Build the damn train

The South Central Avenue light rail project is under attack and needs our support against an increasingly anti-urban City Council. Build the damn train.

The South Central Avenue light rail extension is in the news again. If you’ve not heard, the project is on life support. I don’t believe this to be hyperbole. Following Greg Stanton’s resignation as Mayor to run for Congress, two councilmenbers (Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela) decided to resign to run for Mayor. That means that the Council has to appoint two individuals. In District 5, the City Council appointed Vania Guevara to replace Mr. Valenzuela. But in District 8, the Council appointed councilmember Michael Nowakowski’s chief of staff, Felicita Mendoza, to replace Ms. Gallego. Nothing much is known on Ms. Mendoza’s urban viewpoints but it’s telling that at this week’s City Council meeting, she provided a key vote to study alternatives for the money that would have been spent on the South Central Avenue light rail project. Transit is something that brings controversy. The idea of large public expenditure on transit doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. But public transportation is the great social equalizer. It connects people to the places that are important to their lives: jobs, education, recreation, arts, and culture. There’s a trend going around that political groups connected to Americans for Prosperity (AfP) and the Koch Brothers are trying to kill public transportation projects around the country. They were successful in Nashville, providing the final nail in the coffin for their ambitious transit program. It seems like the group that’s morphed from “4 Lanes or No Train” to “No Train or No Train” is one of those astroturf-roots groups. This group has a major ally in Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who’s aligned with AfP.┬áMore troubling is that groups advocating for Latinx communities have taken a position against light rail. To those who say that this light rail project is a new thing that’s being shoved down people’s throats, I say nonsense. This has been voted on three times and passed all three times: Transit 2000 in March 2000, Proposition 400 in 2004, and Transit 2015 (Move PHX) in August 2015. All three times, the vote in favor was by a resounding majority. With the South Central Avenue light rail alignment, over 300 community meetings were held to explain what was going to be happening (see p. 569 of this report, caution, very large PDF file).
This raises a worrying thought: If the Phoenix City Council foolishly kills the South Central Avenue light rail, a project voted on three times by the citizens of Phoenix, then what point is there on voting for master plans for the City when elements of them can be set aside for political expedience? Why should I vote for General Plans or major transit initiatives when a feckless City Council can do what they please? The Phoenix of today has descended so far from the Phoenix of 1993, winning the Bertelsmann Foundation’s Best Run City in the World award.
The Citizens of Phoenix want light rail. Stop this political nonsense. Build the damn train.

Phoenix debates land use near light rail stations

The City of Phoenix is holding a forum to get citizen input on land use planning near light rail stations. For the Camelback/Central Ave light rail station, the forum is being held at the Days Inn at 502 W Camelback Rd on Thursday at 6:30pm.

[cross-posted from the Downtown Voices Coalition blog]

Camelback/Central LR station public artThe City of Phoenix is holding a forum to get citizen input on land use planning near light rail stations. For the Camelback/Central Ave light rail station, the forum is being held at the Days Inn at 502 W Camelback Rd on Thursday at 6:30pm.

State law requires cities, towns, and counties to update their general plan every 10 years and this is the first revision of Phoenix’s general plan after the development of METRO light rail.

Phoenix is amending the city’s general plan for land-use planning near light-rail stations and is asking residents for input.

A public meeting to discuss the station at Central Avenue and Camelback Road is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Days Inn, 502 W. Camelback Road.

The general plan is a blueprint that outlines land-use and policy guidelines on how the city should grow and redevelop for decades into the future.

State law requires cities, towns and counties to update the plan every 10 years but legislation the state passed last year extended the deadline to 2015 to give budget-constricted local governments short on planning staff more time to update their general plans.

Attendees will discuss a general range of appropriate building heights for future real-estate redevelopment.

By having stakeholders identify what they want to preserve, promote and will accept in advance, the general plan can better guide future real-estate development.

The meetings are not about property ownership, existing zoning or uses, city officials have said.

Properties along the light-rail route are in a transit-overlay district, which means less space is dedicated for parking due to the proximity to the train.

Read more here.

If you go, the nearest light rail station is 7th Ave/Camelback Road (Melrose District). For more information, call 602.256.5648.