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August 16, 2016

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Having grown up in Phoenix (we settled there in 1950), I still miss THAT Phoenix. Every time I visit the area I'm saddened and incensed.

Having no reason to question the accuracy of the account, I find myself wanting to play armchair detective to figure out what it suggests about the demise of downtown.

If big retailers had already left by 1980, small businesses were closing, and slum clearance was perceived to be necessary, it suggests that most of the local residents had long since left.

Mill Avenue thrives, in part, because of a captive audience: university students who live in the surrounding blocks, have some leisure time and some disposable income. Consumers attract businesses hoping to get a piece of the action.

So I find myself asking when, and why, the local residents (not merely day working commuters and tourists) left downtown for other areas. That flight is surely the proximate cause of the demise of downtown. Gimmicks could never attract a similarly large set of regular consumers, and without them businesses had little reason to invest. What was left were canyons of skyscrapers and the infrastructure to service the day working commuters who occupied them but LIVED somewhere else.

If you want to restore downtown vibrancy, you need to reverse the process. The only thing that will attract large numbers of residents to a blighted area is affordable housing (which in the case of downtown would mean apartment buildings).

Affordable, in this context, means attractively cheaper than comparable housing elsewhere in the city. That in turn suggests the need for government subsidies of some sort. For considerably less than the price of a new sports arena, you could seed the area with affordable housing. Business investment would follow naturally.

If you really wanted to play dirty pool, you could contrive to limit occupancy of the new affordable housing to those who could document residency in a bordering municipality, stealing from their tax base to offset the cost of the subsidies. Ditto business permits: cut costs and red tape for those who relocate.

Sheer moonshine, of course, but...

Arrived in Phoenix in 1990 from a town in the Southeast with a population of 20,000. In July. Loved Phoenix. Can't explain why, even today. But looking around, back then, I remember thinking "something special used to be here and I am too late". Years later, I have a much better understanding of that, in part thanks to RC. Just wanted to let you know.
Great column as always.

I was on 1988 Citizens Bond Committee. I worked on the proposal to build the Phoenix Government Center based on the Barton Myers design that had won a competition. My recollection is that that was the only item that was rejected by the voters, that the scaled-down City Hall that we ended up with was a result of that rejection.

I experienced Charles Keating first hand, I bought one of his houses in 1983. I thought it interesting, he owned the builder, the sales force, the title company and the loan company. At 12.5% interest rate, with a 3-2-1 buydown. There were 22 houses on my street built by Keating and every one went into foreclosure, except mine. (although I came close one time)

As has been pointed out by the Rogue Columnist and others, the "heat island" effect of all the concrete and asphalt is a downtown "killer" at least 4, maybe 5(soon to be six) months of the year.

Parks and green space will only minimally alleviate the increased heat. Only something much more comprehensive, such as a giant shade or a totally enclosed downtown will address the increased summer heat. I believe global warming is on an upward parabola, and that isn't good for Phoenix.

Anything that realistically will help any area, including downtown, will require planning and infrastructure on a huge scale.

I sincerely doubt there's support for such spending--especially given the penny-pinching ways of the conservative leadership and their supporting electorate.

There's an old adage of, "You gotta pay to play."

"Paying,"--as in taxes, is something most conservatives loath.

Taxes are NOT confiscation, they are what one pays to have an orderly, just, and livable society.

I must repeat:
without the CAP Phoenix would look like the 80's today.
Thanks to "Uncle Carl" and friends it is what it is today.

The CAP was a huge mistake as was Roosevelt Dam.

Everyone keeps missing the only reliable growth factor that keeps driving Phoenix, everyone moving here to enjoy some sun before their final exit.

Urban amenities are fine, until you share a slow moving cranky bus with some people suffering from mental illness. At that point some of the urban hipster gloss is lost, and even more is lost through some of the reality of dealing with a very old housing infrastructure.

Rebuilding houses costs money, and when you find that Maryvale is your destination because of cheap small, aging houses, then all of a sudden you get instant linear slum.

The lessons from LA are always coming to Phoenix, and now the slums are following the aging suburbs with some exceptions bases on the ability to teardown and build a McMansion instead of trying to live in that 1700 sq ft block JF Long style house (gee Arcadia is calling!)

Just did a job cleaning out a house one block west of GCU at 36th ave and Missouri- old folks,a bunch of hardworking recent immigrants, the barrio transplants and mostly nice houses, but the ones on the block with all of the bars are a great sign of how unstable the hood is at night. And break ins, combined with slumlord housing define the hood in terms of "How much will it appraise for, and that is who will buy it" realtor reality, baaaby.

Appraisers will just do a google fly by and push out the number based on the hood, so we now have modern redlining based on economic value instead of skin color.

Race is starting to fade, it is all how much money that is in your community.

1. An adage is old, so let's just refer to it as an "adage". Sorry, Bradley Dranka, but that's the journalist in me nitpicking.
2. Look at that picture of downtown Phoenix. The skyline is much thinner than it is today (not that Phoenix has a skyline to boast about, but Downtown has made progress).

Concern Troll,

I wish Phoenix could import the good things from LA. E.g., world-class universities, cultural assets and economy, an extensive rail transit system, Democratic political control, tolerance, etc. etc. LoL

Good luck Jon.
About as much chance of that as my fantasy of exporting all things human, leaving a roadless wilderness. But I get to wander the great Sonoran Wilderness with my Coyotee/dog, Spot.

Why Arizona will grow.
By 2100, thirty plus cities will cease to exist due to rising sea levels.

As Phoenix grew and grew, there were two options. Build up or build out.

Since we are a car oriented society, for better or worse, and it was much cheaper to build out than up, we built out.

I don't think that at first the population density of downtown changed as much as it was overwhelmed by the influx of all of those new Phoenicians who wanted single family housing, with a backyard and a pool, that they could afford. And that meant cheap land further and further away from the city center. More house for less money was/is hard to resist.

Eventually, of course, that pulled both people and businesses away from downtown. Unfortunately, at that point the decay that followed it was a historical inevitability.

Now, what millennials want may be exactly the opposite of what their parents and grandparents wanted. So, with any luck, all of those empty lots turning into condos and apartments downtown may provide the needed density to attract more and more retail.

However, the only thing that can stop the sprawl is a lack of water and services. And apparently the powers that be will lie about the former and willingly provide the latter until there isn't a square mile of unpaved land in Maricopa County.

The lack of commitment by our state leaders has long bothered me. Although Bruce Babbitt was an effective governor, after leaving in the early '90s to join the Clinton cabinet he never returned. To me, you're no longer an Arizonan after living the last 20+ years in Virginia. The same can be said of Napolitano, Kyl, and others.

ChrisInDenver:

I wrote this in the previous column's
(Dog Days of Summer) responses,

(Modern)Phoenix was built for the car, not horse buggies, public transportation, or bikes and pedestrians. The spaces are very open and vast when compared to older cities. I feel that makes downtown Phoenix look hollowed out and soulless. Visually, there's nothing old and charming because there was nothing old and charming to begin with.

Letting two distinct skylines develop only compounds the visual (both close-up and distant) disarray.

I was wrong: There WAS something old and charming, and it was replaced by modern glass and concrete set back fro the street.

The visual disarray, both distant and close, is rather small in height but wide in between buildings. In other words it is short and squat, and especially unbecoming for a city Phoenix's size (#6 in the U.S.)

Looks count if you are seeking business, and Phoenix doesn't look like the "belle of the ball."

It doen't feel like it downtown, either.

But then, and I said it in my previous column, the powerholders are likely content to keep their conservative "fiefdom," even if that means a long, slow decline as other locales pass Phoenix up.

That is quite possible given that the millennials are much more accepting, cosmopolitan, diverse, and inclusive--something Arizona and Phoenix are NOT known to be.

The lack of a vibrant downtown is a telling sign of this regressivism.

The way Phoenix looks is related to the way it feels. There's little real passion because all the creative energies are sucked up by the enormous work, baby, work ethic.

This obsession with work informs the region's attitudes toward the creative arts. Architecture, the performing arts, and the humanities are largely seen as frivolous and not contributing to profits, baby, profits.

All work and no play makes Phoenix a dull boy.

Balance in life requires balance in one's thinking. That goes for a metro area as well as people. Like, what can Phoenix learn from places that have vibrant downtowns.

ChrisInDenver:

An adage is not old, uh, so says the Oxford dictionary...

ad·age.

[ˈadij]

NOUN

1.a proverb or short statement expressing a general truth:

"the old adage “out of sight out of mind.”"

synonyms: saying · maxim · axiom · proverb · aphorism · saw ·
[more]


Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press · Translation by Bing Translator

Not to nitpick, but....

"Omit needless words."

-- William Strunk Jr.

Rogue Columnist:

Another reason I used the word old is because so many of the powerholders and their supporting electorate think they can (and should) get everything for pennies on the dollar, or get it for free. That's taking thriftiness and being cheap to the ultimate.

The idea of having to "pay to play" is very "dated" to them.

It just seems, as I am NOT an Arizona native, that Phoenix looks like it does because of a failure to appreciate and maintain its historic structures. This uber-commercial attitude also made its kitschy and unique attractions, along with those storefronts, disappear.

I can't comment about the powerholders attitudes toward the arts and humanities from 1950-1990 because I wasn't here. But I can guess most everyone was so caught up in building out Phoenix and it environs that the arts and preservation were treated like poor stepchildren.

I believe this blasé and uncaring attitude toward the arts continues.

I firmly posit that civic, business, and popular support for the arts is a necessary ingredient for a city to be called "charming."

I'll guess The Rogue Columnist has some ideas on why Phoenix is this way and this may be an idea for a column.

As I do with most things in Phoenix, I trace it back to the powerholders and an electorate. The electorate is not blind about what the powerholders do: I see the electorate as VERY engaged and supportive of the passive-aggressive revisionist regressive leadership in Arizona.

Bradley, many of the Phoenix 101 history columns provide the answers. I invite everyone to browse and read.

The developmental relationship between Phoenix and Los Angeles is an interesting one to consider because of how often Phoenix has imitated some of the City of Angel's more boosterist politics.

Being a young boy in the 1990s, I remember how different Phoenix looked like in the early part of that decade as most of its freeways were widened and multi-level stacks became a signature Valley sight. The stacks so common to Southern California were now becoming a regular aspect of the Valley character.

To be fair, single-party Democratic rule in LA has been no panacea for Angelinos - between the different neighborhoods and communities and within the city, a stringent feeling of division can be felt particularly as different groups in the city - from the white progressive community, to the Latino-Black radical coalitions, to the Chamber of Commerce - vie for influence in setting the vision for the city. The expanding rail/public transit system is expanding by leaps and bounds, but a lot of frustration still exists as arguments continue over how to best implement rail (buses vs subways down central LA for example) as a new transit initiative heads to the voters in November.

Bradley, the "electorate" that continues to vote in the the current types of Arizona legislators are not blind but sheep to be herded by the big dogs. They vote as told. Mesa LDS Republican Russell Pearce's political demise was foretold because he got to loudly and openly publicly radical even for his brethren. His actions were stfiled our of fear it would awaken the overall population from its continous siesta. Phoenix has always been the enemy of this group and old Sun City type White folks. Big cities in Arizona are the haven (not heaven)of evil liberals and god forbid non belivers. I suggest you read Jon's history blogs as he has mentioned.

As fragmented as Los Angeles's civic sphere is, its active enough to force the governing powers to make some level of concessions. Phoenix (and the Valley as a whole frankly) would benefit tremendously from a more active civic culture to steer us away from the profits-profits-profits governing mentality that Bradley points out above.

Given the electorate's perceived near infallibility of the business community in AZ ("Ducey, as a former CEO, will be a great steward of Arizona's economy!"), changing the direction of Phoenix and Arizona in general is a tall order. Perhaps a question worth asking is if its even possible for Phoenix, the Valley, and AZ to change their governing paradigms. Will a demographic shift on the part of millenials and Arizona Hispanics be enough to bring about genuine political change? Will the worsening aspects of global climate change (and potentially permanent drought) be enough to force better water management and more sustainable development (particularly upward rather than outward) that doesn't completely ruin the Sonoran Desert in Central Arizona?

Bradley, since you left, maybe, Genesis 19 might be appropriate. Keep on trucking.

I think there are only two things that can shift the balance of power in the Phoenix area and cause major changes.

One: the Latinos either get angry enough or scared enough to actually vote in large numbers.

Two: there is an extreme water shortage which causes the area of guaranteed water delivery to shrink back to the original boundaries of the Salt River Project. Then, with the "true" cost of water finally in effect, the Verrados and Anthems will shrivel and die, and outlying municipalities will be forced to survive on whatever ground water they can pump.

Foothills and Club West golf clubs are already suffering from highly mineralized water and it's just a matter of time before the same problem hits the Verrados and Anthems .

As far as leap frog development,look at the main shopping malls that have been victimized.Park Central was canibalized by Tower Plaza and Chris town,then Thomas Mall which was then canibalized by Los Arcos.And then the traffic moved to Fiesta Mall and then Superstition Springs.

This all has happened in the last 50 years and it will probably continue until the water runs out.

But the technology god will save you.
HA
TOM MALTHUS

It will be interesting to look back a generation from now to see what sort of impact Valley Metro's light rail makes on Phoenix's development (particularly along the surface street alignments). If we're lucky, Valley Metro will lead to higher density housing developments along its trajectory which could result in more concentrated populations of people. Perhaps a higher demand for housing might make it economically feasible for some of the office buildings in downtown Phoenix to be converted to condos/apartment units which could foment a residential renaissance to better establish downtown as the region's true core.

If the ADOT passenger rail study discussed in an earlier column ever leads to the return of heavy-rail passenger train service that could also redefine, at least in part, some of the Valley's development.

Nogalense, If the sandworms dont get us just maybe Arrakis (valley of the sun) Fremen will survive and live out thier days in an biosphere cave, snorting melange and putting on their still suits to venture out into the Great Sonoran Desert. What's left of it. Of course they will be assisted by the holograms of Cal and his dog spot.

Before Frank Herbert was a great story teller in novel form he was the last of a great generation of real "reporters".

Thanks RC for your writing; always educational.

As you write, Phoenix (the city) was at 800,000 in 1980 – This would imply that Phoenix (The metro) was at least 1,6000,000 in 1980 (probably higher). Given the water/environment a metro of 1,000,000 would have/is been about the best that could be accommodated. Using this figure, 1970, or so, would have been the apogee of Phoenix’s development.

Cal,

On your post about the people are sheep and are herded by the big dogs, I've lived among them (Peoria). I think the lack of outrage over the big dog's
comments indicates to me a sterling approval that indicates to me where the sheep herd's collective heart is.

Consider this, do you feel their beliefs emanating from them? I believe I did. Using one's brain creates an energy that I felt.

The things I felt coming from the majority of the people I encountered was a satisfaction with what the powerholders did.

I also believe that if they weren't satisfied, they would vote differently.
They like what they hear coming from those they elect.

After all, trump won the Arizona Republican primary resoundingly.

And no, I'm not railing against trump: I'm using him to show where the sheep herd's heart and soul is in Arizona.

Ignorance is Bliss as denial is stupid.

Re dead “downtowns”: have been rereading Jane Jacobs “Life and Death”. Great book! At the time the book was written even New York’s “downtown” (at the time of the book what we would call Wall Street) was dead after 5:00 pm. It’s probably true today – but I don’t know NYC very well.

This is entirely natural given the circumstances. If you call downtown “the place where all the tall buildings are” they are all almost entirely dead outside of business hours. As JJ would say, this is due to downtown being almost exclusively office/banking/governmental “primary usage”. In addition they are typically high cost areas. The combination squeezes out other uses. This is typically true everywhere.

The solution (if you insist that this phenomenon is bad) is to add secondary and tertiary uses that are not 8 – 5 oriented. Examples would be entertainment, retail, colleges that are nonresidential with evening classes and residential units. The non-primary uses need to be at a scale comparable to the primary uses.
Convention and tourist attractions are good also.

Re downtown rejuvenation - shall we now discuss reinventing the wheel?

All that has been discussed on this thread and other RC threads, has been tried over and over again. People like their elbow room, I know I do; that's why I moved to AZ.

Jared Diamond said,
Diamond identifies five factors that contribute to collapse: climate change, hostile neighbors, collapse of essential trading partners, environmental problems, and failure to adapt to environmental issues.

He also lists twelve environmental problems facing humankind today. The first eight have historically contributed to the collapse of past societies:

Deforestation and habitat destruction
Soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses)
Water management problems
Overhunting
Overfishing
Effects of introduced species on native species
Overpopulation
Increased per-capita impact of people
Further, he says four new factors may contribute to the weakening and collapse of present and future societies:

Anthropogenic climate change
Buildup of toxins in the environment
Energy shortages
Full human use of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity

Human overpopulation occurs if the number of people in a group exceeds the carrying capacity of the region occupied by that group. Overpopulation can further be viewed, in a long term perspective, as existing when a population cannot be maintained given the rapid depletion of non-renewable resources or given the degradation of the capacity of the environment to give support to the population.[1]

I agree elbow room is important.
But the continued population growth in the Southwest is going to limit stretching out and not bumping up against a neighbor.
I like that living space where the quail come and go and the rabbits get to feed off my plants as do the Javelinas. An occasional roadrunner speeds through chased by Wiley Coyotee. And the things that go bump in the night are not my drunk neighbor pounding a common wall but the sound of thunder, lighting and wind of the seasonal monsoon.

Whats the percentage increase in violence when a third rat is put tin the box?

The paradigm is based on the fact that an adult male rat will establish a territory when given sufficient living space.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731199/

Ca - Re" Diamond and overpopulation - what does he do but have a couple of kids when he's over the hill. That's really putting your money where you know what is.
I saw Diamond this past Spring at the book event, in Tucson; he was unapologetic about those kids of his and said he would use all resources to maintain them. That's natural - I can relate, but I don't like hypocrites. And I wish I could get my money back for his latest book - didn't like it at all.

Theory and actual conduct can be very disappointing. I'll buy your book and use it for my campfire.

Jared Diamond's "kids" are almost 30 years old.

He was 50 when they were born.

Since they were born he's written several best sellers and won a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.

Doesn't sound "over the hill" to me.

As far as hypocritical, well, "eye of the beholder" I guess.

Cal - send me $20 and its yours. (the book is signed, so that's got to be worth something to this crowd.)

Cash OK?
Give me your snail mail PO box number.

Cal,

If I take your comment of ignorance is bliss as denial is stupid, that's a parallel interpretation of my belief that arrogance (as the ignorant bliss that fuel denial) is a form of stupidity.

The arrogance of the powerholders in AZ is that nothing, either as human decisions or human-caused conditions, can affect them. That is stupidity, born of willful ignorance.

@T Dude re downtown rejuvenation: Don’t me wrong. I don’t think rejuvenation is possible or even desirable. I’d say move all inherently deadening structures/activities into the CBD. Concentrate on allowing the development of lively “in-town” neighborhoods; and yes I think they would spontaneously form themselves given proper zoning, building codes, business licensing, inspection etc. There a few things the City could do to help; e.g. street narrowing and elimination of some one-way streets/avenues. But basically a hands-off attitude or maybe cheerleading is the best posture.

Oops that might be "T Dudette"

Jon, thanks for this history of the 80s. I arrived in Phoenix (well, Tempe) in 1981 with my parents. They left Detroit in search of sunshine and brought me with them to attend ASU. The Valley was so different then. In retrospect, the biggest loss for me was the destruction of the agricultural ring around the city, which not only allowed for cooler nights during the summer and monsoons that brought rain, not just dirt, but also a softer, gentler dimension than the massive concrete BBQ pit that exists today.

I appreciate your giving Terry Goddard his props. It is truly unfortunate that his political career peaked with the mayor's office. He governed with "progress" in mind, but worked to honor the city's history as well. I never felt like he was opportunistic like McCain and the hugely disappointing Napolitano. There is something particularly soulless about using a state to further one's career without any loyalty to the folks who put you in office. Both have suffered the consequences of doing so - McCain losing his integrity, and JaNap's rise seemingly stalled in California. Goddard deserves much better than he's gotten. I am aware of the conjecture about why that happened, but it's not worth repeating here.

WKG - DUDAS, as in, the doubter.

Diane wish U had got here in 1950. Was a nice village.
By 1980 it was obvious Phoenix was on a downhill trajectory. Sprawl was heavy upon the Sonoran Landscape. White Calvinist's and the lost tribe of Israel were in the beginning stages of seizing complete local, state and national control. Politicians like Burton Barr and Terry Goddard were RINO's and Elitist Liberals, and were not to be tolerated. The democratic party in Arizona has no passion similar to the hate driven Kooks. Thus they lose, regularly.

So, the lesson for Arizona's Democrats is that they really have to ramp up their hatred if they want to compete with the state's Republicans.

No half-assed dislike. No mere contempt for their opponent's antediluvian ideas.

No. Pure, 100 proof, virulently passionate hate is the only way to succeed politically around here.

I'm not a sports fan but some coach said something about winning?

"Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.

To govern means to pillage, as everyone knows.

With rebellion, awareness is born.

We turn toward God only to obtain the impossible.

To be right is to be vulgar."

Albert Camus

Jon said, "Democrat Bruce Babbitt served as governor from 1978 to 1987, arguably one of the most effective chief executives in the state's history. His biggest accomplishment was the 1980 Groundwater Management Act (although its enforcement is open to deep skepticism)".
(Note, Enforcement has always been the weak link with regard to environmental issues).

My interpretation of effective governors is probably not the same as Jon's. Personally I think Hattie Babbitt would have been a better and stronger governor. Bruce's actions with regard to mine strikers is a big subject for another day. As is the book to be written on Bruce. There is a lot more to his story that has not been revealed. Particularly his actions and positions on political connected crime. Like Governor Raul Castro whose whole story has not been told. Castro who was a nice guy and somethings can be forgiven or explained but Bruce the intellectual should not have a pass and get a strictly nice guy, bio.

The preceding five or six comments seem to have a common thread: It seems that altruism, kindness, and charity are seen as weaknesses.

There is also the culture of the macho, Type “A,” swaggering, aggressive, bullying, unsympathetic, gun-toting, tattooed-up-the-yin-yang, skull-worshipping, military-idolizing, obscenely preening, “badass” alpha male that detests and despises anything and anyone that might challenge or change his beloved “established order.” Heavy-handedness, cold-heartedness, and outright meanness are the preferred response tactics and govern the discourse in dealing with either civil disagreement or social unrest—and anything else that portends “change.” This overarching machismo is the product of an “Anglo,” cowboy, militaristic, obstreperous defiance toward anything “different.” Ironically, the “rugged individualist” so celebrated in the American West has morphed into the archetypal “hard-ass,” stern-faced, “knows all the rules” conformist in Arizona. And this supposed freedom-loving conformist expects everyone else to “fall in line” and follow his “rules,” too.

I cannot comment with any authority about how this omnipresent machismo affects women here, but I suspect many women have just (possibly grudgingly) accepted Arizona is a “man’s state” because many of these women are acting just like the “macho” men.


In other words, the electorate seems to be fine with the mundane and passionless that Phoenix is.

Any substantial change is quite frowned upon and discouraged. The conservative society wants things to say the same.

That's why so many leaders have left. The ones who stay are the ones that can deal with the homogeny and/or actively seek to "fit in."

There's a much bigger world out there, and the ones who leave embrace THAT "big wide open."

the front pages above has "Clinton laying plans for the white house"
Here is another thought on that subject.

GOP Manchurian candidate is on course.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norman-solomon/clintons-transition-team_b_11648470.html?

Cal,

If the link is accurate, Clinton is just another of the 60's radical/progressive/liberals who lost their way and became entranced with consumptive corporate consumerism.

Sorry that, if it's true. The millennials won't take kindly to that!

As I said, the lesser of two evils.

Brad I am of the opinion, she has never lost her way. And I bet she would agree.
Soon she will be Queen of the Roman Empire.
Will be interesting to see how much free reign she gives Billy. A new empire has formed in the Galaxy. Will it hold together for 4 years. Probably as the GOP has imploded.

Bradley, you keep confusing Phoenix with Arizona. The politics in Phoenix are strikingly different from that of Arizona. For example, Phoenix will be the first city in Arizona to offer transgender inclusive benefits. This will no doubt poke the Republican snakes at the Legislature. Phoenix poked those same snakes when the city passed legislation protecting the LGBTQA community.

We also have to understand that downtown Phoenix isn't failing since it has become the most expensive market in Arizona, replacing Scottsdale recently. While the ultimate success of downtown is in question, there is no doubt that the area has become popular, loved and is growing.

One such project that tested the areas livability and desirability is the Portland on the Park condos. The buildings are not yet finished and potential buyers haven't seen a completed unit. Nonetheless, it is already over 60% sold and the condos are not cheap. Now depending on how well all the new apartments fill up on Roosevelt will be telling. There are 3 large buildings nearing completion and another on the way.

PhxSUNSfan:

The politics in Phoenix are much better than the rest of AZ, but Phoenix is an island surrounded by an angry conservative sea. Also, and I think you'd have to concede this, the regressive politics in Arizona are not conducive to progressives feeling welcome outside Phoenix (except Tucson, Bisbee, and Flagstaff).

I didn't say the downtown is failing, but I think it will take a long while before it is vibrant, and that is hardly guaranteed. Making
downtown visually charming is a daunting task, don't you agree?

Moreover, how do you address the global warming issue and the consequent scorching temperatures at ground level. As the "hot" season expands, does a plan exist to lessen its effects on street-level comfort and commerce?

Biosphere 3 ?

Arizona is by and large conservative because of the consistency of the elderly White vote. Living in Arizona I've gotten the sense that there are more normal people here and the state demographically mirrors Southern California rather than Alabama. However, unlike California, Hispanics have yet to flex their political muscle. Once that happens, it's all over for the Republican party.

I would say downtown is vibrant but not yet fully cohesive. Downtown is the antithesis to suburban schlock and by it's very design less hot at ground level due to shade structures and a canopy that is mature or is maturing. One way to quantify not only downtown's walkability but the Central City's is to measure light rail ridership. Year over year, even in the summer months, ridership has grown since 2008.

In fact, year over year (YoY) for the months of May, June and July ridership totals have increased 18.8%, 25.9% and 20.1% respectively.

http://www.valleymetro.org/images/uploads/agency_transitresearch/Website_ridership_report_2016.pdf

Thanks for your posts, pSf.

Here are the cautions: 1) Phoenix is not deep blue like Seattle or Denver. It's a purple city that has plenty of Republicans in the areas of town represented by the likes of DiCiccio. This really hurts the city and state. For example, take Seattle and a few other precincts out of Washington and it would be Idaho politically. One result in AZ is a vehemently anti-urban Legislature, even prohibiting cities from plastic bag bans. The unneeded South Mountain Freeway is happening while commuter rail and Amtrak to Phoenix are not.

2). Quality economic power continues to congregate in the East Valley, despite some nice anecdotal buds in the Phoenix core. This is very bad for Phoenix. Even the growth that happens in the city tends to be in office "parks" far from downtown.

3) Hispanic turnout rates are shockingly low. I keep waiting but am not optimistic.

4. Finally, for Cal, I will mention the toxic but powerful political muscle of the LDS. Unlike in Utah, it is very anti-urban.

All you write is true Rogue, but there is change, albeit slow. Nonetheless, change is better than inertia.

When you write that quality economic power congregates in the East Valley, do you mean Tempe? I would classify Tempe with the likes of Phoenix and not Scottsdale. That being said, downtown Tempe is not downtown Phoenix so that still hurts the largest urban core in the state. That being said, from what I've seen and read, economic growth in tech (including start-ups, as limited as they may be from lack of venture capital) and healthcare has taken root in downtown Phoenix. Both sectors are provide high-paying jobs.

I don't mean to be a cheerleader here, but let me play devil's advocate here in terms of Phoenix and downtown and provide some not so bad news for the core. Now while Phoenix is no Seattle or Denver, it is not off base to say that Phoenix is creating good publicity with millennials and techies:

http://www.geekwire.com/2015/silicon-desert-phoenix-quickly-quietly-becoming-hub-innovation/

http://kjzz.org/content/251610/tech-companies-millennials-head-downtown-phoenix

http://greghead.com/phoenix-startup-scene-is-booming/

I mean the so-called Price Corridor and north Scottsdale.


As a millennial who had the choice to live in other, more established cities I can say that I do enjoy Phoenix. I also still lament all that the city has lost and lacks in terms of lost (historical buildings, old in-tact neighborhoods, etc.).

I nearly left for "greener" pastures last year but an opportunity that didn't exist in Phoenix suddenly opened up and here I remain. Hopefully I'm just one of many going against the grain.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/business/economy/bay-area-start-ups-find-low-cost-outposts-in-arizona.html?_r=0

Finally, like you Rogue, I keep waiting for the Hispanic vote to turnout in Arizona. If anything should get that demographic, which I am also part of, to the polls it should be this election cycle!

While I have deep-seeded doubt that a high turnout will happen, it hasn't stopped me from volunteering in registration drives and the like. Hopefully it counts for something this November.

Hope seldom emerges into results without action and awarness. Thank you for your contributions Phxsunfan.

phxSUNSfan:

At least you know it's an uphill battle, but I still think something will be needed to offset the climate change scenario. That will not be cheap, and I believe it will require some kind of structure beyond green space and trees, if only because those need water.

For the sake of Phoenix PSF I hope you stay. For your own personal well being, well, not so much.

Eighties Casualty, fortunately I have a big support structure here. Many of my friends and most of my family reside in Arizona. My family has called Arizona/New Mexico home for over 6 generations (some claim as many as 8 generations with some Native American ancestry).

To all who really love Phoenix and hope for change there:

I wish you the best, but I fear the deck of climate change may be stacked against Phoenix. There is also the possibly glacial rate of change politically.

Then again, those Mexicans and other Hispanics may rear up and "throw the bums out of town."

Understand, though, that if the warming trend and the congruent drought continue on their upward parabola, the effects potentially could be disastrous for the entire Southwest. Phoenix is the (no pun) dead center of the region.

I don't see the above as a matter of if, but when. The continuing upward trajectory of heat combined with the downward arc of water availability have only shortened the day "when" will occur.

That concerned me enough to move back to the Midwest.

I hate being a doomsayer and a stick in the mud, but I do believe the scientists--and the links to articles from this column.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Bradley, U have a point.
from Rouge's front pages.
HOT
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/20/sunday-review/climate-change-hot-future.html?_r=0

Cal,

The tipping point from being very uncomfortable to just unbearable might not take place for a while. But, already, physiologists (more godless scientists!) are framing their concerns over global warming in terms of human tolerance and working capability.

If there comes a time when humans cannot function in the extreme heat, what does that portend for Phoenix?

After all, you need the year-rounders to keep the place tidy for the snowbirds. There needs to be outdoor workers in the summer. If they can't function then, what happens?

It isn't so much just Phoenix that the heat should concern. Places much less engineered to handle the heat will be in dire peril. Much of the upper tier of the U.S. is not engineered for future heat waves. There isn't a season in Michigan like there is in Arizona when most of the outdoor work can be completed: think Oct-June.

Many portions of the U.S. in the northern 48 still do not have air conditioning in 100% of homes. This is where most of the danger lies when heat waves and 100 degree temps start creeping upwards and lasting longer from Colorado to the Canadian border.

I would make that October thru May.
I think the Sonoran Desert in 2100 will be doable but it will not resemble the current Valley of The Sun. As will much of the planet. Mountainous caves and lots of goats may be popular with the poor. Class separation will be the elite and the nomads.

phxSUNSfan:

I think you'd have to assent to the idea that regular 120+ degree heat is going to be much worse than 100 degrees in the Midwest. This is especially dire if you have a power outage from either a service grid problem or Palo Verde.

God bless you that you at least can put up with the far-right Arizanies. I don't envy you on that last.

Oops! I meant if Palo Verde sputters.

Probably not Bradley, there will be far more deaths in the Midwest as temps rise there. We see it during heat waves now in the upper tier when it's in the 90s.

I don't really have to put up with the kooks in my everyday life in the Central City/Tempe. We have to get them out of our Legislature though.

Palo Verde power is mostly sold to California.

phxSUNSfan:

The kooks do cast a long shadow over Phoenix and Tempe. I've posited that they are merely a reflection of the larger self-delusional (and , thus, schizophrenic) conservative electorate--and their yearning to be obnoxiously backward-looking.

They really are the force behind the powerholders, and are the 21st century's equivalent of the 60's Silent Majority and 80's Moral Majority.

"Them folks" is the biggest enemy you and your dreams face.

They are and luckily the demographic tide isn't in their favor. The question is, will that tide arrive to our shores fast enough?The kooks do try everything in their power to limit urban progress.

phxSUNSfan:

The legislature's war on Phoenix is nothing more than trying to halt the march of progress.

The conservatives rail against federal government "overreach," but pass laws that force cities to use plastic bags (blackmailing them with state revenue sharing) and prohibit Phoenix from creating the Roosevelt Row BID.

As Lord Acton said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."


After having lived among them for almost 7 years, I have come to the conclusion that a large portion of the majority conservative voting electorate actively believes, supports, and lives according to a "just for us" form of justice. I also believe that they understand, and strongly support, the hypocrisies, biases, and controlling policies the leaders they elect espouse, being perfectly content with these blatant rejections of inclusion, fairness, and equality for everyone.

Therefore, this entrenched majority conservative electorate is a large part of the problem Arizona faces going forward.

Thanks as always for your expertise and work as a Valley historian. It is to have these pieces online for everyone to easily reference; I know I refer back to the resources myself.

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