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October 12, 2009


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It's a shame, really.

If you look at the original square mile, it's still charming and green. But it's starting to look somewhat shabby around the edges - and how could it not? The ring of suburban development that sprung up in the 1970s (think Fiesta Mall) has become a festering wasteland of nearly-abandoned strip malls and car-centric development. The cotton fields that turned into cookie cutter subdivisions are now slums, for all intents and purposes.

Many LDS folks saw this coming (not surprising, actually) and fled to Gilbert before the big slide.

I spent the '80s working in Mesa, and up until about 2004, desperately wanted to move back. No longer.

Hard to believe the light rail line isn't the focus of the ballpark redevelopment. Perhaps the only city solons left are the ones that didn't scoot when the getting was good - i.e. the not-so-smart ones.

It's a pity. Thanks for making us look at it, Jon.

Gary O'Brien
Charlotte NC

This is one of the most brilliant things I've read about how things are here.

Considering what a wasteland the light rail goes thru in Mesa, you would think a stadium right off the main line would be a no brainer. I would guess the right people won't profit from it.

"When in a hole, keep digging."

Maybe they'll reach China.


This quote from Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett is amazing:

"My honest goal is try to intrigue them enough so that we can get a Chinese company to take an honest look at the Valley," Barrett said. "Anything we can do to boost the Valley's economy, the ripple effect will go across the Valley regardless of where it is located - Peoria or Chandler."

It's amazing for two reasons:

(1) Valley cities are so devoid of inspiration, planning, and resources, that they are literally going to China (rather than their own communities) to seek investment.

(2) It's China! I guess that if Nixon can go there, so can the Kookocracy, but let's not forget that Nixon was only trying to widen the split between China and the Soviet Union. Somehow, now that China has embraced foreign investment, the totalitarian nature of their government, and the rampant human rights abuses -- both once perennial subjects for Republican rhetoric -- are no longer subjects for concern, much less censure, despite the fact that none of that has gone away.

I live in Brooklyn now. When my friends talk about where they're from, I just say "They blew up my home planet."

As a kid growing up in Mesa, I was puzzled by real estate developments. Farmed fields and orange groves raised products that got sold out of state and thus brought in money. The housing developments and strip malls that replaced them cost money, and then people spent more money on them, but they didn't make money. How was this prosperity?

Decades later, I got my answer: it was a giant long-running Ponzi scheme. People who moved to the Valley from out of state sold up back home and brought their money with them. They bought houses further and further out into the desert because they could get more house for less money out there, and they believed their property would keep increasing in value because more people would keep moving in from out of state.

The market collapsed, of course. Speculative markets always do.

Now there are millions of people living in a desert that can't sustain that level of population. The date and citrus trees are gone. The cheap boxy little houses are uninhabitable without energy-intensive air conditioning. Neighborhoods are unreachable and unlivable without cars that run on increasingly expensive fuel. Water travels insane distances and tastes like crap. What the inhabitants get for their trouble is an ugly, unlovable, incoherently sprawling city.

It didn't have to be that way.

@Teresa - a fine summary of the state of things. Canaries in a coal mine, these cities, to boot.

@Teresa, nice post, your website looks interesting too.

Excellent post TNH.
I have to go back and forth to your web site as it takes me a while to take it all in, lots of good stuff.

While I spent a few days in Acrosanti, I heard Rover may have found water on Mars.
Clifford Simak may have been right about the dogs and the planet earth in his book "City"

Interesting commentary on the TSA at your website, Teresa.

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