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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.

This is another blog that is overdue. This topic is of special interest to me for many reasons. One of which occurred recently. On April 28, 2022, the Planning Commission took up GPA 22-01 and ZON 22-01. Well, what’s that? Mr. Jon Froke, representing the property owners, Dorothy Keith and Teresa Zaddack, for 5.3 acres located at 5136 N. 83rd Avenue in Glendale was seeking high density multifamily zoning.

Before I relate the events of that evening, it’s important to understand what zoning is and why it is important to a community. Zoning has been used by cities large and small, throughout the country since the 1930’s, nearly 100 years.

The purpose of zoning is to create a city plan that develops a balanced city. Zoning is how the local government regulates and develops land within its control. Zoning helps protect the local environment and keep property values stable. It is broken down into multiple categories to help balance a city to ensure proper land use and to provide value to citizens that own property.

Every city has multiple zoning categories, from residential to commercial to industrial to multifamily, to name a few. Usually, there are more zoning categories than you have fingers. Within each zoning category there are regulations and guidelines for the benefit of the property owner so that person knows exactly what is required.

By legal right a property owner can develop that property as it is currently zoned. For example, a property that is currently zoned for commercial can be developed as commercial after the property owner has had the plans approved. Approval would be required, among other standards, to ensure proper setbacks (distance) from a street and surrounding structures. That is not the only requirement. Usually, there is a list of items.

A property owner does not have the legal right to develop the property in a different zoning category without first presenting the plan to the Planning Department and seeking the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council.

This is important: by legal right a property owner can develop property within the zoning category identified for the property. There is no legal right for a property owner to develop outside of that identified zoning category. The property owner is legally required to seek approval from the city for any change in zoning. It is up to the property owner to make the case that a change in zoning is not detrimental to the city or surrounding property owners. Only if the case is made will the property owner be granted the right, by the city, to develop in a different zoning category.

That brings us to the night of April 28th and the hearing held for the property at 5136 N. 83rd Avenue. This segment, about an hour and a half, was a clown show. Once again, the Planning Commission (P&Z) demonstrated that it doesn’t understand its role as a citizen advisory body.

I took the time to transcribe this portion of the P&Z meeting. I reviewed it for accuracy and to remove typos, but I am sure that I missed some typos. So, please forgive them. I am providing the link here: Transcript Planning Commission Ap 28 2022

Before I comment on the meeting, let me explain exactly what Mr. Froke was requesting. a minor amendment to the Glendale General Plan from LDR-2.5 (Low Density Residential – 2.5 units/acre) to HDR-20 (High Density Residential – 20 units/acre); and for a rezoning from SR-17 (Suburban Residential 17,000 square foot minimum lot size) to R-3 (Multiple Family Residential) for 5.03 acres.

Some context is required. There are only two areas within Glendale that have large swaths of land zoned as SR-17 (Suburban residential, lot size of 17,000 square feet). One is comprised of 500+ acres south of Union Hills and around 67th. This land has already been developed at 1 to 4 lots to the acre. Those lots appear to be around 4 homes to the acre with lot sizes in the 8,000 to 10,000 SF range. Was the development a deviation from the SR-17 zoning? Yes, but it was decided to be appropriate as it was single family residential to another single family residential category with a reasonable modification as to the lot sizes (or density). It appears as if the lot sizes went from 17,000 SF down to 8,000 SF, a jump in density by 2 zoning categories. The applicant(s) made their case that rezoning would not be detrimental to the city or surrounding neighborhoods.

The other large swath, about 200 acres, is along 83rd from Glendale to Northern. Much of the land has already been developed as single family residential on large lots. The property in question is within this sea of large lot development along 83rd and the applicant is requesting to go from single family residential to multifamily residential by placing 20 units to the acre. The applicant is seeking a jump in density by 6 zoning categories from SR-17; SR-12; R 1-10; R 1-8; R 1-6; R 1-4; R 2 to R3. That, in and of itself is excessive.

There were several things about this particular P&Z agenda item that were concerning and by reading the transcript, I think you will agree. The first was the P&Z philosophy seems to be that by right, the property owner should be granted the right to rezone the property to any zoning category and P&Z was there to ensure that it happened. Not so. The applicant comes before the P&Z to make the case that it should receive greater, more dense zoning. In my estimation, the applicant did not make the case. Mr. Froke said this property would be a transition between the commercial development to its immediate south and the large lot, single family residential to its immediate north. However, across the street there is commercial directly to the south of and abutting large, single family lots of an acre or more (where our Mayor lives). It has been like this for 20 years or more and there have been no issues between the commercial and the large lot residences.

Another area of concern was the belief of Chairperson Vernon Crow that it is the responsibility of the P&Z to facilitate consensus in allowing this type of development at that location and to do so, to broker a meeting between the applicant and the surrounding neighborhoods. That is not the role of nor the responsibility of the P&Z.

Yet another area of concern was Commissioner Tom Cole’s request that the Planning Department has an obligation to provide both sides of the request. Excuse me, the Planning Department’s obligation is to present the facts of the application and to present the facts regarding its recommendation. In this case, it was a recommendation of denial. It did that and is under no obligation to present the case for the applicant. That is the applicant’s responsibility.

I believe Commissioner Gary Hirsch was out of order. As the Interim Planning Director, Tabitha Perry, was summarizing the reasons for the department’s recommendation of denial, Commissioner Hirsch interrupted her and accused her of “selling” the recommendation of denial. He was rude and his comments were inappropriate.

I also was not impressed by the city’s senior planner, George Gehlert. His job was the present the facts and to support the department’s recommendation of denial. In my estimation, he failed to do so.

What was the result? The first motion, made by Commissioner Hirsch was for approval and failed for lack of a second. The second motion, made by Commissioner Nowakowski was for denial and failed due to a tie vote with Commissioners John Crow (no relation to Vernon Crow), Martin Nowakowski and John Guers supporting denial and Commissioners Vernon Crow, Tom Cole and Gary Hirsh not supporting denial. The final motion, made by Commissioner John Crow, was to table with the applicant deciding when it would be brought back before the Commission. All Commissioners supported the motion except for Commissioner Gary Hirsch.

My greatest concern is that if approved, this decision becomes precedent setting for the entire city. It opens the door to any large lot, residential property owner within all of Glendale to seek similar zoning. There are many single family, large lot properties throughout Glendale that would then have the potential to develop a property as dense, multifamily. If this action is approved, it is going to be extremely difficult to deny a similar zoning request to any other large lot property owner.

It makes the city’s zoning plan irrelevant. Why would a zoning plan be needed if the intent is to ignore it? It creates the ‘Wild West’ in development of the city. If current zoning is to be ignored then there is no rationale to adhere to it or keep it.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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 the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In the context of the current discussion about the proposed Stonehaven residential development many readers have asked me to repost this blog.

Glendale is the 6th largest city in the state. Here is the ranking of the ten largest cities in the state:

  • Phoenix
  • Tucson
  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Gilbert
  • Glendale
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Peoria

Glendale has the lowest average median income of the 10 largest cities.

Glendale has the second highest poverty rate of those 10 cities.

Another media story shows that of the 25 wealthiest zip codes in Maricopa County Glendale has but one…85310…ranked 24th out of 25.

Glendale is a very diverse community:

  •     Caucasian                     50%
  •     Hispanic or Latino       37%
  •     Afro-American               6%
  •     Asian                                4%

Today we are going to examine why these facts drive development (or the lack of it) and also what needs to occur in order to improve or “upgrade” Glendale development to enhance our citizen’s quality of life and also make Glendale more competitive obtaining quality commercial/residential projects.

What can Glendale do to turn these numbers around? How does Glendale raise the average median income, lower its poverty rate and have more of its zip codes labeled as “the wealthiest”? It must embrace a new strategy toward future development and a new strategy to remediate some of its struggling neighborhoods.

So let us add some new facts and start to look for effective and reasonable solutions to Upgrade Glendale.

A square mile between Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road; 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue; in zip code 85301 is ringed by 10…yes, 10…low income multi-family apartment complexes? Were you aware that the density of package liquor stores and bars is the highest in zip code 85301? In an effort to upgrade south Glendale shouldn’t Council and the Planning Department be asking, when any developer or business seeks to locate in this area, does this project upgrade the area? Does it serve a family-oriented need? Does this project make the quality of life better for these neighborhoods or are we simply allowing more of the same because it’s easier not to fight the fight for quality commercial and residential development? If developers say they will walk away from a project because that is all that a certain area merits, perhaps the new Glendale paradigm is to let them. If we develop new standards of quality development and advise the development community that is what we expect and will allow, then that is what we will get.

The majority of Glendale’s residential base is comprised of starter homes and middle class homes. The home median value in Glendale is $183,300. Many new residential developments have a price point between $220,000 and $250,000. To some that may seem to be expensive but it is not in today’s market.

Where does one find big, beautiful, expensive homes on large lots? Why, zip code 85310. You can count on no more than two hands enclaves of large lot, expensive homes throughout Glendale. It is time to stop allowing the development community  build to the lowest common denominator of an area and demand that they build adhering to a philosophy of upgrading, not downgrading or adding more of the same in an area.

Glendale must stop allowing developers of infill projects greater and greater residential densities. I once learned that Glendale loses approximately $200 a year per home when providing basic services such as public safety, libraries, parks, streets, water, sewer and garbage collection. What that means is that Glendale spends more in services per home than that home earns in revenue for the city in terms of property taxes, sales taxes, etc. So, how is this imbalance made up? By commercial development with the property taxes and the sales taxes they pay to the city. I’m sure the figure has changed and I don’t know the current number however I plan on asking staff for a new current assessment.

Upscale businesses offering high paying jobs go a long way to offsetting the loss of revenue from the city’s cost of providing its basic services to homes. So how can we get the Intel’s of the world to locate in Glendale?

The quality of its workforce is the life’s blood of any major corporation. These corporations desire to locate where they can attract a highly educated, skilled employee base.

That’s where Glendale’s schools play a major role and unfortunately it is an area over which Glendale has no control. Many, not all, of Glendale’s schools have underperforming high school graduation rates with much of their student populations not moving on to college or technical training. Glendale’s primary and secondary educational system is failing to prepare students to become college or technically bound. They are failing to help the city to attract the quality work force needed to attract the Intel’s. The kinds of corporations we must seek to attract have employees who want to be assured that their children will have access to outstanding educational opportunities. These employees also seek quality, upscale housing with great quality of life amenities. They also require nearby access not just to fast food establishments but to upscale dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities. While a smattering of those kinds of quality of life issues are met in a few Glendale enclaves there is not enough of a mass to attract the kinds of employment providers the city seeks.

I contend a rising tide lifts all boats.

Isn’t it time to upgrade every Glendale resident’s quality of life? Isn’t it time to provide our residents with an abundance of good paying job opportunities? Shouldn’t it be in safe neighborhoods? Shouldn’t it be with Class A dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities throughout all of Glendale? We can do that by insisting and conveying to developers of commercial and residential properties that whether it is an infill parcel or raw land, our expectations for development are stringent. That Glendale now demands a new forward looking vision.

In a coming blog we will examine how Glendale government can move past prior history, Glendale school districts may help both their students now and after graduation and residents can actively engage in this new vision.

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

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 the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Glendale is the 6th largest city in the state. Here is the ranking of the ten largest cities in the state:

  • Phoenix
  • Tucson
  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Gilbert
  • Glendale
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Peoria

Glendale has the lowest average median income of the 10 largest cities.

Glendale has the second highest poverty rate of those 10 cities.

Another media story shows that of the 25 wealthiest zip codes in Maricopa County Glendale has but one…85310…ranked 24th out of 25.

Glendale is a very diverse community:

  •     Caucasian                     50%
  •     Hispanic or Latino       37%
  •     Afro-American               6%
  •     Asian                                4%

Today we are going to examine why these facts drive development (or the lack of it) and also what needs to occur in order to improve or “upgrade” Glendale development to enhance our citizen’s quality of life and also make Glendale more competitive obtaining quality commercial/residential projects.

What can Glendale do to turn these numbers around? How does Glendale raise the average median income, lower its poverty rate and have more of its zip codes labeled as “the wealthiest”? It must embrace a new strategy toward future development and a new strategy to remediate some of its struggling neighborhoods.

So let us add some new facts and start to look for effective and reasonable solutions to Upgrade Glendale.

A square mile between Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road; 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue; in zip code 85301 is ringed by 10…yes, 10…low income multi-family apartment complexes? Were you aware that the density of package liquor stores and bars is the highest in zip code 85301? In an effort to upgrade south Glendale shouldn’t Council and the Planning Department be asking, when any developer or business seeks to locate in this area, does this project upgrade the area? Does it serve a family-oriented need? Does this project make the quality of life better for these neighborhoods or are we simply allowing more of the same because it’s easier not to fight the fight for quality commercial and residential development? If developers say they will walk away from a project because that is all that a certain area merits, perhaps the new Glendale paradigm is to let them. If we develop new standards of quality development and advise the development community that is what we expect and will allow, then that is what we will get.

The majority of Glendale’s residential base is comprised of starter homes and middle class homes. The home median value in Glendale is $183,300. Many new residential developments have a price point between $220,000 and $250,000. To some that may seem to be expensive but it is not in today’s market.

Where does one find big, beautiful, expensive homes on large lots? Why, zip code 85310. You can count on no more than two hands enclaves of large lot, expensive homes throughout Glendale. It is time to stop allowing the development community  build to the lowest common denominator of an area and demand that they build adhering to a philosophy of upgrading, not downgrading or adding more of the same in an area.

Glendale must stop allowing developers of infill projects greater and greater residential densities. I once learned that Glendale loses approximately $200 a year per home when providing basic services such as public safety, libraries, parks, streets, water, sewer and garbage collection. What that means is that Glendale spends more in services per home than that home earns in revenue for the city in terms of property taxes, sales taxes, etc. So, how is this imbalance made up? By commercial development with the property taxes and the sales taxes they pay to the city. I’m sure the figure has changed and I don’t know the current number however I plan on asking staff for a new current assessment.

Upscale businesses offering high paying jobs go a long way to offsetting the loss of revenue from the city’s cost of providing its basic services to homes. So how can we get the Intel’s of the world to locate in Glendale?

The quality of its workforce is the life’s blood of any major corporation. These corporations desire to locate where they can attract a highly educated, skilled employee base.

That’s where Glendale’s schools play a major role and unfortunately it is an area over which Glendale has no control. Many, not all, of Glendale’s schools have underperforming high school graduation rates with much of their student populations not moving on to college or technical training. Glendale’s primary and secondary educational system is failing to prepare students to become college or technically bound. They are failing to help the city to attract the quality work force needed to attract the Intel’s. The kinds of corporations we must seek to attract have employees who want to be assured that their children will have access to outstanding educational opportunities. These employees also seek quality, upscale housing with great quality of life amenities. They also require nearby access not just to fast food establishments but to upscale dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities. While a smattering of those kinds of quality of life issues are met in a few Glendale enclaves there is not enough of a mass to attract the kinds of employment providers the city seeks.

I contend a rising tide lifts all boats.

Isn’t it time to upgrade every Glendale resident’s quality of life? Isn’t it time to provide our residents with an abundance of good paying job opportunities? Shouldn’t it be in safe neighborhoods? Shouldn’t it be with Class A dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities throughout all of Glendale? We can do that by insisting and conveying to developers of commercial and residential properties that whether it is an infill parcel or raw land, our expectations for development are stringent. That Glendale now demands a new forward looking vision.

In a coming blog we will examine how Glendale government can move past prior history, Glendale school districts may help both their students now and after graduation and residents can actively engage in this new vision.

 

© Joyce Clark, 2017          

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.

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

FAIR USE NOTICE

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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