Apartment Construction Headed for Classic Overshoot

The Phoenix Business Journal’s Mike Sunnucks reported a few weeks ago that the apartment construction trend which has been riding a wave of favorable rezoning has crested.

Some in Scottsdale have bandied around a number in the 10,000 range for units in the pipeline (approved or under construction) which appears to be about one-third of the total number cited by Sunucks for ‘the region.’

There are several real problems with this situation.

  1. A housing unit is–to a large degree–a housing unit. So excess in one category (whether multi-family apartments or condos, or single-family homes) affects the value in the rest. It’s simple supply-and-demand.
  2. High-density housing projects have a direct impact on traffic and other infrastructure, which immediately affects quality of life for existing residents. New apartments by definition mean new residents.
  3. Quality of life issues have a compounding effect on desirability and housing values. Would you rather live where there’s more traffic or less traffic?
  4. Infrastructure impacts like the need to upgrade roadways, water mains, and wastewater facilities always cost money and are never (contrary to statements by city planners and politicians) fully covered by development fees. So they wind up coming out of your pocket via higher taxes than you’d otherwise pay.
  5. Even within the apartment category, an overshoot of supply will depress rents for all apartments, new or existing. This increases pressure for apartment developments to open up to Section 8 housing, which can (if not properly managed) depress community desirability–and rents–even farther.

All of this has larger effects on the economic sustainability of Scottsdale, and the relationship between our quality of life vs. cost of living.

So, isn’t it the job off city planners to avoid these situations? Well, sort of. It’s certainly within the scope of good planning to do so, and Scottsdale has an excellent, citizen-ratified General Plan that guide our planners.

The problem is that the city planners report to a city manager, who serves at the pleasure of Mayor Jim Lane and a council majority; including incumbents Dennis Robbins and Linda Milhaven (standing for re-election next month).

This Scottsdale City Council has approved more apartment rezonings in the last two years than probably any two-year period in the history of the City. Why? Campaign contributions, from among others, the Chamber of Commerce and it’s financially-dominant developer-members; the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors and the parent NAR (ironic considering Realtors don’t get commissions for apartments, and see diminished commissions when single-family values are depressed); and bar developers/owners, who derive the bulk of their public-safety-burdening business from apartment dwellers.

Keep this in mind when you mark your early ballots or go to the polls. The only two candidates who have demonstrated their commitment to sustaining your quality of life and maintaining your cost of living are Kathy Littlefield and Cindy Hill.

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10 Comments

  1. There is this publication called Urban Dynamics by Jay Wright Forrester. It was published in 1969. It is used as a basis for computer modeling for revitalizing and simulating cities and urban areas. Why do I bring that up? Well, because if you or anyone else used this simulation, it would show exactly how Scottsdale is being changed for the worse.

    Now if you dig or Google, you will soon see where that publication was later developed into. Heck, use that, it shows the same result. Dark money development is ruining Scottsdale. IF the incumbents and those who want to get elected, suckle from the Dark Money cup of corruption they should read that publication. Or just have an shred of care for the city of Scottsdale.

    Their actions by this banding together simply shows they want another Scottsdale. That means to heck with the people who live here. The developers fill the chalice of corruption, and this merry band of ‘new Scottsdale’ drink their fill. How nice, the developers are pulling their strings. Well is this is how democracy dies? Think about these words from Thomas Jefferson.

    Still one thing more, fellow-citizens–a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities. – Thomas Jefferson, March 4th, 1801

    I say – Vote for those who don’t drink the elixir of corruption. That means Kathy Littlefield and Cindy Hill.

  2. An issue often overlooked in this discussion, is the challenge apartment density places on Public Safety — particularly providing fire and emergency services.

    1. drstrangedale – I agree with you. Using the modeling methods from the publication I referenced, it clearly shows the increased demand for police and fire. It also shows an increase for education, sanitation, water, and electrical – to just name a few. You know the infrastructure we all need.

      Of course the big one is transportation. What happens when you put a bunch of people in a small space? They want to go other places. That either means you give them a super nifty mass transit system (which we don’t have) or they flood the roads with cars. So shouldn’t the city of Scottsdale think of this BEFORE they approve of such construction? Especially when they stack them right next to each other?

      Call me silly, but I thought that is why we have a city plan, and a planning office for. Or are those things just scraps of paper and titles that can be run over by construction companies and contractors with big fat wallets?

      1. The Planning and Zoning department in Scottsdale doesn’t exist to protect residents’ quality of life. It serves only as a mechanism to extract city council campaign contributions from developers, and fees for zoning attorneys (who kick back to city council campaigns).

        >So shouldn’t the city of Scottsdale think of this BEFORE they approve of such construction?

        You first have to define what you mean by “the City of Scottsdale.” It boils down to individuals who a lot of clueless voters elect to ‘lead’ our government. Mayor Lane, Linda Milhaven, Dennis Robbins, Jennifer Petersen (candidate), David Smith (candidate), Virginia Korte, and Suzanne Klapp don’t care about YOUR quality of life. They care about getting elected and/or re-elected. That takes money, and the best sources are their friends who make money trading YOUR quality of life for THEIR profit.

        1. I was using the ‘the City of Scottsdale’ to try and not point fingers. You see, I get painted into corners as the ‘angry this’ guy, or the ‘opponent of this that and the other’ quite easily. But since you quite easily identified the clear and culpable parties, let us take them to the task.

          Mayor Lane – the leader of our fair city. Unfortunately also a very easily guided individual. Do we all know the story of the emperor who has no clothes? Case in point. Mr. Lane could be a better mayor if he had people who could tell him the truth and trust in the people of Scottsdale. Instead we have a mayor who is in love with the word ‘new’. He got that love bite from developers and investors. New is good, everything else is bad. Just a hint, elderly citizens are NOT new, he is not so keen on the elderly population in Scottsdale, oh dear! So Lane goes for the new and the citizens get the short end of the stick.

          Is Mayor Lane totally ignorant of the pleas of the voters and citizens? He is just listening to those who want to invest in his city. Oh yes, I used the proper term, his city. As long as he is mayor, it is his city. Not our city, his. I see the problem, do you?

          Linda Milhaven – Ah, Dark Money banker. She loves it when those investors come a calling. Please deposit large sums of money in the bank I work for. Yes, please redevelop Scottsdale. It is new and exciting. Who cares about the citizens! They don’t make me enough money! Money makes the world go around!

          Look, if she gave more than one side dirty look at the citizens, she would think about what her votes have done to Scottsdale. She takes the Dark Money to make a new Scottsdale into this drunk and crime ridden pit. But as long as they are building and investing, what does she care? She does not need to live down with us, it is not her issue. She can just count the cash flowing in. NIMBY. Not In My Back Yard. Yep, the bars and crime are not in her back yard YET.

          Dennis Robbins – The lawyer who also drinks from Dark Money’s chalice of corruption. More apartments and bars! The new Scottsdale! But hey, vote for the school override, because, well because. You know he just put more bars and high density residential all around the lower ranked schools, but if you throw money at the schools things get better right?
          Look, again if anyone has ever opened up any books on city planning they would realize that you don’t throw money at a problem and think that magic happens. That takes planning, but if people don’t follow the plan. Well you get garbage. Again, no thinking, just send him the check he will approve your project.

          Jennifer Petersen (candidate) – A likeable rubber stamp Dark money candidate from our failing school system. That my friends is a two for one deal! She did so well sinking the Scottsdale school district, which she wants to try her hand at our city! Wow, let us all vote her in, NO! How about we look at her inability to think for herself. She was the old rubber stamp queen of the Scottsdale school district!

          She went with the flow, and was one of the worst things to ever happen to the school district. Leaders are needed, not rubber stamps. Our city needs change, not the same old, same old. So Petersen’s ‘Yes’ means – I will say ‘Yes’ to anything. I won’t think about it, just rubber stamp it. Oh great. More bars, more apartments, but let me just say Yes.

          David Smith (candidate) – He could have been so much more, but failed so fast. Wealthy man, so does not have the public Dark Money taint, but misses the mark. Is popular with the older generation, which is good. Fiscally irresponsibly, that is horrible! As city treasurer should have cried foul loudly every time one of the city councils hairball ideas came across his desk, but instead silently let them go on by. Then this whole ‘arts’ debacle. Disgusting!

          He should represent a fiscally conservative candidate, but is not that. Should represent a more conservative viewpoint, but is not. Should be more vocal, but is easily silenced. So while not a rubber stamp, is someone who you could talk too, but is as effective as a lamppost? How about we don’t vote you in, and get someone who has a voice and does the job.

          Virginia Korte – Dark Money flows deep with this one. She is connected with many sources of it and loves to say she is for the people, but will quickly squash you like a bug. She is making a move for the mayor’s seat, so Mr. Lane you are next! She loves all the people above and the person below, every leader needs minions. Not thinkers, minions.

          Overly harsh? No, she makes deals and cares little for the consequences. She should be someone who you would look to be a cornerstone of the city, but is in fact an agent of its downfall. Loves the quick dollar and will sell out anyone for it. City planning is not in her wheel house as they say, the only thing there is a pocket book and a long list of Dark Money contributors. Here is a hint, she is so for the school override, well how about you contribute to the schools? Oh, that would be showing that you care. No, you would rather contribute to the PAC that is full of CONTRACTORS. Hmm, sounds fishy to me. Look up Yes To Children, what is it full of? CONTRACTORS, commercial contractors. Oh my! Virginia Korte, do you like the children or the contractors? I am going for door three, the money.

          Suzanne Klapp – Seems like a nice person, reserved and doesn’t say much. That is the problem, doesn’t say much. So like her friend Ms. Petersen, the rubber stamp club. Why question the will and desire of others? Yes, I run for public office and then have put my mind and desires on hold. Someone else please lead me down the path of public service. What?!

          Look, when you run for a public office you are going to serve the PEOPLE. None of the people that Mr. Washington pointed out do that.

          They are:
          1 – Serving Dark Money
          2 – Rubber Stamps
          3 – Seeking More Power

          How does any of that help the city of Scottsdale?

          Oh, I can hear it now, Mr. Richard you are just the meanie! What about all those great things they did! I can see them – increased crime, a school system in shambles, increased building height, a city in flux, and Dark Money flowing like the Mighty Mississippi!

          When my neighbors ask me why the city council does not listen to them, this is why. When I can show them time and time again the transcripts, they shake their heads. They did not move to Scottsdale to have crooks, thieves, and mindless drones run their city into the ground for profit. They use words I cannot use on this site. They are citizen of Scottsdale longer than all of the people listed above. Why they are not listened to? Is Scottsdale going to be ‘new Scottsdale’ as the existing citizens either die from neglect or move away?

          Congratulations Mayor Lane, Linda Milhaven, Dennis Robins, Jennifer Petersen, David Smith, Virginia Korte, and Suzanne Klapp. You have made my family and my multitude of neighbors think that Scottsdale is NOT for them or their families. That is NOT something to be proud of.

  3. Why do you think the City Council got rid of the Housing Board and put housing issues under a newly structured Neighborhood Revitalization Commission and then took two years to approve the working plan of that commission?

    We were bringing up most of what you all have said, especially the high rise/high density/multi family infill developments and not following the General Plan. The public safety aspect is chilling, because, in essence you put a compacted vertical neighborhood in the middle of a mature horizontal neighborhood.

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