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.
Now that Greg Stanton has resigned, the process begins to elect the next Mayor of the City of Phoenix. In a multi-part series of essays, we’ll explore the challenges that face Phoenix.
It’s been a bit quiet on this blog to start out 2018. Sorry about that. But the big news is that now-former Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton has resigned, kicking off the process to elect the next mayor of Phoenix.
In the weeks ahead, this blog will explore some of the major issues that are facing Phoenix and Phoenix City Hall for the upcoming 15-20 years. These are issues that, if not addressed very soon, will lead to major problems for Phoenix. This blog will explore issues like climate change, leap-frog sprawl, water, and even Phoenix’s form of government.
Do stay tuned over the coming weeks for some in-depth analysis of Phoenix.
An endorsement for Arizona’s House District 24: Jennifer Longdon would be central-city Phoenix’s greatest ally at the State Capitol.
Readers in Arizona’s Legislative District 24: I commend Jennifer Longdon (D) to you for your vote in 2018. We talk a lot about bringing different communities and constituencies together but Jennifer has the track record of actually making that happen. Central-city Phoenix would have no greater ally at the State Capitol.
I support Jennifer Longdon because not only does she know that our cities and communities are stronger when all voices and constituencies are equally represented, she has a proven track record of making that happen. She will be a great asset to Phoenix’s voice at the State Capitol and I enthusiastically support her candidacy.
As the first ballots for August’s election have been mailed out, here are five reasons why you should vote for Proposition 104 in Phoenix.
As the first ballots for August’s election have been mailed out, here are five reasons why, if you live in Phoenix, you should vote for Proposition 104. This blog also recommends returning each incumbent to their elected position as well as voting yes on all of the other propositions.
It’s more than just new light rail lines. One of the common misconceptions being conveniently perpetuated by opponents of Proposition 104 is that it’s just for new METRO light rail lines within the City of Phoenix. While, certainly, those are welcome and needed, it’s more than that. The plan expands service on city buses, accelerates repairs and improvements to roads and sidewalks, adds bicycle lanes, and enhances technology for Phoenix’s transportation system. There is something for everyone.
No, we can’t just spend this money on teachers instead. A repeated talking point by opponents of Proposition 104 is that this money could be better spent on teachers and education. Since education in Arizona is the domain of the State of Arizona, I ask: Why can’t we have both? In an op-ed opposing Proposition 104 in The Arizona Republic by Tyler Bowyer, the chair of the Republican Party of Maricopa County, Mr. Bowyer repeats this tired talking point. But given his party’s proclivity against raising taxes, I would think that if his alternate proposal were on the table, Mr. Bowyer and those using that talking point would have encouraged us to vote no on that proposal, too.
As people go back to the city, our infrastructure must go back to the city. As has been documented with great regularity on this blog, there is a trend nationwide of moving back to our central cities. Some promising news came out this past week about the amount of public and private investment near the initial 20-mile line of light rail. Even amid the Great Recession, $8.2 billion in public and private investment was made near the line in 204 projects. That’s a near-sixfold return on our collective community investment. Tempe has perhaps made the most of light rail, garnering $3.4 billion in investment on their smaller section of line.
World cities require people-based transportation. If Phoenix is to be a world city, which I believe is a necessary aspiration for us to have any chance to compete in the global economy, we will need to have a transportation system in our central city that focuses on moving people around, not just private automobiles. Phoenix may have grown up and developed in the age of peak automobile; however, this gives us a chance to make quality and sensible investments in our infrastructure. As we mark the 25th anniversary of the enacting of the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990, it’s important to note that public transportation and paratransit (dial-a-ride) services, both enhanced by Proposition 104, provide a wonderful mechanism for people with disabilities to be strong contributors in the new global economy.
This is a chance to take our future into our own hands. The City of Phoenix gets no love from our state government. In fact, they try to do things that actively harm Phoenix’s future. SB 1070 in 2010 and SB 1062 in 2014 are two bills that come to mind amid many others. So what better way is there for all Phoenicians to take our city’s future into our own hands by providing a mechanism for us to create, fund, and evaluate our own transportation system? While other big cities in other states get help in building infrastructure from their state legislatures, we in Phoenix get the ‘drop dead’ message from ours. If we want Phoenix to be a world city, then we are left to do the fundraising ourselves.
If we want Phoenix to be a world city, then we need to have a forward-thinking transportation system that seamlessly blends buses, trains, bikes, and people. Please join me in voting YES in Proposition 104.
As campaign season heats up, here are questions for the next Phoenix mayor.
As municipal campaigns in Phoenix are heating up in advance of August’s elections for Mayor, odd-numbered council districts, and several ballot questions, it’s time to pose some questions for those seeking to represent us. In a special edition of The Friday Five, here is The Tuesday Twelve (because alliteration is always acceptable): a list of twelve questions for discussion as Phoenix elects her next Mayor:
- The optics of Phoenix being in the state of Arizona have come up again in this year’s legislative session. Arizona’s State Legislature and Governor Doug Ducey have enacted one of the most vindictive and anti-urban budgets in recent memory. In this session, the State Legislature is debating legislation to take powers away from cities, as seen in the proposed statewide ban of municipal single-use plastic bag bans. Critics have observed that instead of Phoenix (as Arizona’s largest city) setting policy at the State level, it is the other way around. Define Phoenix’s relationship with the government of the State of Arizona. How is Phoenix lobbying at the State Capitol to advance Phoenix’s interests?
- There is a movement happening in America’s cities to move back to the central cities away from the suburbs and farther-flung areas. In Phoenix, the opposite seems to happen. In 2014, Sprouts Farmers Markets announced their corporate HQ relocation to CityNorth at 56th Street and the Loop 101. In January, the Phoenix Business Journal reported that in 2014, 93% of this metro area’s office leasing took place in the East Valley and that more office space was vacated in central-city Phoenix than was occupied. Why is Phoenix not catching on to this trend? What City policies can be enacted so Phoenix catches on to this back-to-the-city movement and doesn’t become the hole in the doughnut?
- Central-city Phoenix neighborhoods have come under assault in 2014. In September, the Federal Aviation Administration revised its flight paths for westbound departing aircraft from Sky Harbor International Airport, taking them over the Grand Avenue corridor. The Internet retailer eBay has proposed a giant monolithic building for 3rd Street and Indian School Road. Some neighborhoods lack suitable streets infrastructure. Urban transportation infrastructure like adequate sidewalks and bicycle lanes are not in good repair. How can City Hall help those who choose to live an urban lifestyle—something rare in this place—protect their neighborhoods from these assaults?
- Despite a wet end to 2014, Arizona is still in the midst of a multi-year drought that shows no signs of easing. In 2014, Smithsonian reported that Arizona could run out of water by 2020, citing the Phoenix metropolitan area’s leapfrog growth compounded by the effects of climate change. What immediate action does Phoenix need to take today to lessen our environmental impact? Is now the time to implement an urban growth ring to stop our encroachment on the magical deserts that surround us?
- Last week marked one year since the approval and public unveiling of the Hance Park Master Plan, a new approach to creating a true urban ethic in Phoenix. In the intervening year, that plan has languished in the bookcases of City Hall, as very little has been accomplished towards its implementation despite a unanimous approval by the Phoenix City Council in 2014. As this blog will comment on Friday, Hance Park is the best shot that Phoenix has to create an urban focal point; despite its $118 million price tag, it must be built. How will you help the City of Phoenix build Hance Park within this decade?
- The Roosevelt Row arts district has been in the news lately as two proposed apartment complexes are slated to be built surrounding the intersection of Roosevelt and 3rd Street, involving the demolition of the former GreenHAUS building, which contained several murals by the painter Ted DeGrazia (1909-1982). The proposed replacement apartment project takes its design cues from a suburban rather than urban context. This is true in other developments in central-city Phoenix as well, like the project proposed for the northwest corner of Central Avenue and McDowell Road. While other cities demand excellence and get a better quality of project, why is this the best we can get in Phoenix? How should Phoenix do better?
- In 2014, the City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development (C.E.D.) Department hired Christine Mackay as that department’s new director. Ms. Mackay is a 16-year veteran of the City of Chandler, including serving as their Economic Development Director from 2008-2014. In your assessment, what should the top three priorities be for C.E.D.?
- Phoenix’s urban circles have been openly debating changing the Phoenix City Charter regarding our city’s form of government or number of seats on the Phoenix City Council. Phoenix is a Council-Manager form of government, meaning that the Phoenix City Council sets policy and city staff (under the City Manager) implements that policy. If only one of the following could happen in this next mayoral term, which would you rather see and help make the case to voters for them to approve: making Phoenix a strong-mayor form of government (mayor-council) or adding more seats to the Phoenix City Council? What arguments would you use to help make that case?
- As Phoenix grows, it has looked to other cities for smart practices on how to become more urban. Which of the following most exemplifies a strong, healthy, and vibrant city: Portland (Ore.) or Houston? Why?
- Unlike other cities, schools and public education are not the prerogative of the City of Phoenix. Despite this, however, the City has recently approved construction bonds for several privately run charter schools at recent City Council meetings through the City’s Industrial Development Authority. Is this acceptable? Why or why not?
- Partisan politics has created unacceptable gridlock in Washington. Governance at the Arizona State Capitol has, at best, forgotten about Phoenix or, at worst, hindered progress. In their book The Metropolitan Revolution, authors Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley make the case that cities are tasked to lead the way in advancing progressive agendas. How will Phoenix lead the way in 21st century urban governance? What is holding Phoenix back? What reforms need to be made so Phoenix can lead?
- In 2016, which is the first year of the next mayoral term, the United States Senate seat occupied by John McCain will be up for election along with all seats in the House of Representatives. Would you finish your four-year term as Mayor or run for any of those seats?
Like symphonic music? This edition of The Friday Five recommends some works for your weekend symphonies playlist. Complete with Spotify link, too!
This is a personal blog, after all, so we’re taking things a little differently for this edition of The Friday Five: five symphonies that should be on your list for the weekend and some suggested recordings. If you’re on Spotify, you can subscribe to the playlist here.
1. Symphony no. 2 in D Major (op. 43) by Jean Sibelius: There are a lot of things to be said about this work. While scholars debate whether this work was meant to be an anthem to independence of Finland from Russia (the finale does have a point), this work paints a picture of the Finnish landscape. Its opening movement is lyrical, its second movement is hauntingly beautiful, and its third and fourth movements are grand. If you have dry eyes after listening to the finale, then you’ve been doing something wrong. (Suggested recording: Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vänskä, along with Sibelius Symphony no. 5, recorded 2011 on the BIS label, BIS-SACD-1986)
2. Symphony no. 36 in C Major “Linz” by Wolfgang Amadé Mozart: While Mozart’s symphonies nos. 25, 40, and 41 might be played more, we are rather partial to Mozart’s Symphony no. 36. It’s your standard late edition Mozart symphony. Still, though, it’s full of youthful charm and energy. Pay attention to the trio of the menuet: it’s a favorite. (Suggested recording: Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste, along with Symphonies nos. 32, 39, and 41; recorded 2011 on the Virgin Classics label, Virgin 96370)
3. Symphony no. 2 “Mysterious Mountain” by Alan Hovhaness: Perhaps not a symphony in the four-movement Classical style, this is more of a programmatic work. Two movements with unusual time signatures surround a lovely double fugue, of which Alan Hovhaness was perhaps the best contemporary composer of the fugue format. (Suggested recording: American Composers Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, along with Hovhaness’s Lousadzak and Lou Harrison’s Elegiac symphony, re-released 2008 on the Nimbus label, Nimbus 2512)
4. Symphony no. 4 in f minor (op. 36) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: A staple of the Classical repertory, the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Tchaikovsky 4 should be a staple of anyone’s Classical library. Few recordings match the artistic excellence presented here. The third movement is a lively scherzo with pizzicato (plucked) strings. Just be sure to reduce your volume before the fourth movement starts! (Suggested recording: San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, on the Keeping Score series, released 2010 on the SFS Media label, SFS Media 30)
5. Symphony no. 1 by Henri Dutilleux: With apologies to Monty Python, this comes from the and now for something completely different file. M. Dutilleux passed away last year and his works cemented himself as the composer par excellence of French classical music in the late 20th century. His Symphony no. 1 is something very different, indeed: a four-bar motif sets the stage for the first movement passacaglia, the third movement has a theme but is introduced well into the movement, and the fourth moment starts with grand fanfare that sounds an awful lot like something from Messaien’s Turangalîla-Symphonie. You’ll have to take my word on this one. (Suggested recording: Seattle Symphony conducted by Ludovic Morlot, along with Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain and The Shadows of Time, released 2014 on the Seattle Symphony label, Seattle Symphony 1001)
On the Friday Five this week, we take a look at Election 2014 and some things we’ve learned. We’ve been looking at the results incorrectly.
A lot been made about what the results from Tuesday’s Election 2014 mean. If you’re a die-hard Democrat, one could safely say it was not a good night at all. If you lean more Republican, then you had an absolute ball. The point of this post is not to comment on specific policies but more about partisanship and the political system.
1. Tuesday was not a repudiation of liberal ideas but, instead, a repudiation of the Democratic Party. In numerous races across the country, Democrats lost handily, including a majority of seats in the United States Senate. While Republicans will infer, incorrectly, that Tuesday’s results were a repudiation of progressive ideals, I believe the Republicans successfully carried the message that the Democratic Party is not in touch with America. Democrats had walked away from their de facto leader, President Obama, and some of their major policy accomplishments. This also includes no action on immigration, which would alienate a significant voting bloc.
2. There were some good moments for progressive urbanism, though. In Phoenix, Proposition 480, the bond package for the Maricopa County public health system, handily won and Proposition 487, the elimination of Phoenix’s pension system in favor of a 401(k)-style system, was defeated. In a night filled with challenging news for those of us with left-leaning philosophies, these were two bright spots and moments of sanity.
3. Progressive-minded people need to instill the same importance of voting in their adherents as conservative-minded people do. I still do not understand why people do not vote. Some will say that there are barriers to voting but others and I believe that the results would not have changed were those barriers not present. In Maricopa County, it is painfully easy to vote: the County Recorder’s office will mail you your ballot and a postage-paid envelope to return your ballot. While I believe there should be as few barriers to voting as possible, there are some rules that are set up and, for better or worse, we should play by those until we can get those changed.
4. Arizona is not a “purple state;” it is solidly red. Despite a few liberal enclaves in Tucson and central-city Phoenix, Arizona is a red state. I give you one race that proves my point: as I type, Diane Douglas leads David Garcia in the Superintendent of Public Instruction race. Mr. Garcia had a significant coalition of support for him but he had one fatal flaw: he had a “DEM” next to his name on the ballot. Meanwhile, Ms. Douglas ran a minimal campaign (in the Republican primary, she was “not John Huppenthal”) and is set to succeed Mr. Huppenthal in the Superintendent’s chair.
5. There is a great opportunity for a new party to take over as this country’s progressive party. As I mentioned in point #1, the Democratic Party is in a state of disarray. It’s not sure what it publicly believes other than they’re “not Republicans.” There needs to be a party that loudly and proudly proclaims what I think aren’t controversial issues at all: a desire for a strong commons, equitable and progressive taxation, the need to move away from 19th-century energy to clean energy, and a strong belief that we need to invest in cities. There is a growing discontent with the Democratic Party because it has a reticence to commit to those few things. There are multiple political parties out there other than the two major parties so I encourage you to research all of them and join the one that best suits your beliefs, not what someone tells you is working for you.
My statement to the City of Phoenix Site Plan Review team concerning the proposed apartments for Central & McDowell in midtown Phoenix.
[editorial note: The following statement was given to the Site Plan Review hearing regarding the proposed apartment complex at Central Avenue and McDowell Road in midtown Phoenix earlier today. For additional context and comment, please read the “Almost Missed: Central & McDowell” essay, published 18 July 2014.]
As we have seen this afternoon, a siteplan for an apartment complex at a key corner in the City of Phoenix has been presented.
Many people here have talked about where this building is but I want to explore a different dimension: when this building is in the Phoenix urban story. Recently, Downtown Phoenix played host to two large-scale music festivals attracting thousands of people, the VIVA PHX festival on March 7 and the weekend-long McDowell Mountain Music Festival at Hance Park at the end of March. Today also marks the return to classes for the students at Arizona State University, including the almost-20,000 students studying at the downtown Phoenix campus alone. Major events of the February 2015 Super Bowl will be sited in Downtown.
Speaking of Hance Park, over two thousand people showed up at Hance Park on March 27 to see the unveiling of the new Hance Park Master Plan to get a feel for what public space and the urban ethic in Phoenix will be. Part of the success of that plan depends on increased density around the park; while this project provides modest density, it is nowhere near what it can or should be. Actually, the success of many urban-focused initiatives depends on increased density in our urban core. There is interest from both current and future urban dwellers—and from those in the urban academy—that the City of Phoenix get this urban moment right.
The City of Phoenix’s zoning scheme cites this area as a “downtown gateway” as part of the Downtown Zoning plan. I see it, too, as a midtown gateway, welcoming people to midtown Phoenix and our grand street, Central Avenue. As part of the Downtown Gateway, buildings are allowed to go up to 250 feet. While I am keenly aware that height and good urban design are not always congruent, a good urban design makes gestures to its geographic place and its moment in history. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put something of quality compatible with place and time on this site…but this project falls woefully short.
As City Hall and community leaders work through their approval or disapproval processes, there is only one question that should be considered: “Is this project worthy of being a gateway to downtown Phoenix?”
Beyond the issues, here are questions for candidates seeking to be the next Arizona Governor to think about and respond concerning cities and urban issues.
[editor’s note: This post concludes our series of questions to political candidates running for various statewide and per-district offices. Re-read our questions to candidates for Congressional District 7, state superintendent of public instruction, and urban state legislative districts by clicking the appropriate links. Our invitation still stands for the candidates to reply and we invite them to reply on each post itself.]
We hear a lot about borders. Or the economy. But something that’s forgotten in the conversations for these elections is that Arizona is largely urban. (OK, suburban.) 2/3 of Arizona’s population lives in the Phoenix metropolitan area. If you include Tucson, that’s 4/5 of the statewide population. We are a state of cities. What is the role of state government in advancing Arizona’s cities?
Eleven candidates are seeking to succeed Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The list, along with campaign websites and Twitter names, is at the bottom of this post.
I invite readers to submit their own questions in the comments and I also invite the gubernatorial candidates to reply with their answers.
- What is the role of the Governor’s Office and state government in making Arizona’s cities competitive in the 21st century global marketplace?
- What is the role of the Governor’s Office and state government in making vibrant, diverse, and strong urban environments?
- The Arizona Department of Transportation is in the planning stages to build passenger rail between Phoenix and Tucson, this state’s two largest metropolitan areas and the core of the Sun Corridor. How will you make this happen during your tenure as Governor?
- What are your views on the proposed Interstate 11 highway between far west Phoenix and Las Vegas, Nevada? Should it be built? If not, what alternatives should be explored?
- A study came out in the past couple months saying that at the end of this century, the average summer temperature in Phoenix will rise 10º F (5.6º C). What are your plans to address climate change in Arizona?
- Should a desert state support two large and generally suburban metropolitan areas? How will you protect our deserts, some of this planet’s most biologically diverse environments, from further exurban sprawl?
- How will you help strengthen Arizona’s state universities and community colleges to help educate the next generation of citizens, workers, and leaders?
- We are all too quick to criticize our public schools. What is working in our public schools? How will you build on these successes to improve our schools, especially in our central cities?
- The Phoenix metropolitan area is plagued by frequent air quality problems. What are your plans to help Phoenix improve its air quality?
- How will you work with Arizona’s congressional delegation to continue to bring back Arizona’s share of Federal funds for infrastructure improvements and other projects?
- Arizona has been in the harsh national and international spotlight in the past few years for passing divisive and discriminatory legislation, like SB 1070 in 2010 and, most recently, SB 1062. How will you work with your legislative colleagues to ensure that damaging and divisive legislation is not passed?
- Formed in 2010, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) consolidated statewide economic development mechanisms into a public-private body. Evaluate the ACA. If its mission or work should be changed, what changes would you make?
- At the beginning of his first term in 2009, President Barack Obama selected many different state governors to comprise his Cabinet, including former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano. If picked for a national appointment, would you accept it? Likewise, would you run for national office in 2016 or beyond? (Be honest.)
- How do you intend to govern: with ideological rigidity and purity or by seeking consensus and compromise?
- What is the last book you have read on cities or urban issues?
Candidates Running for Arizona Governor:
- Mike Aloisi (R, write-in), aloisiusa.com
- Ken Bennett (R), bennettarizona.com, @bennettarizona
- Doug Ducey (R), dougducey.com, @dougducey
- Fred DuVal (D), fred2014.com, @fredduval
- Christine Jones (R), christinejones.com, @jonesforgov
- Alice Lukasik (R, write-in), no website
- John Lewis Mealer (Am. Elect), jlmealer.com, @johnlewismealer
- Frank Riggs (R), riggsforazgov.com, @riggs4azgov
- Scott Smith (R), votescottsmith.com, @mayor_smith
- Andrew Thomas (R), voteandrewthomas.com
- Janelle Wood (Am. Elect, write-in), @voteJanelleWood
Beyond the issues, here are some questions for candidates seeking to represent urban legislative districts in the Arizona State Legislature.
[editor’s note: All this week on edwardjensen.net, we are bringing you some questions for the various candidates for statewide office that aren’t necessarily being offered by the candidates themselves nor are they being asked.]
The State of Arizona has two metropolitan areas with emerging urban areas: Phoenix and Tucson. Urban areas thrive on continuous creation, diversity, density, and governments that understand the uniqueness of the urban condition. In the past four years, Arizona’s cities have been under attack from state-level legislation that undid the energy of those cities: starting with 2010’s SB 1070 and, most recently, 2014’s SB 1062.
In Phoenix, these questions apply for candidates running for Legislative Districts 24, 26, and 27; in Tucson, this applies to Legislative District 3.
Here are the questions (which are strangely similar to the questions asked of the candidates for Congressional District 7):
- In your opinion, what is the role of the state government in creating vibrant, strong, and diverse urban spaces, like downtown Phoenix or downtown Tucson? How will you work with cities, the State of Arizona, and your partners in the Federal government to achieve your vision?
- A study came out in the past couple months saying that at the end of this century, the average summer temperature will rise 10º F (5.6º C). What are your policy proposals and how will you work past those who incorrectly deny climate change to address the climate crisis?
- The Arizona Department of Transportation is in discussion to build intercity passenger rail between Phoenix and Tucson. What is your view on this project and, if you support it, how will you help make it happen?
- What is your view on expansions to Phoenix’s and Tucson’s transit system, including METRO light rail and the Tucson Sun Link Streetcar?
- What is your approach to governance? Do you intend to remain ideologically rigid or will you seek compromise and consensus?
- What are your policy proposals for making urban schools equal in quality to suburban schools?
- What is the last book you have read on cities or urban issues?
List of Candidates (1 Senator and 2 Representatives per legislative district):
- LD 3 Senate: Baldenegro (D), Cajero Bedford (D, inc.) / House: Gonzales (D, inc.), Saldate (D, inc.)
- LD 24 Senate: Follette (R), Hobbs (D, inc.) / House: Alston (D, inc.), Bauer (D), Clark (D), Cortez (R)
- LD 26 Senate: Ableser (D, inc.) / House: Mendez (D, inc.), Roy (R), Sherwood (D, inc.), Will (L)
- LD 27 Senate: Marquez (D), Miranda (D) / House: Bolding (D), Muñoz (D, inc.), Quiñonez (D), Rios (D)