Daily Archives: January 24, 2009

Downtown Voices statement on La Luz del Mundo Church zoning variances

Zoning Administrator
City of Phoenix Planning Department
200 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85003

Dear Sir/Madam:

The following letter is in reference to two zoning cases (ZA-727-08-7 and ZA-728-08-7) that are scheduled to be heard on January 22, 2009.

The Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC) was incorporated in 2004 to advocate for a sustainable Phoenix with, among its goals, the preservation of historic properties.  With this in mind, the organization’s steering committee voted unanimously at its January meeting to support the variances that have been requested by the La Luz del Mundo Church, 1206 N. Laurel Ave., as they relate to the preservation of their present-day church here in Phoenix.

Originally the church leadership, in order to have enough parking for the construction of a new and larger church at the same address, decided to tear down the original church on their property — a building constructed in 1934 which, today, is the largest adobe church in the State of Arizona. However, in a recent development the church has decided to save the original building.  In order to replace parking that would have been available on the site of the old church, La Luz del Mundo has agreed to move their new church closer to Grand Avenue and to request parking variances for the project.  

Because of the importance to the preservation of the historic church, the Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee voted to support the two variances requested by La Luz del Mundo.  We request that these variances be granted at your January 22, 2009 hearing.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Weiss, Chair Steering Committee, Downtown Voices Coalition

Phoenix arts advocates scramble to protect at-risk groups

[Source: Arizona Citizens for the Arts] — Phoenix arts advocates, like supporters of numerous other programs facing the spectre of significant budget cuts, have expressed concern for the following programs “on the chopping block:”

Pueblo Grande Museum is facing proposed reductions including elimination of a museum curator, museum assistant, two museum aides, a secretary and a semi-skilled worker.  Special events, summer programs and lectures will be reduced by 50 percent; and school tours will no longer be available, and maintenance of landscaping and surrounding grounds will be reduced.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture grants budget of $890,000 will be cut by 50-75% or more. These grants along with grants from the state arts commission are typically the only source of unrestricted funds these organizations receive and have been the only source of stable funding they could count on for years to help provide affordable programs to the community.  The city’s grants budget over the last 20 years has never been lower than $460,000.  These reductions will take us well below that number — and with the growth of the city population and inflation over these 20 years, the support given to arts organizations will be dismal, at best. (Imagine how long it would take to rebuild to the current level of support.)

The Heard Museum, which relies heavily on sales made at its famous gift shop has seen a significant reduction in sales, forcing huge budget cuts and program reductions mid-year.

The Shemer Arts Center, a community arts center and Phoenix Point of Pride, is facing closure.

The Phoenix Center for the Arts, an affordable arts education facility, serving local emerging artists and arts organizations and located in the heart of the city is facing budget cut of 70%, essentially shutting down most of its programs serving students and artists.

Many large and small arts organizations have begun staff reductions and layoffs including the Phoenix Art Museum, the Phoenix Symphony, Ballet Arizona, and Free Arts of Arizona which serves young children, among others.

Due to these drastic budget shortfalls, grant guidelines have been rewritten at the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.  These will result in elimination of funding to any organization that is not producing arts or located within the city will be cut.  Organizations who’ll see no further grants from Phoenix include Free Arts of Arizona, Herberger Theater Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, Habilitation Center, Artability, Childsplay, and local arts agencies such as the North Valley Arts Council and the West Valley Fine Arts Council.  [Note: For more information from the Arizona Citizens for the Arts, click here.  For City of Phoenix budget hearing information, click here.  For related Arizona Republic article, click here.]

“Ambassador” who doesn’t “conspire” against downtown Phoenix

outside[Source: “The Beta on Downtown Phoenix,” A Change in the Wind blog] — While visiting Phoenix recently, learned a useful new phrase — “the beta.”  Learned it from the proprietor at Conspire, a very cool coffeeshop-arthouse-neighborhood collective said to have the best coffee in town. Conspire was once an ordinary house, but has become a 21st-century hang-out.  The Americano-style coffee is absolutely superb, perhaps the best I’ve ever had, and the chatter is spiky and upbeat.

I told the bright-eyed proprietor that his place was changing my opinion of Phoenix, which I imagined (based on the drive in to town) as “this monster city where everyone drove an Escalade.”  A cruel over-generalization, obviously, but he took it in stride, admitted there was some truth to it, but said that his work/live neighborhood of galleries, restaurants, and such was different, and offered me “the beta” on where to go in what is known as the “Artisan Village.”  [Note: To read the full blog entry, click here.  If you don’t understand the title of this blog entry, click here.]

Phoenix Country Club to end men-only dining

[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — Phoenix Country Club and the Arizona Attorney General have reached a settlement in a discrimination lawsuit that will open all of the club’s dining facilities to all members and their guests “regardless of sex.”  The discrimination lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Terry Goddard in September, alleged that Phoenix Country Club violated the Arizona Civil Rights Act “by excluding women from using the Men’s Grill and men from using the Women’s Grill.”

Although the country club has a long history as a private club in Phoenix, the lawsuit contended that it has hosted many public meetings and events and derived significant income from catering to outside groups.  Thus, it is subject to anti-discrimination laws.  Now that the club has agreed to forego separate gender-specific dining facilities, Goddard “has acknowledged that he is now satisfied that the club is operating as a private club,” a statement released Wednesday said.  The settlement also notes that there was no admission of liability by the club.

Implementation of the settlement will have to wait until next month, however, when the club at Seventh Street and Thomas Road opens following a multi-million dollar remodeling of the clubhouse that took several months.  “We are pleased that this matter has been resolved while at the same time preserving the private club status and traditions of this 109-year-old part of Phoenix history,” said country club Manager Pat LaRocca in the joint statement.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Mystery novels anchored in Phoenix

[Source: Bonnie Henry, Arizona Daily Star] — He works in a city with seemingly perpetual gray skies and writes a column on the economy — an even gloomier subject these days.  But Jon Talton, former columnist with the Arizona Republic and now with the Seattle Times, is keeping history-professor-turned-detective David Mapstone and his snoopings firmly planted in the sunny Southwest.  “He will always live in Phoenix,” says Talton, author of seven novels, including the Mapstone mysteries, “Concrete Desert,” “Dry Heat,” and “Cactus Heart.”

Talton will be one of more than 300 authors appearing in March at the Tucson Festival of Books. A Phoenix native whose family goes back four generations, Talton grew up in the city center, and weaves its history and characteristics into his scenes.  “I tried to do homage to Raymond Chandler, where the city was very much a character,” says Talton, whose Mapstone works in the sheriff’s office, using his historian skills to solve old cases.  And no, Sheriff Joe Arpaio does not pop up, even in a cameo appearance.  “My sheriff is a Mexican-American and he observes the civil liberties,” says Talton, who has covered business and finance for more than 25 years at newspapers stretching from North Carolina to Denver and now Seattle.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Jan. 27 is last chance to comment on Phoenix’s proposed 2009-10 budget

The city of Phoenix is in the process of preparing its 2009-10 budget, which will include reductions to city programs and services of more than $162 million.  Residents are invited to attend community hearings to discuss the proposed budget before final decisions are made.  There also will be a special hearing for seniors.

Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 13, and continuing through Tuesday, Jan. 27, the City Council and staff from the City Manager’s Office and the Budget and Research Department will conduct 14 budget hearings at various times and locations throughout the community.  At the hearings, residents will have an opportunity to comment and make suggestions.  Council members and city staff will answer questions and talk about specific district issues.  This public discussion is among the reasons the city’s budget so closely matches the community’s highest priorities each fiscal year.  Residents can view details of the proposed budget and submit comments online or by calling 602-262-4800.

After the community’s review, the mayor and City Council will approve a budget-balancing plan on Tuesday, Feb. 3.  The approved plan will take effect on March 2, 2009.

District 2
6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27
Paradise Valley Community Center Multi-purpose Room
17402 N. 40th St.

District 7
6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27
Encanto Park Clubhouse Ballroom
2605 N. 15th Ave.