« Building nihilism | Main | Issues in the closet »

July 30, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

If Phoenix leadership would have been more forward thinking in the 60's and 70's the land annexed and purchased in the past would have been converted into preserve and parkland as they are doing now:


Phoenix did avoid becoming "encircled" by suburbs to the north and south and this probably staved off Glendale/Peoria/Chandler-like development between Northern and the 101. Most of the land north of the 101 is open desert being converted to preserve land as the State Land Department opens the property to bidders. Phoenix is often the only bidder...or offers enough for the land to scare off developers thanks to the "voter approved Phoenix Parks and Preserves Initiative and a matching state Growing Smarter grant, established to enable cities to buy land for open space."

It would be nice if we actually knew how much land was undeveloped within the city limits. From eyeballing maps of preserve land, state land (undeveloped), and parks it seems that a great deal of Phoenix's vast square mileage is left untouched and likely will be with the city's preservation and "open deserts" initiatives.

I meant to write that land between Carefree and the 101 would have encircled Phoenix with Chandler-like development.

interesting timing Jon. i got an email from the phoenix mayor this am and responded with a short note resembling this blog

When I was working in software in Phoenix the mid-90s, I had a young friend who each day travelled 60 miles to work in Auwatukee from Glendale to feed his growing family. His minimum of an hour on the road each day seemed a terrible sacrifice to me. But then again, in retrospect, I didn't have yappy kids at home.

A cut and paste.

-Original Message-----
From: Mayor Stanton
To: coper1658
Sent: Mon, Jul 30, 2012 1:31 pm
Subject: What is sequestration?

I had the opportunity in the last three months to fight against a serious threat to Arizona's economy - sequestration. This type of massive federal budget cut could eliminate 50,000 jobs in Arizona. I’m working to make sure that doesn’t happen. The below Arizona Republic story offers a good explanation on this issue. Click on the link to find out more.

Thank you,

Mayor Stanton, I have supported your campaign from the get go and still do however I am not sure what you are after when you say ARIZONA is going to loose 50,000 jobs.
How many are in Phoenix? And I am not in favor of more jobs but in favor of less people and infill as to new outlying construction.
I have been around Phoenix since 1950 and remember when it was a nice TOWN.
A town where the tallest building was The Hotel Westward Ho and most houses were one story.
If I was in charge Arizona would become a Federal wilderness.
cal lash


Jon is the photo Central avenue?

Just to note: the Colorado Legislature did not vote to remove Denver's powers of annexation. The Poundstone Amendment, which made it well-nigh impossible for the city to annex more land, was a ballot initiative that was created by conservative activists from the Denver suburbs, and was passed by Colorado voters in the 1974 election.

Thanks, H. Wren. Corrected.
Cal -- Don't know. Looks far north to me.

Point of reference: there were less than a million people hereabouts when we rolled in from Minn-e-sota in early 1969. Today there are about 4.5 million . . . those of whom have not left town for at least part of the summer. By October, the seasonal residents and renters will filter back in. We all know the drill here and Jon has written in detail about the pervasive sense of root-less-ness.

While I have a retailer's appreciation of the "seasonals" and their huge economic impact, I still kinda resent them because they often have an unenlightened 1950's kind of value system. But that's the way it is. Looking forward, I'm fairly optimistic that our political dial will gradually tilt more toward the center as some of the Kooks and the geezers fade from the scene. (Hope I'm around to savor this because I am reluctantly enrolled in demographic geezer-dom, with 95% of the US younger than me1)

phxSUNSfan wrote:

"Most of the land north of the 101 is open desert being converted to preserve land as the State Land Department opens the property to bidders. Phoenix is often the only bidder..."

From a recent news article about attempts to establish a rail yard with state trust land:

"Union Pacific wants to buy the site from the Arizona State Land Department, something observers say could happen early next year.

"...No other prospective buyer has expressed interest in the property, State Land Commissioner Maria Baier said. But that doesn't mean a sale is necessarily the best option.

"...The Land Department is bound by law to get the best value for land it auctions. It's required to seek buyers offering the highest and best use of state-owned land. The proceeds go into a trust, which provides the lion's share of its profits to public education.

"Red Rock is not a traditional sale, Baier said. More commonly, before the real-estate bubble, auctions were generally won by big developers buying land on the edge of metropolitan Phoenix for master-planned communities."


Apparently, the traditional purpose of state land trust auctions has been to facilitate exurban "master-planned communities".

I saw nothing in this or other recent articles indicating that the State Land Department has changed its priorities. All indications are that they're simply waiting for the housing/economic problems to heal so that they can start marketing to developers again.

Emil, Phoenix wouldn't be interested in state trust land miles outside of the immediate urban area and within reach of city limits. Red Rock is on the other side of the Gila River Indian Community; Picacho Peak is about 60 miles from Phoenix.

Likewise, much of the state land sold for master planned development has been in the SE Valley (east and south of Mesa) and again, completely outside of Phoenix's purview in terms of annexation and using their voter approved funds for city parks and preservation.

The approach Phoenix is taking with state land in its northern boundary is to use funds appropriated for open spaces and to preserve the land for recreation, open desert wildlife corridors, and to buffer land from development.

Actually, phxSUNSfan, most state trust land in and around (and near) Phoenix is also being sold to developers. That's why the State Land Trust Commissioner called such sales the "traditional" use of state trust land (also note her comments below). Some examples:

"A regional-mall site intended for Westcor's Palisene project is going back to the Arizona State Land Department. Westcor and the Land Department reached an agreement last week to end Westcor's 99-year lease of 112 acres of state trust land northwest of Scottsdale Road and Loop 101. 'We're getting the piece back intact,' state Land Commissioner Maria Baier said. 'It's ready for the next healthy market.' The property can be auctioned again as the commercial real-estate market recovers, Baier said. Baier said Westcor had planned on recovering infrastructure costs from Phoenix but that was no longer possible after Arizona Supreme Court rulings on development agreements involving CityNorth at 56th Street and Loop 101. The court in 2010 put strict limits on municipal tax incentives to ensure there is clear public benefit."


"A development group planning to build two cardealerships in Scottsdale was the winning and only bidder Tuesday for 29 acres of state trust land that sold for $10.2 million"


The Land Commissioner will hold three other auctions on Wednesday, including the sale of 160 acres of prime residential land at 56th St. and Dixileta Drive in Phoenix. The auction is expected to generate significant competition among Valley homebuilders. (From 2004)


"Stanton announced a new “Desert Ridge Bio-science and Technology Collaborative” to pursue the continued development of Mayo Clinic’s existing 210-acre campus in north Phoenix to its full capacity. Partnering with Mayo, Arizona State University and the private sector, Stanton said Phoenix will work to attract complementary uses around the Mayo Clinic on more than 400 acres of mostly State Trust land focusing on higher education, research and development and technology-based jobs."


"Actually, phxSUNSfan, most state trust land in and around (and near) Phoenix is also being sold to developers. That's why the State Land Trust Commissioner called such sales the 'traditional' use of state trust land (also note her comments below)." -Emil

Not to be the thorn in your side that won't go away, but you are comparing a few hundred acres of state trust land near already developed destinations and comparing them to tens of thousands of acres the City of Phoenix has purchased from the state and converted to parkland and preserves.

One of your examples was a few hundred acres in N. Scottsdale, again outside of Phoenix' purview. Another example is from 2004 before the City began investing money from the voter approved initiative for open spaces (first approved in 2006, extended for 30 years in 2008). To be clear, I was specific in mentioning that the city is turning much of the state trust land it purchases north of the 101 into open space; the new Mayo Biomed Campus is approximately 2 miles south of Desert Ridge (well within the Loop 101 boundary).

Scottsdale has even gotten in the mix and has begun purchasing and preserving thousands of acres (2,500 acres) of former state trust land for open space:

"The land acquisition at an Arizona State Land Department auction follows the city's successful bid a week ago for more than 1,900 acres of trust land for $41 million for the preserve."


Scottsdale will be acquiring more land from the state in the future, mirroring Phoenix' actions, due to a similar bond initiative passed by Scottsdale voters:

"The city will sell general obligation bonds to pay for its portion of the land deals. The bonds are backed by a portion of city sales tax approved by voters for preserve acquisition."

Good post and discussion. The State Land Department would be a good Phoenix 101 topic in the future.

Whenever I think about annexation, I'm reminded of the dumb-ass dependency on sales tax as the primary revenue source, and a report that came out in 1999 or so predicting that the suburbs will become the new slums as contraction hits America's cities.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz