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April 05, 2017


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Is that The chewing gum house?

Interesting article RC! My family moved to Phoenix in 1948 and for most of the 50s and into the 60s it was still livable. I grew up there amid farms and citrus groves and dirt roads. I left in 1970, and every time I return it seems more like an LA plopped down in the middle of the Desert! And each time the traffic gets worse!

Abundant land + cheap water and electricity + free sun + freeways = catastrophe.

Phoenix is like being born into great wealth where everything one did was cushioned and massaged. Or, think of Phoenix as the lottery-winner of cities where only modest struggle was required. Build fast and cheap, reap the rewards, retire early.

This is the conspiracy of physics. There was nothing anyone could do to alter the result. The external factors did not favor anything other than the outcome you see.

OT: I'd love to hear Carl Muecke's story sometime. I'm assuming he's the son of the liberal federal judge, of course.

I wrote this about Trump, but I feel it applies to the Republicans in Arizona...

The MAIN problem for Trump (as in for Ducey in AZ) is his HUGELY SUPERIOR ATTITUDE. This clearly comes across in his "holier than thou" speeches, his surrounding himself with boot-lickers and suck-ups, and his almost complete reliance on Fox, Breitbart, the Heritage Foundation, and the Enterprise Institute for his "worldview."

It doesn't take a genius to understand such arrogance and one-sidedness are off-putting to a huge segment of those (who understand civility and humility) who could really help Trump (and Ducey). I've said arrogance is a form of stupidity--and this is where the rubber meets the road....

Those disaffected by Trump's (and Ducey's) aggressive, over-testosteroned, egotistical and self-important bullying are simply turning their backs on Trump (and AZ) in their disgust over how he is turning the presidency into an unprincipled street fight. Ducey may be more civil, but this is merely velvet over an iron fist.

This collective refusal to help Trump (and AZ) is telling by his floundering and embarrassing first weeks in office. But, in his supreme arrogance, Trump can't see the forest for the trees in that it takes a village to raise a child--which likely comes from several African tribes describing how someone's true upbringing comes from many influences.

When one side is so off-put by the other side's leader that they channel their considerable talents elsewhere, that leader (Trump or Ducey) misses out on the many opportunities to tap their knowledge. That is one of the main pillars and benefits of bipartisanship--and working together as "a village." But Trump (as Ducey), in his rarefied and mostly ignoring the other side existence, has failed to take off his "rose-colored glasses" and gain a wider, more comprehensive worldview and vision.

It shows.

10%-If I had no constraints I'd still live in metro Phoenix or Arizona.

30%-If I could afford housing in Denver or on the west coast I wouldn't be living in Phoenix.

30%-I'm just happy to be out of the cold winters and I'm not sure where I'll move after Phoenix.

30%-I'm too poor and lacking in marketable skills to think about anything other than making rent next month.

One part propping up the Phoenix area is the lack of wear and tear on the infrastructure. There really is no freeze-and-thaw to wear and break down homes, roads, and the power grid.

But that nasty little devil of global warming, which most conservatives strenuously and willfully ignore ("deny" is just a weak euphemism), will likely make Phoenix increasingly inhospitable.

But the Republicans in charge, like their "dear leader" Dim Dong Trump, will be dead and gone by then, so they don't care.

These are the same people who use religion as a smokescreen for their misconduct.

I don't entirely agree with your point: "When the Republicans make retirement a pre-New Deal cruelty so that people don't have the means to retire, much less to the hot climes of 'the Valley.'"

Property taxes are one of the challenges many seniors face as they retire, regardless of their social security income. How can I fault a senior on a fixed income for making the financially prudent decision to move to a $200k home in retirement-centric Sun City when their hometown, where they may have bought a home in the 80's and paid it off by now, but cannot afford to live in their now high-rent district, has effectively forced them out with property taxes? They want to cash out and move somewhere that they can make their finances work -- can't say I blame them. Obviously retirees aren't the ideal voting base for Arizona BUT I will say that I'm glad these people have a place to go, rather than simply having to scale back significantly just to live in their local geezer ghetto.

Everyone talks about standing up for seniors on fixed incomes but no municipality really wants them. They don't bring in the payroll taxes they did when they were working. They likely have scaled back their shopping (sales taxes). They aren't cool. They don't "attract new talent". So why would even the most liberal cities do anything to help the elderly? Their 1970's ranch house can generate serious rental income once those old codgers move out. And since property taxes are (1) vital to any municipality and, (2) determined solely by the zoning and value of the parcel, fixed-income homeowners are the most vulnerable to get squeezed out.

To expand what this migrations of the elderly means on a bigger picture, RC often makes the point -- even here ("People keep moving here. But what kind of people? Certainly not hot young talent — Phoenix badly trails in college-educated adults. Not a variety that would turn the state even as purple as Colorado.") -- that liberal strongholds, as vocal as they are marching on every other weekend in Seattle or Portland, have little effect outside of their blue enclaves. Population is a zero-sum game, as those areas turn more blue, the loss of their older residents means that those red votes (or maybe even blue votes, if these older residents felt could stay in their hometowns that they cared about) turn the red states redder. Show me a Florida voting demographic if New Englanders could afford to just stay in their homes after retirement. Show me an Arizona State House without a population of seniors who care more about the Cubs/White Sox than ASU/UA.

The funny thing about cancer is that it's not a problem until it's localized. As long as it's a few cells here or there, the body disposes them. But once you get those cells together, they grow and the spread of the disease is threatening. If retirees migrating to states that Democrats need to turn is the cancer, then their plan to cure by protesting in blue cities and cheering as their older residents are pushed out for younger, bluer, residents is akin to taking two placebos twice a day with a big helping of sugar water.

What Carl said. My family, 1950. Left in 65 and cry every time I return for what's been done to Phoenix (and the state).

I have a 80 year old friend that is selling his home in the city of NY as his taxes are $15,000 per year. He just purchased a nice home in Puerto Rico for less than $80,000. He says he will truly miss living in NY city and skiing in Vermont but will continue to visit the Valley of the Sun in the winter months.
And in the far East valley up near the Superstition mountains the retirement villages and assisted living places continue to rise up on the great Sonoran desert floor, what's left of it. Arizona cancer cells began with a queens greed and and continued growing with the help of T.R. and his dam. This illness has now all but destroyed what once we a great unspoiled Wilderness.

A few days ago I took a left turn onto Hwy 86 at Why AZ and traveled to Marana. Still Some great unspoiled beautiful desert out there.
The day before I went left I checked in with Zak a Pakistan dude running the Siesta Motel in Ajo and the next morning mi amiga and I had brunch with the owner of Marcela's cafe.
Drifter if you are making less than $28,000 per year and have any kind of artistic portfolio the old High school has been taken over by a non profit and has comfortable apartments for rent at very low prices. They have also turned the place into a location for artists and have a small garden. I chatted with a bearded ponytail guy who had returned to the US after living and teaching Akio for 40 years in Japan. He returned seven years ago to take care of his grandmothet. He loves Ajo.

One of the things I did find in my time in Phoenix was a conscience that seemed to value financial "stability" over Christian morality. I felt this was employed as a justifier and excuse for a plundering form of greed and excess.

It seems this ethos has been the guiding light for development in the Valley. I found this devotion to the dollar very cold-hearted and impersonal. It felt like, "do unto to others before they do unto you," and left very little room for compassion, understanding, and their cousin, justice.

The warmth was only in the atmosphere, not in many of the people. My wife, who liked it there, said, "There's good people here." My response was, "There's just not enough of them for me." I feel that, when one is a slave to capitalism, its accumulating mentality, and its worship of relentless ambition, one's sense of humanity and connection any moral compass is compromised. This is why Phoenix is as visually and socially unappealing as it is to those more connected to human values.

I meant to say, "one's sense of humanity and connection to any moral compass is compromised."

"and not only Phoenix but some suburbs suffer from miles of linear slums holding a large underclass." Cross streets, please?

Almost the entire west side of Phoenix plus south Phoenix. Older parts of Glendale. Much of Mesa outside of its "master planned communities," El Mirage, parts of the Paradise Valley section of the city of Phoenix, etc. etc.

OT-Assad is providing an opportunity for trump to up his polls with some bombing. Will Putin permit it?

I say Trump, who famously wanted to punch Joe Biden, should get into the ring with Putin and settle this like the "men" they claim to be. Put in on pay-per-view: I'm sure the worldwide audience would rake in a lot of money for the war.

Drifter-30% of 3.8 million people in Maricopa County is prox.1 plus million.Sounds about right to me,having been here for 50 years and seen a lot.

paul morris: ever been to the "hood" around Glendale Avenue from 51st to 83rd Avenues, excepting, of course, downtown Glendale?

Sure Brad, Sgt Roy Malody who worked the Phoenix Duce and I a Sgt in charge of the Phoenix west side projects walking beat played 3 wall hand ball at Glendale Chicken Park in the Hood for many a year from about 4 am to light. The hood and it's people (senoritas tan linda) were my favorite place to hang in Glendale. Ruben Ortega who became police chief of Phoenix and I both went to school and worked and played in Glendale. He was a good kid. I was the one that went to high school with a buck knife in my boot. Always on the lookout for them Pachucos and White Russians looking to harass me.

There is a vicious cycle at work here.

To get to know and love a place implies free-time, and income to explore and enjoy the city and area, whether you are a native or newcomer.
So many in the metro area are financially stressed. In the stucco suburbs as well as the linear slums. We have much less disposable income than other cities and areas.
So if you are working so much just to afford a roof over your head, you dont have the free time to enjoy
all that is unique to the Phoenix area.

I suspect that most living here do NOT have a great love of this place, and will get out when they can.
If life is a struggle here just to live, growth will reverse.

Cal, as in any "hood," if you fear the place, the locals will know it--and come for you. But if you accept what is there, and look upon the residents as equals befitting of your respect, they understand that on an instinctual, feral level.

Betty Quinn, one of the gospel mantras of the conservatives is that everyone needs to work more, not less. Many of them hate the idea of a 40 hour workweek. Insofar as they are the most ardent devotees of capitalism, their profit motive is fed by the belief that if everyone worked more, their adored businesses would make more money.

How do you make people work more to generate those lusted-after profits? Make it a "right to work(fire) state so wages are down, people work more, and business drowns in its profits.

As a corollary to this "business is king" mentality, I found in Arizona a subtle coercive factor at play that said I was supposed to devote my life and creative energies to the business as thanks for them providing me employment. Lost in all this was the idea that a business "rents" people--with all the caveats inherent (abuse, overtime, respect) to renting something. The problem is that too many businesses think they own someone. I actually was called a "rebel" for demanding to be treated respectfully. Imagine that, a proud northerner being called a "rebel" in a neo-confederate, southern state.

"Humans build their societies around consumption of fossil water long buried in the earth, and these societies, being based on temporary resources, face the problem of being temporary themselves".
Charles Bowden

meanwhile in another unsustainable desert a dandy visits real men and women.

I used to object to the metaphor of cancer used this way.Then I got cancer.

But the "overdose" of radiation Phoenix will get from global warming may take a while to fry the town. I'm sure the Republicans have taken this into account, and have reasoned they won't be around then--so why care now?

"The investments made mostly benefit the Real Estate Industrial Complex's sprawl enterprise, such as the shameful South Mountain Freeway boondoggle."

I disagree with that characterization of the South Mountain Freeway because it will relieve traffic from the crowded I-10 freeway in central Phoenix and west Tempe, thereby reducing congestion and pollution along that corridor (e.g., diverting trucks).

Freeways are always congestion generators, e.g. huge Katy Freeway in Houston.

The second the south mountain freeway opens it will be congested and the I 10 will still be congested. Freeways in the valley have always been built ten years "after" they were needed. There was only one freeway built in the valley "before" it was needed and that is the 300 out west.

Photo is Wrigley Mansion and Smog taken in December 1970 and listed on Wikipedia Commons.
IMHO, Freeways in AZ are a criminal enterprise.

As long as everybody needs their own car and their own free standing castle we will have sprawl and we will have freeways.

Maybe 125 degree days and enforced water rationing will someday change that...

Until then, let us hope, nay pray, that when the new freeways are built that at least they are designed by people with the vision to look ahead and anticipate just how many cars might be using them in the future. Otherwise we will have the long, long rush hour backups that our present freeways seem to engender on every on and off ramp, and every interchange between freeways. I know we like to do things on the cheap here in West Kansas, but the days of the single lane ramp have long passed.

Again, Katy Freeway and its siblings nationwide: You can't widen or realistically engineer your way out of congestion. Need to provide incentives for development by transit, disincentives for sprawl, no new freeways or widening. Make commuting hell instead of subsidizing it. Show me a livable, charming city and I'll show you narrow streets.

Frank, may desert grass grow thru the concrete and the wind blow new seeds across the desert terrain as the Coyotee howls and for those that are left to inquire where we went wrong,
they can
"Ask The Dust"

"As a lover of the untamed wild, Bowden's view of the relationship between man and nature was just as bleak. "We are trained to turn the earth to account, to use it, market it, make money off it," he wrote. "We will never be able to reverse this part of our culture in time to stop that knife."

and Here you go Franklin

I know this is an ongoing topic here and I have posted my thoughts in the past. However, since this is a new posting and I have some new ideas, here is a piece of my dissent for today.

So, firstly, I will acknowledge that A) Phoenix's transit situation is very poor and B) its sprawl is detrimental to its urban character and C) that you can never completely build your way out of traffic.

So, on to my dissensions.

1) Economy:
I believe that our freeways and roadways are a vital component of the everyday life of the city for several reasons.

In talking to people involved in the transport industry in developing countries with poor road systems, you get a remarkable sense of the pervasive economic costs of poor roadways and endless gridlock. Could the Amazon business model have developed and thrived in even a fast-developing nation like India like it did here? Of course not, because the infrastructural challenges there would be such a significant constraint on the business model; it would not work nearly as well there.

2) Environment: Regarding the 202 SMF in particular, the health concerns about diesel and diesel exhaust is no joke and DT Phoenix truck through-traffic is significant. Re-routing truck traffic away from DT will be good for all of us who live or work in the downtown area.

Gasoline-powered cars these days don't pollute that much, and more and more cars are electric or hybrid, so I think long-term auto pollution in America is less of a concern. But, for now, idling and slow moving cars caught in gridlock still do have an environmental impact.

3) Community: No, you can't build your way out of traffic entirely, but expanding the road system as population expands does make a big difference. The alternative is forcing people to spend 50-100-200 extra hours a year in traffic, which is not good for their lives, families or communities.

4) People will still commute no matter how great a city's core may be, for economic and other reasons: Show me a beautiful, dense urban core and I will show you a veritable army of commuters who still commute, usually by car, to get there.

I know lots of people who work in Manhattan, a dense, beautiful urban core resplendent with transit options. Most of them commute. By boat from Staten Island. By car from places as far flung as NJ and PA. By express bus and subway from elsewhere in the boroughs. The time spent doing so consumes all of their lives to a great degree. In a beautiful, dense, urban city with excellent transit options, people still have to commute, and it still consumes time and resources. Because people have to work and jobs are concentrated and they either can't afford to live where they work or feel they can afford a better lifestyle by commuting.

Here's a really cool visualization for everyone to see how people still commute into even the great, dense cities. I think San Francisco has the best visualization but it works for other dense cities as well. Ours is interesting in that people are coming and going from everywhere; in this sense our sprawl lessens our traffic choke points and helps overall traffic flow, but I digress. LINK: http://bigbytes.mobyus.com/commute.aspx

4) Cost: The core problem with dense cities is affordability. The more dense and beautiful and coveted a downtown gets, the more expensive living there tends to get. Which is in my mind the prime mover behind why every great city still has armies of commuters flowing in and out of them.

I am skeptical that this can be avoided. The only ones who avoid it are those rich enough to afford to live in Manhattan or on Michigan Avenue or so forth and thus buy their way out of the commuter rat race.

Phoenix's downtown is relatively quite affordable compared to most major American cities; I assume continued DT improvements will continue to result in the price increases that we've seen DT. So even as DT continues to get better and better, it will also become less affordable, unfortunately.

5) Summary: My argument is that infrastructure, including transit systems as well freeways and roads, are a public good that primarily benefits the poor and working class Americans who rely on them to commute to their jobs, which are often in places they can't afford to live the way they would like.

Mark, you are such a realist! #5.
To repeat the planet lost it with the emergence of the slime called human. But man's existence is temporary as he will be destroyed by his own genuis and natures superbugs.

PS no matter how many freeways we build Phoenix will never be NY, or SF, or Seattle. But the Grand Canyon may be come a Disney Land park bordered by large Uranium mines. As currently Arizona is destroying Apache country with more mining. Oh yeah I know it's necessary to keep human population increasing. Just more of the white Europeans driving of knives into the heart of mother earth.

Rogue writes "Make commuting hell instead of subsidizing it."

Unfortunately it's impossible to know at what point people will think that their commute is "hellish" enough to do something about it.

People still sit in traffic on the 405 in L.A. and that has been a virtual parking lot at certain hours of the day for decades.

The same could be said for the 10, 51 and 202 interchanges in downtown Phoenix during our ever lengthening rush hours.

You don't see many people not driving or moving closer to work because of it.

Sure, some do. And some ride the light rail, too. But the vast majority of metropolitan Phoenicians are wedded to their cars and will be until they drop.

I find driving in Phoenix Hell.
But I do have a emotional draw to the sound of rubber singing on the back-road high and byways. Then came Bronson.

I will also note that I agreed with Jon's column in the Seattle Times about airline mergers and the lack of competition.

The customer is basically being treated as a commodity, not a customer. Unfortunately, with so little competition on many routes, customers don't have much ability anymore to speak with their wallets. If they need to fly and can't afford the money for a private plane or the time for a road or rail trip, what option do they have?

There are a LOT of Americans who "never fly" and are quite clear on this point. I wonder if the airlines have ever considered to what extent their poor service historically has caused so many people to take this "I don't fly anymore" stance.

It sounds like airlines will continue to operate much like cargo haulers in this current top-heavy airline environment.

Ironically it's "discount carrier" Southwest that in my experience seems to treat everyone with the cheeriest disposition. Even though it's still a basic economy service being provided, and it doesn't make you feel particularly valuable or pampered, at the same time, you can safely expect a base level of human decency and generally a neutral-to-cheerful disposition to be displayed, which really does set them apart.

@Mark: put me in the “never fly” category. If I can’t drive there, I’m not going. Fortunately, the Southeast is fairly compact.

There is a reason we have feet and no wings.

WKG, THE SE was a cool place until the Spaniards and the English showed up. And the Red Wolf is not a true wolf.
Today A large well feed Coyotee at 8 am slowly meandered it's way down 8st from Virginia to Thomas and into the Phoenix country club.
One elitest Coyotee spreading more Sajuaro seeds.

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