If you think "everything's fine" or that Phoenix has no troubles that aren't common to other cities, this is not your post. Spoiler alert: Everything is not fine.
We discuss problems and challenges, as well as intelligent responses, frequently in this space. A previous column sought to debunk the excuses, myths and lies about the place. But reading the comments on the most recent post made me wonder: Is Phoenix uniquely troubled? If so, how and why?
Sprawl doesn't explain it. What Kunstler calls "cartoon architecture" has befouled the nation from sea to sea. Good civic design was lost everywhere. The best cities in the country are surrounded by soul-killing suburbs, office "parks," malls, shopping strips, parking lagoons and laced up with freeways.
Car culture, per se, isn't the answer, either. Oklahoma City ranks lowest in non-vehicle commuting, yet the entire metro has long backed a levy that has impressively rebuilt downtown. Freeway-mad Dallas also boasts the nation's largest light-rail system.