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February 22, 2018


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I remember well the refrain from the Republic-"We don't want to become another Los Angeles" when fighting against I-10.So we became Los Angeles without freeways and more traffic than we knew what to do with.My friends like to make fun of the land of "fruits and nuts",but I don't see anything wrong with L.A.with their enlightened race relations and move towards mass transit.If that is what's wrong with this country,I'll take it.

Metro Phoenix is a Mecca for small town heartlanders who think they moved to the big city. They hold tight to the various myths and falsehoods described in this excellent Rogue article. They exemplify the present era Republican: a rube.

I am a Chapman University alum who eventually moved back to Arizona. The only part of this article I disagree with is that Chapman is considered an elite institution. It's not.

Any school that would employ Joel Kotkin is not to be taken seriously. Hell, the school is an afterthought in Southern California and is better known as the school rich Orange County kids attend when they can't get into USC, UCLA or UC Irvine.

Look, what makes Phoenix look so large is the massive number of retired and near retired folks- if we had a more normal distribution of ages we would have about 2 million people in the area and would not support the massive numbers of healthcare and service jobs beyond a mid sized tourist trade. In short, Sacramento sized city- or a smaller Salt Lake area.

As for the parochial politics, well, charter schools have eroded the desire to pay for better public schools (as intended), and as for the rest of state government, undead zombie status is the true state of it. ADOT doing a poor job building roads, and nothing else matters much.

Quite frankly, the entire place has the stench of old folks awaiting their slice of paradise. No real desire beyond cheap food, cheap booze, cheap taxes and cheap healthcare.

So, in reality, without big gains from high end employment, we just sit and stagnate. And that is just about the entire bit of reality...as I said ten bloody years ago.

No dynamic growth industries, so no dynamic growth, just one more retirement boomer blast, before they hit their expiration date.

Might as well start ripping out golf courses before the next recession hits and turns them brown.

The reality is we have no national industrial policy, we have no real educational policy, we have no real national medical policy for working age America, so we run an insurance company combined with the biggest military in the world, while sucking at improving America.

And the young folks think the boomers have utterly failed, and I gotta agree- and they want to try more socialism.

So, those psychopathic libertarian rich have their moment of nirvana before the end comes when they lose the majority vote- and payback is going to be a real beeeyatch.

In short, most of the western governments are crazy in terms of goals and logic, yet nobody has sufficient power to stick to what is realistically achievable. Except Putin, who is looking like the most sane world leader, and oddly enough will be one of the few that might look good in the history books.

The Gods must be Crazy...because we are made in their image!!!

As one who is in LA right now for a few days, I say yay to Phoenix becoming in another one (an impossible task), despite the traffic. What an amazing city that makes Phoenix look pretty bad by any measure except affordability. Anything interesting in Phoenix is a tiny sliver of what greater LA has to offer. They even seem to use turn signals here more often.

I've worked in LA for the past 8 years, both at the Federal Aviation Administration and as a pilot for a major airline. I have commuted from Phoenix for all 8 years. I'd estimate 50-60% of our LAX pilot group commutes from outside California, the majority coming from Phoenix. The pilot I flew with today quizzed me about the lifestyle in Phoenix. He's planning to move from SoCal to either Tucson or Phoenix.

I've considered moving to LA in the past so I wouldn't commute weekly. Between the astronomically high costs of housing, spotty primary school quality, atrocious roadway congestion, high rates of taxation and lack of affordable championship golf I've demurred.

LA has a lot to offer, but (subjectively) the quality of life Phoenix offers is unmatched by LA.

I was 12 years old when I first saw LA in 1960. It blew me away. The downtown was unlike any I had ever seen before: busy and quite urban. The next time I saw it in the early '70s, something strange had happened. The city was still there but the people were gone. For roughly three decades LA's downtown was like this, a kind of Potemkin village that looked okay on postcards but was otherwise inert. Now, the downtown is roaring back and may actually be LA's heartbeat. As revivals go, this one rivals Lazarus.

Joel Kotkin used to opine about polycentric cites like LA that just because there wasn't a strong downtown didn't mean that LA should want one. But you can actually get a sense of excitement with the one that is emerging. The old ceremonial model betrayed a feeling that LA wasn't truly serious. Now it looks like a big city with a big skyline and a big ego.

The comparisons between LA and Phoenix are appropriate because both are sprawling car towns with a kind of fun-in-the-sun vibe. LA has the better climate, geography, and economy. Phoenix has cheaper housing and a sense of manageability. I love LA but would I want to live there? No. It's too vast, too costly, and congested. You definitely need a car although the transit is much, much better than it used to be. Overall, if you're young and on the make, LA is the place to be.

Still, Phoenix is nice for what it is. It came of age in the wrong era, however. There's no different set of facts that could ever change its fate as a second-rate city. Even if we were to somehow manifest the right civic stewards, politics, and consciousness, Phoenix would still have weak bones and low energy. That's okay. One LA is enough and it's not that far away.

Sadly one cannot board the Sante Fe from downtown Phoenix to LA.

Growth is the ideology of cancer cells?
LA, NY, Seattle, are humongous cancer tumors. Arizona is more like skin cancer sprawl. Both are eventually doomed. Hence I'll stay in places like the Lechugua deserts where one can see for miles without man made edifices interrupting the horizon and where the coyotes still howl.

If you want to preserve wide open spaces, live in the heart of a city. Seattle also benefits from Washington state's growth boundaries.

Yes, Phoenix would do well to strive for LA’s university system and cultural assets. But let’s not forget about: the insane traffic; the insane housing market; legitimately dangerous neighborhoods; the LAPD; the ironic bad-mouthing of all things LA; the economic reliance on an awful studio system; earthquakes; a population churn that makes Phoenix seem stable; relatively high business taxes; Lakers and Dodgers fans.

Tap water in Phoenix tastes awful. In fact, water resources or lack thereof in both L.A. and Phoenix will define their future and perhaps stifle growth.

I'm for preserving great expanses of open wide spaces so i can have a quiet place to throw down. So U all keep crouched and crunched down in claustrophobic holes of scurrying rats.
Lumholtz, " will never rest easily in the civilization that is raking the globe with machines and orderly practices." Bowden in Mezcal.

Up with the Luddites!

Down with the Hittites?

So why are my friends in LA considering moving because it has become unlivable? That won't show up in any statistics but it's fairly important. Phoenix is only verging on that status.

Impressively off-topic, El. I have friends considering moving from Phoenix because it's become unlivable. This column is about the surprising (?) Phoenix ignorance about LA.

Okay. You're certainly right about the ignorance.

And then there's the reality of grinding and expansive homelessness in both places, unmanageable in LA, still pretty hidden in Phoenix.

Take another look at the one and outs of growth boundaries as a management tool.
See my post "Size Matters" comparing Portland and Phoenix.


The unbridled growth in Phoenix is irrational. We don't create organic communities or neighborhoods. The only advantage to living in Phoenix is you can still find a parking place. There's not much that tempts me to go out. There is a creative energy in LA that is palpable and that you feel as soon as you arrive. Phoenix is a great parasitic organism that contributes little but cheap houses and has been that way since the 1950's.

Phoenix has very little cosmopolitanism, diversity, or creativity. It takes these three components for vibrant, urban energy.

Phoenix decided a long time ago to be predictable, staid, homogenous, and conformist. This desire for simple and easy is what condemns it to being boring, uninspiring, and dull. Its chance to be vibrant, appealing, and trendy has come and gone.

I've only ever visited there, but I've always liked L.A. It has great natural assets like the weather and coast and embodied the optimistic spirit of America in the last century. You just have to try to forget about the possibility of catastrophic earthquakes, wildfires and the fact that, like Phoenix, it is a gigantic city spread over a desert that can't be supported by regional water.

What I really don't understand about L.A. is how people afford to live there. I don't understand the economics of having to spend 500k-1 million to buy a decent house in a decent neighborhood. That's a serious question. How do average people deal with that dilemma?

Restructure the Arizona University System to provide greater accessibility, affordability, and accountability to a public university education for many more Arizonans:


Status report: I visited the Queen Creek Olive Mill on Sunday. The conversion of the irrigated cropland in Queen Creek into tract homes is well underway, 40 miles out from downtown Phoenix. And more building has taken place and is continuing another 10 miles farther out, in San Tan Valley. Friends of mine report that the tract-house wavefront is now hitting Florence. Is Safford safe?

On weekdays there must be massive traffic jams as people commute from these places to jobs in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, and Phoenix, since the developers do not build highway projects to accommodate the cars they bring in. Since the Town of Queen Creek hasn't done much either, impact fees are apparently not nearly enough. They've managed a railroad underpass and a little widening. That's it.

The protocol: Privatize profits from building houses; socialize costs of infrastructure to support them.

The Arizona Model of Growth.

Phoenix lacks even one business block like this (although it once had them).


You mentioned the two Olympics, but something else that makes LA special is that it is a championship sports market. In the last 10 years LA teams have played in two NBA finals, two Stanley Cup finals, two World Series, and one Superbowl. The haul, two Stanley Cups and two NBA titles, literally quadruple the number of Phoenix championships in the last 42 years. And going back a little further, the Angels won a World series in 2002, and the Ducks won the Cup in '07, so six titles in the 19 years since the last Phoenix championship.

Good assessment. I've been here eight years now. The LAT still puts out a product worth buying, the Metro is down in ridership but gets you sorta where you're going, the museums aren't deeply stocked, downtown is still patchy but remains the city's best neighborhood, city council is a mess, the mayor is well-liked. Thanks for the call-out to LARB! And while Chapman has a solid but mixed profile, it's unfair to hang everything on Kotkin who comes around maybe once every ten weeks to pick up his mail. We have more than 500 FT faculty members who aren't him.

"I judge a city by its trains".
If that's the criteria, Phoenix certainly doesn't qualify. Everyone has different criteria. In work and play, I almost always require the flexibility and carrying capacity of a car/truck. Everybody I know is the same.

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