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March 28, 2011

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I've lived in central Phoenix most of my life. During this time, it's gotten noticeably poorer, less valued, and yes, more Hispanic. Was it just a coincidence that some of its economic engines like Dial, Medicis, and KPMG moved to the 'burbs? And why did central Phoenix lose so much of its retail infrastructure at Park Central and Chris-town? And how did once prized schools like Central and Camelback High become instead reasons to leave the neighborhood?

Phoenix has been shedding not just its white skin but its vital organs for several decades now. The benchmarks of continuity are increasingly isolated islands like historic neighborhoods and the mountain preserves.

The Big Bright Tomorrow is yesterday. Unsurprisingly, Phoenix takes pride more in its weather than any regenerative amenities like a great downtown, classic urban neighborhoods, or City Beautiful parks and monuments. There's just not enough here otherwise.

The problem will not be banished by bromides or brave prognostication. To change this would require an acknowledgement of its reality. And outside this blog, where might that be? There is less happy talk than there used to be but hardly any serious discussion. We are resigned to a future not only prosperous but less sustainable in all its facets. The linkages between past and future don't work anymore.

Jon,

What is the relationship of the upper class behind their manors and gates in Mercer Island, Medina and Bellevue to the center city of Seattle? Are they actively engaged in and feel affiliated to the city of Seattle or are they similar to North Scottsdalians behind their gates?

The city limits of Phoenix used to have many decent, middle to upper middle class neighborhoods, but after the year 2000, most turned into slums. A lot of people don't want to move to soulless, bland, high commuting cost suburbia, but do so to escape the high crime and linear slums so common in the city of Phoenix. Housing prices for like sq ft homes along the light rail line, Encanto and Willo can't compete with the newness and perceived safety of the suburbs. The safe areas of the city of Phoenix close to the center city that come to mind immediately are North Central, the Biltmore and Arcadia neighborhoods, but can you find a 3 bedroom 2,000 sq ft house in those neighborhoods that doesn't need significant work for $300,000? Most likely no, so your middle to upper middle class (whatever is left of those classes in AZ) flock to the suburbs to find a oversupply of 2,000 sq ft houses for $200,000. You can even find several in Buckeye built during the peak for under $100,000. Yes, Ahwatukee and Desert Ridge are safe, relatively affordable and technically in the city of Phoenix but it's location makes it seem like a far off suburb. I

I think the only way the city of Phoenix is going to resurrect its linear slums and make people want to move back is to first make the super safe to stabilize housing values and then see if that causes a revival in the area. Older and lower income don't always translate into high crime. I'm sure Jon could tell us about lower income areas of Seattle that are safe. First, the city of Phoenix has to get a handle on the high crime rate and meth problem in its linear slums before people will move in to resurrect them. If the linear slums get worse then people will just drive, shop, dine, make friendships, etc with people on the periphery and never venture far off from the Loop 101.

Downtown Seattle is the central business and shopping hub for the region in a way Phoenix is not. I know a woman on Mercer Island who comes into Seattle every day to feed her urban jones. Also, the city of Seattle, in addition to being one of America's safest big cities, has plenty of close-in nice neighborhoods and the reinvestment/gentrification continues. The lack of reinvestment is one of central Phoenix's key problems.

In Phoenix, I would always live in the historic districts. Couldn't stand the 'burbs.

If you are paying more than $35 per square foot for a house in any part of the Phoenix Metro area, you are paying too much. I don't care how much land it sits on. Happily, the flippers haven't figured this out and will be burned again the next go-around.

On an Off-Topic note, discovered this writer today: Joe Bageant (if you didn't know him before, read the essays).

http://coldtype.net/joe.html and

http://www.joebageant.com/joe/

In a valley with more than 4 Million souls, maintaining a (city of) Phoenix focus seems myopic . . . even though it makes for a more targeted discussion. Purists might contend that living in the 'burbs is not an enlightened or sustainable lifestyle but my choice is for peace, quiet and the wide open spaces. It is why we came to Arizona 40 years ago.

I'll list a few things as food for thought on this topic, lest I be called a contrarian:

1. Detroit's main industry, really only industry, was auto. Every piece going into the final product of a vehicle came from or near Detroit. Wages for those factories, assembly lines, and services were held artificially high by the Unions; Japan and other countries with lower wages and competitive final products served as a virtual blitzkrieg on the city.

Once the collapse of this industry occurred there was literally no fallback. For such a devastating thing to occur in Phoenix, effectively gutting the city, a collapse of every major U.S. (important point) economic engine must take place; medical, retail, banking, communications, government (local as well), education, etc etc.

One current saving grace for Phoenix is the city's role as a regional headquarters town. One of the largest employment sectors in the city and metro is banking, investment services, business services and companies serving those entities. Second, government is among the largest employers in the city itself. Being the Capital and headquarters of many state, national, and local offices also buffers the city against a Detroit-like fall. This is true of nearly every industry, save the "real-estate industrial complex." In a way, Phoenix is a barometer for the nation.

2. The core is in a revival, though it has been slowed by the recession, and growth in the Central City including Hispanic neighborhoods continues. I made a point about Garfield in earlier threads and that sentiment continues here. Happs inadvertently made an argument for why Phoenix and the Central City may be the best area to live in now and in the future.

Happs, there is a reason a "rundown" or partially restored historic home in Coronado costs the same as a McMansion in far-flung Buckeye: community, convenience, character, desirability, uniqueness, amenities, culture...

3. Surprisingly, schools in the Central City, including those with a large Hispanic presence are actually some of the best performing or fastest improving districts in the state. Think Madison-Roselane, Kenilworth, and Isaac. Look at the improvements at Central High, Sunnyslope, North, Camelback, and the growing Hispanic enrollment at private schools like St. Mary's, Brophy/Xavier, etc. This also translates into a large (one of the largest in the nation) enrollment and graduation rates of Hispanics at ASU, NAU, UofA, and now GCU.

Not too long ago Central was a failing school, serving a minority enrollment over 89% that was surrounded by a deteriorating environment. Now the school is extremely clean, the grass is green, the marching band larger, the sports field competitive and grass-filled (as opposed to dirt), and the school meeting and exceeding academic standards.

The Hispanics are coming but we aren't that scary or different; unless you are white-right and racist. Then the numbers and future voting bloc are downright bone-chilling...

I will admit, as I've done before, that an essential piece for continual economic revival of the Central City and downtown is a State Legislature that is (to paraphrase Jon) "friendly" to urban landscapes. And like Jon also points out, the growing Latino population must start voting. Voter participation for this group is depressingly low; and it is of our own doing. The white-right isn't keeping us away from the polls or from mailing in our ballots...

Unless these things occur, Phoenix will fall back and any progress made will be wasted, i.e. if rail isn't expanded and the state's new rail plan ignored.

This article by Arizona Rail Passenger Association is spot on. It includes an idea that would realign METRO from the median of I-10 to Thomas Rd. A "Center City" streetcar would loop downtown connecting Union Station, Roosevelt, the Capitol, St. Joseph's, Grand Ave, and The State Fair Grounds. Union Station would be the terminus for the regional commuter rail system:

http://www.azrail.org/2011/metro-should-be-on-thomas-not-i-10/

One more thing; though Phoenix is a huge regional headquarters center, our homegrown companies need to thrive because our nation's behemoths and Fortune 500's/1000's aren't likely to pick up and move. Our solar industry, research and technology companies, medical, and educational institutes can serve as our bedrock.

Research and medical advances will continue at Tgen, Phoenix Children's, Arizona Heart Hospital, Mayo, Barrow, St. Joe's, new Orthopedic Surgical Center, construction of the new UofA Med School in downtown, and ASU's new partnership with Mayo. Though the State is currently trying to gut the university system there is talk of an ASU med school in partnership with Mayo in downtown Phoenix.

And, as a tip of the hat to Phoenix' past, climate, and culture our tourism industry must be revived; first step, ridding ourselves of the Pearce's at the Capitol. Brewer already is softening on every issue; including a possible 180 on transplant funding:
"Brewer works to restore transplant coverage" http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/03/28/20110328arizona-transplant-coverage-brewer-works-to-restore.html

There is a growing discontent with the Goldwater Institute. Even McCain, the Madonna (pop-singer) of politics, is seriously hating on the institute:

"U.S. Sen. John McCain has intensified his criticism of the Goldwater Institute for its 'disgraceful' refusal to negotiate with Chicago investor Matthew Hulsizer on his pending purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes."

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2011/03/27/20110327nowicki-mccain-intensifies-goldwater-criticism.html#ixzz1HxAbLQMH

I call him the Madonna of politics because he's gone through more "evolutions" than she. When moderation in Arizona occurs, look to him to lead the way as the "maverick" strikes again (eyes roll).

An encouragement of tourism should include downtown "resorts." Think of an urban and chic downtown Phoenix answer to Talking Stick in North Scottsdale or the Boulders in Cave Creek. A new Hilton like the one proposed in downtown Phoenix next to CityScape can strive to offer a new resort experience in Phoenix that is unique in the U.S.:

"Barron Collier Companies is investigating development ideas for a two-acre parcel that is now a parking lot at First and Washington streets."

http://www.azcentral.com/business/realestate/articles/2011/03/02/20110302biz-hotel0303brief.html#ixzz1HxBayM00

Follow up link for the Hilton in downtown:
http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/PHXBeat/120525

morecleanair, no offense, but I come to this blog because of its focus on the city and urban issues. As for "wide open spaces," how's that working out for you in the mess of suburbia, even in the wealthiest parts of North Scottsdale...I guess just fine. But I'm interested in these substantive issues. Thanks, Jon, for going where the boosters fear to tread.

No one knowledgeable tells new folks where to live when they get transferred to PHX. Part of the problem with all the new people (7 years) like me is that we ditched our 1964 built 3x2s in Cali. We were tiring of having to look at our botched do-it-yourself home improvements there. Its wonderful to live in an up-to-code dwelling in AZ! That is how we end up in newer suburbs like Chandler and Peoria.

Now, my kid just got into a school in the Central District. I've got a 25 mile drive for at least two years, till she can drive herself. Trading houses to a place within in a mile of the school would be fantastic. I'd be within walking distance of lightrail and that ModernTiki lounge on Central. :-) I think I'll go to Zillow.com and see what's available.

LeftCoast, you'll be looking in my hood. And Hula's is one of my favorite watering holes. Don't under any circumstances buy a condo at the high-rise directly north of it. There's a lot of sketchiness around Xavier but if you go north of Camelback, you'll find attractive bargains everywhere. There are quite a few flips on the market but don't let the new granite-counter tops fool you. Some are almost entirely cosmetic jobs.

One area to check out is Sunview Estates between 15th & 7th Avenues just south of Bethany Home. These houses come with big irrigated lots. You'd be close to a Wal-mart but don't let that spook you. The neighborhood, except for some non-blending tear-downs, is nearly idyllic. I'm amazed how low the prices have fallen.

If you can go a little higher price-wise, both Medlock Place and Windsor Square are two of the nicest neighborhoods in Phoenix. If suburbanites knew about them, they might escape their stucco-and-styrofoam hell for these in-town oases. Good luck, and see you at Hula's.

Windsor Square is great. It's just north of the AJ's plaza at Central and Camelback. I'm rather partial to the whole area between 7th Street and 7th Avenue, and Bethany Home and Northern. There's a lot for sale, and bargains to be had. Look for houses in the Madison Simimis (grade school) and Meadows (middle school) district.

With a relative who has deep roots in one of the historical districts, I DO appreciate her choice of urban living. My sensitivity to bad air is mainly what drove me out. And I'm also claustrophobic. Thus, our choice to also spend time on the Oregon coast and the Gulf of California.
Portland jazzman Dave Frishberg wrote a tune about New York, citing "the anger and the action".

That said and slightly off topic, I recently took my grandkids (8&10) to see the Ann Bonfoey Taylor exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum and was wowed by how it has evolved since the 70's when my late wife became a docent. It is certainly a credit to Phoenix. There's a soft spot in my heart as PAM provided me with my first consulting gig 20 years ago. My collaborator then is now the award-winning Museum Store Director.

Like Soleri I been around a long time dude. Since 1950 and I was old when I got har. I come to this blog because it is so Jon. Plus it attracts other like minds. Urbanism for me however is a negative that I must live with and Dog forbid I'll probably die on a Phoenix street run over by a drunken plastic cowboy. I am thankful I am still able to escape to places where I can throw down my bed roll and see no sign of humans. For only then does my sanity find lucidness? For Jon, a quote from Robert Sundance, 1992 on the favorite booze of skid rows in various western towns, "Phoenix is Thunderbird, Billings Muscatel, LA white port and tokay (all the way with tokay) Seattle Apple Andy around the reservations muscatel (mustn't tell)"

Morecleanair, the growth of PAM has been one of central Phoenix's bright spots. It helps that it's one of the few institutions in Phoenix that gets wealthy socialites from places like Paradise Valley to contribute financially (often in exchange for naming rights to a wing or entire building). I've met some of the docents, many who live outside Phoenix proper, and the civic pride aspect to volunteering at the museum is obvious.

I know PAM's finanical officer and I mentioned how I'd love to see some of that wealth spill into the city around the museum, specifically that four-acre lot across Central. He acknowledged the problem but barring some philanthropist on the level of a Bennett Dorrance, it's unlikely to happen. The irony is that for all the social opportunities the upper crust enjoys at PAM, its endowment is still very modest. Just one more place where newness works against us.

I heartily recommend the Ann Bonfoey Taylor exhibit. I'm not a fashion plate myself, and the subject of couture bores me to tears. Still, it was the life of Taylor who really captured my interest. She cut a dazzling figure in the fashion, aviation, and athletics. If you go, definitely catch the video.

LeftCoast, don't forget the historic districts, right by light-rail for a ride to Central. They are much more walkable neighborhoods, close to museums, etc. Prices are better than what one might think -- and you get what you pay for. This is PHX's best stock of historic houses that will hold value. Unfortunately, most real-estate agents don't even know this part of town. So pick one who specializes in the central core, such as Ceil Klinger (but there are many others). Don't hire a suburban Realtor. (Now this is like Angie's List/Jonny's List)

Soleri: reading the list of PAM contributors reveals a number of former (city of) Phoenix residents who have migrated but not too far . . mostly Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. What's significant to me is the number who have at least a 40 year association with this wonderful institution. That's loyalty and a tribute to Jim Ballinger's talent in bonding the supporters to the organization.

PhxSunsfan – very good comment regarding the west-Phoenix light rail extension. I think there are technically sound arguments for both the Thomas and the north side of I-10 alignments. A few points to consider:

Thomas:

• Highest ridership local bus route in Arizona.
• Thomas connects 3 designated urban centers (supporting the “polycentric” urban village model)
• Makes Midtown a major transit hub (and therefore more intense development)
• Station accessibility is generally safer (walking across high traffic arterials at freeway interchanges pose major conflicts)
• More opportunities for stations.
• Station “gravity” pulls from 360 degrees, instead of 180 adjacent to the freeway barrier.
• Housing development next to freeways is not very desirable.


I-10:

• Less expensive mile for mile. Assuming light rail technology, property acquisitions at every arterial intersection along Thomas would likely be needed, unless Thomas were reduced to 1 lane in each direction. If Thomas were designed like Central (2 travel lanes and turn lanes at intersections) many corner parcels would need to be condemned.
• Much faster travel speed – making an attractive option for I-10 commuters to ditch their cars.
• Demonstrates that mass-transit can benefit suburbanites (which is a big consideration for future political support when the transit tax comes back up for consideration)
• There is more existing higher density residential (apartments) between McDowell and I-10 than along Thomas.
• Supports Downtown as the main transit hub (instead of Midtown)
• Even though development would be limited to 1 side of the freeway, there is actually more vacant land along the freeway than along Thomas – making redevelopment easier.
• High traffic along the freeway and at interchanges provides good commercial visibility.
• Assuming Glendale connects, provides a realistic (travel time) alternative to driving to get to the Westgate area.


The problem with AZ Rail association’s plan is that it disenfranchises a large portion of Maryvale – which is where most of the transit-using (and transit needing) population lives. And, if you look at AZ Central’s census tool – is where a significant share of Phoenix’s density is.

There could be a “best of both world’s” combination plan like street car on Thomas (which would not require all the condemnations) and BRT in the middle of the freeway. BRT is cheaper to build, but more expensive over the long term because of higher operational costs. Plus you have an even worse walking environment in a freeway median.

An alternative to BRT could be using the BNSF track south of McDowell as a commuter rail instead of BRT. However, this would require the railroads to agree, because neither the State or the City have condemnation authority over them. So far, they haven’t agreed.

The railroad alignment also is not ideal for a commuter corridor because 1) it would provide less convenient access to the State capitol and 2) the industrial agglomeration south of I-10 is an economic asset for Phoenix because of its ideal geographic location. From a strategic perspective, that area should be encouraged to expand as industrial, not pressured to convert to housing/offices which rail stations would do. This could be avoiding by only providing, say, one end of line station somewhere near Tolleson, but this would not be very convenient for commuters and is questionable how much it would be used.

I would very much like to hear your (or any of the very bright people in this forum) views on this issue

" Its wonderful to live in an up-to-code dwelling in AZ! "

Satire?

This right-to-shoddy-work state doesn't have construction unions to speak of. So-called trade workers cannot be trusted to be properly trained. At all. If you haven't learned that about AZ, you haven't learned anything. What we do have here is what Jon wrote hinted at with this:

"... an economy that cratered into house-building and "services," with an insatiable demand for immigrant labor."

In a paragraph:

Cheap immigrant labor nailing up wallboard, fast-blowing on stucco, quick-wiring homes without skill, care, overseers, and quite often cutting corners on codes whenever they can. Only one coat of paint please. That'll work in the AZ sun and wind for a couple years. We'll be cleared out of here by then...

Anybody buying a house in Arizona ought to realize this and find themselves the best home inspector they can. Because I guarantee it: Whitey-righty didn't care whether or not his immigrant electrician with no union course work did the job correctly...

All he cared about was the quick profit...
Not craftsmanship...
Not the joy or pride of work done well...
Just quick dumb ass profit...
The wisdom of the marketplace if you will....

Word:

Most AZ homes, like whitey righty, aren't worth spitting on. That's the bad news. The good news? Your property taxes will help pay for more growth. Whitey-righty the housebuilder owns the legislature, and they do his bidding. You do the paying...


RE: Transit.

The densest part of Maryvale needs easy LRT access to the central core.

The west and northwest suburbs (and East Valley) need heavy commuter rail, which can be done -- as Seattle has shown with the Sounder service, LA with Metrolink and San Diego with Coaster. It requires working with the freight railroads and paying to increase capacity on the lines.

I am a BRT skeptic, partly because there will never be enough totally dedicated lanes. BRT can work in some instances, but usually it's a bait-and-switch for rail and ends up disappointing.

Jon and phxplanner, there is agreement with the assessment that Maryvale must be connected by LRT. Though I like the "Lindley Alignment" Phoenix should dedicate its energy on an extension to Desert Sky. Every major arterial street in Maryvale has a bus route; including all the north to south Avenues. This service can link McDowell to LRT on Thomas and Camelback as well as Indian School to the Thomas line. Commuter rail must serve as the "express train" into downtown and not a reinvention of LRT into a limited service anomaly.

I heard that politicians in eastern Maricopa County wanted to divide the county between east and west creating two separate counties. They decided against doing so because of the tax revenue generated from the palo verde nuclear power plant was too much to do without.

By now you all have probably read in to days Republic that the home builders are counting heavily on people over 65 to get housing construction up and running again. These are not folks that care about downtown Phoenix, light rail, NY style Broadway plays, great art or gay cabarets. They like walled in Sun Cities, they don’t go out after dark and are asleep right after the news. Given the brilliant planners that inhabit this blog, I wish you the best and hope your idealism carries you forward to building
( a mega-metropolis in the desert) a new “Phoenix” out of the ashes of a place that used to be a really nice town. I am not one of those brilliant folks city planner mentions just an ole farm boy with a propensity for as many sahuaros and lizards as possible and very few humans.

Cal, you know if it was a choice between preserving the Sonoran Desert or seeing Phoenix eat it and the rest of Arizona, I'd probably do what I could to annihilate this sorry excuse for a city. But that's not the real choice here. The real estate-industrial complex, to be sure, wants more sprawl, gated communities, and cars. If Phoenix were a real city with a morally responsible citizenry, we'd be doing everything we could to preserve the desert, limit our urban footprint, and create a sustainable future. But we're not. And the fact that we refuse to urbanize responsibly means we attract more suburbanites with their sense of entitlement and utter lack of awareness. This reveals the real choice we face. Cities matter precisely because they make a healthy environment possible, which in turn makes human life possible. A healthy Phoenix means a desert preserved and protected. If it seems too late, remember it always seems too late. We must do what we can.

Ed Abbey knew this city sucked and he was right. But it's gotten much worse since he died. Unless we find a way to put people in a city instead of their cars and far-flung exurban "communities", this nightmare will never end. We evangelize to each other on this site but most people don't get the message. We have a bit of breathing room right now before the next wave of destruction begins. What we have to do is nearly impossible - kill the very impulse that is killing the desert and ultimately ourselves. If that sounds like a movie, all the better. You know the script as well as anyone. Write it down before it's too late.

I'd like to propose a blog post: "why cities matter". It sounds obvious but most people really don't get it. The arrangement we have now is literally driving us insane. I know I want to scream every time I get in my car and realize there's no place to go. Our civic soul has withered away. We either create it or die.

Next time I commune with Ed I will tell him that Soleri is a kindred soul.
I think Abbey would have enjoyed your company. I Gotta tell that cook to leave the mushrooms off my taco.

Cal,

rest assured. In the long run, the desert always wins. Let's hear it from someone who knows and lives in another sprawl-infested desert bizarro-town:

"Dr Mohammed Raouf, the environmental director of the Gulf Research Centre, sounds sombre as he sits in his Dubai office and warns: "This is a desert area, and we are trying to defy its environment. It is very unwise. If you take on the desert, you will lose." "
-- from "The dark side of Dubai"

BTW that's the main difference to Detroit, which does have water, livable environs, and farming. The reversal of defilement can lead to a better outcome there. In Phoenix it's dust to dust.

Dunno about Dee-troit comparisons . . . in the winter, the dogs freeze to the sidewalks! I envisioned a roving crew of de-icers who thawed their little paws! (reference Mr.& Mrs. Antrobus in "The Way of the World".)

Or am I delusional?

A winter: I agree the desert always wins. Dark Side of Dubai reminds me of Frank Herbert’s Dune series. As a result I keep a "Still Suit" in my recumbent backpack along with some Melange in case I need to expand my thinking capabilities. A lot of smart people including Charles Bowden (Killing The Hidden Waters) and Edward Abbey have written on this subject. On a regular basis I send people (including Jon) used copies of Mark Resiners 1985 publication of "Cadillac Desert”. In 1966 I delivered the Arizona Republic to a person named Winter ?(I think John) that was a writer for the Arizona Republic. He lived about 17th Street a couple of blocks north of Glendale. And down the Mountain from Arizona Republic writer Don Dedera who lived on top of a large hill that is now a part of the Point resort on 16th Street. No realtion I presume?

The Arabian Desert is a whole other animal...comparing water in Phoenix to water in Dubai is like comparing Phoenix to Detroit. There are NO natural water sources in the Emirate.

http://www.salon.com/news/unemployment/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/03/29/unemployment_best_worst

Here's another way to measure ourselves. Which states are we most like when it comes to unemployment insurance?

The meanness of a state like Arizona is not an accident. It happens because we have a large minority population that inspires fear and loathing among the dominant majority. Starving the beast is not just a metaphor about less government. It's also about ridding ourselves of the "other". When we look at our peer states, it becomes obvious that we're not going to levitate this state with fantasies of coolness. Mean states are not cool. They're backwaters of reaction and cultural paralysis. This is who we are now.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/election/azelections/articles/2011/03/30/20110330arizona-education-intel-ceo.html

An omen or a diversion?

Business will have to decide what it ultimately values more: low taxes and less regulation or a 1st World environment in which to locate.

Businesses are speaking to their interests. The Legislature must understand these messages being sent their way. Ultimately the voters will realize that their representation is not equipped and too "Tea Party-ish" to make the state competitive.

On a slightly different note, another small piece of the Bio-Med puzzle has been put in place as a new company announced its decision to locate in downtown Phoenix.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2011/03/29/20110329phoenix-mayor-phil-gordon-gives-final-state-city-address-today.html


Bio-Med: the health industry is without a doubt going to be the worlds biggest employer. I will wait to see how it plays out in Phoenix. Talking is one thing, performance is another. MUST is not a word the boys at the legislature respond to it's a word they insist on. Phxsunfan,
I'm willing to bet a parent or grandparent in your family maintained a large working puzzle on a table somewhere near the primary entrance to their home? Soleri, keep in mind there a large number, 30 percent plus, here that don't believe in taxes, except for a standing militia.

Cal, the radicalization of the GOP base is a permanent fact now. There's no road back to the middle because the entire logic of political mobilization demands tweaking the tribalized identity of white voters. This is a national phenomenon that becomes acute in Arizona with its lack of civic involvenment and institutional buffers. On the one hand, the business community sees the problem with the lack of investment in education and infrastructure. On the other, they simply don't care since they're not really wedded to any particular place now. Craig Barrett has significant sunk costs here so he sees it as an issue. The real estate-industrial complex, which is disproportionately powerful in this state, has a strategy of maximizing profits at the expense of taxpayers, which is why they want to slough off impact fees on them. Regional banks have little incentive to advocate for Arizona's long-range interests.

The surging Hispanic population now serves two functions: driving down wage scales and helping Republicans mobilize their base. Why isn't Arizona more like California? Because California's more dynamic economy is intertwined with a large class of knowledge workers and business interests that checks their radical-white voting bloc. It's not hard to see the self-fulfilling prophecy in all of this. As Arizona cuts taxes, education, infrastructure spending, its economy further devolves, serving to attract not global capital but don't-tread-on-me transplants from out of state.

Cal, about that 30% who don't believe in taxes except for defense: these people are rigidly hostile about spending that benefits other people. As for themselves, the more the better. It's why they hardly squeaked when the Bush administration doubled the national debt and irresponsibly created new entitlement spending (Medicare Part D), or took wars off budget. It's only when spending is seen as helping "others" that they become fiscal hawks.

Ironic that Seattle and Phoenix both defeated monstrous, neighborhood-killing freeways around the same time. But afterward, of course, the paths diverged. Interesting reading:

http://crosscut.com/2011/03/30/mossback/20760/Seattle-s-history-of-slaying--concrete-dragons-/

It would have been best if the Deck Park Tunnel would have run the length from 19th or 15th Ave to 16th St. The city lost wonderful historic apartment buildings, homes, and some Victorians. Each city has monstrous freeways dissecting their Central districts, and both have five of these concrete dragons; however, Seattle kept its most valuable hoods in tact.

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=141718

Downtown Seattle in the 1970s. I think I prefer the current version although there's some interesting grittiness in the old pictures.

BTW, Deck Park was created by 19 bridges joined together to form a tunnel. There was no way to save the existing buildings in the freeway's path. The what-might-have-been discussion about Phoenix is really whether we should have built this freeway at all, although if it was inevitable, I think an alignment closer to Indian School Rd would have done less damage to our vintage building stock. The clearing for 1-10 started in the mid '60s even though it took another 25 years before it was done. Of course, no one back then cared at all what was being destroyed.

pSf, I often longed for the underground portion of the Papago to be extended along the lines you mention. We lost 3,000 houses, many of them irreplaceable historic masterpieces. I preferred linking up I-10 at Durango. But as Soleri points out, too few cared. Among the other losses: The lovely tree-lined Moreland Parkway.

It would have been many times more expensive to tunnel under the historic districts with a TBM. The payoff today would have been worth it instead of the cut and cover technique used for Deck Park Tunnel...I often wondered why I-10 needed to cut through the center of town and loop round meeting I-17 again in the east toward the Durango Curve. Why not create a "conjoined" freeway system instead? If only we could turn back time. Could the "bridges" over DPT be extended further east and west in the future creating more green space?

Mi amiga y yo just finished lunch at the San Carlos Hotel. The lunch was straight off the rolling lunch wagon. But you can tell the place once had a lot of class when you got to take a piss.We walked and shopped City Scape. My impression was the place is a big heat sink. We made it to Revolver Records where Steve and TJ have a record store that reminds me of Al's Book store (now gone after Mike Riley of the book Gallery bought him out)at about 1400 East Van Buren. Revolvers is a absolute mess of a treasure chest. I picked up a excellent first edition book of history of Joseph Smith for $9 and a book for $6 on Jerry Garcia who is not dead but lives in San Carlos, Mexico and goes by Sol as he and his other wife (Mexican) make runs along the coast with tourists on their glass bottom boat. I advised Steve at Revolver that the address numbers of 918 on his building are the numbers police use to identify insane people. He thought that was so cool he gave me a big discount. We are back Garfield area and have the A/C on as the weather I love is about to tear a new one to the citizens electric bill. Cabrone Cal

At least the address isn't 187...

eclecticdog,

Thank you very much for the links for Joe Bageant. I've read a number of his articles. The sad news is that he passed away this past Sunday. What a loss. He will live on in his works.

cal,

I'll give you a call when I'm able. My back is acting up and I can't get around too much. When I'm able we'll have that coffee/beer.

Good comments everyone.

AZ Rebel, thought we had lost you. I was at the spine doc yesterday. As a result I am walking less and hitting the recumbent more. Plus I am going to buy a regular bike that's smaller than the frame I would normally ride so that I bend over further to reach the down handle bars thus stretching out that pinched nerve area that affects every thing from my right hip to my right heel. I must admit Phoenix does offer better health care than Sonoita.

Jon, I had a 101-918 try to 187 my recumbent it was almost a 451 situation.
a guy named Jon showed up in a private ambulance and hauled her off to 24th street, on Van Buren or as a girl friend in the old days used to say Vanbure.

Cal,
no relation to the person you mentioned. Reiser's CD has held up well under recent scientific assessment:
http://aquadoc.typepad.com/files/reclaiming_sustainability_cd.pdf

The paper estimates 76% equivalent of total surface water is being used in the Southwest. A doubling of population, unlikely as it is, could increase that to 86%. 40% is deemed sustainable. Hmm.

I envision a long gradual decline for the Southwest where bits and parts give way (intensive agriculture first, then burbs to slums or slum centers?). Unfortunately, that's not the proactive bulldozer scenario we wish for. The temperate climate zones should get ready for the 'Grapes of Wrath' exodus landing at their doorsteps.

Russel Pearce might have accepted illegal gifts from the Fiesta Bowl. This might get interesting...

I am solidly on the side of the skeptics here. Primarily because I lived in Tempe, Phoenix, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Mesa over nearly two decades. But what confirms my skepticism is this:

"Now, my kid just got into a school in the Central District. I've got a 25 mile drive for at least two years, till she can drive herself." - LeftCoastDude

"till she can drive herself"

What lessons are we teaching? If we cannot rescue the next generation from the automobile, can we imagine that they will rescue themselves?

What is it the palefaces dont understand about the word "illegal"?

Phxsunfan: In my travels I have been told by members of the LDS tribe that there is no such thing as "white collar crime" just "buyer beware".
Two of these individuals were Mormon assistant police chiefs among many others right down to Tony B the handsome door to door pots and pans salesman. And according to him, he got some really good bonuses from the home alone housewives. So why would any LDS or for the matter any politician think getting a “Junker” gift was illegal.

Cal: Pearce purposely "scratched out" thousands of dollars worth of tickets, lavish hotel stays, etc when reporting "gifts" from organizations. This is no longer a local issue as it has made the national scene and the IRS will be investigating...

Some more information from the Republic this morning:

"Arizona lawmakers who accepted tickets from Fiesta Bowl lobbyists to attend football games in Chicago, Boston, Pasadena and other cities may have violated state law.

Since 2000, state statutes have included an 'entertainment ban' that prohibits state employees and elected officials from accepting tickets or 'admission to any sporting or cultural event' for free."

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/03/31/20110331fiesta-bowl-arizona-lawmakers.html#ixzz1IBuTcaVQ

Felony charges for such actions are not out of the question in this matter.

Rate Crimes, I was talking to a friend last night about skepticism and whether it's ever a good idea to frame the problem so negatively that it seems virtually hopeless. My answer is that we have no choice here, that the naked truth is ultimately the only teacher worth respecting. Phoenix has had a long history, needless to say, of sugar-coating its built form and unsustainable arrangements. Talton's career trajectory is proof that it doesn't suffer being critiqued. And even today, the denial is as solid as it ever was. All we need to do now is get rid of the Mexicans and things will be fine. Build the dang fence! Let freedom ring!

The conversations here are not going to change minds. There's something deep and abiding about the human need to imagine problem as solvable. We see it with geo-engineering schemes and climate change. I used to wrangle with Emil Pulsifer about this tendency. But as Emil used to tell me, "pessimism is not a plan".

I'm not sure I ever answered him but I would say now that pessimism is a necessary precursor to sanity and that there are no plans that can rescue people from their own delusions. Our delusion is baked into the cake, as it were. We literally cannot imagine any plan that doesn't also represent a continuation of our current living arrangements. Ergo, the future is modified with optimistic adjectives. Electric cars will save us, along with solar power and organic gardening.

We celebrated our first Earth Day 41 years ago. It seem like another lifetime to me and in a way it was. At that time, the kids were in the vanguard. We were going to green the planet, defuse the population bomb, and deconstruct the American dream of its consumeristic obscenities. We failed spectacularly because we didn't account for the inertia of "progress", which translated means "more".

Ultimately, my generational cohort abandoned the fight and settled into the flow of ordinary life. That fight is the dream that still wakes me in the middle of the night. It's a fever dream that only death will cure.

LeftCoastDude did say he'd rather trade houses for one near light rail and Hula's...as for his daughter, perhaps commuter's fatigue/burnout will set in sooner. Hopefully leftcoastdude finds his new abode near light rail and Hula's...

One of my wisest and best-grounded friends maintains that the pendulum usually swings back toward the middle . . and I hope she's right. With over-reach like Russell Pearce's, we're hearing the air escape from his self-inflated balloon. Therefore, being a pessimist ignores the self-correcting "pendulum" phenomenon.

As the Californicators flooded our state, there are two "characteristics" they brought with them which continue to aggravate this old Arizonan.

1. Wearing a long commute to and from work as a "badge of honor". Bullcrap.

2. Bragging about how long you had to wait to get into a restaurant. Really? You considered that an indicator of a succesfull evening. Bullcrap.


Those two "badges" may work in California, but they don't work here.

It's like wearing a bumper sticker on your forehead that says "I'm dumb and I don't know it".

(apologies, having a cranky morning)

There are many dreamers, optimists, deniers, the ignorant and the faithful. Dog bless them may they keep the faith right up to when the water runs out. For any “hope” there must be the anarchists, the pessimists, the fact seekers, and the informed and on this blog I see such humans. So I check in as often as possible to review what I call the “wisdom’ that populates this blog. Until Talton talked me into blogging I just used the wire to send out invoices and check on Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen. Well OK just to send out invoices. Today so far I got two hours in on my recumbent, coffee at the UB and now back to my reading of fleeing the FLDS Apocalypse cult in the book “Escape” by Carolyn Jessop.

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