Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bring Back Manzanita

Does anyone else fondly remember the sounds of Manazinta Speedway on a Friday night? How about the sounds of cash registers clanging with every ticket sold and every supporting business transaction that was associated with it?

I attended the planPHX meeting at Cesar Chavez Library tonight, where I was thrilled to hear Phil Hertel's suggestion that we should bring back Manzanita Speedway. Phil owns an auto recycling business on Broadway, specializing in classic Buicks (, so he knows something about this business. Apparently there's a real lack of auto racing in the Valley right now, and that means pent up demand.

I know very little about the auto industry, but couldn't agree more with Phil. Even I have driven along Broadway on a Saturday morning in the past and gawked at the crowds. My first thought was that this looks like something really cool, something cool that most of us totally fail to notice! But here's this opportunity and a thriving culture staring right at us.... Why not make something more of it?!

So that's why I've submitted the following plans to the city. Please support them:
"Car Culture" 
"Car Culture, Part II -- Del Rio Brown Fields"

More info about the Del Rio Brown Fields Project here:

Update: Thanks to Steven Klein for a link to Arcadia Publishing's book about Manzy:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How Can We Grow?

There's been a lot of discussion in the past (and present) about what additional amenities Laveen and south Phoenix need and how the city might help us get there -- or in many cases, how the city has perhaps failed to help in a meaningful way. In conjunction with my previous post regarding the MyPlanPHX website, I'd like to make a proposal as to how we can step forward with meaningful progress at the city level utilizing existing city staff and departmental resources.

First, it's important to note that this website serves all of Phoenix and a great number of active contributors are from other areas -- heavily weighted toward downtown and midtown from what I've noticed (take a look at the charts I posted -- mostly familiar names from CenPho). Those folks are facing some of the same issues as us, but often from a slightly different angle. This means we can likely get them on our side in many ways that we may not have previously thought possible.

Prominent Laveen resident Erika K (you all likely know her from our FB group) submitted a plan back in August, titled "Marketing the City of Phoenix", which has picked up a great deal of support and generated a lot of discussion recently. Erika's concern is that our city is not proactively getting the word out about some of our greatest assets, and that the city's various campaigns are all too often uncoordinated. I think we can all share that frustration at times, especially when it seems that our part of town is all too often overlooked for new city-backed initiatives that involve economic development. If you agree, then please go read through Erika's proposal and the discussion that follows. Perhaps then you will feel inclined to second it.

As for me, I've chimed in a couple of ideas for citywide initiatives that I think would really help take this notion a step further. We need to not only create the outward-focused marketing materials, but also shift gears elsewhere to show our complete commitment to making this a reality. Here's my comment on Erika's recommendation (which includes links to a few more ideas):

What if we implemented a plan to take a more holistic view of economic development and dispersed it throughout many city departments, while providing central oversight? Here's a plan that I submitted a while back:

Also, I'd love to see the planning department work with our community and economic development department to highlight specific business opportunities based on zoning, proximal uses, etc. While it's part of the recommendation for our light rail, this could work throughout the city. Here's that proposal:

And finally, as a focusing measure to work on behalf of each village or other geographic area of our city, I strongly recommend business incubators:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

MyPlanPHX Idea Submission

Hi All,

Been a while and I've missed this blog. Looking forward to becoming reacquainted with it again, as there's lots to share. First and most importantly, how about this cool new website from the city of Phoenix, which I've been using to submit ideas as have a couple other active residents from our area. More details below.


Data on MyPlanPHX
As you can see from these charts, the top ten users have submitted over half of all ideas on the MyPlanPHX page and are generating more than two-thirds of the discussion. Not sure about you, but I'd say this calls for a little more input for a city our size. I'd also argue that perhaps there's an opportunity for more Laveen and south Phoenix residents to jump in and have our voices heard. Just a thought, but certainly worthy of your consideration. Here's my profile (Patrick B4) in case you want to see my ideas. Just know that there's a catch -- you've got to sign up before scoping out users' profiles.

Laveen Related Posts on MyPlanPHX
Build the 202!
Don't Build the Loop 202
Replace Major Arterial Roads w/ "AZ Parkway" Design

Increase Shade Canopy Coverage on the LACC
HAWK Lights for Improved Walkability and Biking

If I'm missing any others, please share in the comments section below. Let's start discussing how we want to improve our city.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why I Support the Dispensary

As many are already aware, the city of Phoenix is currently considering a controversial proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary to be located at the SW corner of 35th Avenue and Southern Avenue. In order to make this happen, the business owners must not only obtain a special use permit, but must also obtain a "variance" due to proximity to residentially zoned property and a daycare business in a nearby shopping center. Here's why I think this variance should be granted:

First, by process of elimination, let's review the other commercial locations where a dispensary could go. 51st/Baseline, also near schools/daycares/residential, is easily Laveen's prime retail market. This means prime rents as well, which I would guess are not an option. 51st/Southern already has a smoke shop and, oh yeah, a public charter school (maybe someday that office complex will appear on the NW corner as well). This doesn't seem like a great location to me, especially as close as it will be to the planned freeway and all of the pre-existing traffic on 51st -- why let it become a one stop drive-by location for those passing through. Then there's 35th/Baseline -- you know, right across from the park, library, and high school. No go. So how about 27th/Southern? Nope, there's a private school and a daycare there. 27th/Baseline? I suppose that one could work, except that there's also a public school nearby and this is otherwise a very low-traffic area. So how about 43rd/Southern? 35th/Broadway? 27th/Dobbins? 51st/Dobbins? Somewhere mid-block? I don't think any of those are good options, considering they are not very visible or patrolled (not sure that there's actually available space at any of those, either).

That leaves us with the intersection of 35th/Southern as the only one with plenty of available commercial space. This intersection has been plagued with business closures, from the ghost town of a Mervyn's center on the NW to the now shuttered Ace Hardware on the NE and the closed OfficeMax on the SW. But what has done well there? Wal-Mart, multiple fast food restaurants, and more recently there have been several medically related businesses popping up (and a little confection shop and locally owned gun store if we're being thorough -- please spare the obvious jokes and unfounded concerns about co-locating a marijuana dispensary nearby). The dispensary didn't choose one of the nearly empty shopping centers or a hidden location in the back corner, but instead opted for a shop space out in front of the busy and well patrolled Wal-Mart, also near an urgent care facility and multiple other relatively high traffic businesses. What a sensible location! They're *ahem* puffing some new life into the area and perhaps even benefitting other nearby businesses (sorry, couldn't help it).

Isn't this what we want? Shouldn't we want the most visible and secure location available? Doesn't it make sense that this business be located nearby other medically relevant businesses if we are to accept the "medical marijuana" premise, which isn't remotely up for debate on this matter? I don't feel strongly about this issue, except that I want badly for common sense to prevail on such matters so that we can spare our energy for the more important battles. If you believe as I do that this is an easy one to let pass, please feel to contact and via email with a short note expressing your support (apparently you need to send it off by Wednesday, May 23rd for it to count, but don't sweat the details -- just your opinion, name, and maybe address so that they know it's from an actual member of the community). Also, I understand that the dispensary operators and their representatives are meeting with neighbors at the Laveen Starbucks (at 51st/Baseline) this evening, Monday May 21st, at 6:00 PM. I encourage you to go and find out more. Otherwise, keep an eye out for private crops, coming your way soon (almost forgot to mention that a dispensary location preempts growing rights nearby). That is all. Have a wonderful day.

***Full disclosure: I own a home in Laveen, but have recently moved down the street and now live in the South Mountain Village. This will be properly mentioned in the message I plan to send the above mentioned city officials in favor of the dispensary.

Update, May 21st, 4:11 PM: Here's my letter to the city officials mentioned above:

Dear Phoenix Planning Officials: 
Please see my recent blog post in favor of the medical marijuana dispensary currently being considered for the intersection of 35th/Southern in Laveen: For the record, I am in no way affiliated with the applicants, nor do I have a stake in the overall medical marijuana debate. And as noted at the very end of my post, I am no longer a Laveen resident, but still live nearby and have an interest in the community as a property owner. I have also served on the LVPC in the past, worked in commercial and residential real estate, and been an active community member, which I hope provides a certain degree of authority on the matter. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or requests for comment. 
Best regards, 
Patrick Brennan

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Big GRIC Vote Day Is Now Upon Us....

In tracking the coverage today of the GRIC vote for a recently proposed realignment of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, I found a couple of interesting news stories. First, there's a great write-up at azcentral that covers much of this project's history (click here), and then there's this other story from azfamily (click here)...... Needless to say, I was not pleased with KTVK's horrible coverage, so I sent the following message to, and would not mind if you sent something similar:

As a South Mountain area resident and founding member of the Friends of the South Mountain Freeway group, I am concerned that your coverage focused on the freeway as a bypass route that will primarily be something of a burden to surrounding areas. This freeway also represents a vital piece of local infrastructure for people nearby, as it will bring a hospital to Laveen to serve the entire surrounding area, reduce trip times for people living and working in Laveen and Ahwatukee, and take heavy traffic off of our local arterial and collector streets. Further, the freeway brings with it a host of additional economic development benefit for its surroundings, by broadening the market base for retail and other commercial developments that will follow suit. Please do a better job in your future coverage to look at all sides of the story rather than the perspectives of a noisy few opponents -- especially when our fragile local economy is at stake. 

Update 2/7/2011, 10:00 PM: This just in, the unofficial vote results from GRIC are for the no-build option. This likely means that ADOT will pursue the original alignment and fast-track the project: 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Traffic and Transportation Issues for Laveen

No, this post is not about the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway (but seriously, where's our freeway?). This is about other transportation issues that are merely tangentially related to the discussion of the SMF....

First, let's just get this out there: I was right about Interstate-11. The lobbying for this highway, specifically the Hassayampa Freeway portion, is strong enough that Governor Brewer mentioned it in her "state of the state" speech yesterday (interestingly advocating for a massive chunk of government spending as she said we were opposed to such a thing). In a world of limited resources, we need to be wary of competing projects that may derail our preferred transportation plans. This is why I ask that you consider attending the ADOT meeting later in January (Tuesday the 24th, at 4:00 PM) to speak on behalf of Phoenix and Laveen.

Now on to the minutia. Last night, at the LVPC meeting, we discussed many exciting topics (seriously, you should come to a meeting sometime), one of which was our lack of bike lanes -- or stated another way, the huge opportunity for new bike lanes in Laveen. As a part of this topic, we discussed the difference between arterial and collector streets, varying street widths (and the options for each), bike lanes versus bike paths (designated and undesignated), and so on. Most importantly, we realized that our guest from the city of Phoenix, Joe Perez (aka our one-man biking task force -- click here for his email address), had a lot on his plate and he really wants our help to make our community more bike friendly. I really encourage anyone with an interest in bicycling to reach out to Mr. Perez with recommendations for new routes. This is the epitome of low-hanging fruit for smart infrastructure growth. A few recommendations that I would like to throw out there:

  1. 51st - Beltline - Riggs - Baseline 20th Street - Dobbins (40-mile loop) should be recognized regionally as an ideal scenic biking route, and the city of Phoenix should do its part to paint the roads and provide signs where it can.
  2. Bike commuters need to travel safely to schools, the library, the new park n' ride facility at 27th/Baseline, and other vital public facilities.
  3. Bike commuters should be able to safely travel to businesses and government offices located north of Laveen, such as a path to the government office complex at 35th Avenue and Lower Buckeye.
  4. We should develop trails along the Highline Canal, similar to those from 40th Street to Central (or thereabouts), as well as an interconnected trail access network to South Mountain.
  5. And my favorite: Let's get some use out of the existing trails along the Laveen Area Conveyance Channel (LACC) by adding HAWK lights where the LACC crosses busy streets. See my letter to Kerry Wilcoxon (from Streets and Transportation -- click here for his email address), on which I also copied Mr. Perez and Councilman Nowakowski:
Hello Mr. Wilcoxon,

I am a member of the Laveen Village Planning Committee and wanted to follow up on a topic that arose in our meeting last night. When discussing planned and existing bike paths with Joe Perez, we brought up the point that our popular yet mostly unmarked crossings for the Laveen Area Conveyance Channel are progressively dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. They also may represent a missed opportunity for the city's transportation planning goals.

The Laveen community continues to grow, which means commensurately increasing vehicular traffic on Baseline Road and 51st Avenue, as well as increasing use of the trails along the Laveen Area Conveyance Channel (LACC). While these trails offer a great deal of potential functionality for bike-commuting and recreation, Laveen residents fear the ever more dangerous levels of traffic where the LACC crosses Baseline Road (near 56th Ave.) and 51st Avenue (near Vineyard).

As a general safety issue, I'm sure that traffic mitigation needs have already been identified or anticipated for these busy arterial roads. Therefore, I propose that where the LACC crosses them, we ought to address the urgent issue of safety at those crossings, help control traffic along the connecting corridors, reduce our problematically high nearby pollution levels, enhance the outdoor lifestyle of the Laveen and South Mountain communities, and even help Mr. Perez accomplish his goal of making Phoenix a more bikeable city. HAWK signals may very well be the answer to all of the above. Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.


Patrick T. Brennan

I strongly suggest that you take part in the discussion as well. Feel free to use my email message above, regarding the HAWK signals, or pick your own area of interest to pursue. Thanks for reading and caring.