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April 19, 2012


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Can Stanton's enlightened efforts offset the duhs and the ignos currently running our state?

Listened to Jon's comments on KJZZ and was impressed at his ability to articulate his answers with ease. A gift!

Economic development has gotten short shrift even under more visionary Gov. Nappy. Just had dinner with Nick DePorter, a young ASU econ. development guy running for Fountain Hills Town Council. In this far-out microcosm, he could actually do some good if the Tea Party doesn't capture him.

Slightly off-topic: having known Margie Emmermann for many years, I've never understood why she didn't have more econ. development juice. Maybe she was just one of the many sycophants . . dunno!

Excellent recommendations for the Mayor to take with him to California; It is too bad you were forced to leave Republic! You deserve to be widely read in Phoenix and Arizona. I don't really see much material in "economic development circles" that encourages actual development or relocation in the Central City and highlights the historic districts and light rail. It is a major failure. Stanton's push for a 2nd Biomed hub in NE Phoenix (near the Mayo Clinic) will be a hindrance if he is serious about its development and tries to sell the area to California tech firms.

Attracting people from Northern California to Phoenix is an incredibly tough uphill battle. You have no idea how hard it is until you've tried it. Even though the idea is to attract companies from Silicon Valley to Arizona thereby creating well paid jobs for the people who are already in Arizona, some "seed" staff has to be willing to migrate.

More than once I've been on the Arizona end of trying to attract talent from California and it hasn't gone well. On at least three occasions that come to mind quickly I've been either the hiring manager or on the interview team for people who actually accepted the jobs we offered them, then didn't show up - two of them with no notice. I'm not talking about call center CSR's here. I'm talking about degreed (as high as PhD) engineers. They realized that they were gambling with their careers, the stakes were too high and the odds weren't good. The idea that Arizona, in it's current crazy state, would ever, ever, ever attract Apple to start anything but the lowest paid call center in Arizona is unbelievably naive.

Well trained and educated tech workers want not only a vibrant culture free of racist nut jobs, but also security of knowing that the companies they work for are not alone. During its peak in the 1990's Silicon Valley was a place where an engineer could be laid off one day and have another job the next day without having to change carpools. I have to admit that things aren't that easy any more, but it's worlds apart from Phoenix. If Mayor Greg Stanton doesn't understand this, he's going to have a very difficult time achieving his goal.

I was born in Phoenix. I went to school and graduated with an engineering degree from an Arizona university. When I graduated (in the 1970s), Arizona didn't have a job for me, so I went to Texas, then to Los Angeles, then back to Tucson and eventually to Chandler. I lived for more than fifty years of my life in Arizona, but I couldn't take the crazy any longer. I got lucky and found a good job in the Bay area. I live in an apartment surrounded by people from all over the world who are nothing like me and I love it. I expect to spend the last decade of my career here and never go back to Arizona. The craziness will not subside sufficiently in my lifetime.

One man's testimonial.

Excellent comment by doyourmath.
The scorched earth Arizona legislators will do everything possible to keep Stanton from achieving much of anything.

The humans in Arizona are a sad sad lot but the past few days what is left of the great Sonoran desert has been in full bloom. In my opinion the desert is beautiful place. Right Ed?

On a positive note "Changing Hands" Book store is in the exploratory stage of locating a store at 300 west Camelback.

Phoenix became a branch-office city back in the early 90s. Politically, we followed our economic destiny to a place where aggrieved white burghers decided it was better to live off a welfare system (SS, Medicare, the military-industrial complex) than compete in the real world. And what that has come to mean is that everything we did reflected a debased view of the future. Sticking it to liberals matters more than investments in education and high tech. Demonizing brown skin matters more than a coherent strategy of competing in a global economy. The net result is a state that is fatally wounded in its ability to engage reality.

I wish Stanton well but Arizona is not going to find the resources - taxes! - to rescue itself. The Randian delusion still prevails even in the ruins of Arpaio and Brewer. The Goldwater Institute may as well be our brain trust. At best, we can sell houses to people like Sarah Palin but we can't sell anything the world really wants.

Arizona will be a "blue state" by 2020 but it won't matter. Our destiny was shaped by decisions both made and deferred years ago. Stanton may find a few nutritious crumbs here and there but the main dish remains a real-estate sugar high. You don't shame this state into better choices. We already decided we're right and the world is wrong.


I'm almost afraid to ask, but, if the cream of the California workforce wants nothing to do with Arizona, then who made up the gigantic wave of immigration of Californians who moved here in the last decade and a half?

Doyourmath says it all.

The California wave of the past 15 years consisted of Rodney King white flight, flight from earthquake fears, and the military spending slowdown of the 1990's. Many sensible Californians eventually returned after a few years of Arizona, land of limited opportunity.

I'm going to do some research (like...how gigantic exactly was that wave of immigration, in hard numbers) but I'm betting a lot of it consisted of aggrieved white burghers, because it is even cheaper to live in Arizona (and you get what you pay for) than in Southern California. I knew a lot of those burghers personally (my stepdad lived in Sun City and was an aggrieved white poster child) and I know what motivates them.

I would think that if Barry was alive, he would want his name taken off the Goldwater Institute. How many public works projects that BG supported or initiated would the GI oppose?

Have any of the Palins ever stayed in their houses here?

I think the CA workforce AZ ended up with is the usual assortment of failed business people, hucksters, and low-pay employees who can't afford to live in CA anymore. That's what we get from every state because its easier to move to AZ than Alaska. I'm not including the retirees who come here for golf and sun and an "active" lifestyle.

That was a nice post by doyourmath. With all the microchip and aerospace industries in Phoenix, I would think it would be easier to recruit similar businesses. The political climate and housing spread works against it.

The California migration in the mid-2000s was almost exclusively people from the "Inland Empire" who sold their houses at relatively high prices and bought houses in suburban Phoenix for much less. Many were retirees. Others were shocked at the lack of decent jobs and many of these went back. But few were the kind of coastal talent Phoenix needs.

I know of two groups of people that have moved to Phoenix...Arizona for that matter. Those that moved to the burbs not knowing much else existed in Phoenix and those who happened to find established neighborhoods with a strong community, mostly left leaning, in older parts of cities. The established areas happen to be populated with friendly neighbors and people take the time to get to know each other. The majority of those who moved to the burbs moan and complain that they have nothing to do and their neighborhoods lack character; yes, you get what you pay for.

As for politics in 2012, Latinos in Maryvale outnumber the old, White and conservative flock in Sun City: There will be shock to the current system in Arizona (especially within Maricopa County) come November.

So how about the Mesa Police Chief authorizing, and coordinating with Phoenix Gay Pride Parade organizers, his "Diversity Team" to march in uniform in the the parade tomorrow? Wonder how the conservatives and LDS feel about that (and that Mesa is forcing light rail and streetcars on them)?


The news today is that US Airways has the American Airlines unions on board to merge, and with it keep the HQ in Dallas/Fort Worth. The Phoenix Business Journal had an article days ago that Freeport McMorAn is ripe for a takeover.

Where is Stanton on these issues? (Of course, the Arizona Republic has no coverage of this that I can find). It's been known for months that US Airways was after American. Losing the HQ is bad enough. I can see next a massive draw down of operations at Sky Harbor leaving a massive, city-owned albatross. I hope that the mayor can use his persuasive talents to not only attract new businesses, but keep the businesses we still have.

The U.S. Airways-American Airlines merger isn't being discussed in the Republic but it is in other places:


It would be great if the merged airlines kept Tempe as the headquarters but even if offices moved, air traffic at Sky Harbor would hardly be diverted. It may in fact increase and wouldn't leave the city with an albatross. It would leave Tempe with a large, empty building.

Doug Parker has wanted to engineer a merger more than run an airline and actually serve customers from the get-go. He will be richly compensated.

If the headquarters goes to Dallas, which is a real corporate center, it will be catastrophic. The biggest mistake would be to downplay it. Headquarters mean the best jobs, the hub of decision-making, draws talent and capital, and nurtures an executive class that leaves and starts other companies. A headquarters says to the people worldwide who deploy capital: This metro is a player. An HQ also supports an entire ecosystem of vendors, suppliers and professional service providers. At their best, they are civic stewards. Phoenix cratered when it lost Dial and the big banks.

Headquarters are critical to Seattle's success. The five cranes out my window are directly or indirectly related to Amazon.com -- and the company plans to build three more 40-story-ish towers, too.

As for Sky Harbor, don't be smug. The way these anti-competitive, always-fail mergers work is through killing jobs and "rationalizing" capacity. DFW is an hour's flight from PHX (or used to be). So Sky Harbor is not necessarily insulated from the consequences.

Courtesy of the IRS and Forbes, this map shows migration over the last six years.

In the heydays of 2005/2006 the people moving from SoCal to AZ had a markedly lower per cap income than the outbound flow.

While I agree with your column here, I think we all underestimate the economic draw of the distant suburbs. You can either buy a fixer-up home in central corridor or for less money buy an immense three-bedroom tile roof monstrosity that requires no work--in the suburbs. First time buyers--those starting families--will be drawn by those low prices and driven away from the corridor's troubled school system. (Many people with young children in the central area put their kids in private schools if they can afford it; if not, they move to the suburbs.) Bank repos that appear to be bargains are being snatched by investors (many Canadian with cash) and first-time buyers who require financing can't quite move fast enough--so off to the suburbs again. I'm also unsure that those young people who claim they don't want cars will still say that once they have families and need to get to soccer, band and karate classes (in the suburbs). Sigh.

It isn't smug, it is just following historical trends when it comes to Sky Harbor being a hub for airlines like U.S. Airways, Southwest, etc.

Losing a headquarters like U.S. Airways would be horrible, but perhaps my lack of enthusiasm about it is the nature of its business. I would be more alarmed if what little solar headquarters we have left or if TGen bailed from the Downtown Biomed Campus...or perhaps I haven't thought about it enough.

What data centers and server farms need are non-earthquake, non-tsunami,non-flood, non-tornado locations,which is why we have a bunch of them already in the Phoenix area. Location in this case is a significant argument for moving here.

I haven't seen any article discuss how a merger with AA and its unions would affect the east-west schism separating US Airways' unionized pilots.

Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead is one of the most intelligent and professional law enforcement officials in the world. His father Ralph was like wise. Interesting that Mesa and Chandler (Sherry Kiyler) have the two best police chiefs in the state. Newly appointed Phoenix Police Chief, Danny Garcia, according to my source is among the best. Will be interesting to see how he deals with the folks on the 4th floor that wanted the job.

In the business section of the Republic, there is a story concerning American cutting 13,000 jobs, freezing pensions, and tossing out unions contracts. I found an Article about the merger hidden in the Republic:


There was also an article in the Republic about job growth in Arizona. The largest job gains are in leisure and hospitality (of course), health services private education, business services, and construction. If Emil has time I bet we get a thorough analysis of the numbers.


The jobs added are very low paying. #EpicFail.

Meanwhile, American is cutting 700 good jobs in Tucson -- did the story mention that?

phxSUNSfan, we want the same thing re Hispanic vote, but will history change? The white-right gabachos count on the sad fact that "the Mexicans don't vote."

Re American Airlines/USAir merger: haven't we felt this coming for some time? Wonder how Robert Crandall's legacy will look. As I recall, he's the Grinch That Cratered AA with little concern for its employees or its customers. Now living the life in a yacht/golf community in South Florida . . still has the navy suit, white shirt and red tie with which he pontificates for various financial channels.

@Paul Morris, I'm sure that there is something to be said about school districts in the suburbs. However, there are a few great districts and schools in the Central City (Madison S.D. for instance). While younger urbanites without cars don't have children now, what is to say that as the population in downtown and the Central Corridor grows that new or improved schools won't come along? This is happening in cities like Seattle where a new downtown elementary school is in the works. As the urban population ages and children are introduced, there will be a need for more schools. So far the downtown population is still to small and young.

The suburbs may seem economical, but the commute and gas prices generally make up for cheap housing: housing that within 10 years could need extensive repairs and upgrades due to poor construction. Beyond that the segment of the population most likely to want a suburban lifestyle wouldn't find urban living attractive. There will always be suburbs but the point is that the lifestyle should be priced accordingly. If I have to pay to get on the light rail why don't suburbanites have to pay to enter a freeway ramp? Only seems fair since we both pay taxes that go to transit/roads. Sure, drivers pay a gas tax but in my opinion it should be higher to pay for the pollution we all suffer due to driving (especially those who drive alone in a huge SUV).

"phxSUNSfan, we want the same thing re Hispanic vote, but will history change? The white-right gabachos count on the sad fact that 'the Mexicans don't vote.'"- Rogue

I think many of us are counting on it; I find that the Hispanic population is fed up with the antics of the Legislature and Arpaio, especially Arpaio. I think this segment of the population in Arizona is ready to vote. Voting registration and drives in our communities is strong this year. We shall see if history is in for a change.

Back to Greg Stanton - what is he doing about the impending loss of the US Airways HQ and its effect on city-owned Sky Harbor? Has he done anything to try to keep the HQ here?

I'd like to know about that much more than about his trips to recruit Bay Area businesses. As Mr. Talton correctly notes, he's not going to get a major HQ to relocate here. What is he doing to keep the HQ we have?

@NCentral, that is probably a question more appropriate for Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman. What is he doing to ensure Tempe remains an attractive option for the headquarters of the merged company? No doubt Dallas will be working to keep their interests intact. Tempe is improving the Mill Ave district and Rio Salado street scenes. Improving transit with the Mill Ave Streetcar and luring more business could help. New construction around the old mill and the lake may also aid Tempe, but again Dallas has that in their downtown.

We were lucky to have an airline corporate headquarters here for as long as we did. We are not a headquarters town, because we don't support our local talent, help them build their companies, and understand much about the meaning of having corporate headquarters in your town.

As someone who has commuted back and forth between SF/SV and Phoenix for fifteen years, I can tell you headquarters aren't coming here. They want density, good schools, and fiscal responsibility. They don't think of anti-immigration legislation as fiscally responsible, since many SV engineers are immigrants. They don't like government, R or D, and they want it out of the way. In SV and SF, you hardly see the government.

As for getting individuals to come here from northern Cal -- I can't get my own kids to move back. We don't have the kind of jobs here they need. And yet, we have engineering and marketing jobs available in AZ that can't be filled because talent has heard that we suck politically.

I am heading off to the White House next week to give them a briefing on how things *really* are for entrepreneurs in Phoenix.

And in the mean time, my daughter and I are thinking of buying another house in Half Moon Bay.

@phxSUNSfan. Tempe is not a separate economy from Phoenix. Greg Stanton, as mayor of the largest city in the metro area and the owner of the airport in question, has an interest in keeping the HQ in the metro area. It's irrelevant whether it's within Phoenix's actual city limits.

Like it or not, the "Valley" cities are one economic unit. Tempe does not stand alone apart from Phoenix.

Phoenix needs more headquarters like the Institute of Advanced Health, a California based institute, relocating its headquarters to downtown Phoenix. The average annual salary will be around $75k. The point being made on Rogue is that Gordon spent too little time recruiting these types of businesses to Phoenix. Stanton will have to sell himself and the city as not being crazy like Arizona, another point made by Rogue. It will be a tough sell but not impossible.

@NCentral...that is true, but Tempe has to do a lot of the leg work on this one in my opinion; Stanton should play a supporting role.

If SWA HQ moves I'm not going to miss it -- America West has been one long continual disappointment to its employees and the community, even to dropping the AW moniker and taking up US Airways (an even worse airline IMO).

I'm a little surprised the Freeport McMoRan takeover/merger talk has not moved the stock upwards.

I am sure I am misreading your meaning when you write, "They don't like government, R or D, and they want it out of the way." Really? Silicon Valley wouldn't exist without massive government funding in research, as well as assorted tax breaks for entrepreneurship and states falling over themselves to give incentives for data farms, etc. The Internet is a government-born project. DARPA has poured at least hundreds of billions into the Valley. Stanford and Cal-Berkeley (a government school) -- and even San Jose State -- are the beneficiaries of enormous amounts of federal money.

The Bay Area also has very advanced, for America, infrastructure. When I worked in Silicon Valley, nobody I knew wanted government "out of the way" when they rode CalTrain up to the City (and now BART is being extended to San Jose). Light rail runs right to the Diridon Station, where there's also "subsidized" commuter passenger rail east over Altamont Pass.

And "fiscal responsibility"? What does that mean? One big reason we have a deficit is endless tax cuts for SiliValley millionaires.


"I was also disheartened that Barry Broome of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council invited himself along."

That clown is STILL working in Arizona! OMG. No wonder Arizona is what it is. It all makes sense now.

Saguaros, last ones standing after puny humans pass into oblivion.

The Texas federal elected officials will be all in to do what is necessary to secure the HQ in Texas. I doubt Arizona can count on that type of support from its elected officials. Better to exude Tea Party platitudes and drink the koolaid while Texas takes the prize.

"The craziness will not subside sufficiently in my lifetime."

Nor your grandchilren's.

"It will be a tough sell but not impossible."

Phoenix needs the salesmen who convinced Japan to build Fukushima. Oh!, wait... those were the same guys who convinced Phoenix to build Palo Verde 50 miles upwind of its downtown!

This report explains in depth what Jon says about the Bay area being a unique economic powerhouse-

Wait a minute here.

Mr. Talton wrote an excellent piece, but look at the larger context.

The **REAL** problem is that we don't have enough jobs in the United States.

Stealing jobs from California would just mean that there would be people in California who need jobs, rather than people in Phoenix.

The entire plan has the wrong objective.

The right objective would be to massively increase the number of jobs in the United States. THAT is the only real answer.

That is the issue that everyone wants to flee from. No one wants to address this.

There are simple ways to improve the economic circumstances of the United States.

The mayor of Phoenix doesn't control any of them.

Just for starters...........

1) Withdraw from Afghanistan immediately, and stop wasting that money.

2) Bring back the WPA, and put unemployed people to work. People are begging for jobs. No one should suffer from a lack of food in the United States, as long as they are willing to work.

3) Raise incremental tax rates on higher incomes to 1960-era levels.

4) Change trade policies so that job creation in the US is favored, instead of favoring outsourcing.

5) Penalize the outsourcing of jobs.

6) Immediately place a ban on immigration, but allow exceptions for highly talented unique individuals -- as long as they can either immediately create jobs, or there is someone who is willing to pay them $250K a year.

7) Deport every H-1B visa holder who makes less than $250K, and replace them with an American who needs a job.

8) Create a massive national effort to expel illegal immigrants (of any color) from the United States, and let Americans have those jobs.

9) Punish those who caused the financial meltdown in 2008 and bring back the old rules and regulations.

That would be a good start, and would trump anything that the mayor of Phoenix could possibly do.

The United States has only one real problem. There are not enough jobs. We have nurses, attorneys, pharmacists, engineers, and plumbers on Food Stamps because there is no work for them. I don't hear anyone screaming that they have full-time job openings with benefits and can't find anyone who needs a job. That never happens in the United States.

I know engineers in Phoenix who can't get jobs. They are white Americans over 30, and companies refuse to interview them. There are PLENTY of engineers to hire.

Some companies won't hire Americans. Some companies won't hire anyone over 30. When I hear people saying that they can't find people to hire, I know that I'm reading garbage and lies.

I know professors at Georgia Tech, Purdue, and the University of Central Florida who have graduating engineering students who can't get interviews at all. These students are BEGGING for jobs. If anyone thinks that there are engineering jobs going begging, just contact those schools and set up some interviews. Don't be afraid to hire an American. You don't have to hire only Indians and Asian engineers and programmers.

The University of South Florid, and the University of Florida have the same problem. They have graduating students who cannot get interviews. There are also engineers who formerly worked at the Kennedy Space Center who are desperate to get jobs. No one wants to interview them, either.

Americans are begging and groveling for jobs. Don't try to tell me that there are no candidates for jobs. That is garbage. Hire an American for a change. Hire someone over age 30.

An insightful essay, but here's something I'd like to see elucidated:

"There may be outfits Phoenix could peel away — but for downtown, not for some nonsensical Desert Ridge "biotech hub" or empty land out near Anthem."

Why is Desert Ridge "nonsensical"? I don't say it isn't; I just want to know why. Here's an announcement from April:

"Banner Health wants to move forward quickly with plans for an 87,000-square-foot medical center in Gilbert. . . The health center would be built in two phases near the southeastern corner of Gilbert and Warner roads. . . The company liked the Gilbert site's visibility, central location and opportunity for future growth, (Banner spokeswoman Jennifer) Ruble said. . . Banner operates similar health centers in Peoria, and Sun City West, and the company has plans for new facilities in Maricopa and Buckeye, according to its website. The offices provide services including general practice, pediatrics, obstetrics and lab work. . . Banner operates a hospital and cancer center in Gilbert near Higley Road and the Superstition Freeway, near the town's boundary with Mesa."


Why does Banner, the second largest private employer in Arizona in 2011 (right behind Walmart) insist on opening new facilities in places on the periphery of "the Valley" and not in central or downtown Phoenix?

I decided to look at Banner's facilities webpage to get the big picture. Banner lists 14 facilities: Cardon Children's Hospital is at 1400 S. Dobson Road in Mesa; Banner Thunderbird is at 55th Avenue and Thunderbird in Glendale; Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is at U.S. 60 and Higley Road in Gilbert; Banner Ironwood is in San Tan Valley; Banner Heart is in Mesa; Banner Gateway is located near the Cancer Center in Gilbert; Banner Estrella is located at 92nd Avenue and Thomas; Banner Desert Medical Center is located in Mesa; Banner Del E. Webb is located in Sun City West; Banner Boswell Medical Center is located in Sun City; Banner Behavioral Health Hospital is located in Scottsdale; Banner Baywood Medical Center is located in Mesa.

Only one facility, Banner Good Samaritan, is actually in central Phoenix, at McDowell and 11th Street. It's also the oldest: the original facility was founded four months before Arizona became a state.

I just want someone to explain the dynamic to me. It seems clear that as the metropolitan area grows, new businesses set up in growing population areas where they have a better chance to gain market share, but I don't know much about the healthcare business or developer strategies.

As for California, there's gold in them thar hills, but how does Arizona extract it? They've been chasing it for decades, with highly limited success. Broome of GPEC says that 25 to 30 percent of the businesses it attracts to Arizona each year are "related to California", but how many is that, actually? Even when California suffered a deep depression in the 1980s and early 1990s and lost 500,000 jobs, "about 3,000 of those jobs relocated to Tucson because of the meltdown in California's aerospace industry".


Broome says he or another GPEC representative "flies to California once a week", and no doubt his contacts made his presence on the recent trip desirable. Would setting up permanent office space in California to recruit businesses there for Arizona improve the chances for success? Maybe.

I'd also like to hear concrete ideas for increasing "Asian investment". How does Phoenix manage that?

phxSUNSfan, I'll have a look at your newslink tomorrow.

"When I hear people saying that they can't find people to hire, I know that I'm reading garbage and lies."

Yes. They are also foolish.

Rather, use the money to create centers for innovation and intergenerational collaboration that operate outside of established academia and corporations. Then, some real innovation might be unleahsed.

Putting another generation of bright students through the stultifying factories of American 'education' will only create more of what we already have in surfeit: empire builders.

While you're at it, make our political 'leaders' subject to parlimentary Question Time. Instead of just prequalified questions or easily dismissible, irrational rants from the likes of Ted Nugent, they should be obligated to respond directly to a steady barrage of catcalls.

I came across an interesting paper by the Brookings Institute while researching a recent "My Turn" column in The Arizona Republic.

The Brookings Study, "Vacant Land in Cities: An Urban Resource" is dated December 2000, but a couple of points arrest one's attention even in 2012.

"In the survey, city officials were asked to estimate the amount of usable vacant land (thus excluding undevelopable land such as streets, rights of way, submerged land, wetlands, etc.) within their corporate boundaries."

This seems to exclude desert parklands (e.g., Phoenix Mountains Preserve, South Mountain Park) also.

Of 83 cities responding to the survey, Phoenix reported the most usable vacant land, reporting 125,000 acres. This was 42.6 percent of Phoenix's land acreage at the time the survey responses were received (1998). The average was 15.4 percent. Forth Worth was a distant second with 83,000 acres. Note that 16 of the 83 cities cities did not provide data on vacant land. See Table 1.


Mr. Talton will be pleased that Seattle listed a mere 2,000 acres, or 3.7 percent of total city land acreage.

Sorry, Brookings Institution, not "Institute". The author of the "My Turn" column made the mistake and I inadvertently copied it over into my comments.

Regarding which, I couldn't find the item among the Arizona Republic's online articles, but a nearly identical version appears here:


She also asserts that "11 percent of the land in the downtown core" consists of "empty lots".

Here's a picture of her, in case Mr. Talton is no longer married. She writes like his "soulmate". Can she cook?


P.P.S. The "My Turn" column appeared in the "Phoenix Republic", a community insert appearing in some editions of the Arizona Republic. There is considerably more breadth of opinion to be found in the insert than on the op-ed pages of the main newspaper, but for some reason these insert items are unarchived by azcentral.

Phoenix didn't answer the survey question about abandoned structures, but I doubt the situation has improved since 1998. From a 2011 news story:

"Maricopa County has the highest overall number and percentage of vacant homes among the 10 most populous counties in the U.S., according to census data released Thursday.

"Almost 14 percent of all homes are empty in Maricopa County. The data shows 227,696 single-family homes, condominiums and apartments were empty when last year's census was taken.

"For comparison, Tucson has about 230,000 housing units. So Maricopa County's vacancies are the equivalent to an empty city the size of Tucson."


It may be that this has improved considerably, with massive purchases of single-family homes by investors who convert them into rentals; but not all of the investor purchased homes are rentals. Sorting this out would take more online time than I have left during the current session.

As for the business side, consider this news item which appeared earlier this month:

"More than 28 percent of the commercial office space in the Phoenix area is vacant."


The same Phoenix Business Journal article notes that commercial office space vacancy rates ranged from 12 to 15 percent "before the recession and downturn".

128,000 acres of usable vacant land, not 125,000. Damned typos.

Subject . . Northward sprawl: had occasion to spend time this weekend between the Musical Instrument Museum and the Desert Ridge area. Usually, I'm reluctant to schlep that far for ANYTHING but these were special circumstances relating to my love of jazz musicians who were holding forth @ the MIM.

In short, I was amazed at how the whole area had exploded . . part of it where Tom Chauncey used to raised Arabians. So sad to see but there are signs of great retail activity. Sort of a good/bad/ugly combo that I'll never accept.

The Musical Instrument Museum sadly represents everything that's wrong with Phoenix in a microcosm. Built out in sprawl. Not a public space. One must drive to get there. Defiles the desert. Apartheid by its location. Another thing spread out far from anything else. And worst of all...

Imagine if this rich guy would have built it on the northwest corner of Central and McDowell, where a vacant lot now sits. It would be in the heart of the city, across from the Phoenix Art Museum and down the street from the Heard, building critical mass. Accessible by light rail. And genuine public spaces could have been created.

It was a huge missed opportunity that the MIM was not built in Central Phoenix; I have never been and likely never will which is unfortunate.

There is a reason that the office vacancy rate in Desert Ridge is nearly twice as high as the rates in downtown Phoenix. Despite some people wanting to live that far from the center of things, most businesses see the value in a central location: critical mass indeed.


I didn't mean to ignore your direct question. I've been traveling and I had limited time at the computer.

Thanks to everyone who helped answer the question "...who made up the gigantic wave of immigration of Californians who moved here in the last decade and a half?"

My answer would have been that any study of the "gigantic wave of immigration" from California would have to take into account what those people came to do, and what they ended up doing after they got to Arizona.

Jon has studied this issue a lot. I tend to believe he is correct that most of the migrants in the 1990's and early 2000's are former inhabitants of the Inland Empire (western San Bernardino County) who cashed out the equity in their houses and moved to cheaper digs for retirement, or in preparation for retirement. In my original comment I was talking about the difficulty of attracting mid-career and senior technical people to come to Arizona (specifically from the Bay Area) to work as individual contributors in high tech companies.


The numerous people I knew who moved from California in the 1990's were from Los Angeles. They came in response to the economic slowdown in southern California cause by military cuts, the Northridge earthquake and the Rodney King riots. Many of these people returned to California after realizing that there was more to opportunity than nominally lower housing costs.

I also dealt with many well off investors in Southern California. In the 1990's all their capital was chasing technology stocks not real estate prices. The shift into real estate did not happen until the tech bubble popped in 2000.

After the shift from the tech bubble to the real estate bubble in 2000, I did observe many Inland Empire types buying residential property at ridiculous prices in low income neighborhoods in Phoenix. These were the same neighborhoods which had a lot of blood shed in the late 1980's real estate collapse.

"Despite some people wanting to live that far from the center of things, most businesses see the value in a central location: critical mass indeed."

Of course, by "things", you mean, "the toxic brown cloud"?

Critical mass, indeed.

When companies like Dial and Medicis were moving to Scottsdale back in the '90s, I asked a business friend why. She responded "that's where the CEOs live. They don't like long commutes."

As Rogue mentions, Apartheid by location is now a socio-economic fact of life here. The rich like their city just fine. It just doesn't happen to be central Phoenix. So, it's not really surprising that they also like having their city-making institutions nearby. Say, MIM, the Mayo Clinic and Hospital, the new Cine Capri, the Phoenix Open, virtually all high-end shopping, and even nightclubs. In the meantime, central Phoenix hangs on to its legacy institutions and prays. And, if you're paying attention, you'll notice this is increasingly a national phenomenon. I call it the Randian Diaspora.

Speaking of brown clouds and CEO's.

I work in an office of 100 people. Every one of us could and have on occasion worked from home.

So, why do we not telecommute and save on time, gas and the resulting pollution. Because a CEO in New York doen't like telecommuting.

The hard headed attitude of one individual keeps 600 vehicles on the road across several states, so that he can feel like he is in control.

I imagine you can multiply this situation by many dozens of times across the Phoenix area.

Azrebel, there's this sorta-from-the-right argument about the necessity of density and human inventiveness:

Cities are amazing in the various ways they can invent new ways of connection. All the great cities manifest this kind of hive-mind that isn't anything intentional so much as the natural result of people interacting. Always look on the sidewalks for your clues. If a city isn't buzzing, it's probably sleepingwalking into the future. That's Phoenix.

Your NY CEO's dislike for telecommuting is a good example of the little losses Phoenix sustains daily by not having national and regional headquarters. The CEO might be a control freak, but she is also less concerned and aware of the hassles and brown air contribution her policy against telecommuting is causing.

I would be interested in PhxPlanner's take.

As for the brown cloud, it is disproportionately a product of the people who live far out and drive long distances for everything. And air pollution goes all over the region, including some of the worst in tony north Snottsdale and Fountain Hills.

The abandonment of the core by corporate Arizona is a function of an astonishing loss of stewardship. A Bimson or Teets would never have done it. Downtown Seattle has lots of headquarters and that strong sense of stewardship. The funny thing is that clustering assets in the core makes the residential neighborhoods and suburbs more livable.

I agree with most of the commentary here. Landing a Silicon Valley HQ here is a long shot due to the lack of infrastructure and the industrial agglomeration(or "ecosystem" as Jon writes) critical to lowering risk for large scale investments.

We have a fairly strong healthcare presence in Central Phoenix, especially near light rail. Seniors are the main healthcare customer and have historically been attracted to Phoenix. Combine that with the fact that today 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 and 10,000 more tomorrow and every day after that until 2020. This creates opportunity for additional housing development and additional healthcare investment in the core areas. I’ve seen fairly objective market research that indicates demand for several hundred new housing units (mainly rentals) in and around downtown right now.

With healthcare as a sort of “anchor” sector, I think keeping a focus on placemaking and support for creativity and entrepreneurship is probably our best bet for economic growth in the core. I do think its worthwhile, however, to “swing for the fences” once in a while like the Mayor is doing here. It’s possible that a big win could be landed, but it will take a deep-pocketed investor that is willing to take a big risk on Phoenix – one who wants to play a lead role in building a city and buying into a compelling vision.

Creating that compelling vision to sell to this profile of investors is what is needed now, and I would argue that there is no better time.

Regarding emigration from California to Arizona, this link supports Mr. Talton's theory about California emigration in the mid-2000s being motivated by high real-estate prices (and the chance to cash out and relocate where property was cheaper):


This link analyzes California emigrants during the period 2004-2007 by income group and by destination state. Statistically, the poorer you were in California during this time, the more likely you were to move to another state. Arizona is the number one destination state for both the poorest quintile and the richest quintile of Californians:


phxSUNSfan wrote:

"There was also an article in the Republic about job growth in Arizona. The largest job gains are in leisure and hospitality (of course), health services private education, business services, and construction. If Emil has time I bet we get a thorough analysis of the numbers."

Thanks for the vote of confidence. The article you linked to was one of the ones I had clipped because I wanted to research the huge difference in the 2011 job growth numbers that appeared in January, and the newly revised numbers. (The lesson, I think, is the provisional nature of these statistics, especially early on. They usually see two or three revisions within a year as the eggheads pour over them armed with new data and analyses.) I have yet to get around to that, but I'll answer the jobs by sector aspect of your inquiry.

Sunday's Arizona Republic Business section did a much better job of separating out, and explaining, the numbers by job sector. The incompetents at azcentral.com did not see fit to include much of the graphic data included in the print story, so you'll have to take my word on some of the numbers, which compare March of 2012 with March of 2011.

Instead of "health care and private education" if you examine each of these, you find that health care added 9,200 jobs and private education lost 900.

Health care is "the only sector that has continued to grow during good times and bad because of an aging population..."

Instead of "leisure and hospitality", which added 10,700 jobs, if you factor out hotels and resorts (this part of the tourism industry actually lost jobs) you're left with restaurants and bars, which added the bulk of these jobs: also 9,200 which ties this sector with health care for the number one spot in terms of absolute numbers of jobs added by sector, year-over-year.

The so-called boom in construction jobs evaporates when you deconstruct by sub-category: building construction actually lost 1,100 jobs; but "specialty construction trades", which include plumbers, electricians, pipe-fitters, and ironworkers, added 7,400 jobs. The article quotes Buzz Murphy, president of the Arizona State Construction and Trades Council, as attributing most of this job growth to the $5 billion fabrication plant being built by Intel in Chandler; the rest, outside of this, is remodeling of commercial buildings and residences and a bit of retail construction, rather than new houses or commercial buildings construction (which is kind of obvious, but they really need to spell this out in every article that talks hype about construction hiring as a major source of new jobs).

The article also notes that in Arizona, large businesses (more than 500 employees) make up a greater share of the economy than nationally: 54 percent of all jobs and about 60 percent of all paychecks. Note that large businesses are only 3 percent of total businesses in Arizona, so they really give bang-for-the-buck (something relevant to the current thread).

When the economy was "normal" from 2003 to 2006, about 15 percent of jobs were created by companies with more than 1,000 employees; but from 2010 to 2011 35 percent of new jobs were created by these very large companies, "probably because smaller companies are still struggling to get credit and customers" according to ASU economist Lee McPheters. (But the news stories I've read mostly suggest that continuing low demand, rather than access to credit, is the primary problem for small companies, many of which cannot compete against the pricing structure of giants like WalMart which take advantage of economies of scale. When you don't have increasing demand, you don't need credit to expand operations and/or increase hiring.)

Top job gains (by number of jobs) since March 2011:

Health care: 9,200
Restaurants and bars: 9,200
Specialty construction trades: 7,400
Retail trade: 4,800
Public schools: 4,300
Professional, scientific, and technical services: 3,400
State education (universities): 3,000
Services to buildings, dwellings: 2,100
Manufacturing: 1,800
Credit intermediation and related services (collectors, reorganizers, I think): 1,500
Employment services (temp agencies, I think): 1,400

Biggest losers:

Building construction: - 1,100
Insurance carriers and related activities: - 1,100
Private education: - 900
Federal employees: - 700
Hotels, motels, resorts: - 400


One word . . .


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