Daily Archives: October 5, 2008

Phoenix City Council to weigh future of rush-hour reversible lanes, Oct. 7

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — For almost 30 years, commuters have relied on Phoenix’s reversible lanes to ease their morning and afternoon drives.  That could change this week, when the Phoenix City Council meets to consider eliminating them.  The council will hear the issue Tuesday, more than a year after receiving complaints from people who live and own businesses along Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue.  The lanes operate on weekdays during peak travel times, from McDowell Road to Northern Avenue on Seventh Avenue and from McDowell to Dunlap Avenue on Seventh Street.  In the morning, the center lane is used by motorists traveling south.  In the afternoon, the lane reverses for use by motorists traveling north.

Phoenix’s streets staff said the lanes improve commute times, reduce air pollution, and discourage fed-up motorists from cutting through neighborhoods in search of faster routes.  If the lanes are eliminated, morning commutes to downtown Phoenix are expected to nearly double: from 15 minutes to 29 minutes on Seventh Avenue, and 25 minutes to 44 minutes on Seventh Street.

But residents and business owners blast the lanes as a dangerous anachronism installed before Phoenix had Arizona 51 or Interstate 17.  They say the lanes hurt business and diminish the quality of life between Camelback Road and downtown Phoenix.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

To voice your opinion:

  • What: The City Council meeting at which members will discuss eliminating reversible lanes
  • When: 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 7
  • Where: City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix
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Viewpoint: New growth, new promise for downtown Phoenix

[Source: Andrew Conlin, Special for The Republic] — For nearly two decades, we’ve heard confident predictions that downtown Phoenix was on the brink of a crucial “tipping point,” when public investment would no longer be needed to generate new development that was both vigorous and self-sustaining.  A term like “tipping point” is a kind of mental shorthand, useful in summarizing complex ideas but sometimes misleading when it comes to making decisions or drawing conclusions.

In reality, we won’t see the beginning of a significant shift from public to private investment until downtown achieves the requisite critical mass.  This will be the moment when the collective energy generated by the diverse collection of downtown businesses, retailers, residences, entertainment venues, and academic and cultural institutions fuses into the nucleus of an energetic and growing community.  Private investors will be drawn to this energy, creating new businesses and helping to further enrich the downtown scene.  This will inspire more people to live and work here, generating new opportunities that will draw new investors.  This development “chain reaction” will, we hope, be self-sustaining and transformational.  [Note: To read the full opinion piece and comments, click here.]

ASU responds to Arizona Republic article about downtown enrollment

[Source: Terri Shafer, Associate VP, ASU Office of Public Affairs, Tempe] — The Republic article published Wednesday, “Phoenix businesses feel misled by ASU’s enrollment numbers,” is an unfortunate attempt to create controversy where none exists.  Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus is one of the fastest-growing, most successful startup operations in the history of higher education.  In less than three years, with the city of Phoenix’s help, we have built a thriving community that attracts thousands of new people downtown to live, work and learn. 

People quoted in the article accused ASU of not being transparent about the way it reports enrollment.  The truth is we have been completely transparent.  [Note: To read the full letter to the editor, click here.]

Laveen crusade could bring flurry of zoning referendums

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Laveen resident Randy Jones is cruising up 35th Avenue in his pickup truck, a pair of neighbors in the backseat and Toby Keith on the radio, when he spots a sign announcing a possible rezoning.  Most Valley residents shrug at signs like this one, if they see them at all.  Jones pulls over like a cop responding to a crime.  “That could be troublesome,” says Carol Pacey, a fellow activist, as she whips out a pen and paper.  Jones agrees.  They scribble down the developer’s information.

Jones and his neighbors have been on sign-spotting patrols like this one frequently in recent years, as the fastest-growing part of Phoenix becomes home to ever-denser developments.  Afraid that unchecked development would destroy their neighborhood’s character, they asked the Phoenix City Council for help.  When the council rebuffed them, they took the city to court.  Today, they find themselves at the center of a legal case that will have ramifications statewide.  If the neighbors’ view prevails, it could result in a flurry of referendums in some of Arizona’s largest cities, including Mesa and Tucson, and could affect such decisions as where shopping malls go or whether unpopular budget cuts are adopted.

From Jones’ perspective, his story is about how far one neighborhood has gone to protect itself against unwanted development.  From the city’s perspective, it’s a story about how small-scale efforts to preserve neighborhoods raise questions about the Valley’s long-term sustainability.  And for both, it’s a story about a legal case that could tip the balance of power in zoning cases back to residents.  It’s a legal case that, for the moment, Jones is winning.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]