(May 17, 2017) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2017 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.
Attention, Scottsdale! Do You Want your City Council to take Dark Money for Smart Growth Towers and Light Rail, or, Open Space with Affordable Single Family Homes?
(Tom Lane, June 2, 2015, UNDER CONSTRUCTION July 8, 2015) Little do most Scottsdale residents know that Dark Money interests are controlling their city, and even their choice of where to live and how to drive. Dark Money contributed to the 2014 City Council campaign, with hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers going towards candidates who would give them something in return – tall, expensive, smart growth towers (see Kathy Littlefield’s videos, below, where she discusses this).
Dark money and light rail interests (such as Judy Eisenhower, chair of the Arizona Rail Passenger Association, for more, see John Washington’s article on Scottsdale United), want to turn Scottsdale into a sea of high rise condo towers. These units are very expensive, averaging $1300+ for a one bedroom. One place was renting 500 square foot studios, for $1400 to $1800.
Of course, it is impossible for me to say which towers, if any, pictured on this web site, were a result of dark money. The other web page on this topic has photographs of smart growth towers all over Scottsdale, Tempe, and North Phoenix.
Advance “Warning” of the 2016 Scottsdale Mayoral Race
In the fall of 2016, Scottsdale residents will have a choice between Mayoral candidates who support various levels of smart growth and light rail within their city. If Virginia Korte runs, she might be a huge advocate for light rail.
However, Virginia Korte, also started the Scottsdale nature preserve, and she teaches native plant propagation at Scottsdale Community College. Some environmentalists have only heard one side of the story on light rail. They think it’s a “green idea,” as I once did, until they learn about scenarios such as Bellevue, Washington (see below), where hundreds of beautiful Douglas Fir trees will be destroyed to build light rail, along with hundreds of acres of wetlands.
Advance Warning for All Arizonans – Especially Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Mesa, and Tempe
Judy Eisenhower’s group supports light rail from Tempe to Tucson, right through suburban residential cities in the east valley. The map for this route is found on ADOT’s website. I don’t think that residents of Gilbert, in particular, will want pot smoking hippies traveling between Tucson and Tempe on light rail lines.
Phoenix, doesn’t seem to care, and wants to increase sales taxes from 40 cents on every $100 spent to 70 cents. The vote on “MOVE PHX 104” takes place in August. The current 0.40 sales tax was approved by voters in 2000, and expires in 2020. The proposed tax would triple the number of light rail miles, and begin on January 1, 2016, extending for 35 years!
Given that nobody rides light rail, and Phoenix’s lack of quality open space with its unimproved REACH recreation area (see below), perhaps the increased tax rates could go to open space.
Rents Will Rise with Towers and Light Rail
Do Scottsdale voters want a light rail line clogging up traffic on Scottsdale Road, from Chaparral Road and southward, delivering 20 and 30 somethings from California and Texas home to their 500 square foot studios in smart growth towers in the Scottsdale Quarter? That is precisely what’s already happened in places such as Austin, Portland, Seattle, and Denver, where smart growth towers are rented by folks without cars, riding bicycles and light rail lines. The expensive towers have driven housing costs for everyone else through the roof.
Do Scottsdale families want their rents to increase? Here are rents for 2 Bedroom Apartments in markets with Smart Growth Principles, including Light Rail and Smart Growth Towers, Trulia:
Los Angeles, CA $2300
Orange County, CA $2000
San Diego $1900
Denver $1400 (!)
And, Phoenix at $1000 (Vegas is $900)
However, most new Smart Growth Towers in Scottdale are renting for $1300+, such as Optima Sonoran Vista, and, at the Scottsdale Quarter. Tall towers are expensive to construct, compared to traditional two story apartments.
Texas Oil Money Also Drives Up Scottsdale Rents
Texas oil money is driving up rents in both Texas and Arizona. Indeed, consider that the average rent for a 2 bedroom has increased rapidly to $1350 in Dallas, and $1400 in Houston, well above Phoenix! What if rents in Scottsdale increased to this amount? Below, here’s a Texan, or two, or three, moving into a Smart Growth Tower, this summer. Texas has no speed limits in many areas, is that why there are suddenly so many roll over accidents on the 101 through Scottsdale? Nobody believes me about these Texan license plates in Scottsdale, so for my friends out of state, I finally have proof!
Isn’t Scottsdale the home of the Old West, where the personal automobile and horse are still considered honorable forms of transportation? Why would Scottsdale need a light rail line, a form of technology from the ghettos of Manhattan? How many New Yorkers have moved over here to escape such crime ridden subway tunnel?
What about Scottsdale 20- and 30- somethings who don’t want to live in the towers? As a Gen-X-er, I like working on my car, and I love gardening. So where can I do this? If they keep bulldozing old, classic homes in downtown Scottsdale, then I can’t rent a classic Scottsdale mid century modern rambler with some other folks my age, and work on my car, and have a big garden.
So much for the phrase “The Old West meets the New West.” Maybe, it’s now, “Scottsdale Is The New West.” Indeed, perhaps Cave Creek Mayor Vincent Francia should take the phrase away from Scottsdale – “The West’s Most Western Town.” Indeed, Cave Creek, along with Sedona, still have one story downtowns. Zoning ordinances in both towns do not allow buildings to exceed two stories!
Why Towers on Light Rail Lines? Trulia Just Said that Most People are Moving To the Suburbs !
Smart growth towers on light rail lines are unjustified considering that Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko just reported that most people are moving to homes with private yards in the suburbs.
In the graph below, there are ten types of neighborhoods (1 to 10). Types 1 to 3 only have apartments, like most of Los Angeles or Seattle. Types 4 to 6 have a mix of apartments and homes. And, types 7 to 10, have mostly homes. As one can see, larger numbers of people are moving to types 7 to 10, the homes with private yards. Clearly, people prefer living in homes with backyards. Only a very few people prefer areas along light rail lines with apartments. Joel Kolko writes:
Over the last 50 years in Scottsdale, builders have built homes with yards. Clearly, they’re building what people want to buy. So why use taxpayer money to build light rail and tall smart growth apartment towers if nobody wants to rent them?
The situations might be different for Tempe, Arizona, a huge University town, and downtown Phoenix. However, does Scottsdale want to turn into a “Tempe North,” or, “Phoenix East?”
Scottsdale is Ultra Low Density – Passengers will Walk 2 to 5 Miles to Light Rail Stations
This map of potential light rail routes shows that Scottsdale has a very low population density. Most housing is far away from Scottsdale Road (the yellow rail line). Would you walk 2 to 5 miles, at 6am, to the light rail station? Of course not. Isn’t it ridiculous that the planners are taking your tax dollars – that could be spent on parks and open space – and spending it on light rail lines that you’ll never ride?
The average Phoenician (or, Scottsdale Yuppie) will have to walk 2 to 5 miles to the nearest light rail station on Scottsdale Road. This is because 70% of the metro area is suburban, with single family homes with private yards. Population density over the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottdale area is relatively low, compared to denser cities such as New York City with all its tall skyscrapers – where people somehow manage to live on top of each other and ride crowded subways. Scottsdale only has a density of 1100 persons per square mile, and Phoenix is only 2800. Compare this to New York City, with a density of 27,000 persons per square mile, and Los Angeles with 8000. These figures are from the U.S. Census Bureau, at this link – http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/04000.html
But Arizonans, and ex-New Yorkers who move to Scottsdale, like to be spread out, with private backyards. Therefore, as Phoenix and Tucson have developed, they’ve spread out over large areas, meeting the housing preferences of both native Arizonans, and newcomers. Consequentially, most residents would have to walk an average of two to five miles to the nearest light rail station.
From the map below, you can see that Scottsdale is especially low density, except for a few areas south of Shea Blvd. The yellow rail line coming north on Scottsdale Road doesn’t hit that many people. If you live in McCormick Ranch or McDowell Mountain Ranch, will you walk in the dark at 6:30am for 2 to 5 miles just to get to a light rail station? Or, will you drive your car down Hayden Road?
Why do So Many People Ride the Subway in New York?
Again, due to high population density, 50,000 persons per square mile on Manhattan Island, 27,000 within the City Limits, and 4,200 within the metro area. Source: (From Kemper Freeman’s Transportation Engineer, Dr. Bill Eagar, click here.) In New York, it’s just a short walk to the subway, not 2 to 5 miles from McCormick or McDowell Mountain Ranches. These maps from Transport Politic demonstrate how dense New York is, compared to the Phoenix – Scottsdale map above.
Dark Money to Increase Densities to “Transit Industry Standards”
The dark money given to selected Scottsdale City Council candidates (Linda Millhaven, Dennis Robbins, and Jennifer Peterson) comes from developers who want tall, smart growth towers near light rail lines. Of these three, only Linda Millhaven was elected; fiscal conservatives Kathy Littlefield and Guy Phillips beat the others. I think that taking money under the table is highly unethical, and I think that Milhaven should be recalled. In 2016, I hope that Bob Littlefield runs for Scottsdale Mayor.
The transit industry attempts to acheive densities of 7 residential units per acre, requiring smart growth towers, according to Dr. Bill Eager, internationally famous traffic engineer in Bellevue, Washington, Chair of the Eastside Transportation Commission in Bellevue, and consultant to Kemper Freeman of Kemper Development Company.
The transit industry’s standard (for lobbying purposes) of 7 units per acre is a density of 4480 housing units per square mile! With the U.S. average household size of 2.63 persons per household, this “transit industry standard” is 11,782 persons per square mile!
But Scottsdale’s density is just 1100 persons per square mile! These dark money forces want to increase the density of Scottsdale by ten times, increasing population from 226,918 to 2,269,180!
But even if they could do this, historical trends show that only 6% of commuters ride light rail when the density is at industry standards of just over 10,000 persons per square mile! So is it worth tearing up trees and using eminent domain to take businesses along Scottsdale, Hayden, and Pima Roads, bankrupting the city? See this graph from Dr. Bill Eager:
The Light Rail Industry Knows These Facts – So What Is Their Real Agenda?
The light rail industry knows that they can never get a return on their investment. Light rail systems do not pay for themselves. Scottsdale will never become 2,000,000 people. Therefore, the transit unions pay advocates of “smart growth” and “new urbanism” to convince the public and city council members that light rail is “green.” They know that Scottsdale’s population would never reach 2,000,000.
But the light rail industry and the unions are powerful special interests. They also work with developers, who then pay city councilors with dark money to build smart growth towers. Of course, the developers go along with it, since then they can make billions in rent along light rail corridors. It’s a “win win” for everyone involved, except when the cities ultimately go bankrupt, or light rail lines are shut down since nobody rides them.
It’s a conspiracy that involves more money than any other modern environmental fad, such as global warming. The story also involves non-profit web sites and advocacy groups, who have colorful artists’ renderings of “smart growth neighborhoods” on their web sites, such as the Urban Land Institute, Congress for a New Urbanism, Sightline, Strong Towns, and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy.
Phoenix has very few skyscrapers for a city of its size, and Scottsdale only has a few “tall buildings.” It would take several hundred years to convert all of Phoenix and Scottsdale to the density of New York City. That would more than quadruple the existing urbanized area population.
And, again, most Arizonans prefer their own homes with private backyards. The dark money efforts of Judy Eisenhower and others, who wish to build tall Smart Growth Towers have no logical basis, considering how long it would take to turn Phoenix into New York City. The cost to taxpayers to build light rail lines in the first place would not have any immediate returns, until NYC residential densities, along light rail lines, are acheived within 200 years.
And, by then, most Arizonans will have left for states that still have wide open spaces unobscured by light rail lines, such as Wyoming or Montana. Indeed, why did they move to Phoenix in the first place? Again, for the low density – 70% of the city limits is homes with private backyards in the sunshine surrounded by cacti.
And, if you choose to go to Arizona State University, did you go there for the tall smart growth towers and light rail that shade the sunshine, or, did you choose to soak up the desert sun?
Doesn’t Traffic Decrease with Higher Densities, since People Walk, Bike and take the Train to Work?
Absolutely not, in fact, it increases dramatically. Think of a small town or small suburb with large lots, like Cave Creek, Arizona, north of Phoenix where the density is only 100 persons per square mile. Is there ever any traffic? Usually not, and it follows that the more smart growth towers are built, then traffic will increase, since people still drive their own cars. Dr. Eager shows that traffic increases with density, in this graph
Most Americans have Short Commutes. As Density Increases with Smart Growth Towers, Commutes Increase with More Air Pollution.
If you want to reduce air pollution, and Phoenix has record levels, then you should not be for light rail. The above graph shows that people drive more (vehicle miles traveled per square mile) as density increases. However, below you can see that half of Americans live at densities less than 2000 persons per square mile. But it would take 10000 persons per square mile to meet the transit industry’s standard for lobbying politicians. At 10000 persons per square mile, people drive 170,000 miles per square mile. However, at 2000 persons per square mile, they’re driving 30,000 miles per square mile. That’s one sixth the amount of air pollution.
Therefore, Tempe, with a density of 4000 persons per square mile, would have four times as much air pollution as Scottsdale, with a density of 1000 persons per square mile.
Below, half of Americans live at densities of 2000 persons per square mile or less. Only 6% of Americans live at transit industry standards of just over 10,000 persons per square mile.
Aren’t Downtown Smart Growth Towers with Street Level Shops Good for Existing Businesses?
Absolutely not, since the existing stores have to be torn down for the light rail and smart growth towers. This can be very expensive with the use of eminent domain and resulting lawsuits. That’s why 2014 Scottsdale City Council Candidate Cindy Hill, who is NOT for light rail, said she would – technically – ONLY agree with light rail, but only if it ran along 101, and the Native Americans and Scottsdale Community College paid for the entire thing, as she explains here.
Similarly, in discussing the City of Thousand Oak’s downtown smart growth plan (as required in California by the Governor for every city), City Council candidate Ed Jones stated how expensive it would be to tear out existing businesses:
“What does a Thousand Oaks downtown look like to you? What issues should the City Council keep in mind with development changes to Thousand Oaks Boulevard?
“I believe trying to make the area surrounding the Civic Arts Plaza a downtown area will not work, unless someone comes up with multi-millions of dollars to buy up and convert all the automotive parts stores, car repair shops, tire stores, gas stations, a large car dealership etc. Into boutiques, dress shops, quaint bistros, gift shops, flower shops etc.
Thousand Oaks Blvd. is more like Gasoline Alley than State Street in Santa Barbara.
Our original concept (I was on the Thousand Oaks Master Plan Committee in 1968-69) was the Barbell concept for commercial. The two large bells (Oaks and Janss Malls on west end and Westlake Malls on the east end) will be more like downtowns.”
Indeed! Scottsdale already has many large shopping areas including the Fashion Square, Old Town, and elsewhere. Building Smart Growth Towers on Hayden, Pima, and Scottsdale Roads, with first floor shops underneath, would require demolishing businesses that are probably in the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce. Light rail would completely destroy Scottsdale’s business friendly environment.
The Light Rail Debate was Already Settled in Scottsdale’s Chaparral Suites in 2007 –
So Why does Scottsdale Have to Suffer Again – This Time under Dark Money?
Scottsdale has already been through this. In 2007, Oakland, California Internationally famous Light Rail Consultant Thomas A. Rubin came to town, and gave a presentation at the Chaparral Suites that many in the area remember vividly. Rubin concluded that light rail on Scottsdale Road would Attachments_201561 Test of Power Point on Google May or may not work.
In my ex-hometown of Seattle, I campaigned against light rail in Bellevue, Washington, advocating a YES vote on I-1125, which would have enforced the State Constitution’s Ban on using gas taxes for anything other than roads. I’m familiar with all the usual arguments for the mythical concept of light rail, and I also know the facts of why light rail does not work (Insert links to other pages). Thomas Rubin is on the same coalition as a number of individuals in Bellevue, Washington who oppose light rail (The American Dream Coalition). This fall, they have their annual conference in Austin, Texas. Why Austin? Because they want to show conference attendees how Smart Growth Principles, including light rail and tall smart growth towers, can ruin a city and cause massive congestion and high rents.
You can view my various Anti-Light Rail posts on my web site from several years ago. Most are indexed at this page. Unfortunately, our side lost. Writing about this is deja vu, since the cities are so identical. Bellevue and the eastside suburbs of Seattle have formed their own coalition opposing light rail – The Eastside Transportation Association. Perhaps Scottsdale residents could form something similar?
Light Rail Will Cause 7000 Layoffs in Bellevue – What Would Happen in Scottsdale?
Light rail will be unconstitutionally entering the city of Bellevue, and is expected to cause 1.4 Billion Dollars in economic damages to the city of Bellevue:
“Hebert Research reported that shoppers will visit stores less frequently, 100 businesses will move or shut down, 7,239 workers will lose their jobs and business losses will reach $1.4 billion over four years.”
The study from Hebert can be found at this link from Mike Ennis of the Washington Policy Center. Actually, not anymore, but be sure to check out Mike Ennis’s blog on light rail and smart growth, and his citizen’s guide to I-1125 (click here for links).
It’s also expected to destroy several acres of wetlands and result in cutting down hundreds of mature Douglas Fir trees. Bellevue, just like Scottdale, has HOA’s that protect trees. The loss of tree coverage will lower property values, and the loss of residential property values was not considered by Hebert’s study.
This is most ironic. Bellevue is a demographically similar city to Scottsdale. They both are the premier regional shopping destinations, full of wealthy entrepreneurs. For example, Microsoft is in both Bellevue and neighborhing Redmond. Bellevue Square, developed by F. Kemper Freeman Jr., is known as one of the best malls on the west coast, just as Scottsdale Fashion Square is known as the best mall in the American Southwest.
The economic damage sustained by both of these malls will reach infinity in terms of dollars if you look out well into the future, since those light rail trains do not just suddenly dissapear once they are built.
Scottsdale, already, is facing the possibility of a voter approved tax increase in the fall of 2016. But remember that sales taxes from the mall, and other shopping areas, are coming from shoppers who live all over Arizona. If they cannot drive into Scottsdale because a train is causing gridlock, then they’ll go to another mall. What if Desert Ridge decides to expand? They have the land to do so, next to High Street (see my other post).
That is why Bellevue, Washington residents fought so hard to keep light rail out of their downtown area, since that’s where Bellevue Square is with hundreds of stores, and thousands of jobs. Kemper Freeman Jr. owns Bellevue and his tenants do not want light rail blocking customers from exiting I-90 and I-405 and driving into Bellevue. They also didn’t want the screeching of light rail trains waking them up at 2am in the morning. Now, Scottsdale Voters must watch carefully to make sure that they can stop candidates such as Virginia Korte, who may wish to bring light rail and even more towers for into the city.
Furthermore, Bellevue residents want a solution for their gridlock. Light rail will only carry – at most – 3% of all trips in the Seattle area. Whereas Kemper Freeman’s civil engineer Dr. Bill Eager, found that Seattle area congestion would decrease by 36%, by adding just 16% more miles of pavement.
Likewise, in the Phoenix area, congestion would decrease by widening roads to three lanes in each direction, such as what’s happened over the years to both Pima, Hayden, and Scottsdale Roads, in Scottsdale. Taking lanes away from these roads for light rail would increase congestion dramatically. Changing a six lane boulevard to four lanes would increase congestion, and the number of cars stopped at red lights, by 50% or greater.
Aren’t Towers Good for the Environment, since People Can Walk to the Store?
No, because they still drive to work. And both Scottsdale, Phoenix, Seattle, and Bellevue, are huge areas.
Furthermore, trees must be cut down to make room for the towers. In this photo of smart growth towers in the Scottsdale Quarter, you can see that this three lane road will have to be widened for the parking garage. As a result, these trees will be cut down.
You can see my post on cutting down trees for smart growth in the Seattle area – “Clearcutting for Smart Growth in Seattle.”
Kathy Littlefield, For Low Density Zoning and Opponent of Smart Growth Towers in Scottsdale, Wins Election in November, 2014
Kathy Littlefield comments on “anonymous dark money” coming in the form of anonymous mailers, from developers of “smart growth towers.”
In this video, Kathy Littlefield, in reference to the Smart Growth Tower Developers, states:
“If they say jump, the only question will be. – “How high is that apartment building that you want?”
Video #2 of Kathy Littlefield –
The dark money tried to destroy Kathy Littlefield’s campaign, with anonymous mailers from Scottsdale United, and Scottsdale Strong.
The dark money with its anonymous mailers totally destroyed Bob Littlefield’s campaign for the 43rd Legislative District.
Why do Downtowns Have to be Higher than One Story?
I don’t know, except that dark money pays the planners to approve multi story towers. In my studies of city planning in the western states, the nicest, most laid back downtowns with the friendliest people are always two stories or less (with the exception of one to two story Palm Springs, California, and South Lake Tahoe, California, which were both ghettos with meth problems). Ojai, California and Santa Barbara may have been the friendliest, along with Pismo Beach, California, and the Town of Mt. Shasta, California. Truckee was also very friendly, as was Ashland, Oregon and North Lake Tahoe. Although I just drove through Canyonville, Oregon, the people seemed to be enjoying each others’ company, standing on sidewalks and talking to each other.
But if you’re walking along the smart growth districts of Seattle, Portland, or Boulder, everyone is in a hurry as they go from one place to another, on narrow sidewalks on noisy streets, in front of the living room windows of imposing towers. In contrast, in a place like Ojai, or Canyonville, people are looking towards the street, and “keeping watch” of who is driving and walking around. Since proponents of smart growth want to “build community,” then they could observe this list of one to two story cities that still have one to two story downtowns. I am afraid that all of Scottsdale, even Old Town, will ultimately be multi story.
“Building community” among Renters of Tall Towers = Not Working, as Jed Kolko of Trulia Finds
Smart Growth Towers do not “build community,” as Jed Kolko found. Only 39% of residents of apartments know their neighbors names, compared to 61% of owners! Only 40% of renters ages 18-34 know their neighbors’ names, compared to 53% of those who are 35-55, and 63% of 55+!
How about in Ojai? It’s just 8000 persons and you have to get to know people since it’s so small. Perhaps small cities are better?
Here are Ojai, California, and new 7 story Smart Growth Towers in downtown Scottsdale:
Scottsdale Dark Money Television Commercial
This video for the fall 2014 election states that Linda Milhaven, Dennis Robbins, and Jennifer Peterson accepted dark money. Of these three, only Milhaven won. The dark money came from the Barry Goldwater foundation and a group that supports light rail from Judy Eisehower (as already discussed, above).
In my ex-hometown of Seattle, it would be nice if the dark money supporting smart growth and light rail, and the failed Bertha Tunnel Project (“Seattle’s Big Dig to Nowhere”), would be exposed, as proponents of smart growth were exposed in Scottsdale last fall. John Washington discusses the Scottsdale dark money in this article.
Residents of Scottsdale must watch the current council very carefully, to make sure that councilors such as Virginia Korte do not succeed in their goals to bring light rail to Scottsdale, clogging up traffic on Scottsdale Road.
Internationally known light rail consultant Thomas A. Rubin of Oakland, California concluded that light rail would cause horrible gridlock in Scottsdale.
Construction of Towers Lowers Property Values
Construction of Smart Growth Towers takes a long time, and often occurs in stages. From living in Seattle, it was unfortunate to see smart growth projects take so long, with garbage and weeds all over the construction site. Unfortunately, the same can be said of the world renowned Scottsdale, Arizona. These photos are near the “Jefferson” smart growth towers, at Legacy and Scottsdale Road:
Smart Growth Towers Block Mountain Views – This Also Lowers Property Values for Residential Neighborhoods
When most people think of Scottsdale, they think of Frank Lloyd Wright’s McDowell Mountains. But anything over two stories tall blocks the view of these mountains. The Jefferson Towers, below, are a few hundred feet east of Scottsdale Road, which serves as the western edge of the city limits. Unfortunately, the towers block the mountain views from where I’ve pulled off along Scottsdale Road. Note once again the exotic Tumbleweed which should be removed by the developer(s).
Presumably, the light rail interests wish to run light rail up to the Pinnacle Peak area, along with their Smart Growth Towers, if not all the way to Cave Creek. This would result in lawsuits from the property owners of one to five Million Dollar homes in that area. Bob Capell of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association presents a photo essay of the towers somewhere at this link, I am sorry that I cannot find it now.
Doesn’t Light Rail create Pedestrian and Bike Friendly Environments?
Absolutely not! In West Mesa and Tempe, light rail runs down the center of University. This was formerly a 6 lane boulevard, but now it’s been reduced to only 4 lanes, with very narrow bike lanes next to sidewalks. One has to remember that light rail is not built by “environmentalists” claiming to improve traffic flow or accessibility for bicycles or pedestrians. Instead, it’s built by “light rail interests,” with dark money given to Scottsdale city council candidates such as Judy Eisenhower. Here is Tempe and West Mesa light rail, with 4 lane boulevards that were formerly 6 lanes, and associated “Smart Growth Towers:”
The lack of street frontage for this condo makes it extremely difficult for cyclists or pedestrians either crossing or turning right. It should be set back at least 25 feet, diagonally from the street corner. Light rail / transit oriented developments are not bike and pedestrian friendly, especially considering the high air pollution.
Isn’t Housing in Transit Oriented Developments Affordable?
Absolutely not! Smart growth towers are very expensive; tall buildings on light rail lines are expensive to construct on expensive downtown brownfield land that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars an acre. In the Tempe Smart Growth district along the light rail line, the five story “Tempe Metro” towers managed by Greystar are $1000 for only a studio of 485 square feet! (Price on Craigs List, July 8, 2015.)
Compare this price to far north Scottsdale, where $1000 buys a 850 square foot one bedroom apartment, probably within a mile or two of the nature preserve (the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy).
Below, “Tempe Metro” is on a congested street corner (Apache and McClintock) in an undesirable location of Tempe with no amenities. The light rail station is literally 40 feet from the apartment. On the other corners are places that are going to have security problems 24 hours a day, including Pep Boys, a strip mall, an “off brand” discount gas station, and a Tobacco shop (that probably also sells medical pot). This corner would have been better suited for high end retail or a grocery store, something that Tempe does not have enough of, especially in Tempe’s Smart Growth district.
Google maps, shows the corner, at this link. Also notice that this corner will be dark and scary at night, due to The City of Tempe’s decision to use “fully shielded dark sky lights” at this corner. While this might be appropriate for a residential area (i.e. in far north Scottsdale), it is not the best idea at a congested major intersection with cyclists and pedestrians traveling 24/7. By state law, Arizona requires dark skies, either partially or fully shielded. Scottsdale, uses partially shielded lights on its streets and things are safer.
Also note that Apache has been narrowed from 6 lanes, to 4 lanes, with very narrow sidewalks and bike lanes. Since the Smart Growth Tower has been pushed to against the street with no landscaping, then pedestrian and bicycle travel will be dangerous.
Rio Salado Smart Growth Towers in Tempe at ASU – Taller Towers Rent for Almost $2000 a Month
The higher you go, the more expensive the towers. Here’s a photo of one of the Smart Growth Towers along Rio Salado, and what appeared
Scottsdale Road – “In The Trees”
Moving northward from those horrible photos of Tempe Smart Growth along light rail lines, does Scottsdale really want light rail on its major north-south arterials (Scottsdale Road, Hayden, and Pima)?
Like University in Tempe and Mesa, Scottsdale Road is at least 132 feet wide, and many areas such as this one feature nice trees and a median of trees. The trees would have to be removed and Scottsdale Road would only have 4 lanes! This would significantly increase traffic:
Light Rail and more Density? Or, Open Space?
The open deserts North Phoenix and North Scottsdale face an uncertain future. I’m referring to the NW to SE trending area between the athletic fields near Deer Valley Road and Cave Creek Road, extending towards the vicinity of Whole Foods in North Scottsdale.
Right now, this area is a mess. Tall Smart Growth Towers are under various stages of construction, arising in the middle of state trust land holdings. Dangerous roads connect such towers, without bike lanes or inadequate shoulders. Light rail might be constructed on Scottsdale and Bell Roads, causing massive congestion.
On Mayo Boulevard, a cyclist pulled right in front of me turning left. I had to swerve to avoid him. Another cyclist on this very dangerous two story road was driving in the center turn lane since there are inadequate shoulders.
The Reach Recreation Area
As discussed earlier, the kids in Northeast Phoenix have nothing to do if they are south of the acqueduct. They are not near the very nice Deer Valley sports complex at Deer Valley Boulevard and Cave Creek Road.
The Reach Recreation area north of the acqueduct (north of Bell road, of course) could use some major improvements (insert photos) and widened, with skybridges over major boulevards such as Tatum.
Here’s the congested Tatum Boulevard, as seen from one of the park entrances, just north of Union Hills. There are two entrances to the Reach recreation area, only accessible by the personal automobile, due to heavy, dangerous volumes of traffic. Even then, it is difficult to turn left without getting killed:
But I’m afraid that the same dark money interests, that are causing smart growth towers in Scottsdale, may destroy all opportunities for an improved and expanded open space network along the acqueduct. Smart Growth Towers are very expensive since utilities and roads must be provided, and they are much more expensive for high density areas. Furthermore, if developers place the highest bids on state trust lands along the acqueduct, then all hope is lost to bring open space to the children of North Phoenix.
Below, are various photos of the entrances to the recreation area off of Tatum. See the captions for comments:
This network could connect all the way to West World in Scottsdale, where trails connect to the McDowell Mountains Preserve, and ultimately to the Tonto National Forest. This would create one of the nation’s largest urban trail systems, similar to Thousand Oaks California and the Santa Monica Mountains National Monument, which extends all the way to Beverly Hills and Hollywood.
So called Urban Blight, and The Future of Far North Phoenix
Urban planners should do everything they can to prevent existing, older urban areas (such as neighborhoods south of Bell Road) from going into “urban blight,” with high rates of homelessness, crime, and unemployment.
Neighborhoods generally do not go downhill when kids have something to do. While jocks are out playing baseball and soccer, other kids who aren’t good at sports need something to do. If they’re good at computers, they go home and earn straight A’s.
However, other kids who are “right brain dominant” need open space. They are bored easily. They are ADD kids and can get into trouble. They require skateboard parks, disc golf, dirt bike tracks, and mountain bike trails.
That’s me, so I can identify with this. I hated high school and college (University of Washington). I prefer to work with my hands, and later, found that I was good at writing, real estate, and urban planning, which are all right brain activities. I survived high school and college since the master planned, low density suburb where I grew up had lots of open space and I bicycled everywhere with a paper route, so I wasn’t bored.
In Phoenix, the ADD types (of all ages, not just kids) will be bored. But imagine if the Reach Greenbelt was improved and connected with trails to West World? Imagine if it included a disc golf course, skateboard park, dirt bike park, horsemanship training area, along with basketball and volleyball. That’s what they get (some of this) at “Tatum Highlands,” an HOA in North Phoenix.
Tatum Highlands is in a very safe area 6 miles north of the acqueduct, almost to Cave Creek. Most parents in homes south of Bell Road cannot afford to move north to these expensive homes. Therefore, construction of Smart Growth Towers for wealthy Texan and Southern California Millenials must stop, and be replaced by more HOA’s, parks, and a greenbelt. Shouldn’t the Arizona children come first ahead of the rest of us?
“The community is made up of 1432 homes located north and south of Jomax and west of Tatum Blvd. to 40th. Street. There were eight builders making up the various parcels that add uniqueness to the neighborhoods. John Teets Park, maintained by the City of Phoenix, is located on the southern part of the Association with the entrance off of Ramuda Drive. There are several washes that enhance the NAOS (natural areas open space) throughout.”
Here’s the nice park that kids get at the Tatum Highlands HOA:
What do Scottsdale Kids Get?
Here are the facilities at Northsight Park, in North Scottsdale. As Jed Kolko from Trulia points out, housing demand is for low density, auto oriented suburbs, not tall smart growth towers.
And here’s what they get at Raintree Park in Scottsdale: (Photos)
Smart growth planners are very provincial since they believe that all kids can function using a computer after school in a smart growth tower. This is not the case. There are all types of kids and family situations. Parks are the number one way to keep the ADD kids and ADD adults from getting bored.
The Original Phoenix and Mesa LDS (Mormon) Grid System
The original Phoenix – Mesa LDS street grid / address system wasn’t designed to expand to 4 million people. Originally, Brigham Young wanted cities to go to 20,000 (or was it 25,000) and then stop, with wide streets and farmland in the middle of the city. Frank Lloyd Wright had a similar idea with his Broadacre Concept (look up number). Recently, internationally renowned Smart Growth Proponent Andres Duany has planned the LDS grid system (reference).
Several major U.S. cities with the LDS grid system have grown well over the original number, and reached several million people. Ultimately, planners in recent years have recognized that HOA’s with curved streets are best on the urban fringe of LDS planned cities, such as the “Tatum Highlands HOA” featured above. They are also cheaper to construct, and cost taxpayers much less money in terms of infrastructure. Smart growth towers and light rail cost tazpayers millions of dollars.
And, neighborhoods like Tatum Highlands is the future for all of the periphery of Southwestern Cities that expand from either LDS or non-LDS grid systems. These types of neighborhoods have more open space and may include their own trail systems for their residents.
Grid System with Narrow Streets and Narrow Towers
Emphasize how Smart Growth and Light Rail clogs up areas with narrow streets such as Seattle, Scottsdale.
Mention that Bellevue and Scottsdale both have large blocks at infrequent intervals with infrequent stop lights, on streets designed to carry large volumes of cars, therefore, light rail would cause significant congestion
What Smart Growth planners in Colorado, Washington State, and Oregon, have not recognized is that Smart Growth Towers on an expanded, non-LDS grid system, is a recipe for horrible traffic congestion and the need for expensive new infrastucture.
64th street problem in Phoenix, hasn’t connected to Bell Road, if Smart Growth Towers go in, then Phoenix will have to pay for a 6 Lane or even 8 Lane 64th street, but doesn’t have money to do so.
“Any Miracles on 34th street” Won’t happen on 64th street.
Already, North 64th was just opened a few days ago from Mayo Blvd to the 101. Eventually, it will continue for miles and miles northward into the open desert. Do the citizens of North Phoenix want this road to serve nice low density HOA’s with curved streets and parks, or, dozens of 5 story smart growth towers similar to High Street?
Residents of Phoenix and Scottsdale, should take note of what happened in Seattle and Portland. In Portland, 75% of all new new housing will be in the form of Smart Growth Towers (see John Glennon).
However, HOA’s with curved streets cost less to taxpayors to build, compared to tall smart growth towers places within this grid system. And, families, both LDS and non-LDS, prefer homes within HOA’s and private yards, compared to Smart Growth Towers.
Within the Southwestern Markets, Phoenix, would be an anomaly, if the entire area from Desert Ridge to Whole Foods in Scottsdale, is filled with Smart Growth Towers. It would be congested, full of crime, and a total nightmare for residents.
Already, Phoenix is very suburbanized area. See new study from Jed Kolko of Trulia . . . . . . . . …
Then state that the demand for single family housing in phoenix is high and that there is a retreat to gated communities with homes with private yards, due to the local family oriented culture that is Republican, Fundamentalist, and Mormon. (Reference: Dr. Patricia Gober’s classic “Metropolitan Phoenix”)
Then state how this differs from Downtown Phoenix, South Scottsdale, and Tempe / college areas near Tucson, Flagstaff……
but insert graph from Kolko that after age 35, most households have formed in the suburbs (marriage, kids)
insert study of Conservatives prefer lower density, suburbanized areas therefore regional plan based on smart growth towers not appropriate for demographic except maybe in high density areas, but free market should decide, not regional planning associations or dark money since in seattle, austin, the regional planners created rental housing bubbles and homelessness ……. i.e. insert john fox web site …….
North Phoenix, near Tatum, Pinnacle Peak, etc. will ultimately consist of curved streets within a network of efficient four lane boulevards. Many other southwestern LDS planned markets have this same pattern, such as Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Originally, the entire city was set up with an LDS grid pattern. Just like Phoenix, as time has progressed, HOA’s with curved streets and very nice parks have developed.
Tom Lane (May 22, 2015, June 2, 2015)