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August 04, 2015


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At the most, 2% use light rail. Could be as little as .9%. About 44,000 average daily passengers.


$1.2 Billion in the ground, as of June 30, 2014 (before most of the 19th avenue extension)

That's about $ 27K per rider.

Could have given them that money and maybe they could have traded clunker in.

Lots to be proud of........


My source for the ridership and the $1.2B


This proposition makes me wish I still lived in Phoenix so I could vote for it. (Don't even get me started on Scottsdale, where I live now ...)

This prop, by the way, has some good provisions for bicycle infrastructure.

RC writes:

"Phoenix light rail is highly successful"

Based on what?

I'm really curious. What (objectively) exists to back up that comment?

Until Phoenix finds a way to balance the car with mass transit, it will never create the kind of urban fabric that makes it a real city. This isn't just a cultural critique. It's the core issue of any civilization that builds connectivity, great public spaces, and more intimate neighborhoods. The ubiquitous car doesn't allow that. It distends spatial relationships to the point that civilization itself is notably weak. Every bad city on Earth is like Phoenix in this way. Yes, if you like to drive, if you prefer not to know your neighbors, if you prefer chain retail to unique shops and restaurants, you will be right at home. And, to a large degree, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where weak bones and vague intentions create an even worse city over time. If you have to drive to pick up a gallon of milk, your city is failing. If you prefer this arrangement, you are failing the city.

I'm not an optimist about Phoenix. The right-wing capture of Arizona means there's no real centrifugal energy to limit the ecological and spiritual damage that flows from a too-flaccid civilization. Again, the self-fulfilling prophecy serves to increase the underlying denial and obliviousness of entitled citizens, i.e., drivers. The worse it gets, the more difficult effective reclamation becomes.

I can't imagine ever returning to Phoenix. The modest transportation improvements contained in this proposition will help but it can't really rescue a city without a soul, a heartbeat, or galvanizing core. The modest improvements downtown are good in themselves, but they're still based on virtually everyone driving. A half measure is better than none at all but won't save Phoenix.

Are tickets for the light rail still mostly on the honor system with only random spot checks?

Soleri writes:

"If you have to drive to pick up a gallon of milk, your city is failing. If you prefer this arrangement, you are failing the city."

Interesting perspective.

What percentage of America is failing both of these criteria?


Yes. I was a passenger on light rail subject to a random check recently with a lot of other passengers along Central. No problem. Very professional. A good way to go.


Good post. Way above INPHX's level of awareness.

You can't imagine returning to Phoenix? You're missing the 110 degree day today and weeks to follow.

Please enjoy a Portland foodie Happy Hour in celebration of your good fortune to have transcended Sprawl Land.

About 44,000 average daily passengers. $1.2 Billion in the ground, as of June 30, 2014 (before most of the 19th avenue extension) That's about $ 27K per rider.

Yes that's correct.
But why would you do the math that way?

This might be fairer:

1.2 billion / (44,000 X 365 X number of service years)

And then you'd have to figure a way to capture the upward affect on real estate near the line. And the value of keeping CO2 from 44,000 more commuters out of the atmosphere. And you'd have include the savings from the lower number of automobile collisions and hospitals stays.

It's a complicated calculation. And involves a lot more critical thinking skills than taking two numbers and punching them into a calculator.


So- auto insurance is less in Phoenix now since there are fewer auto collisions?

Can't wait to tell my State Farm agent.

I agree that it could be a mind numbing calculation, with lots of external and indirect costs on both sides.

The upward effect on real estate (if any) values would be dwarfed by the fact that a lot of real property was taken off the property rolls (forever) when the easements were granted.

I would think that a proponent could prove his or her case fairly easily.

I'm listening.....


Well, the good news is that your single experience on a single trip on a single day on a single line has settled the issue about folks paying their fares or not.

Glad that's settled.

Thanks for the brilliant analysis.

Since we should really be talking about the total system (that means discussing buses), for the most part, you don't ride on the bus unless you pay (occasionally I see a soft hearted driver, but not too often). And my car insurance dropped dramatically when I stopped using it over taking the bus. The reason I emphasize the bus is that I deliberately selected my home because I was within 1 block to the nearest bus, about .6 mile to the nearest light rail stop & less than a 1/2 mile to 3 other bus lines. Yes, it's a pain that the service does not go later on the week days nor the weekends. But I get a ton of reading done waiting and while riding. And I agree w/ Koreyel that the calculation for cost & impact of use is rather complicated and rarely used. I lived in communities where the bus went by neighborhood twice in the morning & twice in the afternoon (this was in California), so I rode my bike. But if you don't have a car for whatever reason, knowing that you can get someplace using transit is super. And when I travel, I always look to see how I am going to get around. I'd rather not pay for a cab if I know that I can get where I want & when by mass transit.
Thanks for the article Jon.

What are y'all trying to achieve with ( more) light rail? Is it worth it? There are immediate impacts and costs- the ratio doesn't look as favorable, of course myopically. But, someone who commutes might take it 200 times round trip per year, for 20 years.
If it gets real traction, there might be some synergy- people might get accustomed to public transit, feeder bus lines might multiply, who knows, maybe a 24th street spur might penetrate to Camelback. This might sound a little like Monorail in Springfield (Simpsons) at first, but it happens. I've lived in LA, SF, Chicago. All have undertaken bold steps in this direction and it has worked.
You see, INPHX, it's called planning ( wait a minute, I'll call it "City Planning!" Brilliant!) it's a long-term investment.
It certainly was good for big business in San Francisco. Can you imagine SF as it is without the ability to move workers in and out of those offices without BART? The downtown commercial/retail, the shoppers too, for that matter. Portland's Max lines had a free fare zone that was very good for all sorts of businesses in the city center.
There are all kinds of working poor who want to clean your house, cook and seve your food and a few other things, who might just have a hard time with car payments and the all important insurance. Think of this, if you must, as infrastructure maintenance.

Soleri refers, I think, to this quaint notion of "quality of life." of course light rail mitigates only a bit of the transportation mess that is the Valley. My kid brother recently moved from east uptown to Coronado. He saved a pile of $, walks to groceries, library, art museum, digs the light rail- takes it to work, walks from central to 7th St. I've driven in the Phoenix of the 2000s enough to know that I really don't like it. Commute driving can be a big determinant as to where the meds/eds/tech experienced employee decides to take a job.
all of that said, assuming that things are overall the same in 10 years ( a big IF) what difference will it have made, unless it's part of an even larger investment in public transit?

I worry that these types of transportation measures, including light rail, will be relegated obsolete in the next 10 to 15 years due to technological advances (e.g. self-driving cars, Uber, etc.).

Being snide and abrasive not getting you as many bites lately, INPHX? I don't see any reason to engage someone who's clearly pissed off about his life in general in any kind of dialogue, but maybe you could explain how you can be certain unforeseen circumstances won't someday make the light rail a critical means of transportation? I'm sure an independent, self-sustaining rugged individual like yourself knows you wouldn't be living in Phoenix if not for the collectivist redistribution of wealth that occurred with the great western water projects, right? Yeah, there just wouldn't be enough electricity for you to maintain an artificial environment in the summer. Those schoolteachers in Iowa and those mail carriers in New York who paid for that-overwhelmingly-were never going to move to Arizona, so it's disgraceful that the federal government stole-STOLE, I say!-their money for some dam on some river somewhere they didn't care about. By the by, sure was serendipitous getting all that hydroelectricity from the Columbia and the Colorado just before we had to fight a war in the Pacific, right? Not that the private sector wouldn't have risen to the occasion, though. But anyway...why are you living in a government built collective, again?

The upward effect on real estate (if any) values would be dwarfed by the fact that a lot of real property was taken off the property rolls (forever) when the easements were granted.

That makes the calculation even more tangled. Then too there is the old adage: Everyone wants to drive but no one wants to live on a busy road. In my subdivision the homes that border the "Detroit River" sell for less than those sheltered far away. So their property taxes are lower. The noise pollution is unwanted. The air pollution can lower your life expectancy. More things to add to the mix...

Also adding to the complexity was the recent battle between House Republicans and Senate Republicans in regards to the funding of the Highway Bill. The great takeaway there is the fact that the federal tax on gasoline no longer meets the needs to fund bridge and road maintenance. And since they can't/won't increase the tax per gallon, the highway system is now being SUBSIDIZED by drawing money from other sources.

What's the maintenance cost per passenger mile for auto travel versus light rail? Does light rail need to be repaved every other year? Was it the cost of road maintenance that caused Rome to fall?

I worry that these types of transportation measures, including light rail, will be relegated obsolete in the next 10 to 15 years due to technological advances (e.g. self-driving cars, Uber, etc.).

Absolutely. Along with delivery by drone these new modes of transport will change everything. One of the reasons I invested in Ford stock is because their management sees this and are designing for that future.

And it is related:

I've argued against the prevailing pessimism of this comment board that the world is getting better bit by bit and day by day. That if you read science magazines there's a worldwide urgency to solving the problem of global warming. I've written that the Koch's have lost the battle, that they, and their supporters, are dying dinosaurs who just don't know it yet.

Just want to confirm all that with you here, and share some paragraphs from this recent Az. Daily Star article:

NEW YORK (AP) — Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country's biggest coal producers, became the latest in a string of coal companies to seek bankruptcy protection amid an historic shift in the electric power sector brought on by cheap natural gas and stricter pollution regulations.


The boom in natural gas production in the U.S. brought on by improved drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing has ushered in a period of sharply lower natural gas prices. At the same time, clean air regulations are dimming the future for coal-fired power because coal emits about twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas, and far more pollutants such as soot and mercury.

Of course Mrs. Clinton supports the lastest Obama/EPA pollution standards. The Republicans do not and are planning to block and sue. Please tell me again how the two parties in American are the same?



I'm looking for something objective that would establish that light rail in Phoenix is a success. I admit that I am doubtful.

If you can help me with that, I'm listening.

But first, I guess I have to get over being pissed off about my life in general, so that goes to the top of the to do list.



There are probably dozens (hundreds?) of things that could go into the calculations.

Are fewer cars on the road a good thing? Not if you're a mechanic.

But I still think that if someone is going to support a public works project, there should be some type of compelling argument that works. And it need to go beyond cheerleading.

I think a big problem in this country is that for far too long, people don't ask those questions and we wind up with "pork".

People who use roads should pay for them. Gas taxes, tire taxes,registration fees, some sales taxes, the whole deal. You'll get no argument from me and I think anyone who argues against that is wrong.

Thanks for the post on Alpha- the volatility in the energy sector these days is unbelievable. Looks like some bad expansion plans, China's contraction, and cheaper (and cleaner) alternatives did them in.

I guess that's good news.

Unless you're a union coal miner, that is.

Dawgzy writes:

"I've lived in LA, SF, Chicago. All have undertaken bold steps in this direction and it has worked.
You see, INPHX, it's called planning ( wait a minute, I'll call it "City Planning!" Brilliant!) it's a long-term investment.
It certainly was good for big business in San Francisco. Can you imagine SF as it is without the ability to move workers in and out of those offices without BART? The downtown commercial/retail, the shoppers too, for that matter. Portland's Max lines had a free fare zone that was very good for all sorts of businesses in the city center. "

I lived and worked in Chicago for quite some time many years ago;- both in the city and in the suburbs. I took public transportation constantly. Here's why:

1. It saved me tons of time and money. Back then a day's parking in the north loop as about $12.00; it's probably 3 times that now. The trains were also faster, given the congestion on the freeways. The economic analysis was not even close- real, real wealthy guys would take the suburban trains into the city because it was still cheaper and faster than driving.

I have a friend that lives on Long Island and works down in Manhattan- he takes a car to the train station, the train downtown, and then about a 10 minute bus ride to his office. It's about 1 and 1/2 hour EACH WAY and the train is over $300.00 a month. But its still by far his best option- and he is far from poor.

Public transportation works well where there is density and compelling economic reasons for people to take it.

Phoenix has neither.

I've used the Phoenix light rail both to go downtown for events and to zip out to Tempe. It's too slow, there are too many stops, and my driving alternative usually provides a better outcome in terms of time and money.

The problem as I see it is downtown Phoenix is a dying industry only open between 8 and 5.

The golden age of distraction.

Our infrastructure is failing. Let's get this highway bill passed pronto.

OMG !!! They're killing babies.

Ain't no bill till we stop them baby killers.

Focus people. Focus. Our infrastructure is failing. Let's get this highway bill passed pronto.

OMG !!! They shot a lion.

What highway bill? They shot a lion.

INPHX, I largely agree - gasp! - with your comment. Transit requires density to be truly effective. But this doesn't mean Phoenix's investment in light rail is wrong. Rather, it's an expensive but necessary hope for any future worth having. As it stands, sprawl is very expensive. Cars are an expensive requirement as is the civic infrastructure that comes in tow. Even worse, sprawling cities are built more for cars than the people who happen to drive them. Phoenix, for example, is no one's idea of a great place because there's too little activity or interesting things going on, either in the neighborhoods or the Potemkin downtown. Compare and contrast to Chicago or New York (or San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Washington DC, or Denver). Phoenix is a bad joke by comparison. Yes, it is cheap, and yes it is easy to get around. The problem is that the one-trick transportation system means the city itself is crap. There's nothing to get to because of it. Driving to a sports arena might seem the pinnacle of human achievement to the dunderheads who live in Gilbert but no one who is halfway sentient cares.

The chicken-or-egg problem we're talking about means you can't have density without good transit, and vice versa. Retrofitting sprawl for density (and the necessary transit) is very expensive. LA can do it partly because it has better bones than Phoenix, which means it has more density despite all its freeways. Phoenix got to the big leagues late, however, and the few good bones it once had are now a blurry memory.

Phoenix, in effect, is pegging its hopes on transit-oriented development (TOD). Will this happen? I have my doubts because of the weak bones and nonexistent urban fabric. Still, what should the city do instead? What other solution is there except to painfully reconstruct an actual city where desolation and sprawl rule? It might smack of desperation to the people who hate cities (meaning: most Republicans), but you should probably hope it succeeds.

Phoenix proper is a profoundly weak core for a large metropolitan area. It means the region is less vital and economically vibrant despite its very cheap labor and low taxes. The region doesn't generate ideas, innovations, or new technology. It can't because there isn't any urban energy where human beings come together, knock heads, and up everyone's game. Rather, it's more a zero-sum place, where suburbs compete against one another and the host city for the limited regional assets.

My pessimism about Phoenix is not the same thing as hopelessness. I think Phoenix should try even if its chances are remote that it ever becomes a great city. What else do citizens have to care about? Lowering their taxes even more? Buying more crap for their fugly McMansions? Destroying the planet once and for all because, as James Watt once explained, Jesus is coming and there isn't much time left?

This blog is for the very few people who actually care about these issues. You don't have to be a liberal to care although if you equate conservatism with the current Republican Party, you cannot even begin to understand the problem. I hope you stick around here long enough to unlearn some of that toxic stuff you confuse with conservatism.


I don't think there is any transportation plan in existence, even with an unlimited budget, that can turn Phoenix (or dozens of other cities) into the urban form of a Chicago or San Francisco. Or even get close.

I don't see that view as optimistic or pessimistic. I see it based on reality.

If the existing light rail "worked", we'd know. Wouldn't we?

Just north of Camelback on Central (an area that is getting some significant redevelopment), there are some trendy, local shops and restaurants (one is a premium ice cream place called Churn) on the east side of the street. Just south of there, there was an empty lot that used to be a gas station (just north of the Circle K).

That lot can't be more than a couple of hundred feet from the light rail station.

You know what happened with that lot?

The owners of those trendy, local shops bought it and now it's a parking lot that serves those trendy, local shops.


About 200 feet (or so) from a light rail stop, that land sold as a parking lot.

What does that tell you?

Your last paragraph shows the shallowness inherent in your approach. You suggest that those that don't see the world as you do don't care, and then you begin to trot out the vapid stereotypes that you think support your arguments.

I like things that work. I look at the alternative fuels fiasco here in Arizona, Boston's infamous "Big Dig", the endless money pit of California's proposed high speed rail system, the Obamacare roll out, VA cost overruns, IRS scandals, the F-35 folly, bridges to nowhere, and the like and worry about the cost overruns and the complete lack of utility that these projects derive.

We're going to run out of money, Soleri.

How much money should we spend on something that at most 2% of the population uses?

I guess to you, there is no limit.

In a previous post, you discussed folks who can't walk to get a gallon of milk and I asked you what part of the population fit that criteria, and you didn't answer.


Back many years ago when I first discovered Jon and wrote a disagreeing opinion about mega downtown development for Phoenix i suggested blading everything from North to South Mountains and 64 street to past Maryville and planting Sahuaros. While mankind will not do such your ancestors will see Mother Earth do it for them and the survivors will not be the technocrats but Afghanistan cave dwelling goat herders.

"My own feeling is that society is no longer society. It's a system of living that has its own autonomous nature. I do not feel a mass society can be sane."
Former monk Godfrey Reggio.

Two points:

1. Every city has subdivisions, freeways, all-white suburbs and their version of Scottsdale. But the best, the most competitive in the world economy, also have great downtowns and real urban neighborhoods. Phoenix doesn't. That's a big disadvantage.

2. Cal, there weren't saguaros in the central Salt River Valley. It was an oasis filled with cottonwoods, willows, Arizona ash and other shade trees.

Problem w PHX is too many restaurants, thats not industry.

That parking lot next to Churn was always the plan, had to wait for the land to be cleared for use after the gas station was torn down.
They had valet before that, people bitched.
They got parking, now the people who commute to hang out "down town" can park their SUV's/

The FRC restaurant on 7th and Montebello has valet because parking is bad. People bitch. Thing is on every corner of that intersection will soon be a restaurant.
Gonna tear town houses for parking or alternatives a rising need?

Just got back from a week in Portland.
No need to beat the dead horse of NW > SW (in turns of a living breathing population center)

That prefaced, I would love to walk to get a gallon of milk and hate that I can't.

also, thoughts...Light rail going across dunlap to cave creek v a heavy rail going down the 51?

INPHX, I think when you're cornered you simply go into Fox-mode and start reciting your bill of particulars against government, without which, no good civilization is possible.

As in none at all.

Right-wing philistinism is wedded to a quaint notion not about limited government but something far more toxic: anarcho-capitalism. It's the ideology of Ayn Rand, Grover Norquist, Paul Ryan, and far-too many high school sophomores to count. If you never grew up but have a thirst for ideological certitude, this is one of America's best predictable landing spots. Makers, takers, winners, losers! You guys make Donald Trump look like Walter Lippmann.

What you have in Phoenix is a city that no one loves. Simply, how can anyone love a city that is unlovely? You can, as Cal does, love the Sonoran Desert, or you might love the sports franchises, or even its history, as Rogue, myself, and a few others do. But the city is gone. It didn't pack up and leave. It was murdered.

You can't raise the dead but you can tell the truth. More cars, more graded desert, more freeways, more big box stores, more endless CRAP will not make Phoenix better. Only a person with neither taste nor good judgment would think that. Say, a right-wing Republican. You're free to disagree! And I'm free to damn your tribe as the worst offense against real civilization imaginable. Someone with an iota of sensitivity would gaze out the endless Phoenix sprawl and wonder what the hell happened. Your tribe, on the other hand, doubles down on obnoxiousness like a College Republican in combat gear. I hope you graduate someday.


Well, if you ever corner me I guess we'll know what mode I might go into.

Look- you pretty clearly don't like what Phoenix has to offer. We'll never know just how much that affected your head while you lived here- but I think it safe to say "a lot" is a pretty good answer. Here's hoping that Portland might even help to cure those ills.

But it's a big country. I know this idea may shake the foundations of what you believe, but some people are just as happy as can be living somewhere where you have to drive for a gallon of milk.

So childish- it's either YOUR lifestyle choices or, well, I guess, right wing philistinism with anarcho-capitalism sprinkled about.

Thanks for letting us all know that no one loves Phoenix. I'd lean more towards letting folks make their own minds up, but I'm sure your declaration would trump that.

A city. Murdered?

Sounds like the beginning of a trashy novel.

Jon i know where Sahuaros grow. But i think Phoenix is a failing city. And when the desert roars back it might even have Wile Coyote sprinkle a few Sahuaros South of the crumbling ruins of the forever ugly Tovera Castle.

INPHX A murder novel about Arizona would have Greedy developers as the Sicarios. Sorry to hear U R pissed off about your life. I suggest a trip to some quiet Canyon Lands. Where U can hear the silence roar.


Saguaros are assholes.

I walked up to one to say hi and all it did was stand there with it's arms up.

Probably thought I was an illegal.


I appreciate your concern but my comment about my life was in jest as a reply to yet another inane comment by Pat.

My life is pretty swell; but I've never wasted time by living somewhere I wasn't happy with, either.

Maybe that makes me a little unique here.

I drive 12 miles to where they sell milk. I buy yogurt, so the milk thing doesn't apply to me.

Three urban legends have been solved up here in the north country this summer.

1. We got 7 inches of rain in July. Drought? Solved.

2. It was the coolest July in years. Global warming? Solved.

3. Gas is $2.40 (Safeway discount) Peak oil kunstler? We're drowning in oil. Solved.

Life is too short to waste it in a city. As soon as you can, make like a tree and leave.

Agree with on most everything written in your article, Jon, except for the 202 South Mountain Freeway. That will make such a huge difference dealing with the congestion for those of us in Laveen/South Phoenix. Also those folks trying to get from the west to southeast valley, or traveling from California onward to I-10 east.

Phoenix continues to grow because Kansas/Nebraska/MO aren't fully depopulated yet and CA and OR are more expensive both culturally and financially than the migrants are able to accommodate.

Phx now hopes to run in place or it becomes urban road kill.

Thanks for the reply, INPHX. I have scant experience on the Phx light rail. If it wasn't a big time saver during heavy traffic, it saved a lot of aggravation. ( remember "rush hour?") Again, it's a long game, and it might be that fortifying the transit system selectively might help to create some density. Not to go all Portland on ya, but the old central city might become relatively public transit heavy, maybe even somewhat bicycle/scooter friendly with improved walkability to services and fun. Folks who want to live in the more car-dependent area are free to do so. how about a Jefferson to Roosevelt, 7th to 7th zone?
In Portland where there is a (gasp!) urban growth boundary, I can see from street design that the city is forcing some changes, even if it isn't saying so. The commissars ( I mean, the civic officials) are forcing density with restricted auto lanes and expanded bike lanes. (That's my take on the Fremont/Williams and Division St. explosions.) we are being forced to sort it out as we go along, and they are shaping a different city from the one I moved to.
So it might take awhile, but there might be some dense residential building along light rail as those who are inclined to do so, get out of their cars a bit more. There are walkable neighborhoods left in Phoenix, but even when I'm in them it's so much more of a schlep than in Portburg. This was brought home last year when a good friend had a stroke, recovered fine but left with a visual impairment that prevents driving. He lives in central Phoenix down the block from where my father lived as a boy. Getting out and around is in ways more important than it ever was, and it's much more difficult. We need to plan with folks like him in mind. It could happen to any of us.

A significant number of recent arrivals to Phoenix hail from CA and King County due to their inability to buy houses in their former states.

California equals high culture? That would get a chuckle from the East Coast.

Regional parochialism is alive and well.

Many of the heartland arrivals have wealth and choose Phoenix (Scottsdale North) over California because of taxes and how aggressively California enforces it tax code.

Maybe not Missourians though. :)

Metro Phoenix has been urban road kill for quite sometime already.

So, immediate gratification on the light rail, INPHX? What's it done for you lately? You'll always be able to get in your car and run to the store? Like I said, no reason to engage with you, you only see to the end of your purse strings, and you're perpetually on the verge of a breakdown at the idea of another farthing being snatched from your purse. If it wasn't federal spending, there'd be some other externality destroying your country, your life. What a freakin' crybaby.

I can't wait to vote yes on 104! Light rail has made life easier for many, including myself, in many ways. Among them are the ability to abandon my car to commute for work, truly enjoy libations at a bar/club or restaurant. I can now avoid L.A.-like congestion during a concert or game as well. I have driven under 4,000 miles in a year. Which I feel is quite an accomplishment in a carcentric metro area. My car insurance bill is ridiculously low for the type of vehicle I own because of where it is parked in downtown and how little I've driven it.

It is only getting better in Central Phoenix. Light rail may have cost $1.2 billion, but it has contributed to billions more being invested along the line. Not to mention downtown Phoenix is now arguably more valued, in heart and in hard currency, than any other area in metro Phoenix. Testament to this shift is the price we are willing to pay to live in the area. Every development is now scrutinized for its walkability and true contribution to human -scaled urban form. It isn't perfect yet. Rebuilding a city almost from scratch is difficult and expensive. Our modern sensibilities only exacerbate the problems. And yet, the possibilities and opportunities presented are so exciting and compelling.


$1.2B in the ground, about $100 million per year in operating subsidies, for somewhere between 1 and 2% of the population.

And then people wonder why this country is going broke.


Perfect reply (IMHO). It worked and worked well for you.

Just don't complain when a hedge fund manager supports the capital gain treatment for his interest. Or when California farmers support low water prices. Or when old people oppose cuts in Medicare. Or when rich homeowners support the mortgage interest deduction. Or when owners of corporate aircraft support a 5 year depreciation period.

Cause those all work for them.

Dawgzy, I live in the Lloyd, which if you know Portland well, is much like Phoenix's Park Central area. Take a suburban shopping center close to downtown, throw in a dozen or so high-rise office buildings that are more scaled to cars than people, and, presto, a disconcerting dead zone in the heart of the city. The difference is that Portland's dead zone is undergoing significant investment with thousands of new apartments being built. Why? It's right next to several light rail stops for one thing. So, when we look at north Central and light rail, it's not hard to imagine something similar happening although central Phoenix itself has yet to explode like Portland. Still, I would imagine COP officials are looking up here and wondering how to make that happen. The real-estate boom on the outskirts of downtown tell a story they would like to see up and down Central.

Phoenix's weak-to-terrible bones are something urban planners cannot solve with their limited toolkit. But the next best things - better transit, a walkable scale, and increased density - can go a long way to address Phoenix's worrisome situation. A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money to ideologues like INPHX. In truth, the lack of a real city in the vast sprawl called the Valley is what is costing him significantly more.

what's an IMHO?

In My Humble Opinion.

You'll probaly never see Soleri use it; that "Humble" part is tough for him to get around.

Soleri writes:

"A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money to ideologues like INPHX. In truth, the lack of a real city in the vast sprawl called the Valley is what is costing him significantly more."

See- there's the problem. He sounds just like a hedge fund manager or a General in the military.

Eliminate capital gains? It will increase the cost of capital and cost jobs. Decrease military spending? Here come the bad guys. Regulate banks? Borrowing costs increase and we can't compete globally. Cut Social Security? Seniors eating cat food. We have to increase education funding, or Johnny won't be able to read, and we can't compete. Hesitate to fund infrastructure? Can't compete. Light rail "worked", so we need to throw another billion or two at it.

It goes on and on and on and on. Everyone selling dubious benefits in order to justify spending that's being paid for at a time when the federal accumulated budget deficit sets new records each second of every day. With most states right behind, spending money like drunken sailors.

The financial position of this country and the states makes the Global Warming issue look like a freakin' paper cut.

Pigs at the trough. And we're running out of food.

Carry on.

The real pigs at the trough are engaged in three Republican fetishes: endless wars, corporate welfare, and tax cuts for the wealthy.


You have to look at the numbers.

GNP growth is crappy.

Based on the 2014 budget, you need to increase EVERY single source of revenue (and this all excludes the state) by about 15%- just to break even for 2014.


With no effect on GNP- cause if that takes a dive, the numbers will get worse.

If you went with just the corporate tax, you'd have to DOUBLE it.

There just aren't enough loopholes to close.

And remember- this does nothing for the states and nothing for the impending Medicare and Social Security crises.



if you eliminate ALL capital gain preferences, you'd raise about $120 billion per year.

The carried interest part is only $15 billion.

The current deficit is about $500 billion

One issue I have with people like InPhx deals with believability. I doubt any Rebuplican suburbanite, including any libertarian, would be willing to pony up for their use of a common good. I doubt they would be willing to pay their fair share once presented with the bill: including externalities. My proposal would look something like this: Charge people a progressive fee based on their home address. The further out you live, the less densely populated your neighborhood becomes, the more you pay. Miles you drive per year would be included when reporting taxes. This would be progressive as well: the more you make and the more you drive, the more you must contribute. We will include a carbon footprint tax depending on the square footage of your dwelling, the type of car you drive, food you eat (e.g. if you eat more beef, you will pay more due to the environmental cost of producing that meat), etc.

Now let's calculate the trillions spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can use a TIME article to help calculate the true costs. TIME equates the costs of war with the ever increasing costs of owning a vehicle and driving it. Which Americans do too much of (war and driving).

Excellent phxSUNSfan. All the costs to keep armies and fleets deployed to sustain the happy motoring. Plus all the other externalities. Huge.

Oh, and instead of a tax break for children and spouses, an overpopulation fee will be included along with marriage and birth certificates.

So naturally, straight couples who are able to procreate would eventually pay more.

We can calculate those war costs all we want.

But mostly, they're sunk. We can't get them back.They just make the problem worse going forward.

You'll never hear me defend the dept of defense budget. Bloated, inefficient, tribal, power mongering bureaucracy. Just like the EPA, or the Post Office, or the IRS.

We might be able to decrease them going forward by giving veterans more choice and avoiding billion dollar VA hospital cost overruns, but, well, that kind of financial discipline tends to not go over very well in this blog:




Total military spending is about $600 billion, which is about 15% of the total spending.

So- how much do you cut? If you cut 20% (which would be nuts), you're still in the whole about $460 billion in the hole- and hoping for no adverse GNP affect.

And remember, it's pretty stimulative.

And on that overpopulation fee-

Would it apply equally to everyone? No carve outs, no exemptions?

The issue isn't really cutting the military's budget in this instance, but avoiding the tendency to remain the world's police force. We need to resist the urge to engage in every conflict at the behest of the military industrial complex.

Overpop. fee would be progressive. Due to the other Republican fetish regarding pre-embryonic gestation, women and couples deprived of services including abortions could receive some financial relief.

The military-industrial complex, as phxsunsfans suggests, is predicated on crystallizing fear of some satanic "other". During Vietnam, it meant "gooks", inscrutable orientals in black pajamas. During the Reagan years, it meant more conventional reds, be they Sandinistas or Soviets. During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the great existential threat became "jihadists". Since the latter wars have been spectacular failures, actually making radical Islam more powerful in the region rather than less, the right has had to tailor its message given the public's fatigue with its adventurism. Still, the most salient facts remain, as always, having an enemy that justifies vast expenditures of our wealth for no discernible purpose. Failure, as it turns out, is not an option. It's a requirement.

This is the kind of government spending an ideologue like INPHX can't get enough of. It involves transferring wealth from struggling citizens to well-connected hawks like Miss Lindsay Graham, who receives a very nice pension from the Pentagon for his service as a Merchant of Fear. John McCain, someone who does essentially nothing for Arizona that doesn't involve a military contractor or Canadian mining interest, has based his career on this strategy. He'll easily win re-election because.....er.....FREEDUMB!

When we talk about Arizona, a state that elects numskulls like Jan Brewer, Joe Arpaio, Diane Douglas, and Doug Ducey, remember why the state is a magnet for ultra-low information transplants from California and the Midwest. They want to live in a state that doesn't challenge their sense of Right and Wrong. Translation: white and everyone else. It means living in a state where the public square has been relegated to huge arterial expressways so people don't have to rub elbows with the same people who build their houses and mow their lawns. It means a state that lives in a bubble of denial about its water resources and climate change. It means a state where even a modest and limited expenditure of money for transportation alternatives is condemned as social engineering.

If you live in Arizona, don't give up but understand who your enemy really is. It's the built environment itself. It's why people simply don't give a shit about others. They hardly ever see them.

INPHX writes:

"You'll never hear me defend the dept of defense budget. Bloated, inefficient, tribal, power mongering bureaucracy. Just like the EPA, or the Post Office, or the IRS."

Soleri writes:

"This (referring to the military industrial complex) is the kind of government spending an ideologue like INPHX can't get enough of."

Are you so arrogant and shallow that you don't even read other posts?

And why would I even ask?

You have also said in previous comment threads that defense spending is a justifiable expense given external threats (before you start: no, I'm not going to look it up). Of course, you want to have it both ways, meaning bloated will always beat a more reasonable reassessment of the right's clever fearmongering.

Listen: I don't dislike you as a troll. I think you help us think through our ideas more clearly. But understand that I'm not here to make you look good or well-meaning. You're really neither of those things, so please don't whine about being misread. We read you loud and clear.

You're not going to look it up because it doesn't exist.

What I have posted is identical to your view-that a general will try to justify more bucks because of "dubious" (my exact word) threats of bad guys. The same way a liberal will oppose cuts to social security because of "dubious" claims that old folks will be eating cat food.

But it's a great example of your muddled thinking. You paint everyone with the same brush, and then you attack the vapid stereotypes that you make up. That's your "approach".

That's it. Mean, rich, Republicans against the white knighted liberal.

And if anything gets close to conflicting with that view, you just pull in your head and legs like a turtle and spout more nonsense about, well, was it "anarcho- capitalism"??

From an earlier post of mine in this blog that you replied to:

"I look at the alternative fuels fiasco here in Arizona, Boston's infamous "Big Dig", the endless money pit of California's proposed high speed rail system, the Obamacare roll out, VA cost overruns, IRS scandals, the F-35 folly, "

Note the "F-35 folly"

But that's who your are. There's no nuisance; there's no grey.

You just can't process a conservative who recognizes that defense spending is crazy.

But you sure as hell will stick with YOUR tribe and defend the VA, won't you??

Yes, I'll defend the veterans you use as campaign props in your team's vile ads.

Obamacare's rollout aside, it's been a success. Granted, if your values lead you to think of human life as expendable, you'll disagree.

Boston's Big Dig was costly but not as horrible as putting that fucking 1-95 through one of America's premier cities.

Alt-fuels was like everything in Arizona: if your team could make a buck off it, it was okay (see: Jeff Groscost).

BTW, even Rand Paul, who I imagine you're ideologically most aligned with, has backtracked on reducing defense spending. He understands that his path to the nomination runs through the briar patch of fear and loathing that is the GOP id.

I use vivid language because I want to keep our battlelines clear. You object on what amounts to quibbles - subtle differences between you and your nutcase brethren. But it's less interesting to me because your differences are meaningless in a party that coalesces around group think and tribal identity. Rand Paul has given up trying to change its thinking about reckless interventionism. Donald Trump will force Jeb Bush to retract to his soft-on-immigration approach (or else...). John Kasich, in the improbable event of his becoming a top-tier candidate, will forsake his pro-people position on Medicaid if he wants to go all the way. Your party doesn't permit heterogeneous positions. Why should I?

There's no GOP majority without basic appeals to racial and cultural identity. It's the Republican's Faustian Bargain. I didn't invent it. I think it harms this nation in countless ways as it makes the right even crazier and less willing to compromise on anything, even their own health-care plan or a treaty initiated by the Bush administration (Iran nukes). You reflect this craziness all too well.

Congratulations on your minor divergences from the One True Faith. Ultimately, I'm not impressed nor chastened to note them.

Because they're meaningless.

Man, does pride go before a fall...

Quibbles? Meaningless distinctions? You're STILL going to defend the VA? More vapid race allegations?

In my previous post, I wrote:

"But it's a great example of your muddled thinking. You paint everyone with the same brush, and then you attack the vapid stereotypes that you make up. That's your "approach".

That's it. Mean, rich, Republicans against the white knighted liberal"

Well, at least your consistent (and predictable) in your tribal lunacy.

INPHX is probably editor of the Sonoran News.

The City of Phoenix is currently corrupt and could never deal with any sort of inflow of cash in a responsible way. Looking from the inside out, they will never be able to be a responsible steward of precious citizen tax money. They will squander it on the politically connected. Look at the massive butt kiss going on at Roosevelt Row. City management is incapable of any meaningful leadership.

Below are two links containing commentary that clearly (and correctly) explains why to vote NO on Prop 104:



Moreover, the Maricopa County transportation sales tax should shoulder the construction costs of light rail, not the City of Phoenix.

Bob Robb is opposed to transit? I'm stunned. Such a surprise and turnabout from his usual taking dictation from the "Goldwater" Institute. Does he even live in the city?

Writes phxsunsfan, "One issue I have with people like InPhx deals with believability. I doubt any Rebuplican suburbanite, including any libertarian, would be willing to pony up for their use of a common good."

I don't think that's true. I am a conservative suburbanite and I vote for all manner of things that support the common good, from school overrides to various propositions, and while I doubt most here donate to the same charities I do, I think it's important to support things I believe in.

Politically speaking, while the proposition system can lead to some unfortunate, lobby-driven propositions, I do like that it gives us citizens a chance to say what we want to fund and support and what we do not. I for one am a huge proponent of the valley freeway tax -- granted, I love cars, love infrastructure, etc. I would vote for just about any transportation proposition, within reason. I think America needs to deal with its failing bridges, etc. Anything Arizona can do to stay ahead of the curve in this regard I am in favor of. Maybe that makes me less economically conservative but thankfully I am not running for office and can afford to vote for certain taxes without losing my donor base.

I don't personally think light-rail is a great fit for Phoenix because the city is so spread out, BUT, it can also help spur infill development along the lines. If Phoenix voters want to fund it, then I'm not going to criticize them. It's their money and just because conservatives favor lower taxes doesn't mean we have to be opposed to funding projects the voters have chosen themselves.

If we are to criticize conservative tactics, I'd like to see less of an absolute-zero approach to taxes. Things like Jindal's trick accounting in La. are just silly. It's not the end of the world to cut a tax here and raise a tax there. That's reasonable. To say we will never raise any tax ever is inefficient.

Can we flush InPHX? I'm bored of him.

It is...WAS...a big "NO" vote from me on Prop 104.
Politicians promise the World... deliver a cesspool.. It's the addition of that little three letter word... "MAY" that was added to the Prop.
The money MAY be used to extend Light Rail... May be used for new bus routes.
A better bet would be that upper echlon Managers would get "bonuses"..
The last tax increase that was to fund the light Rail did NOT produce what was promised...why should this one be any different.
Since the "LIAR-in-Chief Obama", I have come to not believe ANY Politician. They are here to line their pockets...make themselves richer..(with a few exceptions, like Kyrsten).. VOTE NO to PROP 104..

There's some light rain falling in midtown Phoenix right now and strange things happen in the desert when it's raining. So perhaps 104 will pass after all? (A couple of statistically conservative sources of mine have said that 104 will eke through.)

But if 104 doesn't pass, then what message does that send to the world? That we want nothing to do with them in the 21st century city-to-city global economy? I shudder at the thought. Perhaps a move might be in order?

What Prop 104 will do.
Prop 104 will establish a corporate board of directors (with salaries over $250,000/year and public pensions) to administer a new taxing authority.

What Prop 104 does not do.
There is no law, ordinance, statute, or any legal requirement whatsoever that requires the the aforementioned board of directors to spend one penny on light rail. That doesn't mean they wont do it, but the decision of what, where and how much is entirely up to the board of directors with no correlation whatsoever to the will of the voters. Presumably the board will be beholden to the council as the council will likely appoint the board. The only loose restriction on the board is the money must be spent on "transportation". From a legal perspective, that can mean a lot of things and who would have standing or means to dispute decisions of the board if they disagree? No one.

I'm not against transit. I do understand the nuts and bolts of how voter approved measures are implemented in detail. So, put the pie in the sky dreams away of what "we" will do. There's no "we" there's only an unelected group of very highly paid board members who have sole discretion on how the new money is spent. It is with THEM you need to share your transit dreams with, not me or each other. Who are they? Call Greg Stanton and ask who he will be appointing.

It is very interesting that the Republic now changes its tune about the specifics of the prop. So, per the Republic, the prop really wasn't about infrastructure after all:


"More than half of the Prop 104 plan's funding will go to maintaining and improving bus service throughout the city. Less than a third will pay for running current light rail service and building new routes.

About 7% will fund street improvements such as repaving roads, constructing new streets and adding sidewalks and bike lanes. The last 10 percent will pay for debt service and an operating reserve."

Did you see the part about money for trees? Trees are nice, but they are not light rail:

"Councilwoman Kate Gallego, co-chair of the MovePHX campaign, said, "Today is a victory for anyone who wants a shaded, more walkable city."

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