Development: Help or Get Out of the Way

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Publisher’s Thoughts:

As over a million-and-a-half square feet of new, multi-family residences come online in Phoenix in 2018, one might get curious about the public’s role in private development. Living in a republic-style democracy means many people make decisions on your behalf, with or without your involvement. Though you can make a huge difference in person, one doesn’t have to wait for a hearing at City Hall to effect what happens next door.

Phoenix is now the fifth largest city in the country, both in land size and population. Each of our 8 city council districts are larger than most American municipalities, which means our elected officials must rely upon literally dozens of staff and volunteers to guide their decisions about development.

City officials weigh heavily the support or opposition of registered community associations. When neither organized groups nor individuals give input at public hearings, most officials will stick to what they know best: data, cost projections, written law, and what worked last time  with few complaints.

Ya’ know… politics

Many development projects require a public hearing, but the City must also protect private property rights per Arizona law. Phoenix’s multi-tiered Urban Village Planning process was designed to maximize public involvement before legally binding decisions are placed in front of elected officials. Participating requires some homework, but a forum is there. Many hearings are scheduled at night, and the City posts agendas online.

The most direct way to shape our city is to own a piece of it yourself. However, influencing how something gets built, or how it is used, takes attention not money. Don’t wait for notices on your door, or e-mails from neighborhood leaders. By the time you learn of what’s going on, it’s probably already been decided by the key players, if not the official vote. If you care, get out in front of the change and be a part of it.

Monitor and become involved in land-use regulation (“zoning”) either as an individual, or by making yourself an asset to decisions of your neighborhood association. Change is inevitable, and growth requires informed, engaged citizens.

HELP develop our city, or get out of the way! Feel free to dive into the rest of this article head first, or just skim it, (some of it is pretty dense). Either way, it’s intended to empower those are interested, but have yet to experience “development” first-hand.

Click to begin learning HOW development happens in our city.