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January 20, 2012


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Meanwhile, the boosters are still flogging the "Sun Corridor" and their delusions of putting another 4 MILLION souls along that golden route between Prescott and Tucson. Grady Gammage believes there's enough water, forget the fact that Lake Mead and the Colorado are in dicey shape . . and the tribes now have rights to almost 50% of Arizona's share. He makes vague reference to stuff like "higher density" and "public transit" as part of the new mix. Let's not get mired down in details, huh? And no mention of air quality EVER creeps into these grandiose dreams . . . it is bad now and the whackadoodles are trying to shackle the EPA. Bruja comes on TV to tell us it'll all be fine. Poor us!

Great essay, Mr. Talton. A careful read of recent news coverage shows the stagnant nature of Arizona's real-estate market:

"When looking at figures for the entire year, Butler said key indicators of the housing market's overall health in 2011 showed slight gains over 2010 in some areas and minor losses in others.

" 'They really don't look all that different,' Butler said about the year-end data for 2010 and 2011."


Gilbert seems to be doing alright. Or is this just the usual hype?


In addition to the 41 percent increase (November, YOY) in building permits, a related press release states that "both house size and lot size have been increasing in recent months".

(I saw a better, more detailed story in the Arizona Republic recently, but can't find it online. Will post excerpts when I have it in front of me.)

If not hype, what does Gilbert have going for it? Aside from the fact that it's only about two-thirds built out? Any insights, pSp?

A great deal of time on this blog is spent talking about the "housing" aspect of Arizona's economy. I would like to offer a different viewpoint.

Arizona's housing was able to florish over the years due in large part to the money injected into the local economy by defense spending arriving at local bases and a multitude of companies, Motorola, General Dynamics, Honeywell, etc. While these companies were involved in the "tech" industry, they were really developing military equipment, radar, aircraft equipment, missles, radios, battlefield communications networks,etc. Each of these companies had thousands of feeder suppliers and machine shops. General Dynamics locally just received a knife in the heart and will be laying off many hundreds more engineers. Why? Lost military contracts.

What is different from the "good old days" and now.

I propose, in the good old days we had congressmen and senators who could deliver the money and the jobs for our state. Can anyone say "Goldwater and defense spending"?

With the current crop of congressional members, do you think any of them can hold a candle to the old guys?

Not a chance.

McCain? He just pisses people off.
Kyl? He has no brain.
Quayle? He can't act without his mama's OK.

How in the hell did we just finish a decade of unbelieveable defense spending and we got squat.

For all you left wing sissies out there, this isn't a debate about defense spending. I get it. It's out of control. This is about, if we are paving our way to hell, why are we not getting our fair share of the paving contracts?

It's happy hour at Dirty Drummer, gotta go.

Gilbert has the LDS; its non-LDS has the same socio-economic attributes of the LDS. So it will be a neat, relatively wealthy enclave. It benefits from being new, as well. But it's not urban. It has nothing that would make it special to a non-suburbanite.

Excellent point, Reb. AZ is a net taker state and not just in defense spending. So the loss of a good congressional delegation has been a blow. Meanwhile, red states such as Texas grow their economy on a host of earmarks, including for the research that AZ should be seeking, rather than just leeching off endless war. Still, DOD as part of the metro Phoenix economy was astoundingly eclipsed by housing in the '90s and '00s. Where did all those people living in those subdivisions work? A majority in something connected to housing or population growth.

AZrebel - right on! WA state has a long-standing tradition of slurping up those good ol' military contract dollars,from Sen Jackson's days to now - (Sen Murray & Rep Norm Dicks). But I can't figure out what the AZ senators are doing to get military - or research dollars for that matter - to make some meaningful change to AZ.

"A careful read of recent news coverage shows the stagnant nature of Arizona's real-estate market"

"stagnant"? You mean like a sour pond? Perhaps, you meant, 'festering'?

Who is analyzing the increase in per capita energy consumption as Arizona's sea of thrown-up McMansions and uninsulated cinderblock strip malls becomes decrepit? Entropy, anyone?

Arizona politicians have drunk the right wing kool aid. While Texas politicians talk the right ideology, they bring home the bacon and don't actually pass laws that insult immigrants. Arizona's elected represent the Republican national committee not the electorate of Arizona.

When an intellectually inclined person considers various places to reside Arizona does not come to mind. For young adults, it still has the reputation as a place where grandma or grandpa went to die. The Arizona leadership has now added to the state's reputation as a place of intolerance and crime. It is probably for the best, because there are such limited opportunities for advancement by career minded individuals.

Azrebel, I know a software engineer at General Dynamics. His section is under the gun and he's sweating bullets.

I was at a dinner the other night where a couple of corporate-side US Airways workers were talking about a merger with American Airlines. They think it's about a 70% probability within the next 18 months, and that the headquarters will be AA's in Dallas.

Sign of the times: Metro Center sold for $12.2 million (minus the big box anchor spaces). That's over a half million square feet that was valued at $200 million a few years ago.

I assume our senators work the phones when it comes to military spending and related federal contracts. McCain's anti-pork stance never extended to the most lucrative pork of all - defense. And Kyl is a highly regarded corporate lobbyist/fixer. With Kyl retiring, Jeff Flake's royal progress to the upper chamber is now a foregone conclusion. He's all show horse, a prancing pony for a harebrained ideology.

The fumes of Arizona's economy lie in housing and tourism. It's also the foundation of Arizona's reactionary political culture. The epiphany for our sunbelt Rugged Individualists is that the free market solves all problems. Arizona is Exhibit A in the right's millenialist fantasy that everything is getter better and better with less and less government. Boosterism is interwoven with this idea. The Ron Paul hysteria is virtually a religion now at ASU and other campuses. Get rid of government and we'll all be rich!

There's no recovery for a state this ignorant.

"There's no recovery for a state this ignorant."

...and willfully so.

shrinkage is a comin
I hear da coyotes howling
I dosent need to read Ed Abbey's "Good News"
agin to no how it ends.

I saw the face of Ron Paul at the Urban Bean coffee shop yesterday.

A in a hurry tall, skinny, 23 to 26 year old "kid" all wired up with things in both ears, a computer with all the latest gadgets wearing a sweat shirt with huge Ron Paul advertisements.

Don Cardon is a hologram created by Brewer and company.
It was time for him to go as there never was any realistic goals he could achieve other than be a front for "we are going to do great things four Arizona's Economy." When in fact Brewer just screwed the tax payers some more to repay some of those favors that got her elected.

Just like the dry Sonoran wind that blows tons of dust across I-10 between Casa Grande and Picacho Peak,
the 4 million populated "sun corridor" between Phoenix and Tucson will dry up and blow away.

Still in the wings is the 4 million folks Colangelo and company want to put near Tonopah ever since they bought the states largest aquifer from Toyota.

More of the Cardon family is coming out into the light. How did they stay hiding in the dark for so long?

I should restate, How did they stay hiding in broad daylight for so long?

Interesting sidelight: Kyl is a water lawyer and as such stands to do very well, given our questionable future and the wet dreams about "watering the sun corridor". BTW the tribes now have rights to almost 50% of the Colorado River flows, thanks to a deal Kyl brokered to settle a suit that had been rattling around the courts for years.

I located the article.

Mr. Talton wrote: "Gilbert has the LDS; its non-LDS has the same socio-economic attributes of the LDS. So it will be a neat, relatively wealthy enclave. It benefits from being new, as well."

I think there is something here to discuss. There are other Mormon enclaves (Mesa) and there are other new developments (Northeast Phoenix). There are also other wealthy areas, but they aren't growing, especially in terms of new families rather than retirees. Gilbert is the fourth fastest growing municipality in the United States (Census, 2009).

So why is little Gilbert doing so well in the things that Phoenix is not? The population in 2010 was 208,000 versus nearly 1.5 million for Phoenix. Last year, Phoenix issued 956 new housing permits; Gilbert issued 1,545.

However, 87 percent of the new housing permits were issued for locations south of Loop 202. This is away from Mesa and toward Chandler and (especially) Queen Creek; presumably building is constrained by bordering municipalities.

"Gilbert is about two-thirds built-out, and officials expect the town's population to reach about 330,000 by 2030. Over the next two decades, Gilbert officials expect to add 12 town-owned buildings, 600 employees and nearly 50 million square feet of business space," according to a recent report from Town Manager Patrick Banger. "Meritage Homes is moving forward with plans for new subdivisions near Val Vista Drive and Germann Road and Lindsay and Williams Field roads. K. Hovnanian Homes recently unveiled plans for new homes at Val Vista Drive and Queen Creek Road."

Now, let's take a look at some additional demographic contrasts (for population 25 and older):
-- Percentage high-school graduates: Phoenix 76%; Gilbert 92%; nationally 85%
-- Percentage w/ bachelors degree or higher: Phoenix 23%; Gilbert 36%; nationally 28%
-- Average cost of single-family new house construction permits (2010): Phoenix $221,000; Gilbert $157,000
-- Per resident regular highway spending (under "Other capital outlay"), 2006: Phoenix, $3.40; Gilbert, $20.43

Gilbert seems to have a lot of computer specialists; Phoenix seems to have a lot of building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers.
There's a ton of data here, and I don't have time to sort through it all today. Some of it is problematic (religious affiliation and food environment statistics are identical for both cities, so presumably the data for Phoenix has simply been copied over into the Gilbert entry). Gilbert's crime stats only go to 2005 whereas Phoenix's go through 2010.

The municipal finances section looks promising. I'd like to see cost of living figured out as well as comparative infrastructure spending per resident. It's difficult to sort out whether lower spending for some items represents greater budgetary efficiency or simply less devotion of financial resources.

"Gilbert is in a strong position ... as a sought-after destination for families who value a clean, safe and vibrant community with a strong education system," Mayor John Lewis said in a news release.

Hype? Gilbert does seem to have considerably lower crime rates than Phoenix. Any data on its education system? Funding per student? Capital funding?

But what does this offer as a lesson for the city of Phoenix now? Or any hope for the metro area?

Gilbert is essentially Plano, Texas, without the metro Dallas economy. It is an affluent bedroom community, nothing more. Totally car-dependent. Drab, walled-off, lookalike suburbia. "Pleasant," if that's your thing. A Mormon stake every mile. But is it an asset or a leech on the Phoenix economy?

Suburbs such as this zone out the poor and the marginal. They dump societal problems they help contribute to onto Phoenix, which must shoulder the social services for the metro area, where most of the public spaces are, where the cheap housing exists.

Maryvale and other parts of Phoenix were Gilbert in 1960, only with a more diverse economy and more promise. Phoenix defaulted on its promise.

The question now is whether places such as Gilbert and Chandler and other relatively affluent parts of the fringes can prosper if the core is sick, and especially if the political leadership is hostile to creating a competitive, quality economy; urban solutions such as transportation modes beyond freeways; improving educational opportunity outside the white/right areas, etc. Being the favorite of "master planned community" developers and a metro minority of well-off white families isn't success in the wider context of the Phoenix disaster — and the disasters to come.

I still favor Zion County for the East Valley.

The State of the Greater Phoenix Market
- January 12, 2012


Chandler has a large contingent of foreign-born and multi cultural tech folks, providing diversity and a welcoming focus on education. If Jon considers this as "white right", he's reading from an old play book.

Wow, I am mighty upset.

I just reviewed the report provided by Unrealty and I wasn't wearing my boots.

Now I have cow manure all over my socks.

What a load of crap.

Jobs continue to disappear.
Home prices continue to drop.

The report is the best example I think I've ever seen of using statistics to create a snowjob in the Valley of the Sun

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chandler: 73.3 percent white; 8.2 percent Asian. The "diversity" is purely a function of Intel. And it's not class diversity. More than that, it's just another automobile suburb with massive subdivisions of lookalike tract houses and a huge mall. Little transit. No light rail or commuter rail, or appetite to lobby for it. Chandler also consistently votes Republican, including for the odious crank, John Huppenthal. The playbook may be old, but it's accurate.

Re the ASU realty report referred to by Unreality
What the report doesn't tell you is the overall effect of WHO is buying and selling Phoenix & Maricopa houses over the last real estate cycle. For example, a Phoenix friend of mine "sold" his house through foreclosure a few years ago. As chance who have it,I am renting him a condo I purchased 2 years ago. The effect of tens of thousands who have lost equity and homes in Phoenix is not measured by those tidy cyclical graphs!

Mr. Talton wrote:

"But what does this offer as a lesson for the city of Phoenix now? Or any hope for the metro area?"

Well, how about this as a philosophy from the Gilbert Town Manager discussing rennovation ideas (two days ago): "You can do anything else, but you'll always be identified by your downtown."


Some photos of the "once blighted area":



True, it's a limited stretch. True, they failed to create a business improvement district funded by mandatory assessments on commercial property. If you want to play the game you should be willing to have skin in the game. All of this "voluntary dues" stuff is a recipe for failure and (and mooching by the majority of businesses in the case of limited success therefrom).

But I like the look better than Phoenix's downtown, and at least the philosophy is right at the core, if not the politics. Try a Google search for "Phoenix downtown photos" and what you get are skyscrapers, skylines and overview shots; every single one. Nothing personal, nothing encouraging pedestrian traffic or bicyclists, nothing inviting families to drop in and buy an ice-cream cone or get a haircut or look through a gallery:


Mr. Talton wrote:

"Suburbs such as [Gilbert] zone out the poor and the marginal. They dump societal problems they help contribute to onto Phoenix, which must shoulder the social services for the metro area, where most of the public spaces are, where the cheap housing exists."

OK now, pay close attention this time:

Gilbert, single-family new house construction building permits (2010): 1,060 buildings; Average cost: $156,700

Phoenix (2010): 1,111 buildings; Average cost: $221,100

Is this information incorrect? If it's correct, why is new housing so much cheaper in Gilbert?

I understand what you're saying: there are more bottom-end houses in Phoenix than in Gilbert. Granted.

The question is, what is going to attract professionals and their families, and the industries that hire them, the businesses that serve their needs, the tax base all of this creates, and the potential spending revenues for such things as downtown redevelopment, mass-transit connections to nearby cities, and so forth? Bottom end used housing, or affordable new housing in a safe, clean, quasi-small town setting?

Why do General Dynamics and Orbital operate high-tech development and manufacturing centers in Gilbert rather than Phoenix? Why did Banner Gateway Medical Center and Mercy Gilbert Medical Center select Gilbert as their site instead of elsewhere in the East Valley?

What kind of demand is there for it, by the citizens there? There's a new bus link to light-rail, but it's hardly used. You can engineer light-rail but not the demand for it. If and when gasoline prices rise to the point where getting to and from Gilbert by commuter rail is more appealing to the professional class which runs the city than using their automobiles, they will be in a better position, by virtue of their incomes, to develop it.

Mind you, I know nothing about Gilbert and am not pushing it. But it clearly has something going for it.

Forgot to include the quote about light-rail above. The reference to "demand" was for that.

Gilbert never had a real downtown. It was a tiny farm village on a secondary line of the Southern Pacific. If you could have seen it in 1960 or 1970. It can make a suburban town center but it's not a downtown, which has specific characteristics. Phoenix made many mistakes but it has a downtown, however flawed. It must find best practices from big cities, not suburbs that zone out the poor.

More about Gilbert: median household income $79,921 vs. Phoenix's $48,881. People in poverty 4.9 percent vs. Phoenix's 18.2 percent. Gilbert enjoys very well-funded schools vs. Phoenix's many districts on the edge. As a "town," Gilbert avoids many of the statutory responsibilities of a city. What little bus service that exists is run by the city of Phoenix.

But at the end of the day, it's an affluent suburb playing the old game of population growth (90 percent in the 2000s) and suburban pilfering of city economic assets that doesn't make for a healthier metro area. It's more like a white colonial enclave in the Third World. And, again, the influence of the LDS is huge, larger than in Mesa. Gilbert is where the well-off Mormons moved in the '90s and '00s. Drive down Guadalupe Road and count the new stakes.

Jon: I get Chandler at 27% "other" as of 2010 census, which is not bad on the diversity scale. Could be their emerging tech corridor will further enrich the mix. Granted, it'll never be an urban success story as to incides like the "walk score" but it may turn out to be considerably better than the norm for this sprawling mega-metro area of 4.4 million souls!

Chandler diversity: median family income $70,413 vs. Phoenix's $48,881. People in poverty 7.5 percent vs. Phoenix's 18.2 percent. And the mean travel time to work is 25 minutes (!).

Emerging tech corridor? Compared with what? Metro Phoenix is competing against Shanghai, Singapore, Seattle, Denver, etc. etc., not El Paso.

These new "boom burbs" are a cancer on the metro area.

I kind of doubt that Zora Folley could be elected mayor of Chandler these days, and I don't think such a fine person would care for the kind of people who "cleaned" it up and stole its soul. And as for Gilbert attracting computer Specialists while Phoenix attracts building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers, I don't think Phoenix should be blamed for attracting a better class of people. Herb Caen's son writes columns lamenting the "vanished" San Francisco, the funky dives and the brawling waterfront that made it what it was, and doesn't even realize that what he misses is what he used to think was a "problem." Without a robust working class,with neighborhoods like Maryvale and the lower westside, and old Sunnyslope,Cities are no longer cities. Gibert can grow out to its maximum population, and it'll never be anything but a dull, depressing, colorless wasteland. Clean, safe, with a high teen suicide rate.

Excellent punctuative final sentence, pbm.

Maryvale is working class now, but when it was built it was upscale. I remember a family friend, a dentist, that moved out to Maryvale in the 60s for the "good life".

Great post pbm.
I have toyed with posting on this post as it relates to "stats" or "data". As should come with all that information is a a high degree of skepticism. I have a number of reasons not to trust "data" from anywhere let alone Gilbert where it's almost impossible to become a city official with out toeing the LDS line. And if there is one thing those folks do well is hide the "facts". They spend millions of dollars on high dollar law firms just to keep their sins underground. Wonder what Sammy (the Bulls) Gravano's Devil Dogs of Gilbert, AZ(read LDS white racist group)are up to today.

Speaking of data i watched HAL the Malevolent
last nite

From new IHS Global Insight report for US Council of Mayors:

"The Phoenix metro, supported by a growing retiree population and a subdued local housing market will also expand the trade and transportation sector by 13,600 jobs, growing 3.8% in 2012." Note how keeping the Growth Machine at bay is a plus.

Phoenix is the 14th largest metro area, but only ranks 28th in exports (and gets its big boost only thanks to Intel).

Median household income $50,400 in 2010, vs. $54.300 in 2007. Comparably sized Seattle: $63,100. (And, no, living costs don't "even it out," especially with the endless driving done in PHX).

Share of jobs recovered since the Great Recession: 29 percent.

And what is the economic development strategy to combat all this? Apparently GOP cronyism. Who's going to give an investigative proctology exam to the Commerce Authority and its political patrons?

Talton calls it again. From a previous thread, a comment dating October 27th, responding to boosterish fluff and/or a planted news story in the Arizona Republic:

"The idea that Metrocenter would be an "infill" project shows the magnitude of the city of Phoenix's mismatch between economic assets/good jobs and available space. Yesterday's Mall of the Future is today's slum. Similar tragedies are on display all over the city."


I came across this a day ago in the Arizona Republic:

"Metrocenter has been sold out of receivership, after years of decline, to a New York investment firm for a mere $12.2 million, a broker involved in the deal said Friday.

"...Metrocenter's $12.2 million sale price represents a fraction of the mall's peak value and reflects the recent difficulties mall operators have faced keeping the retail project viable."


On the plus side, the article notes that the retail area around the mall has seen a resurgence and "the retail traffic in that area is very, very strong".

On the other hand, in reviewing the mall's history, the article notes that "Under Somera and AEW's control, the mall underwent an extensive, $32 million renovation in 2007, but the revitalization project failed to return Metrocenter to viability."

That must have been the "renovation" which, so far as I could tell, consisted of chopping down all the shade trees in the parking areas and removing the distinctive concrete "wave" decoration above one of the entrances.

In classical mechanics, the newton is a unit of force named in honor of Sir Isaac Newton; an analagous later unit, the hamiltonian, was named in honor of Irish mathematician William Hamilton.

I propose the creation of a new unit of political economy called the talton (or taltonian), intended to quantify the amount of work necessary to get out from behind the eight-ball when you're shit-out-of-luck.

On a scale of 1 to 10, a 10 would be "snowball's chance in hell", a 5 would be "I'm gonna git you sucka", and a 1 would indicate "maybe you'll get lucky, fool".

Incidentally, December was not kind to Arizona employment, though you'd never know it from this upbeat Arizona Republic story which appeared January 20th. "Experts see encouraging signs, say state 'heading in right direction" is the sub-headline in the print edition:


The article concentrates on the the fact that in December, year-over-year there was a gain of 37,500 payroll jobs. No mention whatsoever that in November, just a month before, Arizona had a year-over-year jobs gain of 45,800. That's right, the state lost 8,300 jobs in the month of December. The state's own report shows that the private sector was static with a 0.2 percent "below average" gain and "above average losses" of -1.7 percent in the public sector. The report also notes that historically, the only times December has seen a monthly job loss was in 2011 and in 2008.

With regard to my own earlier thesis (see the Guest Column "Phoenix Rising"), for the year, job gains in the "Educational and Health Services" sector were 12,800, or 34 percent of the 37,500 jobs gained in 2011. The "Health Care" component of this accounted for 10,400 jobs or 28 percent of the year's job gains in the state.


"pbm" wrote:

"Without a robust working class,with neighborhoods like Maryvale and the lower westside, and old Sunnyslope, cities are no longer cities. Gibert can grow out to its maximum population, and it'll never be anything but a dull, depressing, colorless wasteland. Clean, safe, with a high teen suicide rate."

I can't allow this perverse rubbish to go uncommented. Maryvale is a slum and Sunnyslope isn't much better, if at all: the only question is whether the gangs and taggers are Hispanic or white.

The downtown photos I linked to aren't "colorless" (quite the contrary) and if you go to Google Images and enter keywords "gilbert arizona" you'll see a fairly ordinary, but (by and large) well kept and attractive, modern southwestern town.

There is nothing dull or depressing about new buildings, aesthetic appeal, cleanliness, or safety. To claim otherwise, and argue that "cities aren't cities" without decrepit pockets of blight, is precisely the sort of New Left rubbish that got Ronald Reagan elected.

My idea of Left politics isn't to celebrate ugliness and crime: it's to get the working class the money they need (and deserve for their labor) by means of redistribution of income, so that they can afford the "good life," keep their neighborhoods free of blight, and attract the kind of police support that upper-middle class areas do.

Just to play devil's advocate to the devil's advocate:

Sunnyslope is an organic part of the old city and at the same time one of the most distinctive parts of Phoenix. Thus, it doesn't have the curse of "master planned communities" and industrial-scale subdivisions that destroy place-making. It would have potential in a place with higher-wage jobs.

Most people who live in Maryvale are very hard-working and law-abiding. They are victims of the low-wage economy, America's constricting economic and social mobility (heavily on display in metro Phoenix), lack of transit and poorly funded schools. They are also stuck in a place that was once the Gilbert of its era. So there are no historic houses to save. Built on an industrial scale, there are too many to create a "little district" of 1950s ranches filled with Eames furniture.

I'm not sure pSf is right about it becoming a Latin Quarter because Phoenix has so many Hispanic neighborhoods. It lacks the good bones of East LA/Boyle Heights. But, Maryvale is connected to the city of Phoenix, not detached like Desert Ridge. And Phoenix would go a long way toward healing itself by helping Maryvale prosper.

Opening Scene: A down-and-out Valley of the Sun suburb, kicked into a Scottsdale curb -- "Hey brother, can you spare a talton?"

Pulsifier, have you ever considered getting yourself a sense of humor and a little recognition of irony? I swear, I've never seen anyone so full of himself. You do copy and paste some good data, but real life seems to be completely outside your realm of experience. Everyone is not going to be a "professional," and someone has to pick up the garbage. Did you grow up in an inner city neighborhood? Did you ever sweat while you worked? Ever been in a low dive bar? I went to Carl Hayden High School, until I got kicked out for laughing at a government propagandist, a guy who pretended to be a former North Korean, telling all of us poor shmucks we should go fight in Viet Nam: he was probably from Fresno or somewhere, but you know what? I liked the people I grew up with. As for gangs and tagging, that isn't a phenomenon exclusive to "gangs and taggers who are Hispanic or white. Rich kids have fallen for the same crap, and it's just a social phenomenon that will run its course if the media will just stop capitalizing on it. Just one more reason why Capitalism in its present form is a failure, it propagandizes a low form of culture in order to keep American's value system skewed. Decent working class neighborhoods can exist again, if slumlords and urban redevelopment schemes, and rising compensation for every fool with a college degree is checked. Otherwise, the cost of living will always outpace the ability of what you would call a decent wage to keep up. I guarantee you, the slumlord investors, many of whom think of themselves as "liberals," salivate at the idea of a minimum wage increase, 'cause they'll get it.

"I can't allow this perverse rubbish to go uncommented."
Give me a break.

The above comment speaks reams of elitist snobbery rubbish.
I am retired cop and a 71 year old white republican that tries really hard not to go to Mesa and Gilbert and would never live in either city. I lived in Sunny Slope twice and would again.
I go to Sunny Slope Historical events where I am enshrined in a small brick. I would live in Maryvale before Gilbert.
There are real and colorful people in the Slope and Maryvale.
Unlike the boring palefaces of Gilbert whose underwear gets them special dispensation with regard to traffic violations and other crimes.

Great opening Morecleanair how about some follow through.

I love it. Cranky contrarians. The best kind. I love you guys. Buy me a drink and I'll see that you get to seventh base on the first date.

One good thing about this dialog is that it gives us an opportunity to look deeper into the valley's component cities rather than being constrained by a focus on the urban issues. Like it or not, we've got 1.4 million souls to deal with and their communities'metrics can be understood better if we truly want to develop more comprehensive strategic view of where we are and how we get to where we need to be. I only have small pieces of knowledge, even after 40+ years here.

Now that you are back to being a 1 per center Helen I think U should buy?

I will, but then you're only looking at 3rd base. After all, a girl's gotta have standards.

Name ur throe down
i ll bring the protection

I've lived in Phoenix for three decades and I have not had the pleasure of visiting Gilbert. Mesa is an unpleasant experience I avoid as it reminds me of my travels through unfriendly, rural towns in the south and middle west. Maricopa County is an ugly sprawl and it should be split into at least two counties. As long as the Bubbas of the east valley have veto power over urban issues in Phoenix, Phoenix will be kept down.

Well, I just wrote a long post, and it was lost, so let me just apologize to you, mr. Pulsifier, for my comments last night. My only excuse is that I'd had a few beers, I'm old and rheumatoid and cranky, and I'm one of those "building and grounds people" to whom you so condescendlingly refer. In fact, I get up every night and clear the snow and ice off of my vehicle to go clean the town library, which, ironically-since you seem to avail yourself of the library computers there-has become worse over the years with the addition of computers and free internet access, as for some reason many of these people have less respect for the public commons than do the regular drunks and schizophrenics. I was taken aback by your rudeness, although not too surprised, since I've seen you display it toward others here as well. But I don't know your story, maybe you have some kind of autism or other condition that prevents you from behaving civilly. I will say that in all my life, I've never seen that type of behavior play well in public, so I'm guessing you have no actual friends, and need this site much more than I do; and since I don't like anonymous internet pissing contests, and since Mr. Talton has a great deal of respect for you, I won't post here anymore. I have no dog in this fight anyway, as I don't intend to ever return to my hometown, for complicated reasons, but just enjoyed the forum and reading the posts, rants, and opinions. However, I urge you to consider being polite in your responses, because while I disagree with a lot of what others say here, including Mr. Talton, I think they are all pretty decent, well-intentioned people, in possession of basic social skills, with the exception of yourself. Also, you might consider taking some interest in the valley's history, because you can't really develop a rational viewpoint about what Phoenix could or should be unless you know what it once was.

pbm, don't go away. Especially mad. It happens. You've got good stuff to say and contribute. I hope you change your mind.

I agree with eclecticdog (or "electricdog," as Cal calls him). Don't go away, pbm. We need all viewpoints. We can mix it up and still be friends.

See what U have done now HAL

pbm - early into this blog site, Emil appealed to Rogue to ban me (I'm a 70-yr-old female independent conservative who warned against BHO). Rogue pretty much told Emil the same thing he's just told you; diversity is a good thing, blah, blah, blah. And it is; I'm still here although some may think that I'm a troll. I'm not, but I am outnumbered and prefer to stay neuteral for the most part. Please reconsider your decision. Diversity of thought & opinion are priceless. All the best to you. T.D.

"pbm" wrote:

Some twaddle. Then this: "Everyone is not going to be a 'professional,' and someone has to pick up the garbage."

Exactly my point. The economy isn't going to get rid of plebian work anytime soon. Somebody has to be the cogs and the grease. This is why I am so annoyed when liberals talk about education as the solution to America's class problems. It isn't. There is one thing, and one thing only, that will do that: a distribution of income that fairly rewards the productive but unromantic sectors of the economy. The only way to accomplish that is via taxation and direct redistribution of income, from the top to the bottom. You don't even need a new economic system to accomplish this: it can be done within capitalism using existing structures such as the progressive tax system and the earned income tax credit. And it's the next step. Get behind it.

Squalor and fear, degredation and drudgery, blight, crime and ugliness: THESE things are depressing, not quiet neighborhoods in Gilbert. You're the one who needs a reality-check. Why romanticize these things? Why attempt to portray basic human needs, such as beauty, safety, personal space, leisure, comfort, and security, as illegitimate and shameful? Sour grapes. The doomsters at least have a claim -- sometimes true and sometimes not -- that they're drawing society's attention to critical problems that can only worsen if ignored. The apostles of ugliness lack even this camouflage.

With all due respect, the level of hypocrisy here is sometimes astonishing. Gilbert is "bad" because it has a higher median income than Phoenix. But Seattle is "good" because it has...a higher median income than Phoenix.

What's the median income of the expensive downtown Seattle real-estate where Mr. Talton has his condo? It's easy to say "live downtown" but how many can afford this? What's the median income of the Willow neighborhood in Phoenix where he had a house before he was run out of town on a rail? Willow is a historical neighborhood instead of a run-down slum because it has been restored and maintained by affluent professionals. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.

Willow, because it was never downtown, was once a suburb (gasp!). A wealthy suburb. The reason it is in the middle of the city now is that the city kept growing. Similarly, Gilbert is growing, as are the surrounding municipalities that constrain its growth; and everything is growing together. It won't be a "suburb" forever.

Mr. Talton is right when he says that the difference between Seattle and Phoenix's median incomes isn't completely a function of cost of living: it's also a function of the fact that there are more professionals in Seattle (as a percentage of population) than in Phoenix. Just like Gilbert.

That said, it IS true that the cost of living in Seattle is higher: real-estate in particular (and this is also reflected in rents). The reason is simple: Seattle, the city proper (unlike the Seattle metropolitan area) is completely built out (or very nearly so) and has been for a long time. The law of supply and demand says that when demand increases over time (however slowly in Seattle compared to Phoenix), but supply (of land) does not increase, the price goes up.

One also wonders how vibrant Seattle would be without the economic and population growth of the surrounding metropolitan area, which feeds upon the city (and vice versa) for goods and services. But that is a complicated question for another time.

pbm wrote:

"...and since I don't like anonymous internet pissing contests, and since Mr. Talton has a great deal of respect for you, I won't post here anymore."

Well, who began the provocation? Did I post a message, clearly directed to you, filled with perverse nonsense guaranteed to push your buttons? Or was this your behavior? You reap what you sow. I've seen excellent comments from you in the past (if memory serves correctly) and I'm not starting a feud with you: but sometimes speaking one's mind is just that.

This is especially true in politics. So try acting more like someone able to engage in vigorous political dialogue, and less like Gerald from the Wallace and Ladmo show who takes his toys and goes home whenever his bratty remarks are turned against him, only to return shortly. I'll be like Lenin and tell you, without fanfare or tiptoeing, why you're wrong. (This is ironical and humorous, by the way.)

Cal Lash wrote:

"I am...a 71 year old white Republican..."

Thanks for the disclosure. I've been waiting for that ever since you posted some fabricated nonsense critical of the post-office, supposedly from a business owner and bulk-mailer, but clearly from yet another disconnected right-wing ideologue and propagandist.

In fact, I've been waiting for that disclosure longer than that, for other reasons, but since I have no evidence I won't mention those. Let's just say that Mick is the obvious one. Ever see Stalag 17?

The point about Gilbert's median income is not to show that it is "bad," merely that is a self-selecting affluent suburb rather than some model of anything useful to a big city.

Willo was a "streetcar suburb" in the late 19th-early-20th century understanding of the term. But it developed organically over time adjacent to the city. It is one mile from the center of the old town, and measures one-half-mile wide by one mile long. Gilbert comprises 68 square miles —nearly the same land area as Cincinnati. In addition, each house in Willo is distinct, many have front porches, most face the street with big windows and originally it lacked any walling-off or gates. Until the newbies wreck it, Willo is shady and has grass, so it cools at night. It has no HOA. It does have authenticity and character, and is naturally walkable. Willo as the Gilbert of 1920? No. Now Willo has the additional advantage of being on the light-rail line.

Since you want to dwell on places such as Gilbert: They have been subsidized by freeway construction done purely to enrich developers; depend on highly subsidized oil; create huge externalities, and have no long-term future. The "master planned community" concept is antithetical to real community or good civic design. And this land play has taken away farm land that not only helped cool the Valley but that we may need someday.

pbm, I ask that you please stay. On this board, you are an honored "Contrarian" like so many others on the blog.

Our traits: we have brains.....and they work. We have thick skin. We can be stung, but we don't bleed. Some may try to sting others, but at no time does anyone intend to cause bleeding.

Many of us spend our days surrounded by walking zombies. This blog is a way to scream out loud, "I'm mad as hell and I can't take anymore". Then the conversation with all its twists and turns brings us back to a more thoughtful existence.

I can't tell you how much I savor your comments, so I ask again, please stay engaged.

You can post a cute picture of "downtown" Gilbert, but you'll get the same three pictures every time. It is a little more difficult to find "cute" pictures of downtown Phoenix since it is more gritty and there are undeveloped lots. To get street level pictures and street life, you have to Google more specifically: Roosevelt Row, Goldspot, Post, Evans-Churchill, CityScape, etc etc...

Gilbert is growing but it cannot last forever given the lack of jobs moving to Phoenix; many new purchases are also made by those who plan to foreclose on old, underwater homes and move into a new one before their credit is shot. Canadians and gray-hairs are also settling in the town. But it isn't some sign of good times ahead. All the planning on the fringes will be for not. There are too many externalities that will soon need accounting for and when that happens (sooner than most in Real Estate in AZ think) it will ruin any future "Sun Corridor" plans. There will be more CityNorth skeletons spread about with tumbleweeds to boot (just for you Cal). If downtown and the Central Corridor aren't saved (which I believe can still happen) then metro Phoenix will continue losing what wealth it has left.

A substantive point about crime and socioeconomic status. "pbm" wrote:

"As for gangs and tagging, that isn't a phenomenon exclusive to 'gangs and taggers who are Hispanic or White'. Rich kids have fallen for the same crap, and it's just a social phenomenon that will run its course if the media will just stop capitalizing on it."

There are two types of gangs: organized criminal gangs and juvenile gangs.

The leaders of organized criminal gangs are usually adults and the members in many cases are too, though they do recruit among youths.

Here is a quick quiz for those playing at home. Gang activity is more prevalent in:

A. South Phoenix, Maryvale, and Sunnyslope
B. Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, and North Scottsdale

As for "Jets and Sharks" type gangs, though there are exceptions, there is a reason why it was called West Side Story and not Upper East Side Story.

Some of the worst (serial) taggers who make an avocation of it, when not youth gang members, are adults: but in any case you see less graffiti in affluent areas too, because the residents have influence with City Hall and City Hall has influence with the police; and they also have private resources not available or affordable to impoverished areas.

Not long ago, a gang of affluent youths was arrested for a series of strongarm robberies, extortion, and other crimes; apparently there was also a heroin distribution ring operating out of schools in "respectable" and even affluent areas. But it is a mistake to argue from the atypical; and anti-social behavior of this sort cannot be attributed to "boredom". The same is true for the malicious scribblers who make a habit of defacing neighborhoods.

Of course, not all criminal activity originates with gangs or tagger crews.

In general, poverty does not cause crime (with limited and obvious exceptions); and there are those who will commit crime regardless of socioeconomic status. But it is a simple fact of life that those who have something substantial to lose are less likely to risk it gratuitously. This leaves a large middle group who are neither virtuous nor recalcitrantly criminal; when these are raised in strongly middle-class or affluent circumstances there is less temptation to obtain material gratification through criminal means, and more to lose from acting out more general anti-social impulses in overtly criminal ways.

Also, once a culture of gangsterism takes root, it acquires a momentum of its own and is passed down from generation to generation.

Emil, I agree with a lot of your well-written analysis of gangs. I'm going to take exception to your final paragraph, however. The "culture" of gangs is not something that gains "momentum". Indeed, if the American experience shows us anything, it's that increasing prosperity tends to make gangs less and less attractive to those whose lives are improving. You stated as much in the paragraphs above, so I think you'll agree.

The real question is how to increase the stakes for impoverished groups. Locking them up does some good, particularly for violent crimes. But you can't lock up everyone although that does seem to be the mission of the private prison industry. At some point, there has to be enough prosperity at the bottom to increase the sense of real cost for miscreant behavior. As a society and a nation, we refuse to consider these costs to be worth the price of our concern.

This is the quintessential American tragedy where our zany compulsion to punish ultimately inflicts more harm on society as a whole. It's why our retreat from social democracy is wrong on so many levels. For a relative pittance - that is, higher tax rates on the wealthy - we could easily make society less harsh, increase social mobility, and make equal opportunity something other than a buzz phrase. It's fairly obvious this is not going to happen because the culture war is such a strong current in our politics.

As scarcity becomes the new normal, we may well see an increase in gang activity. With whites secreting themselves in gated communities, there's less political will to see ourselves as one nation and one project. The haves are opting out of the social contract, which leaves the have nots to fend for themselves.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Willo was a 'streetcar suburb' in the late 19th-early-20th century understanding of the term."

Gilbert was a horse-town and farming community "fueled by the rail line and construction of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Consolidated Canals...During World War I the area produced so much alfalfa hay for the cavalry, it was known as the Hay Shipping Capital of the U.S.".

It isn't now, and hasn't been for many years. Ditto Willo and streetcars. How many Willo residents ride the bus? Light-rail doesn't serve most city locations, and how many Willo residents commute to work using mass-transportation? Are there any supermarkets within walking distance of Willo? Or anything other than a library and museum or two and some bad surrounding neighborhoods? Why should Willo -- or Gilbert -- residents depend for the primary transportation on anything other than their personal automobiles? Because they should? Is that a realpolitik view?

Mass transportation of an effective, systematic variety (e.g., New York's subway system and Japan's commuter-rail system), rather than the boutique variety, will flourish when one or both of two things happens: population density increases to the point where car travel is slow, irritating and impractical; or energy prices rise to the point where private ownership of personal automobiles is impractically expensive for a large fraction of the population. Nothing else can force the issue.

This is not to say that funding and existing systems couldn't be significantly improved if the political majority in Arizona's legislature had different values and politics. But there are few working-class legislators (as opposed to current or retired business owners, ranchers, and rentiers), and still fewer progressives. The state's Democratic leadership circle is afraid of its own shadow and spends most of its time either lying low or reacting to Republican legislation in ways designed to prove that they aren't really on the left side of the political spectrum.

Gilbert is attractive for a certain segment of the market – those that prefer spacious single family homes, convenient driving conditions, and an environment for kids that is socially supportive of college. (it also attracts a xenophobic segment, but mostly it’s just normal middle class folks trying to do what they think is best for their kids).

From a development perspective, this market is dead. There is a massive surplus of Gilbert all over America. The growth market is walkable urbanism, which is in a massive shortage all over America and particularly in Phoenix. This isn’t utopian wishful thinking among urban planners, it’s the conclusion of the National Association of Realtors, the Urban Land Institute, and Price Waterhouse Coopers – and U.S. Census data.

What is driving this structural shift in real estate economics? Married couples with children were once the largest segment of the population. Now, unmarried, childless households are the majority. Two cohorts now make up half of the United States population: Baby Boomers and (their children) Echo Boomers. The household sizes are shrinking for the former, prompting many to look to downsize from costly suburban homes and long drives to culture and healthcare services. The latter are just beginning to enter the real estate market and, while perhaps they may have never been to Europe or even Greenwich Village, they largely grew up bored and isolated in the Gilberts of America and many are vowing never to go back. Their access to information has given them an edge in understanding what lifestyles are possible. Read what PSF is really saying. Don’t take this the wrong way, but he’s the future and you’re the past.

Also, I strongly disagree with some of the commentary about Maryvale in this thread and would love to have a thoughtful exchange on this topic in the future.

I will do a Phoenix 101 on Maryvale soon, and we can have at it.

Emil asks if Willo residents use transit or have markets conveniently located nearby. The answer is yes...and no. Most Willo residents drive to work but there is a growing segment of the Willo population utilizing light rail for daily living (outside of commuting); especially during the weekends

Taking the train to a game, a concert or a restaurant along the corridor, for instance, is as commonplace for Willo residents now as getting into their cars. And yes, Willo residents also walk since their neighborhood is a pedestrian haven. Furthermore, Willo is not surrounding by ghetto neighborhoods; on the contrary, it is surrounded by the most chi-chi historic districts in the state. Condos on Central Ave forms its eastern boarder.

Can't wait for Phoenix 101: Maryvale.

A great deal of interesting feedback late in the day (Walter Hall, pSf, Phx Planner) which I've only just now seen.

pSf wrote: "Gilbert is growing but it cannot last forever given the lack of jobs moving to Phoenix; many new purchases are also made by those who plan to foreclose on old, underwater homes and move into a new one before their credit is shot. Canadians and gray-hairs are also settling in the town. But it isn't some sign of good times ahead. All the planning on the fringes will be for naught."
I wonder. In November, IHS Global Insight produced an economic forecast for 2011-2016 by region and by state, with selected city data. Though this is just one source, it is not local to Arizona and its general views seem to be shared by many economic forecasters.
From 2011-2016 Arizona is expected to have an annual average growth in housing starts which will place it third among the top five states. True, the level, 36 percent of the 2005 level, is well below the peak of the housing bubble: but that isn't surprising and probably isn't a bad thing.

More specifically, Phoenix is 5th among the top 100 metro areas for annual average growth in housing starts over this period.

Arizona is among the worst with respect to delay in recovery of home prices ("next decade") but that can only make Arizona housing more appealing to buyers once the economy regains sufficient footing.
But Arizona is expected to be well above average in personal income gains over the 2011-2016 period: an annual rate of 5.4 to 5.9 percent, well above the projected U.S. average of 4.5 percent.

Arizona's job growth is also expected to be above average: 1.7 percent to 2.3 percent annually over this period, above the projected national average of 1.5 percent. (The Arizona Republic had a story in the January 26th Business section quoting a recent IHS forecast asserting that Arizona jobs are expected to grow at an annual rate from 2011 to 2017 of 2.5 percent, "the fastest rate in the nation", but I wasn't able to locate that online.)

That said, Arizona lost a lot of jobs and is predicted to recover peak employment levels more slowly, in 2016-2017.

New household formation is expected to return to normal levels (it has been very slow since the recession as multi-generation households grew, with so many birds returning to the nest and in some cases the old moving in with the young). Migration (interstate) is also expected to recover to normal levels, as are retail sales.
Here's a link to a slideshow of the IHS projections:


Phx Planner wrote: "...unmarried, childless households are the majority..."

According the U.S. Census Bureau's study, "America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2010", 46 percent of married couples are childless. However, this includes "empty nesters" (couples whose children have grown and moved out of the house), as well as young couples who have not yet had children. Marriage itself is less relevant these days in determining household formation, since many more couples have children without being married than was once the case.


Here's some up to date data from the Census Bureau for 2010 on families. See for example Table FG-10, which shows that 58 percent of married couples do not have children under 18; but that includes a large number with children over 18 (empty nesters) and a substantial number of young couples who have yet to have their first child.


Yes - that's the point. Empty nesters, singles, and couples without children - or "unmarried, childless households" are now the majority. The Leave it to Beaver household (which used to be the majority of households) - and the accompanying demand for that lifestyle - is in decline.

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