Monthly Archives: October 2009

Green-building advocates coming to Phoenix

greenbuild_logo[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — Thousands of green-building advocates will travel to Phoenix this month for the industry’s largest annual conference, featuring seminars, networking events and a consumer expo focused on energy efficiency and conservation.

Many of the estimated 25,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, from Nov. 11 to 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center, also will get their first glimpse of sustainability efforts in the desert.  The Greenbuild conference will acquaint visitors from around the world with dozens of green-building projects and initiatives in the Valley and across the state.

Through a series of tours featuring more than 70 environmentally friendly Arizona projects, officials said they hope to attract new businesses operating in the burgeoning fields of sustainable development and conservation-oriented products and services.  “I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase some of the things we’re doing out here in the West,” said Ian McDowell, a green-building expert with Tempe-based Sundt Construction.  “This is the first time Greenbuild has traveled west of the Mississippi.” [Note: Read the full article at Green-building advocates coming to Phoenix.]

Planning Department asks: “Imagine Phoenix as the best it can be in 2050. What do you see?”

[Source: City of Phoenix Planning Department] — Phoenix is updating its General Plan — the comprehensive guide for all physical aspects of the city.  The city’s Planning Department asks you to participate in this process to help create the future.

What is a General Plan?  Why do we need to update it?  Why do we need a vision?  View this presentation to learn more.

Question #2: “Imagine Phoenix as the best it can be in 2050.  What do you see?” Provide your feedback by attending a Village Visioning Workshop or e-mailing your comments.

The results of asking Question #1, “What do you value most about Phoenix and why?” from the first set of Visioning Workshops (review/download PDF):

Visit the website.  Follow on Twitter.

Phoenix, Los Angeles lead list of job losers

Shedding jobs, not pounds...

[Source: G. Scott Thomas, Phoenix Business Journal] — Los Angeles continues to suffer the nation’s worst employment losses, with 220,000 of its jobs disappearing during the past year, but Phoenix was hit with the biggest percentage drop, according to a report issued Wednesday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Phoenix lost 8.0 percent of its job base during the past year.  The runners-up for that unhappy distinction were Detroit (down 7.8 percent) and Boise, Idaho (down 7.6 percent).

Los Angeles registered the largest raw decline of any labor market between September 2008 and the same month this year.  New York City and Chicago were close behind with respective year-to-year losses of 216,400 and 207,800 jobs.  Ninety-nine of the nation’s 100 biggest markets experienced declines.  The sole exception was the McAllen-Edinburg area on the Texas-Mexico border, which added 3,100 jobs in the past 12 months. [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix, Los Angeles lead list of job losers.]

Phoenix mayor to give annual state of downtown address, Nov. 17

Logo-final2-258x300On Tuesday, November 17 from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon hosts his annual “state of downtown.”  With the theme of “Dining in the Streets,” the event will take place at Civic Space Park (light rail stations at Central/1st avenues and Van Buren Street).  More details to follow.

CenPhoTV for the week of 10/30/2009

A weekly video webcast about Phoenix living.  For more information, visit their website.  (Welcome back Jacqui and Dave!)

Big problem for Phoenix: Abandoned homes

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Business Gazette] — Uncut weeds, graffiti, outdoor piles of junk: These are the norms in the world of blight remediation.  But a new, potentially more dangerous problem has emerged as the economy has declined.  Vacant homes, usually the subjects of foreclosure, are keeping the city’s team of 43 blight inspectors on their toes.

At a recent Neighborhood Services Department presentation of its program, Put the Diamond Back Into Your Neighborhood, about 20 people showed up at the Paradise Valley Community Center to hear what the city offers and to share issues they are facing.  Of those who spoke, each was concerned about abandoned homes, whether down the street, on the next block, even next door.

The concerns were different from the kinds of things Neighborhood Services inspectors usually see. Vacant homes often present a combination of more common violations.  “It is absolutely a growing problem,” said Patrick Ravenstein, a neighborhood-preservation supervisor who presented the program.

He said the department’s normal concerns are related to trash and debris, outdoor storage, untamed or dead vegetation, broken fences, junk cars, vehicles parked on surfaces that are not dustproof, graffiti, and open, vacant structures.  He pointed out that residents can play a big role in keeping up their neighborhoods when those kinds of problems crop up.

Some neighborhoods do quarterly cleanups, which the city supports with tools and trash bins. Some groups have landscape crews that assist with maintaining properties for people who are unable to do so. Individuals get involved by painting over graffiti, with supplies from the city.  A new program from the city is Blight Busters, which trains individuals or groups to lead neighborhood efforts.  [Note: Read the full article at Big problem for Phoenix: Abandoned homes.]

Metro Phoenix freeway projects shelved

PHP4AE93520E9F15[Source: Sean Holstege, Arizona Republic] — Billions of dollars in voter-approved Valley freeway-expansion work will be postponed and scaled back after plummeting tax revenue forced a regional transportation panel to slash spending Wednesday night.  The Regional Council of the Maricopa Association of Governments voted to cut a $16 billion freeway-improvement program to just $9.4 billion.  The projects are funded by Proposition 400, a countywide measure that created a half-percent sales tax and was passed by voters in 2004.

The South Mountain Freeway, a bypass designed to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 10, survived the cuts.  But controversy over that extension of Loop 202 took an unexpected turn when Joseph Manuel, the Gila River Indian Community’s representative on the panel, announced that the tribe would be willing to consider a proposal to build it on tribal land.  He abstained from the otherwise unanimous vote to cut funding.

Other proposals to build, widen and make other improvements to Valley freeways will be pushed back until after Prop. 400’s end date of 2025.  Because of the recession, MAG planners are projecting a $6.6 billion shortfall over the next 15 years…

Planners also found opportunities to use money more wisely in central Phoenix.  The Prop. 400 plan originally called for improvements on Interstate 17 between Dunlap Avenue and the Stack interchange with I-10.  Planners are now exploring whether Prop. 400 money would be spent more effectively if a lane were added in each direction as I-17 runs past downtown Phoenix between the airport and the Stack… [Note: Read the full article at Metro Phoenix freeway projects shelved.]

New downtown Phoenix grocery market off and running

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Phoenix Public Market now open for business (Photo: KTAR)

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — The wait is over.  The first grocery store to open in downtown Phoenix in nearly 30 years is celebrating with sales, raffles, a silent auction and $45-per-person happy hour 5:30-7:30 p.m. today with Arizona wines and beer and light appetizers by Valley chefs.  The Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar opened at 14 E. Pierce St. this week to busy lunch crowds, curious downtown employees, Arizona State students, and neighborhood residents.

Laurie Wistuver of El Mirage walked over on her lunch break.  She picked up a package of pasta for dinner.  “It reminds me of a co-op from when I lived in Oregon,” Wistuver said.  “Higher-quality products that are fresh, organic.  I like the breads and stuff. It’s a nice atmosphere.”

Shoppers craving locally grown or made-in-Arizona goods, from organic vegetables to wines and cheeses, no longer have to wait for the weekly farmers market to get their fill of lumpy squash, pungent bouquets of basil, bags of ugly tomatoes, a dozen free-range eggs or a loaf of rustic, multigrain artisan bread.  The urban grocery will provide all that, supports say.  Cindy Gentry, Community Food Connections director, said the grocery store is the next step for a movement that supports local farms and Arizona growers and producers that use fresh, seasonal ingredients and sustainable practices.  “I want this to be a real place where you can do your grocery shopping,” Gentry said.  [Note: Read the full article at New downtown Phoenix grocery market off and running.]

Coalition raises community awareness of metro Phoenix homelessness

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — They’ll walk.  They’ll share a meal.  And hopefully, they’ll challenge the preconceived notions and myths about people who are experiencing homelessness.  This week, a coalition of 11 service providers, faith-based organizations, and non-profits which make up the Homelessness Awareness Coalition, will do their part to raise knowledge on the complex issue.  Their lofty goal, to end homelessness in Maricopa County.

According to Brian Spicker of Valley of the Sun United Way, about 8,000 individuals experience homelessness each day in Maricopa County and 14 percent of Arizona’s population lives in poverty.  More and more families and individuals are turning to Valley providers for assistance.  Lack of financial resources, eviction and job loss are the three most common reasons given by persons entering shelters.  “Homelessness impacts diverse people,” Spicker said.  “It’s not just a Phoenix issue.  It’s a Valley-wide issue.  At our last Homeless Connect, 25 percent of attendees were newly homeless.” [Note: Read the full article at Coalition raises community awareness of metro Phoenix homelessness.]

Phoenix ranks as 14th-safest U.S. city

[Source: Ofelia Madrid, Arizona Republic] — The Phoenix metropolitan area is considered the United States’ 14th-safest city, according to a recently released forbes.com list.  The business magazine ranked the 40 largest metropolitan areas in America, based on four categories of danger.  Statistics included 2008 workplace-death rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2008 traffic death rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and natural-disaster risk, using rankings from green living site SustainLane.com.  Also considered was the FBI’s violent-crime rate from the bureau’s 2008 uniform crime report.

Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa finished just ahead of Chicago and Austin.  Phoenix metro had the fifth-lowest risk for a natural disaster.  Minneapolis topped this year’s forbes.com list as the safest city in the United States, with the online magazine touting the city’s low crime rate.  Milwaukee ranked second with the lowest natural-disaster risk and Portland, Ore., ranked third, with the lowest crime rate of all the areas considered.  [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix ranks as 14th-safest U.S. city.]