, its eastern boundary will move significantly westward. How far westward will depend upon the final growth numbers in this district.

As new commercial, industrial, and residential projects are approved in the Yucca district I will offer a new list of those projects as warranted. Glendale’s economic development continues to boom but the loudest explosion is in the Yucca district.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 Thursday, February 25, 2021, the Glendale Elementary School District (GESD) held a meeting to take comments from the public regarding its plan to close 5 elementary schools within its district boundaries. I am providing information about this meeting to keep my Yucca district residents informed. Here is the link to the video of the meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehx1KVJCOik

There is one misconception I would like to clear up. The western boundary of GESD is 83rd Avenue. Some speakers asked what would happen because of the development of Stonehaven, between 83rd and 91st Avenues, Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road. Those 1,365 homes reside in the Pendergast Elementary School District (PESD) and those children will not be attending any schools in the GESD.

One of the speakers was Martin Nowakowski, a Yucca district resident, and my appointee on the Glendale Planning Commission. He spoke from 1:38:50 to 1:43:32. He made several particularly good points that, in my opinion, deserve further exploration and answers from the GESD Board.

  • He stated that the process has been flawed. The proposal to close schools during the COVID pandemic is ill advised. The pandemic has been an impediment to allow full participation by the community and has resulted in little to no parent involvement.
  • He called for a forensic audit of GESD’s budget and contended that community perception is there is a pattern of “top heavy” spending.
  • He questioned what costs for transportation would be incurred because of a realignment of pupil attendance boundaries.
  • He said that the district uses the rationale for closures because of declining student enrollment and asked how many students are learning online.
  • He expressed concern about the possibility of increasing class sizes. He questioned will there continue to be class sizes of less than 30 students per class and if that number increases, how does it affect the quality of education for struggling students?
  • Lastly, he characterized the school board’s actions as discriminatory by focusing on closing schools in more disadvantaged neighborhoods and catering to wealthier neighborhoods by keeping those schools intact. He referred to Isaac Imes as being known as the “Mexican school.”

It appears that the community is genuinely concerned and to date has expressed nothing but opposition to the GESD proposal. Perhaps the Board would be advised to slow its proposal down until it has made a full explanation to its community as to why their actions are necessary. There may be good reasons and then again, there may not be but until the community understands why the Board has chosen this path it will be met with distrust and anger. Just think about all those parents who have no idea what is about to happen to their children…and there will be many.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 the Tuesday, February 9, 2021 city council voting meeting Resolution R21-11 was passed by a majority of the city council. It is an agreement between the Tohono O’odham and the City of Glendale in which the city relinquishes its right to annex a parcel of land within its annexation boundaries.

I wish to explain my vote. I do not speak for the entire city council in expressing my reasoning for my vote and it should be noted that Mayor Weiers was absent due to recent surgery and did not vote on the matter.

The agreement helps to pave the way for the Tohono O’odham (TO), in the process of acquiring a parcel of land in the area of Northern Avenue and the Loop 303 freeway, to pursue building another casino, approximately ten miles to the west of the existent Desert Diamond Casino at Westgate. The property is currently owned by Saguaro Land Properties, LLC an entity of the Nation.  The next step for them is to put the land into trust.

All land within Glendale’s strip annexation borders can be annexed into Glendale, including this parcel. The TO asked that Glendale not exercise its right to annex this parcel into Glendale and a majority of the city council agreed. Glendale has the ability to annex, but not a legal right to force annexation.  Based on state statute, it would be impossible to annex them into the city, unless they agreed to do so. Here is a link to the agreement in its entirety: Contract # _ C21-0119 – TOHONO O’ODHAM NATION – Execution Date_ 2_9_2021

In the agreement the TO agrees to pay Glendale $400,000 and $1,000,000 with a 2% increase annually for 20 years:

8. Payments to the City and Other Considerations Provided by the Nation.

  1. Before the Nation Commences Gaming.  Within ten (10) days after the resolution provided in Section 4(A) of this Agreement become effective and the Memorandum of Agreement is fully executed and recorded, the Nation will make a one-time payment to the City in the amount of $400,000 to help fund the operations of the City.
  2. After the Nation Commences Gaming. Commencing in the year in which the Nation first offers Class III Gaming to the public on the Property (the ‘Base Year’) and continuing in each subsequent year for a period of twenty (20) years, the Nation will make the payments described below:
  3. Commencing in the Base Year, the Nation will make annual payments to the City to help fund its operations. The Nation will commence making payments to the City within six (6) months of the date on which the Nation first offers Class III Gaming to the public on the Property and annually thereafter within sixty (60) days of the anniversary date of the original payment made under this subsection.
  4. The Nation’s payment in the Base Year will be $1,000,000.00 in each subsequent year of this Agreement, the Nations will make a payment to the City in an amount that is two percent (2%) greater than its payment in the previous year, for the same purposes.”

In return for which the city will not only announce its support for this new casino but actively support its development:

4. Termination of the PADA; Announcement Regarding the Project; No Opposition; No Annexation; Covenant Not To Sue.

  1.   As soon as practicable following the adoption by the City of a resolution approving this Agreement, the City will adopt a resolution in the form attached hereto as Exhibit C approving and authorizing the execution on behalf of the City and recording a Memorandum of Agreement and Partial Termination of Prior Agreement releasing the Property from the PADA, in the forms attached as Exhibit 1 to such resolution, which will then be executed on behalf of the City and the Nation and recorded, at the cost and expense of the Nation, in the Official Records (the ‘Memorandum of Agreement’).
  2. Press Release. Within ten (10) days after the Effective Date, the City and the Nation will issue a joint press release, approved in substance and form by each of the Parties, stating that:
  3. The City and Nation have entered into a mutually beneficial intergovernmental agreement relation to the Property and the Project;
  4. The City supports the United States’ acquisition of the entirety of the Property in trust for the benefit of the Nation under the Lands Replacement Act;
  5. The City supports the Project (including the Nation’s proposed casino gaming operation on the Property);
  6. The City wants the Nation to construct and commence operating the Project as expeditiously as possible for the mutual benefit of the City and the Nation; and
  7. The City supports the Nation’s efforts to enter into a Compact authorizing the Nation’s Class III Gaming on the Property.
  8. No Opposition.
  9. The City will not, directly or indirectly, oppose, challenge, or appeal any decision by the Secretary of the Interior to acquire the Property in trust for the benefit of the Nation under the Lands Replacement Act, including any current or future fee to trust applications concerning the Property.
  10. If the Nation asks the National Indian Gaming Commission or the United States Department of the Interior to issue any decisions or opinions relating to whether the Property meets the requirements of 25 S.C.&2719(b)(1)(B), the City will not, directly or indirectly, oppose the request.
  11. No Annexation. The City will not, after the Effective Date, annex, or take any action to annex, all or any portion of the Property.
  12. Covenant Not To Sue. The City will not commence any future action or make any claims against the Nation or Gaming Enterprise to hinder the Nation or the Gaming Enterprise in developing the Project, except that the City may seek to enforce the terms of the Settlement Agreement and this Agreement.”

One reason to vote ‘yes’ would have been because I do not oppose the city’s agreement to not pursue annexation of this land in question. Let it remain in the county. When it is taken into Trust it becomes a reservation and part of a sovereign nation. This means the new TO casino when built will be on reservation land and not subject to local, county or tax taxation and it is not subject to local or state building codes. That is because it will be a sovereign nation and not under local, county or state jurisdiction. The issue of agreeing to not annex the land was never the issue for me. There were other reasons that compelled me to vote ‘no’ on this issue that I believe outweighed the issue of annexation or non-annexation.

I should disclaim that I have had a long history of opposition to the first casino, now a reservation, a sovereign nation, surrounded by Glendale. I will not bore you with the long history of that fight but suffice it to say, some of the actions taken by the TO appeared to some as being underhanded. Were they? That’s for you to decide but several local tribes claimed such. Here is the link to the testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives in May, 2013, of Diane Enos, President of the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. It does a good job of summarizing many of Arizona’s Indian tribes view of the Tohono O’odham’s actions historically: HHRG-113-II24-Wstate-EnosD-20130516

My ‘no’ vote was based upon the following questions and assumptions. My first thought was, why is the TO paying the City of Glendale when the casino will not be on city annexed land? It will remain part of the county until it is designated a reservation. With the passage of Resolution R 21-11 it will never be annexed by Glendale or be a part of Glendale. There may be several reasons:

One could be in the 1986 Gila Bend Act Congress authorized the Tohono O’odham to purchase and to become reservation up to 9,880 acres of land in Maricopa, Pima or Pinal counties. The land was supposed to replace agricultural land that had been flooded by the federal government. There was the expectation that the new land purchases would be agricultural. Under the Act, it also states the purchased land may not be within the corporate limits of any city.

Another reason may be the TO’s intense desire in securing Glendale’s full-throated support as the city agrees to publicly support the new casino. Why is this important to the TO? My guess it is to neutralize any opposition there may be from other tribes such as Gila River or Salt River-Pima-Maricopa. The TO can point out that it has the support of Glendale to move forward with this new casino.

It also secures Glendale’s support of a new Indian Gaming Compact that will go before the state’s voters in 2022 as well as ensuring Glendale’s support in its requests of the federal government to designate the land as a reservation.

Under the existent Compact the TO are allowed a total of 4 casinos. They have those now – one in Tucson, Ajo, Sahuarita, and Glendale. To construct a 5th casino will require the agreement of the signatory Tribes to the newly crafted Compact soon to be presented to the state’s voters, as well as voter approval.

That raises a question about the new Compact, as yet unveiled to the public. If the TO anticipates getting a 5th casino, does that mean all of the other signatory tribes are anticipating getting authority to plant even more casinos in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area?

Yet another reason may be because the seller of the land to the TO was a member of the PADA (Pre Annexation Development Agreement) which required land owners who are party to this agreement to annex into Glendale. When the land was sold to the TO this legal proscription remained with the sale of the land.

Although it is not specifically spelled out, the agreement seems to be a “quid pro quo.” In return for certain payments to the city, the city will support the TO’s plans. It is often acknowledged that “perception is reality.” The perception of some, after reading the Agreement, may be that the Tohono O’odham bought the city council’s support. I don’t disagree.

There may be “more to this story” than the TO have shared. Perhaps they do not enjoy the support of some of the other Tribes. Perhaps if the city had decided to keep their land in the PADA it might have clouded a federal decision as to whether the land should be taken into trust for a reservation. I honestly don’t know.

Other considerations that formed my decision to vote ‘no’ were the new casino may draw customers from those traveling along the Loop 303 but I suspect it will also draw Sun City, Sun City Grand and Sun City West patrons of the current casino to patronize the new casino as it is closer to them. It may end up cannibalizing its customer base; and although the site is not within the noise contours of Luke Air Force Base, it is in close proximity to them. The TO will be constructing a casino with intense usage just outside of those noise contours.  There could be cause for concern should there ever be an aircraft accident.

In summary, it wasn’t the actual issue of agreeing that the city would not annex the land that drove my decision but rather other, less tangible considerations and perceptions. Does this mean that I cannot work with the TO on issues regarding its current casino in Glendale? No. I promised fair consideration of any request they may make and I will abide by that pledge. The Agreement just passed by city council raises questions that remain unanswered and are likely to remain unanswered. Those questions prompted my ‘no’ vote.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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