Ray Torres and the Apartment Republic

I’ve lost count of how many “My Turn” columns from Jim Lane henchman Ray Torres have been published in the Scottsdale Republic, but there have been at least three just in the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, opinion editor wunderkind Grant Martin appears to have engaged spam-blocking on my emails, because I can’t get even one. As much as I disagreed with Grant’s predecessor, Robert Leger, at least Robert had the professionalism (and the huevos) to run letters from those critical of him…even if it was only to create the illusion of balanced perspective.

Torres latest tome is a regurgitation of Chamber of Commerce talking points about how zoning and citizen opposition to high density housing near their neighborhoods are interfering with the ‘free market.’

As with Perry Becker’s “My Turn” in the same edition of the Litterbox Gazette, Torres misses the mark by drawing this equivalence. In Perry’s case, he’s smart enough to know better. Torres? I’m not so sure. Grant Martin? Fahgeddabout it.

Of the city council members who oppose the project for which Torres is shilling (Las Aguas on McDowell Road), Torres says,

“So why are certain Scottsdale City Council members trying to regulate apartment supply and demand?”

No one is trying to “regulate apartment supply and demand.” No one COULD regulate “demand.”

What concerns everyone who has more than three brain cells (which might exclude Torres), is dropping our traditionally high development standards in favor of high density housing projects. Especially those that will loom over vintage neighborhoods and long-time residents.

In another classic case of psychological projection, Torres says that neighboring residents who oppose Las Aguas, they are,

“…mean-spirited and selfish…”

Really?  I thought they were invoking their legal rights to oppose and stop what they think is bad development.

Just like Torres’s development cronies who are exercising their legal right to ASK for rezoning.

Here’s Torres’s column in its entirety, if you care to read it:

Limiting apartments interferes with economic tenets

McDowell Road was a supply trail at the turn of the 20th century, serving to provide needed ma­terials and food to Fort McDowell from the Phoenix area. Though it went from a supply trail to sever­al miles of paved road east of Scottsdale Road in the mid-1940s, the Native Americans of that period would have never imagined what was to become of it. In the late 1950s, the economic principle of supply and demand kicked in as commer­cial and retail development began to flourish, partly because of Motorola opening its facility on that road. With the emergence of the growth-oriented private employer, people were attract­ed to unprecedented job opportunities, arousing demand for residential hous­ing, including apartments.

SkySong, at McDowell and Scotts­dale roads, could become the Motorola of the 21st century. It is catching the winds of success, and soon it will be a 600,000-square-foot innovation center. It will be a premiere technology hub, as the innovation and entrepreneur mag­net startup companies will spin off from incubation environments. It will also attract and advance a community of engineering and technology compa­nies, spawning quality jobs and a strong employment base.

Economic principles, once again, will play out in the area, largely driven by the influx of private-sector entities and the proliferation of jobs. Moreover, employment growth in that “communi­ty complex” could mean superior pur­chasing power, as more workers leads to demand for quality goods and ser­vices, including housing and apart­ments.

So why are certain Scottsdale City Council members trying to regulate apartment supply and demand? More­over, why are they discouraging any chance of economic vitality in south Scottsdale? Arguing the city needs to limit market size because it has too many apartment developments is not public-policy governance. Limiting supply of apartments while demand rises is a form of price tampering. Neighbors of the area should see this government interference as microma­naging a market while sending the wrong message to private investors.

The economic situation on the McDowell corridor did not get any better with the eventual exodus of automobile dealers on “Motor Mile.” As we all know, the demand for car sales waned due to market forces, including unfa­vorable location. Surely, the abandoned five acres where the Pitre Buick dealer­ship once stood, an eyesore for some time, could be home to high-quality apartments — the proposed Las Aguas development.

Chason Development is relying on the upside of the demand curve to build apartments now, as opposed to waiting for a saturated apartment market. If only its rezoning case could go forward, Chason would build the 154-apartment complex. A handful of residents have filed complaints, rather than working with the developer. The filings have forced a 6-1 supermajority vote for council approval, and standing in the way of rezoning the property are two council members. A mean-spirited and selfish act on all their parts, I must say.

Ray Torres is president of Torres & Associates, LLC, a business consulting firm in Scottsdale.

Arguing the city needs to limit market size because it has too many apartment developments is not public-policy governance. Limiting supply of apartments while demand rises is a form of price tamper ing.

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