Historically, May was when the temperature in Phoenix crept up to 100. Almost all week, it's been around 105 for the high. "Climate change is a hoax," as they say. The past 12 months were the warmest ever recorded, yet there is no debate, no discussion, least of all in a city likely to be heavily affected, Two days of hot wind cleared out the smoke from the wildfires, leaving only the usual smog. Better than nothing. At a book signing Tuesday night at the Arizona Biltmore, several people came up to say how much they depend on Rogue Columnist to speak truth to power, reality to the Kookocracy. It's something for me to keep in mind if some think I am just shouting the same old stuff with tiresome certitude.
Light rail seems to be doing well every time I ride it — and I depend on it (WBIYB). I can't speak for the line from Camelback to Chris Town, but otherwise it's packed-to-busy. It's curious at stations to see signs that identify trains going to Tempe and Mesa, or 19th and Montebello, but never downtown Phoenix. If you get on light rail at the Sky Harbor stop, you'd never know which way was the city center. Not smart. Tempe is trying to build a streetcar — a good sign. Otherwise, transit policy is a hash. Buses have been gutted (Your Tax Cuts at Work).
I'm not sure I understand the so-called West Link line. Is it really intended to go to Tolleson? If so, this shows how the region still doesn't get rail. Heavy commuter rail should be a priority to all the outlying suburbs, with a hub at Union Station, where passengers could connect with buses and eventually a light-rail spur as was done in San Jose. Commuter trains would provide fast service to Glendale, Peoria, Tolleson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Chandler, Gilbert, etc. The rail right-of-way is there and would require public money to expand capacity, as well as negotiations with the private railroads. But this has been done successfully around the country.
Could we ever expect to get Phoenicians to ride these exotic contraptions? Wouldn't Phoenicians grind up their children to fuel their F-150s and SUVs before they boarded a train? I dunno. Metro has thrived and the world didn't come to an end, as was the prevailing wail before it opened. Dallas, every bit as car-crazy as Phoenix, has very successful light-rail and commuter-rail systems (LA, too).
I noticed that First Watch is closed at Washington and First Avenue. Someone told me a nearby "local, indie" coffee shop had "expanded its breakfast menu." Maybe. It's still depressing, not least because here's another long, lifeless block in the heart of the city. CityScape just looks more disappointing and suburban every time I'm down there, but of course I hope it succeeds. Just outside downtown, some hope is evident with ongoing work to rehab the corner of Seventh Avenue and McDowell, which I offered as a marker in a popular post. Still, it's heavily weighted to chain restaurants (who would go to a Chipotle when we have some of the best non-chain Mexican food in the world here?). And without more high-paying jobs, the area can support only so many restaurants. What continues to be missing are practical businesses and density. So many long, empty blocks. One small victory: A long-derelict building at McDowell and Third Avenue (it was a dentist's office when I was a kid) has been rehabbed into a veterinary clinic.
People are hunkering down for the summer, which promises to be longer and hotter as is the new normal. Phoenix used to be a fairly common desert town, as in it largely shut down in the summer, or operated on minimal impulse power. Now, technology allows the envelope to be pushed much further, making many assume it has no limits, that technology will compensate for any human folly or miscalculation.