Bullhead

Council backs MEC broadband effort

  • TERRI HARBER, The Daily News

BULLHEAD CITY — City Council members on Tuesday approved a resolution to show support for Mohave Electric Cooperative’s effort to establish broadband service in the city and surrounding area.

MEC conducted a survey of customers this spring in which 95% of the respondents said they would want to use such a service.

The utility cooperative would pursue grants to pay for the infrastructure associated with establishing the service. It also would partner with an internet provider to deliver and operate the service.

City Manager Toby Cotter told council members that broadband connectivity is needed to keep up with the growing need to provide more service to the community.

More customers to serve will be one reason for the need. Another is increased reliance on internet-based products, such as television, telephone, and training and education programs that require strong, fast connections, said Cotter and Zenon Mocarski, an MEC spokesman who was on hand to answer questions.

“Only half of the people in the community have land lines,” Cotter said about current phone usage.

And what additional functions will rely on broadband a decade from now? 

“Who knows?” Cotter asked rhetorically.

Suddenlink, Frontier and some smaller providers offer internet service locally. 

The high interest in the idea based on survey responses to MEC “says something about the providers we have now,” said Mayor Tom Brady, who added that he receives many complaints about the major local internet service providers. 

Mocarski noted that the MEC plans to provide 100% coverage to its service area, which means it won’t be available for some time. 

The time period “might also encourage other providers to be more responsive,” Brady added.

In another resolution, council members opted to support MEC and other co-op utility providers seeking passage of the RURAL Act, which would change the 2017 federal tax law edict that cooperatives pay taxes on grants used for not only rural broadband development but economic development, disaster relief aid and renewable energy and efficiency projects.

Having to pay those additional taxes would result in higher rates for MEC and other co-op utility customers.

Proposition 415

A debate between a proponent and an opponent of Proposition 415 will take place Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Bullhead City-Mohave Valley Association of Realtors Conference Center, 841 Hancock Road.  

Shawn Bradford of EPCOR Water Arizona will speak against Proposition 415; David Lords, a local developer and member of the H2O Committee, will speak in favor of it.

The event is sponsored by the H20 Committee of Bullhead City.

Cotter and City Clerk Sue Stein reminded local voters that they should have received the Proposition 415 ballot through the mail by now. People who haven’t will need to contact Mohave County elections officials to find out why and make other inquiries because the county is running the election, not the city.

Residents were reminded that ballot harvesting is against state law and is considered a sixth-degree felony. This practice by groups seeking to make an election go in their favor uses lists of early or absentee voters to create door-to-door routes for collecting ballots. They tell the voters they are calling on that their ballot will be delivered to elections officials. 

Around the country, it has been a way for groups seeking to control the results potentially to steal or alter ballots before turning them in. It also has been used to intimidate voters through their front doors.

Only the voter, family members or caregivers can deliver a voter’s ballot in Arizona.   

Proposition 415 is a mail-in election. The county recommends the ballot be mailed to the elections office six or seven days before the deadline of Nov. 5 to ensure it arrives on time.

The Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library will serve as a drop-off site for ballots during operating hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 5. Voters also can obtain a replacement ballot or vote by provisional ballot. 

Grant for VTC

The Veterans Treatment Court will receive a $500,000 grant from the federal government that will be used to enhance its operations. 

The Bullhead City court began taking cases in early 2017 and is considered a problem-solving court for military veterans dealing with addiction, serious mental illness and recurring disorders, who end up in the general court system. 

This alternative court coordinates with prosecuting and defense counsel, county attorney, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and local mental health organizations, to keep struggling veterans from ending up in jail or prison. They receive assistance but also must be willing to make efforts to stay out of trouble.  

Judge Peter Psareas, who runs the court here, is expected to talk about how the money will be spent at an upcoming council meeting, Cotter said. 

Thousands of veterans reside in the city.

In other business, council members:

  • Approved a resolution supporting the Arizona Peace Trail and its passing through the city. Cotter told council members that the trail plan fits in with the city’s interest in highlighting sports and active tourism.
  • Heard from resident Jamie Starr, who asked council members to consider banning smoking in local parks. Starr cited examples of people smoking next to the municipal pool, splash pads and various sports courts at Ken Fovargue Park, locations frequented by children, to make her point. 
  • Granted Riverfront Terraces, Inc., two more years to request permits for two mixed-use projects in Petersen’s Acres.
  • Proclaimed Oct. 23 as “Walk Away from Drugs Day.”

Central Arizona

https://www.globemiamitimes.com/globe-miami-home-buyers-guide/

Green Valley/Sahuarita

Council: Developers don’t need to provide as much land for parks

The Town Council on Monday voted to reduce the amount of land developers must provide for parks while giving them less latitude to buy their way out of open-space requirements.

The decision comes despite recent numbers that show the town is about 60 acres — or 25 percent — short of its standard on park space. Even with the vote to go from eight acres per 1,000 residents down to seven, the town still falls 15 percent short.

The decision came in the form of revisions to the town’s Parks and Recreation Area Design and Development Standards Manual, which had been under consideration at 35 meetings over about a decade.

Mayor Tom Murphy said his goal was to balance the needs of residents while remaining attractive to developers.

“I know it’s a difficult situation because what I wrestle with in my mind is having enough amenities for our community, our residents, but also being competitive enough that our growth still continues,” he said. “Especially in relation to other regional towns, municipalities in our area.”

Council member Gil Lusk said any real change in increasing parks would come later as the town expands east and when Crown Community Development begins building homes where the pecan groves are now.

However, future annexation east is not guaranteed, and Crown — a division of FICO — says it could be years before the area is developed.

Vice Mayor Kara Egbert said the town is in a good position with parkland area in comparison to the population, but she does not want to return to earlier times when there wasn’t enough park space to meet needs.

“We were at a bottleneck for kids not being able to practice, there were not enough fields because we were not at 6.2 acres (per 1,000 people),” Egbert said, referring to a time when fields were being reseeded. “To me, going from 10 to eight to seven – I don’t want to go any lower than seven, because I think we are then asking for disaster with residents not being able to have services and recreation that they want.”

The revisions approved include changing the threshold for smaller developments to pay a 100 percent in-lieu fee rather than providing park acreage; changing the housing occupancy rate to a single figure used to calculate the in-lieu fee instead of two; and change the percentage split between park acreage requirements and in-lieu fee for larger developments.

Currently, developers can provide half the required acreage and pay a 50 percent in-lieu fee. While town staff recommend that go to 80/20, the council amended it to a 65/35 split after developers voiced concerns.

The decision means developers will be required to provide 65 percent of the seven acres per 1,000 residents and can pay the remaining 35 percent of the requirement to the town via the in-lieu fee.

The in-lieu fee before the revisions was $1,200 for a single-family unit provided a percentage of the recreation area was built, and $1,500 without any recreation area. The revisions now set the occupancy rate for housing at 2.37 persons per unit and the in-lieu fee at $2,438 – representing staff’s recommended 60 percent of the town’s cost to build parks.

For smaller subdivisions, town staff recommended allowing developments with 50 units or less to be allowed to defer 100 percent of the seven acre per 1,000 residents requirement in the form of the in-lieu fee. The council amended the revision to maintain the original 65 units or less.

Representatives from Metropolitan Pima Alliance, Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and Crown attended Monday’s meeting to support the drop in acreage requirements. They are the same groups that met with a panel from the town this summer to lobby for the lower number. That meeting came after the town’s Parks & Rec Commission and residents said they didn’t want to lower the figure.

Tim Campbell from Crown took issue with town staff’s recommendation of an 80 percent minimum build requirement and asked that it be reduced to 60 percent, while SAHBA asked the town to consider a 70 percent minimum.

Campbell said parks built by developers would not be accessible to the public and the minimum build percentage should be reduced so the developer can put their resources elsewhere and pay the town the in-lieu fee which they would use to build parks.

“SAHBA recommended 70, Tim recommended 60 – so, I’ll make a recommendation that we do 65/35,” Murphy said.

The amendments and vote came after town manager Kelly Udall told the council he didn’t know what more could be accomplished by having more meetings.

Kingman/Golden Valley

MORE Mail Theft in Kingman

KINGMAN – On Sunday, October 13th, at about 4:30pm, Kingman Police took more reports of stolen mail. It was determined that the community mail boxes in the 3700blk and 3800blk of Eagle Rock Rd. were somehow opened. Assorted mail was found in a nearby desert area by people walking. KPD investigators are working with the US Postal Inspector Office. Anyone with information about the person(s) responsible is urged to contact KPD by calling (928) 753-2191, report anonymously to Mohave Silent Witness by calling (928) 753-1234, or report tips online by going to www.kingmanpolice.com and clicking on “Give A Tip”.

Tips can also be submitted by downloading the NEW KPD App.

Council backs MEC broadband effort

  • TERRI HARBER, The Daily News

BULLHEAD CITY — City Council members on Tuesday approved a resolution to show support for Mohave Electric Cooperative’s effort to establish broadband service in the city and surrounding area.

MEC conducted a survey of customers this spring in which 95% of the respondents said they would want to use such a service.

The utility cooperative would pursue grants to pay for the infrastructure associated with establishing the service. It also would partner with an internet provider to deliver and operate the service.

City Manager Toby Cotter told council members that broadband connectivity is needed to keep up with the growing need to provide more service to the community.

More customers to serve will be one reason for the need. Another is increased reliance on internet-based products, such as television, telephone, and training and education programs that require strong, fast connections, said Cotter and Zenon Mocarski, an MEC spokesman who was on hand to answer questions.

“Only half of the people in the community have land lines,” Cotter said about current phone usage.

And what additional functions will rely on broadband a decade from now? 

“Who knows?” Cotter asked rhetorically.

Suddenlink, Frontier and some smaller providers offer internet service locally. 

The high interest in the idea based on survey responses to MEC “says something about the providers we have now,” said Mayor Tom Brady, who added that he receives many complaints about the major local internet service providers. 

Mocarski noted that the MEC plans to provide 100% coverage to its service area, which means it won’t be available for some time. 

The time period “might also encourage other providers to be more responsive,” Brady added.

In another resolution, council members opted to support MEC and other co-op utility providers seeking passage of the RURAL Act, which would change the 2017 federal tax law edict that cooperatives pay taxes on grants used for not only rural broadband development but economic development, disaster relief aid and renewable energy and efficiency projects.

Having to pay those additional taxes would result in higher rates for MEC and other co-op utility customers.

Proposition 415

A debate between a proponent and an opponent of Proposition 415 will take place Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Bullhead City-Mohave Valley Association of Realtors Conference Center, 841 Hancock Road.  

Shawn Bradford of EPCOR Water Arizona will speak against Proposition 415; David Lords, a local developer and member of the H2O Committee, will speak in favor of it.

The event is sponsored by the H20 Committee of Bullhead City.

Cotter and City Clerk Sue Stein reminded local voters that they should have received the Proposition 415 ballot through the mail by now. People who haven’t will need to contact Mohave County elections officials to find out why and make other inquiries because the county is running the election, not the city.

Residents were reminded that ballot harvesting is against state law and is considered a sixth-degree felony. This practice by groups seeking to make an election go in their favor uses lists of early or absentee voters to create door-to-door routes for collecting ballots. They tell the voters they are calling on that their ballot will be delivered to elections officials. 

Around the country, it has been a way for groups seeking to control the results potentially to steal or alter ballots before turning them in. It also has been used to intimidate voters through their front doors.

Only the voter, family members or caregivers can deliver a voter’s ballot in Arizona.   

Proposition 415 is a mail-in election. The county recommends the ballot be mailed to the elections office six or seven days before the deadline of Nov. 5 to ensure it arrives on time.

The Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library will serve as a drop-off site for ballots during operating hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 5. Voters also can obtain a replacement ballot or vote by provisional ballot. 

Grant for VTC

The Veterans Treatment Court will receive a $500,000 grant from the federal government that will be used to enhance its operations. 

The Bullhead City court began taking cases in early 2017 and is considered a problem-solving court for military veterans dealing with addiction, serious mental illness and recurring disorders, who end up in the general court system. 

This alternative court coordinates with prosecuting and defense counsel, county attorney, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and local mental health organizations, to keep struggling veterans from ending up in jail or prison. They receive assistance but also must be willing to make efforts to stay out of trouble.  

Judge Peter Psareas, who runs the court here, is expected to talk about how the money will be spent at an upcoming council meeting, Cotter said. 

Thousands of veterans reside in the city.

In other business, council members:

  • Approved a resolution supporting the Arizona Peace Trail and its passing through the city. Cotter told council members that the trail plan fits in with the city’s interest in highlighting sports and active tourism.
  • Heard from resident Jamie Starr, who asked council members to consider banning smoking in local parks. Starr cited examples of people smoking next to the municipal pool, splash pads and various sports courts at Ken Fovargue Park, locations frequented by children, to make her point. 
  • Granted Riverfront Terraces, Inc., two more years to request permits for two mixed-use projects in Petersen’s Acres.
  • Proclaimed Oct. 23 as “Walk Away from Drugs Day.”

Lake Havasu

Council backs MEC broadband effort

  • TERRI HARBER, The Daily News

BULLHEAD CITY — City Council members on Tuesday approved a resolution to show support for Mohave Electric Cooperative’s effort to establish broadband service in the city and surrounding area.

MEC conducted a survey of customers this spring in which 95% of the respondents said they would want to use such a service.

The utility cooperative would pursue grants to pay for the infrastructure associated with establishing the service. It also would partner with an internet provider to deliver and operate the service.

City Manager Toby Cotter told council members that broadband connectivity is needed to keep up with the growing need to provide more service to the community.

More customers to serve will be one reason for the need. Another is increased reliance on internet-based products, such as television, telephone, and training and education programs that require strong, fast connections, said Cotter and Zenon Mocarski, an MEC spokesman who was on hand to answer questions.

“Only half of the people in the community have land lines,” Cotter said about current phone usage.

And what additional functions will rely on broadband a decade from now? 

“Who knows?” Cotter asked rhetorically.

Suddenlink, Frontier and some smaller providers offer internet service locally. 

The high interest in the idea based on survey responses to MEC “says something about the providers we have now,” said Mayor Tom Brady, who added that he receives many complaints about the major local internet service providers. 

Mocarski noted that the MEC plans to provide 100% coverage to its service area, which means it won’t be available for some time. 

The time period “might also encourage other providers to be more responsive,” Brady added.

In another resolution, council members opted to support MEC and other co-op utility providers seeking passage of the RURAL Act, which would change the 2017 federal tax law edict that cooperatives pay taxes on grants used for not only rural broadband development but economic development, disaster relief aid and renewable energy and efficiency projects.

Having to pay those additional taxes would result in higher rates for MEC and other co-op utility customers.

Proposition 415

A debate between a proponent and an opponent of Proposition 415 will take place Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Bullhead City-Mohave Valley Association of Realtors Conference Center, 841 Hancock Road.  

Shawn Bradford of EPCOR Water Arizona will speak against Proposition 415; David Lords, a local developer and member of the H2O Committee, will speak in favor of it.

The event is sponsored by the H20 Committee of Bullhead City.

Cotter and City Clerk Sue Stein reminded local voters that they should have received the Proposition 415 ballot through the mail by now. People who haven’t will need to contact Mohave County elections officials to find out why and make other inquiries because the county is running the election, not the city.

Residents were reminded that ballot harvesting is against state law and is considered a sixth-degree felony. This practice by groups seeking to make an election go in their favor uses lists of early or absentee voters to create door-to-door routes for collecting ballots. They tell the voters they are calling on that their ballot will be delivered to elections officials. 

Around the country, it has been a way for groups seeking to control the results potentially to steal or alter ballots before turning them in. It also has been used to intimidate voters through their front doors.

Only the voter, family members or caregivers can deliver a voter’s ballot in Arizona.   

Proposition 415 is a mail-in election. The county recommends the ballot be mailed to the elections office six or seven days before the deadline of Nov. 5 to ensure it arrives on time.

The Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library will serve as a drop-off site for ballots during operating hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 5. Voters also can obtain a replacement ballot or vote by provisional ballot. 

Grant for VTC

The Veterans Treatment Court will receive a $500,000 grant from the federal government that will be used to enhance its operations. 

The Bullhead City court began taking cases in early 2017 and is considered a problem-solving court for military veterans dealing with addiction, serious mental illness and recurring disorders, who end up in the general court system. 

This alternative court coordinates with prosecuting and defense counsel, county attorney, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and local mental health organizations, to keep struggling veterans from ending up in jail or prison. They receive assistance but also must be willing to make efforts to stay out of trouble.  

Judge Peter Psareas, who runs the court here, is expected to talk about how the money will be spent at an upcoming council meeting, Cotter said. 

Thousands of veterans reside in the city.

In other business, council members:

  • Approved a resolution supporting the Arizona Peace Trail and its passing through the city. Cotter told council members that the trail plan fits in with the city’s interest in highlighting sports and active tourism.
  • Heard from resident Jamie Starr, who asked council members to consider banning smoking in local parks. Starr cited examples of people smoking next to the municipal pool, splash pads and various sports courts at Ken Fovargue Park, locations frequented by children, to make her point. 
  • Granted Riverfront Terraces, Inc., two more years to request permits for two mixed-use projects in Petersen’s Acres.
  • Proclaimed Oct. 23 as “Walk Away from Drugs Day.”

Northern Arizona

Phoenix

Access to transit boosts Phoenix residential, office values, report says

Valley Metro light rail has been a boon for development along the Central Avenue corridor

By Corina Vanek  – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

Access to mass transit improved residential sales value in seven major American cities and increased office sales value in five, including Phoenix, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors.

In Phoenix from 2012 to 2016, median sales prices for homes within a half-mile of a light rail station increased 16% higher than homes outside of the transit area, according to the study. In all cities studied, homes near transit saw larger increases in their sales price.

The study included Phoenix, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, Hartford Connecticut, and Eugene, Oregon.

According to the study, about 110,000 people in the Valley lived within a half-mile of a light rail station in 2016. The stations that saw the greatest increase in residential property values were the 38th Street and Washington station, where the median sales price increased 201% between 2012 and 2016, and the Sycamore and Main Street station in Mesa, where the median sales price increased 132%.

The transit area, or shed, makes up less than 1% of the region’s land area. Eight percent of the region’s commercial sales, both retail and office, between 2012 and 2016 took place within the transit shed, according to the study.

For offices in Phoenix, the median price per square foot for sales value increased 54% for offices within a half-mile of a light rail station, compared with 49% for offices farther away from public transportation. The only city studied where office sales value decreased near transit was Seattle. Office sales data for Minneapolis-St. Paul was not provided.

For retail properties, the median sales price for buildings within the transit shed decreased as compared with properties farther from the light rail, which the study partially attributes to the changing dynamics of retail, which has left many empty storefronts in malls and strip centers.

“Public transit’s benefits go beyond moving people from point A to point B,” APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas said in a statement. “Public transportation is a valuable investment in our communities, our businesses, and our country. Public transportation gets people to jobs and educational opportunities and helps businesses attract employees and customers.”

According to a study done by Valley Metro, in the light rail’s first 10 years of operation, $11 billion of public and private capital investment has been made along the 26-mile route.

According to the Valley Metro report, before the train was constructed, the corridor contained 3.11 square miles, or about 2,000 acres, of undeveloped land. By 2017, 62 percent of the vacant acreage had been developed, leaving about 1.17 miles, 750 acres, for development.

Phoenix prepares request for multifamily project on downtown American Legion site 

The city of Phoenix soon will seek proposals for the redevelopment of city-owned property near Grand Avenue and Seventh Street, which is now home to an American Legion post.

By Corina Vanek  – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

The city of Phoenix is preparing to release a request for proposals to redevelop the Luke-Greenway American Legion Post 1 on Seventh Avenue between Grand Avenue and Polk Street into multifamily housing.

Developers submitting plans for the site will be required to make 60% of the units affordable and workforce housing with a preference for veterans. As part of the project, 25 Veterans Affairs supportive housing vouchers will be provided for the site from the city’s housing department.

“It has been an American Legion site for 100 years, it has been a veterans site for 100 years,” said Christine Mackay, director, Phoenix Community and Economic Development. “It’s important to the city that this showcases our veterans.”

The property was donated to the city in 1920 with a 100-year lease agreement to the American Legion. However, that 100-year lease is coming to an end, and the original lease did not have a provision for renewal, Mackay said.

The site is zoned for up to four stories, and is required to be mixed-income housing. The city is requiring there be 3,000 square feet on the site dedicated to veterans’ services. Mackay said the American Legion expressed a desire to have restaurant and retail uses nearby, so it is possible a developer could propose a mixed-use plan.

Mackay said the city will work through traffic issues on the site, but so far it has been determined to have good ingress and egress from the adjacent streets.

The RFP is scheduled to be released in the next few weeks, and submissions will likely be due the before the end of the year, Mackay said.

The successful proposal will likely be before city council in fall 2020. Interested developers can sign up for notifications from the city about development requests for proposals at Phoenix.gov/EconDev and clicking on the “Hot List” button.

Costco receives first approval from Surprise City Council. Here’s what’s next

Jen Fifield, Arizona Republic

Road work and site grading at the location of the Surprise Costco, on the southwest corner of Waddell Road and Sarival Avenue. (Photo: Carrie Watters/The Republic)

The final plans for a Costco in Surprise are materializing.

Costco intends to open its new location sometime next year on the southwest corner of Sarival Avenue and Waddell Road, according to city documents.

The developer is grading the site, the city is widening the road and plans are in review.

On Tuesday, the project reached a milestone.

The Surprise City Council voted unanimously to approve the location’s liquor license.

The approval is noteworthy because it’s the first time the council has OK’d part of Costco’s plan.

Prior to this, city officials and the council were hush-hush about the retailer’s plans, stating that any news about Costco’s plans has to come from the company itself.

Costco plans start to become public

Residents have been clamoring for details. Costco is the most desired retailer in the city, according to numerous city surveys.

Sally Erickson, a Sun City West resident, said she and her husband are glad to see the project moving along, and she’s trying to follow every step.

The closest Costco to her, and many Surprise residents, in the Arrowhead area of Glendale, which many say is hard to get to because of Bell Road traffic.

Site grading at the location of the Surprise Costco, on the southwest corner of Waddell Road and Sarival Avenue. (Photo: Carrie Watters/The Republic)

The new Costco will be “just a hop, skip and a jump,” away from Erickson.

The Arizona Republic has been able to piece together details about the retailer’s plans, including publishing the first official confirmation that something was in the works in February, and revealing the location of the store in May.

In June, tucked in a city document for a related road project, The Republic found the best timeline that has yet to be released on the retailer’s opening: “Sometime in 2020.”

With the council approval on Tuesday, it appears the plans are starting to become public.

Road being widened, site being cleared

This summer, the Surprise City Council voted to push forward a road project that will benefit Costco.

The project will widen Waddell Road to three lanes in each direction, from Loop 303 to Reems Road. The city will also add a traffic signal at the corner of Sarival Avenue and Waddell Road.

The work is underway, and utilities are being relocated, said Diane Arthur, a city spokeswoman.

A 152,904-square-foot Costco warehouse and gas station dubbed “Prasada Gateway Costco” is planned for the 16-acre site, according to city documents.Get the Surprise News Now newsletter in your inbox.

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The city is reviewing the site plan for the location, which was originally submitted in April.

The developer is negotiating the sale of the land for the project, according to a city document from this summer.

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Exact timeline still unclear

The exact timeline for Costco’s opening is the last major detail the public is waiting on.

Costco does not formally announce new projects until a few months before they open, according to Costco representatives. A list of upcoming projects on the company’s website does not mention Surprise.

Costco is expecting about 200 to 250 full-time employees at the location, according to city documents. The company has not yet announced when hiring will begin.

After years of rumors, Surprise resident Tara Lipke said it’s nice to see something more concrete from the city with the approval of the liquor license.

Lipke got rid of her Costco membership a couple years ago because it wasn’t worth it to drive to the Arrowhead or Goodyear locations. This will convince her to get a membership again, she said.

“It’s exciting to know that it’s finally arriving.”

Prescott Area

Santa Cruz County

Scottsdale Area

Access to transit boosts Phoenix residential, office values, report says

Valley Metro light rail has been a boon for development along the Central Avenue corridor

By Corina Vanek  – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

Access to mass transit improved residential sales value in seven major American cities and increased office sales value in five, including Phoenix, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors.

In Phoenix from 2012 to 2016, median sales prices for homes within a half-mile of a light rail station increased 16% higher than homes outside of the transit area, according to the study. In all cities studied, homes near transit saw larger increases in their sales price.

The study included Phoenix, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, Hartford Connecticut, and Eugene, Oregon.

According to the study, about 110,000 people in the Valley lived within a half-mile of a light rail station in 2016. The stations that saw the greatest increase in residential property values were the 38th Street and Washington station, where the median sales price increased 201% between 2012 and 2016, and the Sycamore and Main Street station in Mesa, where the median sales price increased 132%.

The transit area, or shed, makes up less than 1% of the region’s land area. Eight percent of the region’s commercial sales, both retail and office, between 2012 and 2016 took place within the transit shed, according to the study.

For offices in Phoenix, the median price per square foot for sales value increased 54% for offices within a half-mile of a light rail station, compared with 49% for offices farther away from public transportation. The only city studied where office sales value decreased near transit was Seattle. Office sales data for Minneapolis-St. Paul was not provided.

For retail properties, the median sales price for buildings within the transit shed decreased as compared with properties farther from the light rail, which the study partially attributes to the changing dynamics of retail, which has left many empty storefronts in malls and strip centers.

“Public transit’s benefits go beyond moving people from point A to point B,” APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas said in a statement. “Public transportation is a valuable investment in our communities, our businesses, and our country. Public transportation gets people to jobs and educational opportunities and helps businesses attract employees and customers.”

According to a study done by Valley Metro, in the light rail’s first 10 years of operation, $11 billion of public and private capital investment has been made along the 26-mile route.

According to the Valley Metro report, before the train was constructed, the corridor contained 3.11 square miles, or about 2,000 acres, of undeveloped land. By 2017, 62 percent of the vacant acreage had been developed, leaving about 1.17 miles, 750 acres, for development.

Maricopa County bonds and overrides: 26 school districts ask for local taxpayer money

Lily Altavena, Arizona Republic

Dozens of school districts in Maricopa County are asking voters for more money in November.

Some schools need security upgrades. Other district leaders say they need funds to build new schools. Some are asking for taxpayer money to keep teacher salaries competitive.

The Nov. 5 election is with mail-in ballots. In 2017, the first year all school ballot measures were conducted by mail, all 27 bond and override measures passed. Voters can either drop their ballot in the mailbox or return them in-person to a voting location.

What are bonds and overrides? 

Bonds and overrides affect local property taxes. School districts do some of the math in estimating the impact on voters’ taxes and provide that in the voter pamphlets, which can be found on the Maricopa County School Superintendent website.

A bond may be issued by public school districts to pay for longer-term projects, such as building new schools, renovating existing ones or investing in technology and transportation infrastructure. Voters approve the sale of bonds to raise money for these projects.

An override can increase a district’s classroom budget by up to 15% for seven years, though the last two years are used for phasing out the override. This is why school districts typically ask voters to renew existing overrides in their fifth year, to avoid a phase-down.

The two types of overrides districts are asking for this year are:

  • Maintenance and operations overrides, the most common type of overrides which are used for operational expenses such as teacher salaries and student programs. 
  • District additional assistance overrides which supplement capital funding and typically fund technology, books and other equipment.

How all-mail vote works

Voters should receive their ballots in the mail this month.

Instead of going to a traditional assigned polling place, voters should put their ballots in the mail by Oct. 30 or drop them off at any ballot center through 7 p.m. Nov. 5. Ballot centers enable voters to drop off their ballots close to home as they go about their daily activities.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has published online a full list of ballot center locations and times.

School bonds and overrides on the ballot in Maricopa County

Agua Fria Union High School District: Asking for a $55 million bond to make safety and security upgrades to schools, improve HVAC and air-conditioning systems, renovate buildings and make general improvements to school campuses.

Avondale Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $1.9 million district additional assistance override to pay for renovations and improvements of school buildings, which will include safety and security upgrades. The override would also potentially cover classroom materials and devices for students.

Buckeye Elementary School District: Asking for a $54 million bond, which will cover a variety of school upgrades. The money would go to acquiring land to build two new schools, one which will be named after John McCain.The district would also spend the bond money on construction. Another chunk of the funding would go to upgrade classrooms, classroom furniture, technology and new school buses.

Chandler Unified School District: Asking for a $290 million bond, which would go to construction and improvements in schools. The money would also go toward new technology and school buses. Examples of building renovations include roof repairs, safety renovations, lighting upgrades, parking lot repairs, security fencing and systems, and foundation repairs.

Deer Valley Unified School District: Asking for a $175 million bond and to renew a $30 million maintenance and operations override. The bond money would go to improving technology in district schools, renovations to school buildings, safety and security enhancements on school campuses and school bus replacements.

The override money would help keep class sizes at the current level (without the override, class sizes could increase by about three students), continue full-day kindergarten, continue to support extracurricular activities for students and continue to fund school counselors and support staff.

Dysart Unified School District: Asking for a $152.5 million bond and to renew a $22.4 million maintenance and operations override. The bond money would help cover building renovations, technology and equipment upgrades, new school buses, a land purchase for a new high school and security upgrades.

The override would pay for arts, physical education and athletic programs, free all-day kindergarten, teacher retention, math and reading support, and to keep class sizes at manageable levels.Get the Law & Order newsletter in your inbox.

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Fowler Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $3.4 million maintenance and operations override, which would help maintain class sizes and fund existing music, art and physical education programs.

Gilbert Unified School District: Asking for a $100 million bond and a $32 million maintenance and operations override, which is an increase from Gilbert’s current override limit. The bond would go to renovate aging school buildings, including HVAC improvements, roof replacements and flooring upgrades.

The override money would be used to reduce class sizes, ensure a full-time social worker at every district elementary and junior high school and add a mental health counselor at certain schools.

Higley Unified School District: Asking to renew an $11.7 million maintenance and operations override, which would increase teacher pay, maintain arts programs, support gifted and special education programs and maintain class sizes.

The district also is asking to use 2013 bond money for a different purpose than originally intended. Higley no longer needs to money to acquire land. If the repurpose is approved, the money would instead go to transportation, technology and building improvements.

Liberty Elementary School District: Asking for a $49.8 million bond and a $1.1 million maintenance and operations override increase. Bond money would go to constructing a new elementary school, building renovations, safety and security upgrades and other improvements.

The increased maintenance and override funds would help maintain class sizes, add counselors to all of Liberty schools and continue full-day kindergarten.

Littleton Elementary School District: Asking to renew the district’s existing $5.1 million maintenance and operations override. The override money goes to free full-day kindergarten, lowering class sizes and teacher salaries. It also supports music, art and physical education programs, as well as after-school athletic and club programs.

Madison Elementary School District: Asking for a $90 million bond and renewal of the district’s existing $5 million maintenance and operations override. Funds from the bond, if approved, would pay for security and safety improvements, school renovations, general building maintenance, transportation and technology.

The override money is spent on curriculum, educator retention and recruitment, and student and staff support.

Mesa Unified School District: The state’s largest school district is asking for an $18 million maintenance and operations override increase, a 5% increase from the existing override. In all, the 15% would generate $54 million a year for the district. The override would help decrease class sizes, increase school security staffing and add counselors to district schools.

Murphy Elementary School District: Asking for a $500,000 district additional assistance override and permission to sell Garcia Elementary School. The override would raise money for technology, curriculum materials, campus security upgrades and student transportation equipment.

The district also is asking voters to approve the sale of Garcia Elementary School, on 27th Avenue and Buckeye Road. According to the district’s voter pamphlet, the school building has numerous deficiencies including leaking roofs and high levels of contaminants in the air.

Nadaburg Unified School District: Asking for a $2.4 million bond to renovate school buildings, improve school grounds, provide schools with technology and supplies and establish the district’s first high school program.

Paloma Elementary School District:The district is asking for voter approval to construct four buildings to replace old school buildings to improve student safety, increase the number of classrooms and update classroom technology.

Palo Verde Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $430,220 maintenance and operations override to maintain full-day kindergarten, maintain class sizes and maintain salaries to retain school staff.

Paradise Valley Unified School District: Asking for a $236 million bond and a $6.4 million district additional assistance override. The bond money would go to building renovations, fire, safety and security system updates, new school buses, the purchase of land for schools, improved equipment for certain programs and furniture for collaborative learning spaces in high schools.

The district would spend the override money on class materials and maintaining school buildings.

Pendergast Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $7.6 million maintenance and operations override to maintain class sizes, keep free full-day kindergarten and keep music, art and physical education enrichment programs.

Peoria Unified School District: Asking for a $33 million maintenance and operations override, which would help the district fund all-day kindergarten, arts education programs, assistant principal salaries, teacher retention, athletic programs, extracurricular programs, gifted education, school nurses, physical education programs and reading programs. It would also help maintain class sizes.

Phoenix Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $3 million district additional assistance override, which would help the district replace furnishings in schools, provide instructional materials, repair and replace school buses, maintain technology and make upgrades to school campuses.

Queen Creek Unified School District: Asking to renew a $7.4 million maintenance and operations override, which will help the district maintain academic programs, maintain art and music classes, maintain school security, maintain class sizes, maintain teacher and staff salaries and maintain athletic, ROTC and gifted programs.

Saddle Mountain Unified School District: Asking for a $47.5 million bond and to renew a $1.5 million maintenance and operations override. The district wants to spend the bond money to help build a new school to keep up with a growing student population, expand existing campuses and purchase new school buses.

The override renewal would help the district maintain smaller class sizes, maintain full-day kindergarten, continue fine arts and career/technical education programs, continue athletic and extracurricular activities, provide staff development programs and maintain existing schools.

Scottsdale Unified School District: Asking to renew a $21.4 million maintenance and operations override to maintain current class sizes, all-day kindergarten and music, art, world languages and athletic programs.

Tempe Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $5 million district additional assistance override and to renew a $9.9 million maintenance and operations override. The district additional assistance override would help the district replace musical instruments, improve technology, maintain IT systems, upgrade furniture and upgrade safety and security systems.

The maintenance and operations override would help the district maintain class sizes and offer academic assistance to students after school.

Tolleson Union High School District: Asking for a $125 million bond to enhance safety and security at school campuses, perform maintenance to school buildings, construct new school buildings, provide technology, furniture, fixtures and equipment to support student growth, purchase new school buses and improve school grounds.

Sedona/Verde Valley

Southeast Arizona

SEVRAR

Access to transit boosts Phoenix residential, office values, report says

Valley Metro light rail has been a boon for development along the Central Avenue corridor

By Corina Vanek  – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

Access to mass transit improved residential sales value in seven major American cities and increased office sales value in five, including Phoenix, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors.

In Phoenix from 2012 to 2016, median sales prices for homes within a half-mile of a light rail station increased 16% higher than homes outside of the transit area, according to the study. In all cities studied, homes near transit saw larger increases in their sales price.

The study included Phoenix, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, Hartford Connecticut, and Eugene, Oregon.

According to the study, about 110,000 people in the Valley lived within a half-mile of a light rail station in 2016. The stations that saw the greatest increase in residential property values were the 38th Street and Washington station, where the median sales price increased 201% between 2012 and 2016, and the Sycamore and Main Street station in Mesa, where the median sales price increased 132%.

The transit area, or shed, makes up less than 1% of the region’s land area. Eight percent of the region’s commercial sales, both retail and office, between 2012 and 2016 took place within the transit shed, according to the study.

For offices in Phoenix, the median price per square foot for sales value increased 54% for offices within a half-mile of a light rail station, compared with 49% for offices farther away from public transportation. The only city studied where office sales value decreased near transit was Seattle. Office sales data for Minneapolis-St. Paul was not provided.

For retail properties, the median sales price for buildings within the transit shed decreased as compared with properties farther from the light rail, which the study partially attributes to the changing dynamics of retail, which has left many empty storefronts in malls and strip centers.

“Public transit’s benefits go beyond moving people from point A to point B,” APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas said in a statement. “Public transportation is a valuable investment in our communities, our businesses, and our country. Public transportation gets people to jobs and educational opportunities and helps businesses attract employees and customers.”

According to a study done by Valley Metro, in the light rail’s first 10 years of operation, $11 billion of public and private capital investment has been made along the 26-mile route.

According to the Valley Metro report, before the train was constructed, the corridor contained 3.11 square miles, or about 2,000 acres, of undeveloped land. By 2017, 62 percent of the vacant acreage had been developed, leaving about 1.17 miles, 750 acres, for development.

Blandford Homes set to buy East Valley land

Posted by Staff  /  October 16, 2019  /  No Comments  Print  Email

By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Reporter

Blandford Homes is slated to pay $19.1 million for 80 acres of land at Greenfield and Chandler Heights roads.

The town of Gilbert held an auction for the land with Blandford beating out bids from Taylor Morrison Homes and Zinke Dairy for the land.

The Gilbert Town Council is scheduled to vote Thursday to move forward with finalizing the land sale to Blandford.

Gilbert will use revenue from the sale for development a new regional park, according to council documents.

Maricopa County bonds and overrides: 26 school districts ask for local taxpayer money

Lily Altavena, Arizona Republic

Dozens of school districts in Maricopa County are asking voters for more money in November.

Some schools need security upgrades. Other district leaders say they need funds to build new schools. Some are asking for taxpayer money to keep teacher salaries competitive.

The Nov. 5 election is with mail-in ballots. In 2017, the first year all school ballot measures were conducted by mail, all 27 bond and override measures passed. Voters can either drop their ballot in the mailbox or return them in-person to a voting location.

What are bonds and overrides? 

Bonds and overrides affect local property taxes. School districts do some of the math in estimating the impact on voters’ taxes and provide that in the voter pamphlets, which can be found on the Maricopa County School Superintendent website.

A bond may be issued by public school districts to pay for longer-term projects, such as building new schools, renovating existing ones or investing in technology and transportation infrastructure. Voters approve the sale of bonds to raise money for these projects.

An override can increase a district’s classroom budget by up to 15% for seven years, though the last two years are used for phasing out the override. This is why school districts typically ask voters to renew existing overrides in their fifth year, to avoid a phase-down.

The two types of overrides districts are asking for this year are:

  • Maintenance and operations overrides, the most common type of overrides which are used for operational expenses such as teacher salaries and student programs. 
  • District additional assistance overrides which supplement capital funding and typically fund technology, books and other equipment.

How all-mail vote works

Voters should receive their ballots in the mail this month.

Instead of going to a traditional assigned polling place, voters should put their ballots in the mail by Oct. 30 or drop them off at any ballot center through 7 p.m. Nov. 5. Ballot centers enable voters to drop off their ballots close to home as they go about their daily activities.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has published online a full list of ballot center locations and times.

School bonds and overrides on the ballot in Maricopa County

Agua Fria Union High School District: Asking for a $55 million bond to make safety and security upgrades to schools, improve HVAC and air-conditioning systems, renovate buildings and make general improvements to school campuses.

Avondale Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $1.9 million district additional assistance override to pay for renovations and improvements of school buildings, which will include safety and security upgrades. The override would also potentially cover classroom materials and devices for students.

Buckeye Elementary School District: Asking for a $54 million bond, which will cover a variety of school upgrades. The money would go to acquiring land to build two new schools, one which will be named after John McCain.The district would also spend the bond money on construction. Another chunk of the funding would go to upgrade classrooms, classroom furniture, technology and new school buses.

Chandler Unified School District: Asking for a $290 million bond, which would go to construction and improvements in schools. The money would also go toward new technology and school buses. Examples of building renovations include roof repairs, safety renovations, lighting upgrades, parking lot repairs, security fencing and systems, and foundation repairs.

Deer Valley Unified School District: Asking for a $175 million bond and to renew a $30 million maintenance and operations override. The bond money would go to improving technology in district schools, renovations to school buildings, safety and security enhancements on school campuses and school bus replacements.

The override money would help keep class sizes at the current level (without the override, class sizes could increase by about three students), continue full-day kindergarten, continue to support extracurricular activities for students and continue to fund school counselors and support staff.

Dysart Unified School District: Asking for a $152.5 million bond and to renew a $22.4 million maintenance and operations override. The bond money would help cover building renovations, technology and equipment upgrades, new school buses, a land purchase for a new high school and security upgrades.

The override would pay for arts, physical education and athletic programs, free all-day kindergarten, teacher retention, math and reading support, and to keep class sizes at manageable levels.Get the Law & Order newsletter in your inbox.

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Fowler Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $3.4 million maintenance and operations override, which would help maintain class sizes and fund existing music, art and physical education programs.

Gilbert Unified School District: Asking for a $100 million bond and a $32 million maintenance and operations override, which is an increase from Gilbert’s current override limit. The bond would go to renovate aging school buildings, including HVAC improvements, roof replacements and flooring upgrades.

The override money would be used to reduce class sizes, ensure a full-time social worker at every district elementary and junior high school and add a mental health counselor at certain schools.

Higley Unified School District: Asking to renew an $11.7 million maintenance and operations override, which would increase teacher pay, maintain arts programs, support gifted and special education programs and maintain class sizes.

The district also is asking to use 2013 bond money for a different purpose than originally intended. Higley no longer needs to money to acquire land. If the repurpose is approved, the money would instead go to transportation, technology and building improvements.

Liberty Elementary School District: Asking for a $49.8 million bond and a $1.1 million maintenance and operations override increase. Bond money would go to constructing a new elementary school, building renovations, safety and security upgrades and other improvements.

The increased maintenance and override funds would help maintain class sizes, add counselors to all of Liberty schools and continue full-day kindergarten.

Littleton Elementary School District: Asking to renew the district’s existing $5.1 million maintenance and operations override. The override money goes to free full-day kindergarten, lowering class sizes and teacher salaries. It also supports music, art and physical education programs, as well as after-school athletic and club programs.

Madison Elementary School District: Asking for a $90 million bond and renewal of the district’s existing $5 million maintenance and operations override. Funds from the bond, if approved, would pay for security and safety improvements, school renovations, general building maintenance, transportation and technology.

The override money is spent on curriculum, educator retention and recruitment, and student and staff support.

Mesa Unified School District: The state’s largest school district is asking for an $18 million maintenance and operations override increase, a 5% increase from the existing override. In all, the 15% would generate $54 million a year for the district. The override would help decrease class sizes, increase school security staffing and add counselors to district schools.

Murphy Elementary School District: Asking for a $500,000 district additional assistance override and permission to sell Garcia Elementary School. The override would raise money for technology, curriculum materials, campus security upgrades and student transportation equipment.

The district also is asking voters to approve the sale of Garcia Elementary School, on 27th Avenue and Buckeye Road. According to the district’s voter pamphlet, the school building has numerous deficiencies including leaking roofs and high levels of contaminants in the air.

Nadaburg Unified School District: Asking for a $2.4 million bond to renovate school buildings, improve school grounds, provide schools with technology and supplies and establish the district’s first high school program.

Paloma Elementary School District:The district is asking for voter approval to construct four buildings to replace old school buildings to improve student safety, increase the number of classrooms and update classroom technology.

Palo Verde Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $430,220 maintenance and operations override to maintain full-day kindergarten, maintain class sizes and maintain salaries to retain school staff.

Paradise Valley Unified School District: Asking for a $236 million bond and a $6.4 million district additional assistance override. The bond money would go to building renovations, fire, safety and security system updates, new school buses, the purchase of land for schools, improved equipment for certain programs and furniture for collaborative learning spaces in high schools.

The district would spend the override money on class materials and maintaining school buildings.

Pendergast Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $7.6 million maintenance and operations override to maintain class sizes, keep free full-day kindergarten and keep music, art and physical education enrichment programs.

Peoria Unified School District: Asking for a $33 million maintenance and operations override, which would help the district fund all-day kindergarten, arts education programs, assistant principal salaries, teacher retention, athletic programs, extracurricular programs, gifted education, school nurses, physical education programs and reading programs. It would also help maintain class sizes.

Phoenix Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $3 million district additional assistance override, which would help the district replace furnishings in schools, provide instructional materials, repair and replace school buses, maintain technology and make upgrades to school campuses.

Queen Creek Unified School District: Asking to renew a $7.4 million maintenance and operations override, which will help the district maintain academic programs, maintain art and music classes, maintain school security, maintain class sizes, maintain teacher and staff salaries and maintain athletic, ROTC and gifted programs.

Saddle Mountain Unified School District: Asking for a $47.5 million bond and to renew a $1.5 million maintenance and operations override. The district wants to spend the bond money to help build a new school to keep up with a growing student population, expand existing campuses and purchase new school buses.

The override renewal would help the district maintain smaller class sizes, maintain full-day kindergarten, continue fine arts and career/technical education programs, continue athletic and extracurricular activities, provide staff development programs and maintain existing schools.

Scottsdale Unified School District: Asking to renew a $21.4 million maintenance and operations override to maintain current class sizes, all-day kindergarten and music, art, world languages and athletic programs.

Tempe Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $5 million district additional assistance override and to renew a $9.9 million maintenance and operations override. The district additional assistance override would help the district replace musical instruments, improve technology, maintain IT systems, upgrade furniture and upgrade safety and security systems.

The maintenance and operations override would help the district maintain class sizes and offer academic assistance to students after school.

Tolleson Union High School District: Asking for a $125 million bond to enhance safety and security at school campuses, perform maintenance to school buildings, construct new school buildings, provide technology, furniture, fixtures and equipment to support student growth, purchase new school buses and improve school grounds.

Tucson

Attorney seeks to update pool codes after drownings

  • Jeff Gardner, Tucson Local Media

On March 18, 2017, Mei Hu embarked on a trip from which she would never return. The 35-year-old Chinese native, in Tucson on a business trip, checked into the DoubleTree hotel across from Reid Park around 8:30 p.m. At 9 p.m., she video-chatted with her husband and two children back in China. At 9:40 p.m., guests found her body at the bottom of the hotel’s pool. 

This was not the first time a drowning incident occurred at the South Alvernon DoubleTree. In fact, it wasn’t even the second.

In 2010, a man from India drowned in the same pool while swimming with his wife. In 2006, a teenager nearly drowned and landed in critical condition after attempting to save a friend who was also struggling to remain above water in the pool. 

However, jurors on Hu’s case were not informed about either of these incidents, as the judge deemed they would prejudice the jury. 

Ultimately, after a 10-day trial this August and September, the jury awarded $2.75 million in “wrongful death” damages to Hu’s family, finding her partially at-fault for the drowning. While the Pima County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report found Hu died of an accidental drowning, without any signs of any other medical problems, the jury did not rule completely in Hu’s favor due to her being a “non-swimmer” and going into the pool by herself.

The jury ruled against the former owner of the DoubleTree, WBCMT, for multiple safety concerns regarding the pool, including a dangerously steep slope from the shallow to deep ends, the lack of a “lifeline safety rope” in the pool, inadequate lighting within and around the pool, and obscured depth markers.

“It’s like they were playing Russian roulette with people,” said Michael Crawford, the Tucson attorney who represented Hu’s family during the case. “You’d think it’s a swim-at-your-own-risk type situation, but the more I looked into it, the more I realized, ‘This is not good.’”

Crawford has served as plaintiff on four drowning cases since 2012, and attributes the main factors in these deaths to be Pima County’s outdated safety codes, along with hotel and apartment owners not securing their pools as part of their “non-delegable” duties.

In the instance of Hu’s drowning, the unique shape of DoubleTree’s pool caused part of the risk. According to the Department of Health, a pool’s transitional slope from shallow to deep should not be steeper than one foot vertical per 10 feet horizontal. But findings after Hu’s drowning indicated that sections of the DoubleTree’s slope were 1 foot per 4 feet. The pool was built in 1974, prior to these codes, and the hotel was never mandated to update the pool. 

In addition, the lifeline safety rope (a rope that separates the shallow end from the deep end for people to hold onto), which appears on construction drawings of the pool, was removed.

Hotel employees stated the rope was removed because children were playing on it.

And as for Hu being a non-swimmer, the plaintiffs argue she “was merely trying to go into the shallow end of the swimming pool.” But due to the lack of proper lighting and safety rope, as well as obscured depth markers, the five-foot woman ended up on a “dangerous slope” leading into the eight-foot deep end, became submerged, and drowned. 

The jury found Hu and the DoubleTree equally responsible for the drowning incident, and cut the initial $5.5 million verdict in half, with the $2.75 million going to Hu’s husband and children.

“I just happened to fall into this; I’ve kind of become the drowning expert,” Crawford said. “I don’t want to do these cases. I don’t like to do these cases. But as long as these keep happening, I’ll pursue them to prevent these cases.” 

Since the 2017 drowning, the owners of the South Alvernon DoubleTree have updated the safety features in the pool, including filling in deep end to five feet, and fixing the dangerously steep slope and inadequate depth markers. 

“It’s the most dangerous thing on a hotel property, bar none,” Crawford said. “We’ve gotten multiple pools fixed or filled in, but it takes somebody dying, which is ridiculous. Drownings are almost 100 percent preventable.” 

But this was not the only preventable drowning incident Crawford has worked on. In 2011, a young Nepalese boy drowned in an apartment complex on Monte Vista Drive. The boy is believed to have run out of an apartment while his parents weren’t looking, entered the pool area, and drowned. Although the pool was out of operation and permanently closed, the gate is believed to have not been locked. And because the pool was out of commission, the water was a murky green color, making it difficult for a search party to find the boy in time to save his life. According to an aquatic consultant, the drowning could have been averted in numerous ways, particularly if the gate was locked or if the gate opened by pulling, making it more difficult for small children to quickly push it open.

In a similar situation, Crawford represented the family of a young boy who drowned in an apartment complex on East Mohave Road in 2014. Although the gate around the pool was locked, there was a nearby fence of chain link and wrought iron that apartment residents often saw children climbing over to enter the pool area. 

In both of these apartment incidents, Crawford said the apartment owners argued they were in compliance with county pool codes and had passed inspection. 

“I’m not ragging too much on the county, I just think the codes need to be updated,” Crawford said. “They need an updated inspection checklist that will include more than is currently there.” 

Crawford’s goal is for Pima County to align its codes to fit the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code, which is a set of voluntary guidelines comprising scientific and best practices to help state and local governments update pool codes. The MAHC is updated every three years and includes recommendations on safe pool construction, maintenance, hygiene and inspections.

Some of the MAHC recommendations include all primary public access gates or doors being self-closing and self-latching, depth marker tiles being in noticeably contrasting colors, underwater lighting illuminating all portions of a pool, and depth markings and safety ropes at the slopes from the shallow to deep ends.

“In regards to pool codes in Pima County, it is also important to mention that the Health Department has a delegation agreement with the state that requires the use of the state code. Provisions of that code would be changed at the state regulatory level,” said Aaron Pacheco, community relations program manager for the Pima County Health Department.

According to Pacheco, there are 30 health inspectors spread among approximately 8,000 restaurants, pools and hotels in Pima County. They inspect public pools once a month, and “semipublic” pools (which apartment and hotel pools are considered) only once a year, although they “try to inspect more often.”

Crawford, who works with the Mesch, Clark Rothschild law firm, plans to speak with the Pima County Board of Supervisors next Tuesday, Oct. 15, about aligning Pima County’s pool codes, which were last updated in 1992, with the MAHC.

“Pool safety is the property owner’s responsibility,” Crawford said. “What we want to do, is to stop them from using the outdated county ordinances as a shield from responsibility… When a code hasn’t been updated in 20 years, you need to look at them. The codes should reflect what a reasonable, prudent hotel owner should do in 2019, not 1996.” 

Crawford points to the Virginia Graeme Baker Act as proof governments can successfully update large-scale pool laws in the name of public safety. The VGBA, which became effective in December 2008, requires every public pool and spa in the nation to be equipped with anti-entrapment suction devices, among other safety rules. 

While Pacheco says the Pima County Health Department has an “expansive list of priorities” for community health needs, he said discussions are currently taking place about adopting the MAHC. 

“We make people fix things all the time if it’s a health and safety issue,” Crawford said. “I believe if you want to prevent deaths, this is how you do it.”

WEMAR

Access to transit boosts Phoenix residential, office values, report says

Valley Metro light rail has been a boon for development along the Central Avenue corridor

By Corina Vanek  – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

Access to mass transit improved residential sales value in seven major American cities and increased office sales value in five, including Phoenix, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors.

In Phoenix from 2012 to 2016, median sales prices for homes within a half-mile of a light rail station increased 16% higher than homes outside of the transit area, according to the study. In all cities studied, homes near transit saw larger increases in their sales price.

The study included Phoenix, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, Hartford Connecticut, and Eugene, Oregon.

According to the study, about 110,000 people in the Valley lived within a half-mile of a light rail station in 2016. The stations that saw the greatest increase in residential property values were the 38th Street and Washington station, where the median sales price increased 201% between 2012 and 2016, and the Sycamore and Main Street station in Mesa, where the median sales price increased 132%.

The transit area, or shed, makes up less than 1% of the region’s land area. Eight percent of the region’s commercial sales, both retail and office, between 2012 and 2016 took place within the transit shed, according to the study.

For offices in Phoenix, the median price per square foot for sales value increased 54% for offices within a half-mile of a light rail station, compared with 49% for offices farther away from public transportation. The only city studied where office sales value decreased near transit was Seattle. Office sales data for Minneapolis-St. Paul was not provided.

For retail properties, the median sales price for buildings within the transit shed decreased as compared with properties farther from the light rail, which the study partially attributes to the changing dynamics of retail, which has left many empty storefronts in malls and strip centers.

“Public transit’s benefits go beyond moving people from point A to point B,” APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas said in a statement. “Public transportation is a valuable investment in our communities, our businesses, and our country. Public transportation gets people to jobs and educational opportunities and helps businesses attract employees and customers.”

According to a study done by Valley Metro, in the light rail’s first 10 years of operation, $11 billion of public and private capital investment has been made along the 26-mile route.

According to the Valley Metro report, before the train was constructed, the corridor contained 3.11 square miles, or about 2,000 acres, of undeveloped land. By 2017, 62 percent of the vacant acreage had been developed, leaving about 1.17 miles, 750 acres, for development.

Access to transit boosts Phoenix residential, office values, report says

Valley Metro light rail has been a boon for development along the Central Avenue corridor

By Corina Vanek  – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

Access to mass transit improved residential sales value in seven major American cities and increased office sales value in five, including Phoenix, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association and the National Association of Realtors.

In Phoenix from 2012 to 2016, median sales prices for homes within a half-mile of a light rail station increased 16% higher than homes outside of the transit area, according to the study. In all cities studied, homes near transit saw larger increases in their sales price.

The study included Phoenix, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, Hartford Connecticut, and Eugene, Oregon.

According to the study, about 110,000 people in the Valley lived within a half-mile of a light rail station in 2016. The stations that saw the greatest increase in residential property values were the 38th Street and Washington station, where the median sales price increased 201% between 2012 and 2016, and the Sycamore and Main Street station in Mesa, where the median sales price increased 132%.

The transit area, or shed, makes up less than 1% of the region’s land area. Eight percent of the region’s commercial sales, both retail and office, between 2012 and 2016 took place within the transit shed, according to the study.

For offices in Phoenix, the median price per square foot for sales value increased 54% for offices within a half-mile of a light rail station, compared with 49% for offices farther away from public transportation. The only city studied where office sales value decreased near transit was Seattle. Office sales data for Minneapolis-St. Paul was not provided.

For retail properties, the median sales price for buildings within the transit shed decreased as compared with properties farther from the light rail, which the study partially attributes to the changing dynamics of retail, which has left many empty storefronts in malls and strip centers.

“Public transit’s benefits go beyond moving people from point A to point B,” APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas said in a statement. “Public transportation is a valuable investment in our communities, our businesses, and our country. Public transportation gets people to jobs and educational opportunities and helps businesses attract employees and customers.”

According to a study done by Valley Metro, in the light rail’s first 10 years of operation, $11 billion of public and private capital investment has been made along the 26-mile route.

According to the Valley Metro report, before the train was constructed, the corridor contained 3.11 square miles, or about 2,000 acres, of undeveloped land. By 2017, 62 percent of the vacant acreage had been developed, leaving about 1.17 miles, 750 acres, for development.

Maricopa County bonds and overrides: 26 school districts ask for local taxpayer money

Lily Altavena, Arizona Republic

Dozens of school districts in Maricopa County are asking voters for more money in November.

Some schools need security upgrades. Other district leaders say they need funds to build new schools. Some are asking for taxpayer money to keep teacher salaries competitive.

The Nov. 5 election is with mail-in ballots. In 2017, the first year all school ballot measures were conducted by mail, all 27 bond and override measures passed. Voters can either drop their ballot in the mailbox or return them in-person to a voting location.

What are bonds and overrides? 

Bonds and overrides affect local property taxes. School districts do some of the math in estimating the impact on voters’ taxes and provide that in the voter pamphlets, which can be found on the Maricopa County School Superintendent website.

A bond may be issued by public school districts to pay for longer-term projects, such as building new schools, renovating existing ones or investing in technology and transportation infrastructure. Voters approve the sale of bonds to raise money for these projects.

An override can increase a district’s classroom budget by up to 15% for seven years, though the last two years are used for phasing out the override. This is why school districts typically ask voters to renew existing overrides in their fifth year, to avoid a phase-down.

The two types of overrides districts are asking for this year are:

  • Maintenance and operations overrides, the most common type of overrides which are used for operational expenses such as teacher salaries and student programs. 
  • District additional assistance overrides which supplement capital funding and typically fund technology, books and other equipment.

How all-mail vote works

Voters should receive their ballots in the mail this month.

Instead of going to a traditional assigned polling place, voters should put their ballots in the mail by Oct. 30 or drop them off at any ballot center through 7 p.m. Nov. 5. Ballot centers enable voters to drop off their ballots close to home as they go about their daily activities.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has published online a full list of ballot center locations and times.

School bonds and overrides on the ballot in Maricopa County

Agua Fria Union High School District: Asking for a $55 million bond to make safety and security upgrades to schools, improve HVAC and air-conditioning systems, renovate buildings and make general improvements to school campuses.

Avondale Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $1.9 million district additional assistance override to pay for renovations and improvements of school buildings, which will include safety and security upgrades. The override would also potentially cover classroom materials and devices for students.

Buckeye Elementary School District: Asking for a $54 million bond, which will cover a variety of school upgrades. The money would go to acquiring land to build two new schools, one which will be named after John McCain.The district would also spend the bond money on construction. Another chunk of the funding would go to upgrade classrooms, classroom furniture, technology and new school buses.

Chandler Unified School District: Asking for a $290 million bond, which would go to construction and improvements in schools. The money would also go toward new technology and school buses. Examples of building renovations include roof repairs, safety renovations, lighting upgrades, parking lot repairs, security fencing and systems, and foundation repairs.

Deer Valley Unified School District: Asking for a $175 million bond and to renew a $30 million maintenance and operations override. The bond money would go to improving technology in district schools, renovations to school buildings, safety and security enhancements on school campuses and school bus replacements.

The override money would help keep class sizes at the current level (without the override, class sizes could increase by about three students), continue full-day kindergarten, continue to support extracurricular activities for students and continue to fund school counselors and support staff.

Dysart Unified School District: Asking for a $152.5 million bond and to renew a $22.4 million maintenance and operations override. The bond money would help cover building renovations, technology and equipment upgrades, new school buses, a land purchase for a new high school and security upgrades.

The override would pay for arts, physical education and athletic programs, free all-day kindergarten, teacher retention, math and reading support, and to keep class sizes at manageable levels.Get the Law & Order newsletter in your inbox.

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Fowler Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $3.4 million maintenance and operations override, which would help maintain class sizes and fund existing music, art and physical education programs.

Gilbert Unified School District: Asking for a $100 million bond and a $32 million maintenance and operations override, which is an increase from Gilbert’s current override limit. The bond would go to renovate aging school buildings, including HVAC improvements, roof replacements and flooring upgrades.

The override money would be used to reduce class sizes, ensure a full-time social worker at every district elementary and junior high school and add a mental health counselor at certain schools.

Higley Unified School District: Asking to renew an $11.7 million maintenance and operations override, which would increase teacher pay, maintain arts programs, support gifted and special education programs and maintain class sizes.

The district also is asking to use 2013 bond money for a different purpose than originally intended. Higley no longer needs to money to acquire land. If the repurpose is approved, the money would instead go to transportation, technology and building improvements.

Liberty Elementary School District: Asking for a $49.8 million bond and a $1.1 million maintenance and operations override increase. Bond money would go to constructing a new elementary school, building renovations, safety and security upgrades and other improvements.

The increased maintenance and override funds would help maintain class sizes, add counselors to all of Liberty schools and continue full-day kindergarten.

Littleton Elementary School District: Asking to renew the district’s existing $5.1 million maintenance and operations override. The override money goes to free full-day kindergarten, lowering class sizes and teacher salaries. It also supports music, art and physical education programs, as well as after-school athletic and club programs.

Madison Elementary School District: Asking for a $90 million bond and renewal of the district’s existing $5 million maintenance and operations override. Funds from the bond, if approved, would pay for security and safety improvements, school renovations, general building maintenance, transportation and technology.

The override money is spent on curriculum, educator retention and recruitment, and student and staff support.

Mesa Unified School District: The state’s largest school district is asking for an $18 million maintenance and operations override increase, a 5% increase from the existing override. In all, the 15% would generate $54 million a year for the district. The override would help decrease class sizes, increase school security staffing and add counselors to district schools.

Murphy Elementary School District: Asking for a $500,000 district additional assistance override and permission to sell Garcia Elementary School. The override would raise money for technology, curriculum materials, campus security upgrades and student transportation equipment.

The district also is asking voters to approve the sale of Garcia Elementary School, on 27th Avenue and Buckeye Road. According to the district’s voter pamphlet, the school building has numerous deficiencies including leaking roofs and high levels of contaminants in the air.

Nadaburg Unified School District: Asking for a $2.4 million bond to renovate school buildings, improve school grounds, provide schools with technology and supplies and establish the district’s first high school program.

Paloma Elementary School District:The district is asking for voter approval to construct four buildings to replace old school buildings to improve student safety, increase the number of classrooms and update classroom technology.

Palo Verde Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $430,220 maintenance and operations override to maintain full-day kindergarten, maintain class sizes and maintain salaries to retain school staff.

Paradise Valley Unified School District: Asking for a $236 million bond and a $6.4 million district additional assistance override. The bond money would go to building renovations, fire, safety and security system updates, new school buses, the purchase of land for schools, improved equipment for certain programs and furniture for collaborative learning spaces in high schools.

The district would spend the override money on class materials and maintaining school buildings.

Pendergast Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $7.6 million maintenance and operations override to maintain class sizes, keep free full-day kindergarten and keep music, art and physical education enrichment programs.

Peoria Unified School District: Asking for a $33 million maintenance and operations override, which would help the district fund all-day kindergarten, arts education programs, assistant principal salaries, teacher retention, athletic programs, extracurricular programs, gifted education, school nurses, physical education programs and reading programs. It would also help maintain class sizes.

Phoenix Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $3 million district additional assistance override, which would help the district replace furnishings in schools, provide instructional materials, repair and replace school buses, maintain technology and make upgrades to school campuses.

Queen Creek Unified School District: Asking to renew a $7.4 million maintenance and operations override, which will help the district maintain academic programs, maintain art and music classes, maintain school security, maintain class sizes, maintain teacher and staff salaries and maintain athletic, ROTC and gifted programs.

Saddle Mountain Unified School District: Asking for a $47.5 million bond and to renew a $1.5 million maintenance and operations override. The district wants to spend the bond money to help build a new school to keep up with a growing student population, expand existing campuses and purchase new school buses.

The override renewal would help the district maintain smaller class sizes, maintain full-day kindergarten, continue fine arts and career/technical education programs, continue athletic and extracurricular activities, provide staff development programs and maintain existing schools.

Scottsdale Unified School District: Asking to renew a $21.4 million maintenance and operations override to maintain current class sizes, all-day kindergarten and music, art, world languages and athletic programs.

Tempe Elementary School District: Asking to renew a $5 million district additional assistance override and to renew a $9.9 million maintenance and operations override. The district additional assistance override would help the district replace musical instruments, improve technology, maintain IT systems, upgrade furniture and upgrade safety and security systems.

The maintenance and operations override would help the district maintain class sizes and offer academic assistance to students after school.

Tolleson Union High School District: Asking for a $125 million bond to enhance safety and security at school campuses, perform maintenance to school buildings, construct new school buildings, provide technology, furniture, fixtures and equipment to support student growth, purchase new school buses and improve school grounds.

White Mountain

Yuma