Anatomy and Impact of the Snowbird

Cool, funky RV on Wikipedia

AZCentral posted an interesting article yesterday on the ubiquitous snowbird. If you aren’t familiar with the term, you probably haven’t lived in the desert through a winter season. Snowbirds are the seasonal residents of our area who flock here to escape the colder northern parts of our country, Canada, and other parts of the world. I note that Lesley Wright, who used to pen on Scottsdale politics for the Republic is one of the co-authors of the article.

I recently made a driving trip to San Diego and returned via LA. It seems the desert RV parks and other winter accommodations are going to be quite full this year judging by the early occupancy this the year, particularly in Yuma and Quartzite.

We don’t have many RV parks here in Scottsdale other than the seemingly historic Scottsdale Trailer Corral downtown, and some nice RV parking at WestWorld. However, we have a LOT of winter visitors. Many of them rent homes for the season or have second homes here.

One of the eye-popping stats in the article was the $1 BILLION annual economic impact of winter visitors to the state’s economy…and that’s from a 2003-2004 study. That’s serious cash, and whatever your feelings about snowbirds you can’t help but respect that.

The AZC article goes into some detail about the characteristics of our winter visitors. However, as I’ve always said, it is important to understand the specific characteristics that attract visitors (of all demographics) to Scottsdale. The article doesn’t get into much depth in these areas, unfortunately.

I believe that the physical character of Scottsdale (low-scale, urban amenities in a suburban environment) is a big part of our drawing power. I also believe that it is vital for us to assess its importance as well as the impact of radical changes to our zoning and planning policies.

Wouldn’t you agree?

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