We may know as early as today if Luke Air Force Base will be chosen as a training base for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The decision would give Luke further life once its primary tenant, the F-16 fighters, are phased out. Not surprisingly, the western suburbs of Phoenix are ambivalent, even if many support Luke publicly. Built up long after the base had been in operations, its residents are outraged at the jet noise. (Shoulda checked that out before you thought you were getting so much house for the money in that crapola lookalike subdivision). Encroaching sprawl, meanwhile, has had the base on a razor's edge of closing for years.
The group Luke Forward supports the base's continued existence. But Luke faces the mos powerful enemy: the Real Estate Industrial Complex. In other words, these economic elites — including, according to some sources, the Mormon Church, which owns land nearby — want the base to go away so they can continue building on the same sprawl model as the past 50 years. It's a big leap of faith: the old Growth Machine may not regain its health for years, if ever. But the Real Estate Industrial Complex is a simple-minded dinosaur. It feeds (builds tract houses, pockets quick profits). Its brain doesn't even realize its tail is on fire from economic, environmental and social tectonic shifts.
If Luke closes, to be replaced by more subdivisions and shopping strips, it will once again represent the colossal lack of imagination that keeps the Arizona economy backward (but highly profitable for the status quo).