Monthly Archives: March 2009

Americans undergoing lifestyle preference shift

[Source: Bill Cunniff, Chicago Sun Times] — Americans are undergoing a fundamental shift in where they want to live, work and play, says Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institute think-tank.  “This is not just a normal cyclical downturn,” he said.  “We’ve structurally overbuilt retail, office and housing, and we’ve done so in the wrong places.”

“Gen Xers and Millennials want a lifestyle closer to ‘Friends’ and ‘Seinfeld’ that is walkable and urban, than to Tony Soprano, low density and suburban,” he said. “It’s not that nobody wants Tony Soprano. About 50 percent of Americans actually do want that configuration.  But if we’ve built 80 percent of our housing that way, that’s the definition of oversupply. The other 50 percent of Americans want walkable urban arrangements and yet that’s just 20 percent of the housing stock. That’s called pent-up demand. So the market is just responding.”

So in practical terms, how do towns get on the right side of this multi-decade imbalance between supply and demand? “You need to get the right infrastructure in,” Leinberger said. “Doing so is a three-step process:

  • First, getting a transit connection that can anchor a walkable urban core.  
  • Second is putting in overlay zoning districts around the train stations that will allow for much greater density and mixed use development.  We’re talking about a hundred, two hundred, three hundred acres.  
  • Third, getting in place an entity to manage the thing, which generally takes the form of a non-profit business improvement district.” he said.  

“These things are very complex, but we know how to do it now.  We didn’t 50 years ago, but we do now.”

Phoenix named finalist for All-America City Award

[Source: City of Phoenix] — The National Civic League announced today that the city of Phoenix is one of 32 finalists for the 2009 All-America City Award.  Phoenix is the only Arizona finalist in the 60th annual competition.  A committee of 50 people worked collaboratively on the award application, including 30 community members and 20 city employees.  Projects highlighted were Urban Higher Education and Economic Development, Parks and Land Preservation, and Library Teen Spaces.

“We are honored and proud to be selected as an All-America City finalist,” said Mayor Phil Gordon.  “Phoenix projects like ASU and the downtown Biomedical Campus have brought urban education to life, while spurring economic growth.  Our innovative Parks funding initiative saved thousands of acres from development and renovated and built neighborhood parks.  The Phoenix Public Library’s unique teen spaces benefit young people at all library branches.  These projects show Phoenix works together with the whole community to improve our quality of life.”

The finalists will compete to earn the title “All-America City,” with presentations June 17 – 19 in Tampa, Fla.  No tax dollars will be used for any expenses.  Phoenix is a four-time All-America City, having won the recognition in 1950, 1958, 1980 and 1989.  It is the country’s most prestigious community recognition award, honoring communities of all sizes for collaborative projects addressing critical issues.  For more information, click here.

Phoenix District 4 crime summit, April 4

Vice Mayor Tom Simplot will host his annual crime summit from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Adam Diaz Center, 4115 W. Thomas Road.  This year’s summit will bring together leading government officials — including Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, and Public Safety Manager Jack Harris — along with neighborhood activists and law enforcement specialists to brainstorm policies that could better address local crime issues. 

“In the past, this summit has been a very effective tool in generating new ideas to fight crime,” said Simplot.  “Keeping neighborhoods safe is truly a team effort, which is why partnerships between law enforcement, government officials and community residents are critical to address crime issues successfully.”

Since its inception in 2004, the district crime summit has laid the groundwork for a number of city ordinances, including two municipal laws in 2005 regulating the sale of common cold and allergy medications that contain key raw materials used to make methamphetamines.

Residents interested in fighting crime in their neighborhoods can register for the summit on the day of the event.  Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and will include light refreshments.  Attendees are asked to confirm their attendance by calling 602-262-7447 or by e-mail.

GPEC to hold community conversation about state’s economic & budget crisis

An event bringing officials and citizens together to address Arizona’s economic state:

  • Thursday, April 9, 2009
  • 9 – 11 a.m. (Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.)
  • Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ  Map

Arizona’s fiscal 2009 budget faced the largest deficit in the country and the deficit is expected to nearly double next year, reaching $3 billion. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) is determined to address this by convening Arizona’s business, education and government leaders, and elected officials for a two-hour event that will include:

  1. Presentation by Governor Brewer’s top advisors on current budget situation and budget recommendations.
  2. Presentation by GPEC on improving Arizona’s economic competitiveness.
  3. Q&A

Featuring:

  • Eileen Klein, Director, State Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting
  • Tom Manos, Governor’s Chief Budget Advisor
  • Michael Bidwill, President, Arizona Cardinals and GPEC Chair
  • Barry Broome, President/CEO, GPEC

RSVP by email or call 602-262-8632.

Light rail considers selling advertising

[Source: Mike Branon, East Valley Tribune] — Metro light rail is falling into a financial hole nearly a half-billion dollars deep because of the slumping economy, so it’s no coincidence the agency is considering selling advertising space on trains and stations.  The Rail Management Committee, which meets Wednesday, first will discuss amending Metro’s no-ads policy. That rule was established in 2003, long before Metro opened for business, but was broken earlier in February when the NBA’s All-Star Game was played in Phoenix…

At the moment, Metro does not have an estimate of money to be gained with ad sales.  Prior to the economic downturn, a consultant had estimated gross revenues from train wraps and station posters at $1.6 million.  But since then, Metro officials said, the ad industry is having its weakest year since 2001 and ad sales vendors in the Valley report sales declines of 25 percent to 45 percent compared to the previous year.  Under a proposal put forth by Metro staffers, ad space would be sold in the forms of wrapped trains and stations, floor decals, and small televisions on trains and kiosks and posters at stations.  If the committee supports amending Metro’s advertising policy, the issue would go before the agency’s board of directors for final approval.  The board meets April 15. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Budget crisis impacts Explore Arizona shop in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Arizona Geological Survey] — AZGS has cancelled our agreement with the BLM to run the Explore Arizona outdoor information center in downtown Phoenix.  Our last day will be April 3, with packing and moving going on the following week.  In the meantime, all publications are on sale at 25% off (except for USGS, BLM, and USGF topo maps).  This does include AZGS technical publications and a wide range of popular hiking, natural history, tourism guides.

The decision is a result of the budget situation.  Explore Arizona was funded with internally-generated monies, not with state tax dollars.  But in addition to the substantial cuts in state appropriations to AZGS and other agencies, the Legislature also took our internal funds used to pay the salaries of support and admin staff, and propose to take even larger amounts in the next fiscal year.  Even though sales have been steadily increasing since we opened, the projections are that the center would not be fully self-supporting in the next year.  As a result, we realized that we would have to scale back our financial commitments in the center and other functions in order to subsidize state-mandated mission-critical functions with the money we raise on our own because the state cannot afford to do so.

The sales inventory and fixtures are moving to our store in Tucson, which has been slated for a major overhaul as resources became available.  It’s our plan to make our Tucson store a one-stop shop for all state and federal publications and materials related to the natural history, resources, and recreation in Arizona.  BLM has not announced their plans for the center after AZGS leaves.

Mayor and volunteers plant trees in downtown Phoenix

Volunteers help plant trees in downtown Phoenix (City of Phoenix)

Volunteers help plant trees in downtown Phoenix (photo: City of Phoenix)

[Source: Deborah Stocks, ABC15] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon rolled up his sleeves Saturday to help fend off the effects of global warming. The mayor joined volunteers who were planting 40 trees in downtown Phoenix to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Valley Forward Association, an organization that promotes efforts to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities.

The group of 120 volunteers planted Chinese Evergreen Elms in the downtown Roosevelt District near 5th and Roosevelt street. The trees were donated by Salt River Project and Enterprise Rent-a-car will need little water. This is the second round of planting. More than 120 new trees have been planted through the Mayor’s downtown tree planting initiative.

Gordon planted and staked the first tree Saturday.  Volunteers participated from ASU, Valley Forward, SRP, Girl Scout troop 436, and many neighbors.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

CenPhoTV for the week of 3/27/2009

A weekly video webcast about Phoenix living.  For more information, visit their website.

Wisconsin pays $50K for their new logo (and they hate it)

new-wisconsin-logo1[Source: Your Logo Makes Me Barf] — DeChazier writes in saying, “This new Wisconsin logo is HATED amongst us Wisconsinites and the worst part was that it cost us taxpayers $50,000!  It doesn’t accurately represent our state or the people in it.”

Downtown Phoenix

Phoenix > Downtown Phoenix: Arizona’s Urban Heart > $160,000 (not paid at taxpayer expense).

Hmmm… what’s with the similar color scheme and prominent “X” symbol?

State budget cuts impact several downtown Phoenix preservation projects

To date, three Arizona State Parks in northern Arizona (GREEN) and the new State Archives in downtown Phoenix (RED) have been shuttered due to the state’s budget crisis. In addition, 36 Heritage Fund Historic Preservation Grants projects, already signed but under 90% complete, were told on February 2, 2009 to “stop immediately, effective February 1, 2009” (BLUE).  Two projects, over 90% complete, will be able to receive funding to wrap up remaining work (YELLOW).

Click on any of the symbols for more information about each affected project, including several in downtown Phoenix.  Click on “View Larger Map” to, you guessed it, view a larger scale map.  For more information, click here.