Chaparral Road, Again

AZCentral appears to have inadvertently disabled the comments on their editorials (at least for Firefox users), so I’m going to reprint this one from today with my own comments below.

Council needs courage on Chaparral Road

In 2007, the Scottsdale City Council nixed any consideration of widening Chaparral Road between Miller and Hayden. Events since have confirmed that the vote ranks among the most irresponsible decisions of any Scottsdale council.

This week, for instance, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the 369-unit Portales apartment complex southwest of Chaparral and Scottsdale roads. The council should follow suit, as the complex is shorter than the maximum building height, leaves 40 percent open space and would heal a scar on the land that has been there since 2005.

The primary access is designed on Goldwater Boulevard, but you don’t need a degree in land planning to recognize that residents will use Chaparral Road to get to and from Hayden Road or Loop 101. All the hoping in the world won’t get them to go south to Indian School or north to McDonald.

That will add traffic to an already congested road.

As the economy recovers and more people shop at Scottsdale Fashion Square, traffic will further increase along Chaparral Road. Signs trying to get people to use Camelback instead are largely futile.

And as traffic increases, residents along Chaparral will be further inconvenienced. They will deal with noise and the difficulty of backing out of their driveways. They will appeal to the City Council to do something, anything.

But short of blocking the road or installing speed bumps — on a major street? Bad idea — there’s little the city can do to keep drivers from taking the most direct route. Eventually, congestion will build to the point that a future council will have no choice but to widen Chaparral.

That’s when the short-sightedness of the 2007 decision will be most apparent. The past five years represent a missed opportunity.

For-sale signs have been abundant along the narrow stretch of Chaparral Road. For whatever reason, people are moving out. If the council had shown more foresight, the city could have been buying those homes from willing sellers at market prices and renting them to recoup expenses.

Such a strategy over time would put enough property in city hands to make it possible to widen the street without using eminent domain, with its accompanying public-relations nightmare. It would advance the best interests of the city as a whole, not just one small area with the ability to pack City Council chambers.

The council still could adopt that strategy. The actions of a previous council cannot bind a current one. This group could amend the transportation plan and instruct staff to purchase Chaparral Road homes as they come on the market.

That would mean this council would have to show greater courage when the Kiva is packed with protesting neighbors, many who live behind the homes on Chaparral and want them to remain as a buffer. It’s an election year, so such courage may be difficult to muster.

But someday, a council will need to move in this direction. Chaparral represents a direct link from Loop 101 to downtown, its businesses and increasing number of residents. The bottleneck needs to go.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 09:35 AM
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So, here’s what’s wrong with this editorial:

The editors of the Scottsdale Republic are saying in effect that it would be bad city planning to approve a density increase on the Portales site. However, it isn’t SO bad that we shouldn’t go ahead and do it anyway.

And, with regard to those pesky residents (wouldn’t Scottsdale be great if it weren’t for the annoying people who have the audacity expect to live here in quiet enjoyment of their homes?), to heck with them.

I think that should be a new city policy. In fact, it essentially already is given airpark apartments and the “entertainment district” created right next to a retirement community.

“…this council would have to show greater courage when the Kiva is packed with protesting neighbors, many who live behind the homes on Chaparral and want them to remain as a buffer.”

I rest my case.

“It’s an election year, so such courage may be difficult to muster.”

Certainly more difficult than votes against them will be.

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