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May 15, 2008


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That was either the stupidest letter or the best jape the Arizona Republic ever printed.

Jon: Governor Napolitano let developers off the hook; $100k is a small ransom to pay for a public appeal that will never pass.

There are too may Roy Millers there who regard sprawl as a sacrament and a testament to personal liberty. It is neither, but he may be onto something regarding light rail, although not for any inherent problem with this transportation mode: "Mass transit is an especially wasteful idea in a low-density metropolitan area like Phoenix." I'm a Phoenix native living within Portland's urban growth boundary since 1981. Infrastructure is cheaper and more practical to install within that circle, and the resulting population densities put more people on the bus and light rail lines here. Cleaner air, less sprawl, and no assault on our sense of personal liberty. Mr. Miller's overall theme is distressingly accurate: Phoenix is a car culture. That fact alone has fed the Valley's sprawl and uglification. In truth, the area may be too far gone for any mass transit strategy to succeed. Phoenix is forever married to freeway expansion and beltways. I no longer recognize the place -- and I was there just last week.

Another high cost associated with the automobile is how much of our cities it requires to be paved over. Zoom in on an aerial shot of Phoeix on Google Maps and you'll see just how much of any given area is dedicated to broad streets and parking lots. What could be yards, gardens, parks and trees is just asphalt. Besides its ugliness, the stuff sits there and gets unbelievably hot in summer. We're so used to it we can't see it anymore, but it's worth pausing the next time you're heading out of a Fry's Supermarket to look around and note just how much of what you are seeing is asphalt.

Not that I agree with him, but I would point out that Roy Miller actually lives in Encanto, within a mile of your old house in Willo. It's just that he's a hardcore Libertarian who sees every issue through the prism of individual liberties and believes that any government activity is an attempt to restrict freedom.

The natives are getting restless. In a recent azcentral article comparing Austin and Portland to Phoenix, there are 20+ pages of comments, 90% of which are critical of the government, the developers and the general direction Phoenix is going in. Not nearly so much finger-pointing at the illegals now as reality sets in. Even a post saying, "Jon Talton, all is forgiven, come home."

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