Daily Archives: August 11, 2008

Phoenix building slump means cuts at City Hall

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix city department that oversees new construction is facing a third round of layoffs amid a slowdown in commercial construction.  The Development Services Department will eliminate 39 positions over the next six weeks, including 24 that are currently filled.  The department has cut more than 10% of its workforce in the past year in response to slowing residential development.  City officials said the number of positions in the department, which is funded entirely through permit and inspection fees, could not be justified, given the decreasing workload.  “We have to provide a balance,” said Mark Leonard, DSD director.  “We want to provide the service, but we don’t want to overstaff.”

Still, the cutbacks will mean longer turnaround times for the developers who do submit new plans.  Review processes that are supposed to take 30 days are now being finished in one-third that time, Leonard said.  Turnaround times are expected to increase.  The cuts could portend further budget cuts for Phoenix.  The decline in sales-tax revenue, which led the city this year to make its biggest budget cuts in history, has not begun to reverse itself.

Where will Phoenicians gather outdoors to meet, debate?

With the demise of Patriots Square Park in downtown Phoenix and the limited amount of acreage at the now-under-construction Downtown Civic Space, where will the grand public gatherings be held in or around downtown Phoenix?

Barack Obama rally, Waterfront Park, Portland, OR May 18, 2008. (oregonianphoto]As a reference point from another Western U.S. city, Portland, OR’s Waterfront Park hosted a May 18, 2008 primary rally for Presidential candidate Barack Obama.  The local fire department estimated 75,000 people in attendance, while the Washington Post, in their coverage of this event, considered the record crowd to be the size of a city.

A proposal by the local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), pictured at left, “envisions a more formalized public space in downtown Phoenix which expands the proposed boundaries of the space into the streets, and invites casual public interaction with retail shops, food and beverage options, and shaded seating areas separated and protected by street bollards.”