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April 23, 2023


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It's a nice sign-off, Jon. Good luck on all you still will do. I have enjoyed Rogue Columnist, and learned much from it.

I'm not done with Rogue, Joe. It will just be different going forward.

Scared me at first with your sign off. You have been a bright, clear voice crying in our vandalized desert and I for one would hate to see you silenced.

What is heartbreaking to me is that developers are destroying Arcadia and lower Arcadia house by house. No protection, absolutely heartbreaking, loss of grass and flood irrigation. Artificial turf is sickening. Thanks for your good work, Jon.

I grew up on Alvarado between 3rd and 7th streets. This section is not included in any of these districts. Do you know why?

I don't know, Kathleen. The historic districts depend on property owners banding together and petitioning the city.



Kathleen, check out the boundaries for East Alvarado Historic District. I think it covers the area you are asking about.

I was a little kid growing up at 21 W. Cypress across the street from the Freethy (sp?) dance studio one house in from Central. Sadly the house is gone. It was a wonderful time in the 40s.

Thank you,Jon, for including a photo of us at the Willo Home tour. It was a great day and thank you for supporting Willo with your essay in the Willo Historic Neighborhood Architecture and History photo book.

I hope architects, city planners, engineers and ecologists read this post. Not only to see the pictures of beautiful houses.

These historic district houses are not just beautiful, but also the key to climate change resilience. Their climate-friendly secrets are invisible in plain sight.

1. Front and back porches were common architectural features on houses in the days before air conditioning. Even older houses had a deep fireplace, furnace or hearth if they weren't built wired for electricity.

Porches provided shade, which could cool outdoor temperatures by as much as 20F from the ambient temperature. They also offered opportunities for neighbors to socialize and not have to go into a home.

Porches don't require electricity or chemicals to maintain pleasant temperatures.

2. Trees. Not only are they aesthetic, they can also provide us with shade and in some cases, fruit to eat.

Something else neat about trees: They're also useful when dead. On the Ologies podcast, host Alie Ward interviews lumber expert Jeff Perry. He runs a business in downtown Los Angeles where his lumber inventory consists of trees that are removed by developers or utility companies, or have died due to weather or disease.


His business will repurpose the wood to be used by carpenters, construction crews, interior decorators, etc. The alternative would have been to burn the wood or to grind it up into mulch. He also answers why he has no intention to expand his business beyond L.A.: He doesn't want to operate at a Home Depot or Lowe's scale because he would have to harvest healthy, virgin trees and he wants local communities to have identical businesses like his to be locally owned and rely on local trees.

3. These historic districts are built along Phoenix's street grid. When you have a connected street grid, transit service becomes more cost-effective and more productive.

Transit planner Jarrett Walker explains in the "Power and Pleasure of Grids":


Because a neighborhood derives its value not only from what is in it but its proximity to what is around it, a street grid helps not only to move transit vehicles along faster, it also helps to attract riders to make frequent service worthwhile to provide.

A street grid also encourages walkability, which will also be important to reducing automobile dependency. Even if and when autos are all-electric, the electricity will require some form of emissions-causing energy if we re to maintain current driving habits -- negating the whole point of switching to electric motors.

Walkability is going to be important, paradoxically, because Americans are aging and won't be able to drive or even walk. Mobility impairment is a fact of life of aging; the ability to drive will go down and the need for assistive devices like walkers, sit-down scooters and wheelchairs means areas are going to have to be walkable for ADA reasons. Reducing barriers to walkability benefits both able-bodied and mobility-impaired people alike.

While I certainly agree with historic preservation, designating entire neighborhoods as “historic” effectively prevents these homes from positive and necessary changes. In the words of Strong Towns founder, Chuck Marohn—

“No neighborhood should be exempt from change. No neighborhood should be subject to radical change.”

As AZ faces a near insurmountable housing crisis especially surrounding affordability, allowing entire neighborhoods to remain unchanged is unfathomable. I’m not suggesting that 7-story stumpiest should be allowed next to SFR homes but I am suggesting that duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and ADUs that maintain the general aesthetic should be allowed by right.

If these neighborhoods continue to try and block any increased density or units, I’m afraid the final result will end in a far worse result than had they allowed continual, incremental growth over time. Across the country, many historic communities have found a way to maintain the character and historical significance while also growing to accommodate population increase and financial sustainability.

Historical properties only pay half of the property tax as mon-historic properties despite historical properties already benefiting from a much higher rate of property value increase in comparison. What is the possible justification for this? In my neighborhood, based on the average property tax revenue per acre; each SFR are subsidized over $300 per month by multi-family properties. For historic properties, that amount is almost $600. For clarity, renters are footing the bill for the lifestyle and infrastructure of single-family owners. Double that for historic properties.

This model is simply not sustainable. I’m not suggesting that Phoenix has done a good job of incremental growth. They have done a horrible job. The solution to that problem is not removing certain properties from any participation to the solution. I believe “historic” has been weaponized by the NIMBY community. For those of us who support “historic preservation” and “financial sustainability”, designating entire neighborhoods as “historic” and cutting property taxes by half creates some real conflict.


Shouldn't that be on our state seal?

@AzRebel, there's no such thing as sustainability. The laws of physics and thermodynamics conspire against it.

It shouldn't be banished from the language entirely, but the first step is to acknowledge sustainability is impossible as well as how ecologically harmful sustainability is because of the inherent trade-offs involved.

Resilience is preferable because it reminds us there are both sudden shocks to the system (like natural disasters) as well as nonliving systems having life cycles (depletion of food and mineral resources, wear and tear of machines, rechargeable batteries physically incapable of giving off energy). Modern ecology also teaches us the life cycle of waste and how human activities cause climate change.

@Jeremy, I agree with much of what you say of both the need for historic preservation and being mindful of the harms caused by our ideals. In other words, beware of brass knuckles wrapped in velvet.

Historic preservation has become an elegant form of NIMBYism. Preserving our history comes at the heavy cost of also trapping historic power relations that go along with it.

As time passes, we are reckoning at what zoning has wrought, as well as seeing how zoning has been a weapon to maintain segregation of races, classes and immigrants not only at the spatial (from the neighborhood to the metropolitan region) level, but also across time (conflicts perpetuated across generations).

There's also a feminist critique of zoning as well: By separating private residential land from the public and commercial spheres, zoning formed a practical barrier to women's economic, political and sexual agency. Many women thereby were limited in their agency to marriage and motherhood.

So what's the remedy? Rather than trapping small historic preservation districts in amber, treating it as a novelty and a luxury good, and privileging single-family auto-oriented suburban land use patterns as the natural course of things, we should ... rediscover how neighborhoods and cities were built pre-zoning and pre-automobile and allow them to be built that way.

I, too, read Charles Marohn and the Strong Towns movement and like their approach. For one thing, Marohn also advocates the notion of Via Negativa: Instead of passing new laws and mandates (a positive approach, since it's more work to administer and enforce), why not just take laws off the books and let communities figure out problems and establish norms and standards.

Sustainability is a bad word. Universities now offer degrees in Sustainability.
What a con job.

Reference housing.
Teddy doomed what we call Arizona with his Dam.
But not to fear.
The planet will win
Just ask Elizabeth Kolbert.

Actually, Kolbert argues that the planet will lose.

Earth age 4,500,000,000 years

Modern man 200,000 years

Guess you didn't interpet Kolbert the way i did. Humans lose. Planet wins.

Not only will humans go extinct but the gods they invented will cease to exist.

Man will be gone long before earth
becomes a dead star.

All the wise Kolberts in the world cant save the human race.

Math Man,
I consider Modern Man to only be 14000 years old.
The modern man killing us today and tomorrow.

Try reading Live Science.
What would happen if humans went extinct.
There are good examples of how nature will react.

I checked the Vegas odds. The smart money is on the planet.

I checked the over/under and the human race is pegged to end up six foot UNDER at the end of the game.

The house (planet) normally ends up with all the chips.

I recommend a reading of City by Clifford Simak.

The publication with all nine tales.

Clarification on the “No neighborhood should be exempt from change. No neighborhood should be subject to radical change.” quote.

It's Strong Towns Editor in Chief Daniel Herriges who formulated it, not founder Charles Marohn.


I could write a novel (or at least a novella) about the 20 months that I lived in Phoenix's Country Club Park Historic District (southeast of 7th Street and Thomas Road) in 2004-2005. There were definitely some good things that I enjoyed about living there and a few good neighbors, too. However, many of the neighbors were the most uppity, pro-gentrification people I have ever met in my life.

I never had any verbal or physical conflict with any of my neighbors, but the first question from each neighbor I met was always "Where do you work" or "What do you do?" This was followed by their thoughts on home improvement projects that they felt needed to be done on my house and yard.

When I put my house up for sale with an asking price that was $100,000 above what I'd bought it for the year before, a neighbor came over and demanded that I increase the asking price, because I was lowering all of their property values with my poor understanding of the neighborhood's value. I refused to do so, of course.

My last memory of my neighbors was seeing them in my rearview mirror, clustered at the curb, with one of them raising his middle finger at me as I drove away.

This story that I'm sharing is kind of an illustration of some of the points that Jeremy Thacker and Bobson Dugnutt made in the comments above.

Jeremy y kevin.
I'm opposed to any structure taller than the average Teepee.
I see no need for more folks in Arizona.
Things were ok without human residents.
8 million and counting.
8 billon and counting
I feel sorry for the Buffalo.

Kevin in Preskitt.
Preskitt used to be a cool village.
Always enjoyed my stays at the Head Hotel.
But the last 40 years has seen it grow to a place i find crowded, snobby and elitest and also harboring a number of kooks.
I have amigos that live in the area of 7th street and Thomas. Occassion a snob or two. But mostly pretty easy going folks. My old photo and electronics police officer employee working the organized crime bureau and the current Govenor live in the area.
Stop by for coffee.
Soon, Joe Scallan and Jerry and i will be doing a club coffee. Your invited.
You too Octane but i lost your email
[email protected]

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