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November 20, 2012


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Maybe the large parking lots can be used for Space craft docking stations.

A couple of notes as we approach white man holidays in where to some it has become a scary America, turning brown.

Getting high on the stock market. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/19/marijuana-company-medbox_n_2159202.html?ref=topbar
Another Spurious White Man Holiday

I sit in the sweat lodge my peyote pipe in hand and lip, inhaling the smoke from nature’s herbs sprinkled with ground white lizard. I drift back in time. Terrible ancestral visions spring forward like a huge buck deer startled by the presences of an alien

I have visions of filthy Englishmen vermin infecting my children with their insidious diseases.

I see bedbug ridden Europeans chase our women and take them like dogs in heat.

My brothers slaughtered like pigs hung from a tree by these Anglo/Saxon Marauders.

The terrible visions pass and I am in a forest than opens onto a vast plain field with buffalo who romp in a gleaming river.

The men break from camp and pick one buffalo to provide for the tribe for a period of time. The other buffalo seem not to notice as if this is supposed to be the way.

The women and children surround the men and their prize. The tribe sets about enjoying the moment as if every day is a feast and every meal a banquet.

An elder interrupts my journey as he flips open the lodges flap and says “We must go as John Ashcroft has sent a team to seize illegal tribal medicine.

I step back into reality and realize I live in a place that really believes some Pirate name Columbus really discovered America and hasn’t got a clue the that the first people to come to America across an ocean (around 300 AD) were Japanese and that their ancestors the Zunis live in a canyon in New Mexico.

These same Anglo/Saxon marauding crusaders invented a mythical holiday and called it Thanksgiving. They celebrate it by driving a polluting vehicle to a store surrounded by concrete and asphalt vehicle parking spaces, where they buy a bird stuffed with more chemicals than a drug store.

They set a table and invite other white folks to eat a meal that was harvested at a supermarket not in a field or plain or valley or from the bush thickets that used to line the forests. They celebrate that a bunch of thugs called pilgrims actually survived their arrival into America but not because of the natives but because they pillaged, raped and killed these Natives.

Today’s ancestors of those who invent their own history have not a clue that America was once a great place to be an Indian.

Someone should tell Grady that his use of the royal "we" is easily misinterpreted.....

Grady backed himself into a corner and is not willing to find a way out.
too bad he is a nice guy.

Really fine Thanksgiving viewpoint Cal. A visit to Japan is eye opening to those who know the features of Navajo and Apache and sees those facial and physical features in the Japanese people.

Papago Freeway is noise pollution extreme.

The suburban parking lot model embraced by metropolitan Phoenix contributes to the self-selection of suburbanites and small town people from the heartland to feel comfortable and relocate to Arizona. Such people are uncomfortable on public transportation with all "those homeless people" like in King County or other coastal metropolitan areas.

I love the heat. Mornings in the summer can be slightly hotter due to the heat-island effect. Here in Phoenix, we call that effect "no big deal."

When I came here in the 1970s, the complaints about the heat were WAY more frequent because Phoenix wasn't nationally recognized like it is today (it was much smaller.) These days, more people expect the heat, though there are still plenty of whiners. A popular T-shirt in the late '70s featured a skeleton next to a pool, with the caption, "It's a dry heat!"

The parking lots are a symptom of the amazing and beneficial economic growth of the Phoenix area, which I agree has not always been well-managed. But then, what is? I originally come from NYC, a place in which the landscape has been utterly transformed from what it was 400 years ago.

I just looked up the per-capita vehicle ownership rates. I didn't find a Phoenix-Seattle comparison, but a 2006 survey by the federal government shows that Washington state has far more vehicles per capita than Arizona. I'm not sure how you'd fit that fact into your thesis here. I was also surprised to see that Europeans own more cars on a per-capita basis than Americans.

The Hohokam abandoned this place after 1,000 years of habitation, but due to modern technology, there will be people living in the modern Phoenix as long as there is a United States. We are far better equipped to deal with whatever problems the Hohokam had. That will be even more true in the future.

By the way, population density has some major drawbacks in terms of livability.

One last thing -- as to Cal Lash's comment -- No, the Zuni are not descended from the Japanese. Got a good laugh out of that one.



The Apache and Navajo are linguistically related to Japanese indigenous people.

Here in Phoenix, we call that effect "no big deal." -- Ray, you must be taking lessons from Grady Gammage on use of the royal "we." There are plenty of folks here in Phoenix who are working in reality world to change the big-building=quick-buck mentality that is destroying livability.

Ray, a booster child of the 1970's. Ra Ra Arizona!

Keep it white and keep it right?

The declining voting demographic shouts out.

Ray, U might want to try the book Zuni Enigma.

Ray I love the heat, I am a desert rat.
Too bad NY got built on a swamp may it soon return there. along with Florida and New Orleans
that said, I am hoping Obama makes NM and Arizona a wilderness and moves the current inhabitants to Oklahoma reservations

And just in case U didnt know Ray,
God is Red

Meanwhile, in Tucson:


Recently, U of A grad students noticed their crayons were melting. If that's not global warming, I don't know what is?

Cal Lash, I am not convinced that the Zuni are related to Japanese. I think there is enough DNA evidence to be cautious of your claim. However, I did read that the genetic diversity was greater among native populations before Europeans came exploring. This is because disease like Small Pox brought over by Europeans became such a pestilence that it destroyed nearly half of the indigenous populations.

Jon, I am reminded that Eddie Basha went through bankruptcy protection a few years ago. At that time the Basha’s store near my home removed all of the full grown trees that provided shade in the parking lot. I have never been able to understand why he did that.
With the trees gone, the apparency of efficient architectural lines arose from the ground like a plain box. Without the trees to dance shadows across the parking lot, the intense summer heat would rise the asphalt fumes up through my skin and nose such that I struggled to regain an appetite for food.
A couple of years ago a few trees were replanted, but they are not adapting, they are still scrawny and small. I am grateful for this new trend to plant trees in parking lots. It would be better if there were a mandate to plant more, lots more trees.

Suzanne, I respect your comment. The hypothetical conclusion in Zuni Enigma is that the Zunis are the only "American" Indians that share a blood DNA marker with the Japanese. This book was written a number of years ago and to date I have not found any further evidence produced to support the authors claims.

But I like throwing it out there just to see the response.

"For American Indians, Thanksgiving should be The Last Supper."

"The United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole's Hill for a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Grand Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember and reflect in the hope that America will never forget."

And then we have one of the lost twelve tribes raising cain over a picture of their little Indian that lost his way.


I am going into hiding now until the holidays have past over. Your Arizona militant agnostic.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"I've read that some 43 percent of the city of Phoenix alone is empty land. It would be interesting to know how much of the city is surface parking lots."

Shoup deals with this -- sort of -- in a separate article. Instead of examining the city as a whole, he examines the "Central Business District" (CBD) of Phoenix (and San Francisco and Los Angeles and New York). First, the introduction of the concept of the CBD, which is largely consistent with Mr. Talton's arguments regarding downtowns and central cities:

"A successful Central Business District (CBD) combines large amounts of labor and capital on a small amount of land. CBDs thrive on high density because the prime advantage they offer over other parts of a metropolitan area is proximity—the immediate availability of a wide variety of activities. The clustering of museums, theaters, restaurants, and offices is the commodity a downtown can offer that other areas cannot. Yet downtowns have long been plagued by questions about access, for they can either thrive on or be destroyed by congestion. In order to thrive, a CBD must receive a critical mass of people
every day but do so without clogging itself to the point of paralysis."

Shoup subsequently proceeds to quantitative comparisons, first introducing the concept of the "parking coverage rate":

"If you took all of the parking spaces in the Los Angeles CBD and spread them horizontally in a surface lot, they would cover 81 percent of the CBD’s land area. We call this ratio of parking area to total land area the "parking coverage rate," and it is higher in downtown LA than in any other downtown on earth. In San Francisco, for instance, the coverage rate is 31 percent, and in New York it is only 18 percent."

Shoup gives the parking coverage rate of Phoenix as a relatively modest 25 percent. However, he then asks why this should be:

"The density of parking depends on both the density of jobs and the number of parking spaces per job. Consider the CBDs of Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, which are roughly the same size. Why does Phoenix, which most people would consider the most auto-oriented of the three cities, have the lowest parking coverage rate, at 25 percent? Phoenix has the highest number of parking spaces per job, but also by far the fewest jobs. It has a lot of parking for not many people, and for that reason many commuters to the Phoenix CBD drive alone to work. San Francisco, by contrast, has a lot of people and very little parking: a function of its ordinances that limit parking spaces. This helps explain why many commuters to downtown San Francisco walk, carpool, or ride transit—and contribute to a vibrant CBD by doing so. Although San Francisco has over eight times as many jobs as Phoenix, its parking coverage rate is only slightly higher, at 31 percent."


Mr. Talton wrote:

"According to government statistics, in 1969 average annual vehicle trips per household nationally were 1,396 and the average length 8.90 miles. By 2001, this had grown to 2,171 trips averaging 9.87 miles. Households have more cars..."

Households also have more workers and commuters. In 1969 married women were far more likely to be housewives. In 2001 two-income families were the norm.

Incidentally, this is a seldom discussed aspect of income inequality and shifting quality of life. Comparisons of median household income aren't necessarily illuminating; the real question is median income per hours worked per household. Only by making an apples to apples comparison along these lines over decades (adjusted for inflation) will the income issue truly begin to be addressed.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Nationally, 74 million cars were registered in 1960; by 2010 the number was a jaw-dropping 251 million."

Ditto. More workers equals more cars, since some means of commuting is necessary. Mass transit is routinely underfunded, and many private employers use a kind of code ("reliable transportation required") to insist on private transportation.

Interesting to note that average trip length hasn't increased much, whereas number of cars has. Of course, once one owns a car, the tendency is to use it more (and walk, bicycle, or ride mass-transit less).

Mr. Talton wrote:

"I don't have data, but suspect that per-capita vehicle ownership and trip times in metro Phoenix are very high."

Major U.S. Metro areas ranked by vehicles per 1,000 residents (2007, citing Census Bureau data):

Seattle (#2): 743

Phoenix (#27): 609


Ray Stern wrote: "I originally come from NYC, a place in which the landscape has been utterly transformed from what it was 400 years ago."

And the landscape of the Salt River Valley hasn't been utterly transformed, Ray? FAIL.

Addendum to my last comment: The landscape of the Salt River Valley has been utterly transformed in just over a century. As compared to the 3+ centuries it took the White man to transform NYC.

Below is the latest ranking of worst commutes (vehicular traffic) and their economic impact. These numbers are from the Urban Mobility Report, by the Texas Transportation Institute (considered the foremost authority on the issue):
1. Washington, D.C.; Hours wasted: 74; Cost per commuter: $1,495
2. Chicago, Ill.; Hours wasted: 71; Cost per commuter: $1,568*
3. Los Angeles/Long Beach, Calif.; Hours wasted: 64; Cost per commuter: $1,334
4. Houston, Tx.; Hours wasted: 57; Cost per commuter: $1,171
5. New York/Newark, NJ.; Hours wasted: 54; Cost per commuter: $1,126
6. Baltimore, MD; Hours wasted: 52; Cost per commuter: $1,102
7. San Francisco/Oakland, Ca.; Hours wasted: 50; Cost per commuter $1,019
8. Denver/Aurora, Co.; Hours wasted: 49; Cost per commuter: $993
9. Boston, Mass.; Hours wasted: 47; Cost per commuter: $980
10. Dallas/Ft. Worth, Tx.; Hours wasted: 45; Cost per commuter: $924
11. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Mn.; Hours wasted: 45; Cost per commuter: $916
12. Seattle, Wa.; Hours wasted: 44; Cost per commuter: $942
13. Atlanta, Ga.; Hours wasted: 43; Cost per commuter: $924
14. Philadelphia, Pa.; Hours wasted: 42; Cost per commuter: $864
15. San Diego, Ca.; Hours wasted: 38; Cost per commuter: $794**

The issue in Phoenix isn't congestion or miles driven for the average commuter. Phoenix is actually quite low in comparison to other cities because of its relatively compact suburban expanse. The issue in Phoenix is choice, or lack thereof. Because traffic isn't too much of an issue in this city, developers seem to ignore convenient urban living which leaves little choice for consumers looking for housing in downtown.

Source for the data above:

"Recently, U of A grad students noticed their crayons were melting. If that's not global warming, I don't know what is?" -AZRebel

Thanks for that! You caused me to spit my drink all over my computer screen.

phxSUNSfan, I have lived in Phoenix, Boston and now, Denver. Although Boston is not a large city geographically, it is by far one of the worst cities to drive in. Interstate-93 is the main N/S freeway that connects the city to the burbs; it is a nightmare during rush hour and frequently backs up for miles on weekends and non rush-hour times because of accidents. I find it very ironic that Denver is listed above Boston; when I moved to Denver in 2008 from Boston, my wife and I settled in Castle Rock, a town the size of Flagstaff about 30 miles south of Downtown Denver. I drove an equivalent distance to my job as an EMT on a 911 ambulance in Aurora. Traffic wasn't an issue here; it was merely distance, which was something I dealt with by choice. We finally moved closer to the city in 2010, settling in a home in Cherry Creek (about 3 miles from Downtown).
My least favorite commute was Phoenix. I lived in North Phoenix, North Scottsdale and Old Town Scottsdale prior to leaving for Boston; I always found the drive to be a drag. It was time consuming, hard on the vehicle (probably due to the heat) and I observed more road rage there than anywhere else I have driven or lived.
Even if I wasn't commuting, it seemed like I had to drive the equivalent of a day trip just to run errands. Jon makes good points when he contrasts the geographic sizes of Old Phoenix and the monstrous city-state of today.

Ok, so if Seattle and Washington state as a whole have more cars, I expect there is parking for them. Those facts rob Jon's column of its point.

Phoenix has not been nearly as altered as NYC, which had a head start. I call fail on Chris in Denver's fail.

If the zuni's were descended from the Japanese, they would have metallurgy, knowledge of Japanese history and most importantly, a written language. Duh.

Yes, I used the royal "we" when I said "we" don't mind the heat. I dont care, frankly, if i offended a weather wimps.

Finally, to the reader who somehow saw racism in my comment and suggested I wanted to "keep it white:" Pull your head out of yer arse, ya idiot!


Phoenix's is WAY better than Seattle or where you live.

Sorry for typos. iPhone, morning.

Ray, once again, you missed the point of my comment. So, let me try to explain it to you as simply as possible: Yes, the land upon which NYC sits is much more altered than the Salt River Valley is. But, it took the Dutch -- and later, the Irish, Britons, Italians, Chinese, Puerto Ricans and any other ethnic group I left out -- more than 300 years to do this.
The desert valley in which Phoenix and the surrounding cities have sprouted is a much more hostile environment than the soggy marshlands where the five boroughs are located. I would say the terraforming that occurred there in the 130 or so years that the White man has inhabited the desert is a much more impressive feat of engineering. But, that's my opinion.

Phoenix has transformed itself in a much tighter time-frame, more like the last 40 to 50 years when development really boomed.

Always appreciate a UA slam. Thanks azrebel.

My Korean wife often comments that Native American crafts and customs remind her of home (she lived next to a shaman as a young-in and was keep up and terrified all night by her shenanigans).

ChrisInDenver, I am calling B.S. on "Ray". Take it as either sarcasm or extreme stupidity. I did find this line pretty funny, however:

"If the zuni's were descended from the Japanese, they would have...knowledge of Japanese history and most importantly, a written language. Duh."

Chris, I agree with you that the inconvenience of suburban living in Phoenix is a drag. A primary reason why I don't live in the suburbs but have had the opportunity to experience it for a short time when I first moved back to Arizona; traffic might not be too much of an issue but having to drive for every little thing is; it becomes a frustration, day after day.

"...In order to thrive, a CBD must receive a critical mass of people every day but do so without clogging itself to the point of paralysis."

Haha. As Yogi Berra once quipped: "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

Although Boston is not a large city geographically, it is by far one of the worst cities to drive in...
My least favorite commute was Phoenix...

(Warning: Anecdotal, not statistical, content:)

Back in the days of business travel, I was advised while in Boston to keep eyes forward - the point was that if the other drivers noticed that you noticed them, they were more likely to cut you off. Contrast this with Chicago, where I found the drivers generally much more polite, with folks waving you in during merge situations...

As for Phoenix, my theory at the time (I've no reason to revise it, not haven driven these last 15 years) was that the mix of provincial driving sensibilities in our quilt of national demographics made driving much more dangerous (a New Mexico license plate signaling the easy-livin' driving style that caused much gritted teeth with the more aggressive local drivers, for example.)

As for the Zuni/Japanese debate... it's a weird mix of modern historical "race" designations. The National Geographic Geneology project (and others since) make clear that humanity didn't "spontaneously generate" in multiple locations, and the appearance of (so-called) native humans in what is now North/South America pretty much indicate an Asian migration.

lots of folks in the Valley of the Sun suffer from heat stroke.

I hesitate to join in the comments thread, but...

Ray, welcome. Dissenting views are welcome. I must warn people, however, to refrain from personal attacks. They will get blocked. This is not AzCentral.

I shouldn't have brought up Seattle because it brings up this irrational defensiveness. Phoenix is not in Seattle's league and comparisons between the two are difficult.

The commuting time study is misleading. If you choose to live far out and drive in single-occupancy car trips, I'm sure Seattle ranks badly. It doesn't have wide freeways and streets, thank God. More importantly, people have choices and can live in city neighborhoods that are walkable, convenient and served by abundant transit. This is something Phoenix lacks and puts it at a huge competitive disadvantage in luring, especially, young educated talent.

I know more about Phoenix on the ground that most folks, as our Kenyan Socialist Leader would put it. The rush-hour commutes are monstrous -- check out the Papago Freeway through Midtown or the Loop 101 from Scottsdale to Chandler if you don't believe me.

But back to the point of the post: Phoenix's vast parking lots. They waste space, encourage sprawl, destroy walkability and convenient density, and have changed the weather.

"I'm sure Seattle ranks badly. It doesn't have wide freeways and streets, thank God."

Brings to mind the old saying about Mesa. You know, the one regarding wide streets?

Jon, I would like to bring back the Phoenix I knew and loved in 50 but it dosent exist anymore. Thats one of the reasons I try and spend as much time as possible in SE Arizona and SW and Northern New Mexico. And of course the Ocean at San Carlos Mexico.

Ray there are plenty of sites out there on the Zuni's.
like this one.

My apologizes to you all for for digressing
I get pretty crazy this time of year.

Regarding the UMR by the TTI:

in one graphic:

The UMR is based on a flawed one-dimensional estimated metric that could use some improvement.

One could follow that metric and build more and more road and parking capacity. Which of course begets more traffic and eventually congestion. Then it's time start all over again - a self-fulfilling prophecy. Follow that logic to its end and you will encounter that postmodern abyss: Detroit. It's perfectly possible to single-mindedly conquer congestion by building more car capacity. But the result will be a place that is ugly and barren, ready to be discarded.

Which is a shame because all those "parking lagoons" are quite costly to construct (including land value starting at 10 grand per spot, averaging 15 grand, going to 30 grand and beyond for spots in buildings, therefore costing more than the cars they serve) and operate (starting at $500 per spot per year). That money comes from somewhere.

It is true that other countries have a higher ownership of cars per capita. But somehow they don't drive them as much. In the US it's stagnating around 27,000 km/cap/year while even affluent European countries remain under 14,000.

Years ago I heard that the typical suburban household had two cars or more and averaged thirten trips a day. The cost of doing business that way has to be a structural economic drag.

We should look carefully into what 43% of "undeveloped" land in Phoenix means. From reading the study linked to this discussion, it isn't very insightful. I would break it down into two simple categories; land in Phoenix that we want to remain undeveloped, and land in Phoenix that should be a priority to develop. First, most of North Phoenix, especially north of the Loop 101, remains undeveloped and it should stay that way. Instead of the City offering incentives to develop that land, e.g. CityNorth, they should tax development in those quadrants of the city at a higher rate: recovering some of the additional expense of providing services and infrastructure to the undeveloped zones in far suburban locations.

For property in Central Phoenix and the historic core, offer incentives to develop vacant property, taxing land at a higher rate that is banked, increasing the rate of taxation as you move closer to Central Ave and Washington. Since infrastructure and services already exist in this area of the city, the cost would be minimal compared to any new, suburban development. Parking lots in the Central City should also have higher property tax rates while dense, multifamily housing should be at the opposite end of the spectrum. Mayor Stanton is slowly moving in the right direction by offering "services" and utilizing vacant lots in Central Phoenix...but community gardens can only go so far:

Excellent 43 percent post phxsunfan.
And of course excellent points on becoming Detroit by a person that has been missing a while, AWinter

Regarding North High:

Not only is it paved over it has a huge prison wire fence around it

Jon, I'm sorry I resorted to calling one of your commenters an idiot, but anyone who accuses me of racism deserves that label.

You reiterate that Phoenix has a parking-lot problem. I'm still wondering: Since Seattle and Washington state have higher per-capita vehicle ownerships, where do they park when they leave their homes?

ChrisInDenver: Allow me to reply in an even simpler manner, so that you may understand. My original point was that environment upon which Phoenix sits hasn't been nearly as transformed as NYC. Nothing you've said refutes that, so your call of "fail" on me is still a fail.

In fact, Phoenix's environment will never be as altered as NYC because of what Chris called "hostile environment." BTW, it's not a terribly hostile environment. Hostile is parts of Australia, in which it seems every insect can kill you and crocodiles outnumber people.

This is the environment which was home for 1,000 years to one of the greatest civilizations in Native American history. Researchers believe the Hohokam's waterworks system influenced those in South America used by the Inca and Aztecs, and not vice-versa. The Hohokam chose this location for their spectacularly successful civilization because the heat of summer is easier to live through than the cold of most other place's winters. It's possible the Hohokam left the area because of a long-term drought. But the same thing wouldn't happen to the modern civilization in the Phoenix area because of technological advances. With money, even harsher desert environments than this can be watered and tamed (ask a Saudi about that if you don't believe me).


no human "tames" the desert.

Or waters it...

...for very long.

what r u not allowed to water in Arizona

Ray Stern wrote (to Jon Talton):

"You reiterate that Phoenix has a parking-lot problem. I'm still wondering: Since Seattle and Washington state have higher per-capita vehicle ownerships, where do they park when they leave their homes?"

Two important points here which may weaken your argument:

(1) The Census data I linked to showing Seattle as #2 and Phoenix as #27 in a list of major metro areas ranked by vehicles per 1,000 residents, is a list of "combined statistical areas"; or, in the case of Phoenix and four other cities on the list which aren't part of CSAs, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

There is no need to go into technical definitions here, but what this boils down to is that we aren't comparing the City of Seattle to the City of Phoenix, but rather a wide swath of suburbs and metropolitan/micropolitan areas centered around each city.

If you compare the cities, for example, residential density (persons per square mile) is higher in Seattle than in Phoenix, because Seattle has essentially fixed boundaries (being surrounded by other municipalities and having laws making annexation difficult).

If however you compare the metro areas (MSAs) Phoenix is actually denser than Seattle.

So, it depends on what you're talking about.

Similarly, the rate of vehicle ownership in Seattle versus Phoenix may depend on whether one is talking about the city proper or the metro area.

Mr. Talton is talking about the city proper, which after all has control only over its own zoning, parking, and other development rules.

That said, there is a lot of commuting from surrounding areas into Seattle, so city-specific vehicle ownership rates may not even be relevant.

Because the city of Seattle is much smaller than the city of Phoenix, I would expect parking lots to take up a larger percentage of available area in Seattle than in Phoenix.

It's also possible, however, that (at least in the central business district or downtown), parking is restricted so as to encourage walking, bicycling, mass transit, and multiple-occupancy commuting, to such an extent that despite more personal vehicles per capita in the metro area, parking takes up a lower percentage of available space than in Phoenix.

Until we have the facts sorted out, general arguments along the lines suggested ("more cars equal more parking lots") are great conversation stimulators but less than conclusive slap-downs.

Incidentally, is this the Ray Stern of Phoenix New Times?

The New times Ray Stern repot on Weed is available.
The New Times parking lot is big enough for employee parking and a sustainable farmers market garden.
I will bring a plow.

The Arizona Republic has just today published the second story in several days on the issue of vacant lots and development, this time as a front-page lead story. From the article:

"...organizations such as the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center will temporarily use the land for various projects, like teaching adults with autism how to become urban farmers."


And Democrats wonder why Republicans (and the mass media audiences they reach) laugh at them.

Phoenix offers no financial incentives to private landowners to develop empty lots. Spending money on window dressing while patiently hoping that landowners will somehow be convinced by these boutique projects of the commercial development potential of their land and be motivated to act, isn't "moving in the right direction" so much as spinning in place.

The idea of a blight tax on vacant lots in prime areas (e.g., downtown) that have been vacant for three years or more -- which ought to result in a doubling or tripling of property taxes in order to encourage either development or else the sale of land to those who will develop it -- appeals powerfully to me.

However, it would be necessary to structure this to avoid obvious loopholes such as the sale of the land to corporations owned by a common holding company or to shell corporations, since otherwise the tax could be avoided while the same landowners sit and knit.

I also think that in addition to the stick there ought to be a carrot. This would offer temporary property tax breaks (or other cost of development subsidies) to those willing and able to submit acceptable development to city planners with a timetable for action and the financial backing to carry out actual development.

The carrot wouldn't require a positive outlay of funds by the city, but it would sacrifice theoretical short-term revenues for larger long-term revenues. The city stubbornly resists this, hoping for near-term pie in the sky returns, but 1 percent of something is more than 10 percent of nothing.

Ray, the only hostility that I sense in this conversation comes from you. But, that's OK, pal. You're from the Northeast. You'll calm down ... eventually.

Cal, is this guy the same Ray Stern that the New Times employs?


New Times Ray wrote:

"The Hohokam chose this location for their spectacularly successful civilization because the heat of summer is easier to live through than the cold of most other place's winters."

How do YOU know this, Ray? That's a mighty subjective statement, my friend. In the absence of proof, we can only surmise that the reason why the Hohokam chose to settle in the Salt River Valley has less to do with the local climate and more to do with the soil. The Hohokam farmed the land, which was very fertile. Perhaps they recognized that the soils were perfect for agriculture. Or, perhaps it was because the introduction of the automobile was a thousand years in the future, I-17 was even further off and the Hohokam just didn't feel like trudging it up the hill for several hundred miles. Oh, the irony.

* One other point, Ray: The desert isn't "watered." It is irrigated.

"Researchers believe the Hohokam's waterworks system influenced those in South America used by the Inca and Aztecs, and not vice-versa."

Lol. News to me, Ray. When did the Hohokam travel to South America?

Parking lots.
Indian essay.
Ray stops by. Welcome.
Regular commentors get their panties in a twist.
Auto stats.
Commuting stats.
Back to parking lot talk.

I love this blog!!

We are currently 17 years into a predicted 20 year drought. If you go out to the desert, you will find that it is bad out there.

During the centuries that the Hohokam phased out of the area, there were droughts which lasted 70 years, 60 years and 90 years.

You can get awfully thirsty after 90 years.

AND Coors beer had not opened a francise in the area yet.

If you want to know where they went. Follow the beer.

They moved to Colorado.

At this very moment, chris is probably surrounded by their offspring.

I am, Reb. And I HATE Coors. Although, the brewery tour is pretty cool.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Rogue wrote:

" Phoenix is not in Seattle's league and comparisons between the two are difficult."

Very true. The two western US metropolitan areas are opposites in many ways but that is why drawing contrasts between the two is a fine way to discuss urban development and lifestyle.

Seattle is a solid second tier metropolitan area in the US. It has an impressive labor pool for technological endeavors and has always been an engineering town. It lacks a Federal Reserve Bank and the clusters of investment banking, finance, trading and legal talent to be in league with NYC, Chicago or San Francisco. There are several reasons why Boeing moved from Seattle to Chicago.

Seattle is a great place!

Yah, I'm the ray stern who writes for PNT...

Chris, I don't say anyone was "hostile," I said I had been accused if racism:

"Keep it white and keep it right?

The declining voting demographic shouts out."

Re hohokam choice of 1,000-permanent settlement - it wasn't the Seattle area. Also, look up the research on the possible influence of hohokams on South American native water works, if you don't believe me. I recently read that in a book an az history - I didn't do the research myself!

Parking lots: still waiting to hear where seattlites, who own more cars per capita than Phoenicians, park. Do they have tons I street parking there?

I was only in Seattle once, and I have to admit, it wasn't raining and I had a great weekend. Still, you can have it. And anyone else who doesn't like Phoenix is free to move. I love it and will stay to help deal with the problems.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Ray, I note you use a small s to spell your last name. I have been interrogated here about using a small c to spell my first name. Interestingly there are a some of us here that actually use our "real names".

anyhoo, there are a few of us here that congregate for beverages in the downtown asphalt jungle on occasion. I will send you a note when we do it again. I'll buy what ever firewater you are drinking.

It may sound mundane, but there's opportunity for some adaptive behavior hereabouts. Errands and appointments can be clustered to make the trips more efficient. It takes some forethought and some schedule juggling, but well worth the effort. One circle-type trip last week covered a dentist, a doctor and two grocery stores plus a maintenance appointment for my ride and pickup for my wife who had her car in the shop.

I never saddle the horse for less than three errands. She takes too much hay.
Honda scooters get around a 100 miles per gallon and you could by an electric one?

Sounds good, cal. Best email to get me is work, [email protected]. I didn't mean to sign my name with a small s, though - it just happened and I was too lazy to fix it. Did all of these comments with iPhone.

I have lived in Tempe since 1977. It hasn't changed at all.

Just imagine, if only a portion of that pavement was covered with solar parking canopies.

"Valley of the Solar". I like the sound!

Ray Stern wrote:

"Parking lots: still waiting to hear where seattlites, who own more cars per capita than Phoenicians, park. Do they have tons of street parking there?"

You keep begging the question, Ray.

According to 2010 Census data, Seattle has 1.8 vehicles per household; Phoenix has 2.1 vehicles per household.


That's less, not more.

It's difficult to argue against an undocumented premise. Can you provide a link to data specific to the City of Seattle proper, demonstrating that Seattle has "more cars per capita" than Phoenix?

Furthermore, there is the question of how Seattleites use their vehicles to commute. More transit or multi-occupancy cars means less parking needed.

Seattle's mayor also proposed that developers be excused from the parking minimum requirement within a quarter-mile of mass transit, meaning they didn't have to incorporate parking in new buildings under such circumstances. Does that sound like a city dedicated to increasing single-occupancy commuting, as is typical in Phoenix?


P.S. Note that in the City of Seattle, about 16 percent of households have no car; in Phoenix the percentage is about half that. See the bar graph at the top of the first link above. (Scroll down for the details.)

P.P.S. The bar graph also shows that Phoenix is well ahead of Seattle in the percentage of households than own more than one vehicle.

OK, so my question is only good if we're talking about the Seattle metro area and Washington rather than the city of Seattle proper. Fine. It's probably better to compare metro areas, anyway, because the populations of the Seattle and Phoenix metro areas are similar. The city of Seattle has fewer than half the residents of the city of Phoenix, making direct comparison awkward.

Welcome Ray! You have certainly held your own here (twisting panties and etc...)

CID: The Coors tour is great. Took it about 25 years ago, although I almost lost my beer breakfast when that smell of hops and yeast hit me just inside the doors! The Killian's Red at the end made it all better. Besides it was important in the Reagan years that your brewer have a TOP SECRET clearance (might still be!).

Ray Stern wrote:

"The city of Seattle has fewer than half the residents of the city of Phoenix, making direct comparison awkward."

I think we can usefully compare the number of vehicles per household, in each city-proper, even though there are fewer households in Seattle than in Phoenix.

If you are going to compare metro areas rather than cities, it's important to remember that the Seattle metro area is actually less densely populated than the Phoenix metro area.

So, the argument that more cars per capita within the Seattle metro area implies a greater percentage of available space used by parking (relative to the Phoenix metro area) is actually weakened by switching context from the cities to the metro areas.

Perhaps Seattle needs more parking spaces. If Seattle does indeed have fewer parking spaces per capita than Phoenix, how do residents enjoy the lack of parking? Are people from Seattle ever heard complaining about a lack of parking?
Camelback Mountain is a park in Phoenix that people enjoy, but there is a big push to expand the parking lot, which is packed full in good weather. For people who criticize Phoenix parking lots, like Jon, what is the solution for Camelback? Force nearby residents to swallow street parking in front of their homes? Have people park 2 miles away and shuttle them in? Do nothing?

It's not all or nothing. A parking lot near the Camelback trailhead is fine. The problem is the proliferation of surface parking lagoons and their effect on the cityscape and environment.

Many suburbanites in the Puget Sound region no doubt lament paying for parking in downtown Seattle and some city neighborhoods, or not being able to drive right up to every store and hop out. One can park here if one wishes, however. It's easy. But there are choices and walkable neighborhoods and quality density.

My worst parking nightmare in recent years was at Chandler Fashion Center.

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