New Map of the Valley of the Sun
...in which I redraw the map and boundaries of the city, and try to be as mean as possible.
When it comes to the cities and towns in the Phoenix metropolitan area, or as it was been known since the late 1930s, the Valley of the Sun, I can confidently say - It is one big mess. There are over two dozen cities - legitimate, incorporated, local governments, not counting non-incorporated areas, towns, geographical localities and local communities with distinct identities. I am guessing there are about 50 different areas around that have a name that is known and used. Some of these are independent; some are part of other communities. Some are flourishing, and some are disappearing. Everybody has heard of Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, Chandler and Scottsdale. How many people know where Lehi, Liberty, Arcadia and Ingleside are, or were? Not many people, I am sure, know where San Pedro or Zenos were? And what happened to Maryville? (and I'm not talking about Maryvale in West Phoenix).
What I have decided to do is simplify the map of the Phoenix area, reclassifying and grouping all these communities by their common characteristics and geographic proximity. Actually it was quite easy to identify eight basic areas. The only real problem was to find new, useful and descriptive names for the eight new communities. But even that challenge was overcome, even if I am not entirely satisfied with the all the names.
Anyway, a list of the eight communities into which the cities, towns, villages and districts will henceforth be organized and known follows. I have identified the parts comprising each of the new cities and have added an explanation as to the reasons for this composition.
The City of Phoenix, my birth town, no longer exists. What used to be known as Phoenix was a pretty nice, quiet town. Sometime in the 1980s that nice town turned into a sprawling, bloated conglomeration of different parts that had little personality and less spirit of community. The old Phoenix is gone. RIP. After all, what do the people on the South side of Camelback have to do with those in South Phoenix? What do Ahwatukee and Sunnyslope have in common? What unites Maryvale and Anthem? Nothing. Nada. There is almost nothing in Phoenix that is outstanding, with the possible exceptions of the Parks. Yes, Phoenix has good parks and good people in charge of them. I just wish I could say the same about the schools, which stink (except for the Madison district). Leaving out the industrial and commercial areas in South and Southwest Phoenix, I think the best solution is to take most of Central, South and West Phoenix and make it part of Glendale. It all has a bland, non-descript character that used to characterize Glendale, so we might as well put them together. The new city will be called Glendix. The 'IX' ending is what is left of Phoenix. The City offices will be moved to old Glendale, which I may add has more life and attractions than downtown Phoenix, but then again so does anywhere except Ajo. In fact, in the last few years, after a century of being a has been, Glendale is moving ahead with great projects and a visionary plan. The new city of Glendix will be formed of most of the old central and west Phoenix, all northern areas of Phoenix, parts of Sunnyslope, Anthem, Desert Hills, Deer Valley, Moon Valley, New River, Glendale, and Peoria. It will still be the largest city in Arizona.
Another easy one. In case you haven't noticed it, put large parts of Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, and even Scottsdale have gone Hispanic. I have seen store where it is hard to find a single sign in English, or where one can pass an hour with out hearing the language of the damn gringos. Oh well. Anyway, there is also the fact that certain city officials would probably very much like their respective areas in South Scottsdale and North Tempe to go away. I have lived in both and I assure you that the City of Scottsdale would not get mad if everything South of Thomas Road fell into the sea, or were carried away by the Cookie Monster. Likewise with Tempe, they would like to see most of the residential districts north of Apache Blvd converted into windmills, solar farms, or bulldozed and converted to high rent, high tax, living for affluent people from either coast, preferably of the same sex. Joking aside, there is some truth there, somewhere. There is an almost continuous strip of land from central Mesa west across the center of the Valley, through South Scottsdale, North Tempe, down to Guadalupe, extending west along the central Van Buren to McDowell corridor and then to Maryvale and Alhambra and finally up to parts of Sunnyslope that is heavily populated by latino immigrants. This area would constitute a new city to be called Mexizona - for obvious reasons. They could take over the old City of Phoenix buildings vacated after its move to Glendix. Yep. I think that worked neatly and nicely, the only major adjustment needed would be a law requiring all front yards to have chain link fences and two old cars in front on the street (one of which would be a '74-76 Chevy, blue). Of course there are a few rough edges pero asi el la vida y las cosas cambian siempre. It is essential that all cities be contiguous. I wasn't able to include El Mirage, a heavily Hispanic town in the Northwest Valley. Also I am somewhat unsure about Guadalupe. When I was a kid, Mexico wasn't too popular in that town. I recently asked a Guadalupe man if the influx of Mexicans and other latinos had diluted the Yaqui character of the town. He assured me that the Yaqui tradition was as strong as ever, and they get along better now with malditos Mexicanos. PS: About South Phoenix, the traditional Afro-American community in the Valley. In case you folks haven't noticed it, blacks are getting squeezed out by the Hispanics. Sorry, but that is the way it is. I once asked a black friend what he thought about this massive influx and he responded "I don't like it." I replied: "What are you going to do about it?" He said "Nothing!" Well, that's about it. Mexizona will be the fastest growing city in Arizona, easily, and nobody pays taxes.
What to do with Mesa? Well, I am old generation so to me Mesa is Mormon town. Sorry, that is the way it was. Almost six decades later, it is not quite as Mormon, but it is still strange. I considered merging it with the several cities south of it (see next item) but I figured that inflicting those folks with the weird ideas and politics of Mesa would not be fair. Mesa will remain Mesa except for a few areas will go to Mexizona. The name will have to be changed and so I have decided to call it Morsa. That is that you get when you mix Mesa, Mormon, morons and just than more of everything except taxes. God bless them. Morsa, city of nice people, good schools, great high school football, underground tunnels, bad LDS jokes, good food, stored food, big families, strange underwear and a few nut cases. No, the Mormons do not really control Mesa, nor do they control the Arizona legislature and no, I am not a Mormon. Oh yes, let me say a word about one place that I love: Lehi. Most people nowadays have never even heard of the old farming community. It is still one of the nicest places in Arizona to live, and it is in northern Morsa. In fact, all of Morsa can be considered pretty nice; as long as you don't want to go out anywhere after 7pm. Morsa is the quietest city in Arizona.
One thing I never understood was why Chandler and Gilbert are two different cities. They are twins. They look alike, feel alike, do the same things and even the houses and people look alike. It is kind of like dull Stepford wives meet dreary Stepford husbands, get married by monotonous Stepford ministers and then move to Chanbert and have two little wearisome Stepford children, one tiresome Stepford dog and a dead Stepford stuffed cat. The word 'dull' doesn't do justice to the town. I bet even the sex orgies in Chanbert are dull. The two places are so alike that I wonder how the inhabitants find their own houses at the end of the day - and it wouldn't make any difference anyway. The decision to put them together was easy, the only problem was whether to call it Gilbler or Chanbert? Chanbert it is! It sounds better. Into Chanbert will also go all the small mini-chanberts that already exist in the Southeast Valley, including Queen Creek, Higley, Chandler Heights, Ocotillo, and Sun Lakes. One last thing, I won't even think about which city will have to give up its offices. Oh well, let them argue about it, it will give the ex-Chandler and ex-Gilbert city officials something to do, because, as everybody knows, things are so quiet that have to schedule one night of crime per month just to give the police and justice staff something to do. Chanbert will be, easily, the most boring city in Arizona - or who knows, maybe even on planet earth.
The two Tempes - Yes, I can hardly tell them apart.
Tempe, oh yes, my hometown. Except for a few vague recollections of Maricopa, Tempe is the place of my earliest memories: cotton fields, tumbleweed forts, ASC, swimming at Tempe Beach, cars with the canvas water bags in front of the radiators, Wallace and Ladmo, Daily Park, Ritter, Broadmor, McKemy, etc.... After leaving the country for a few decades I moved back to Tempe and it had changed - for the worse. It was a small town with a big heart and a small school. It turned into a middle-sized town with a snobbish, condescending attitude and a very big educational institution, although ASU is not as big as the egos of the people that run the joint on 5th Street. Yes they always know best, because they represent multiculturalism, diversity and sensitivity (they even have certificates saying so on the walls) and yes, they always do what is best for the people, even when they made dubious deals and throw away tens of millions of dollars, time after time. When I lived in Tempe, I had the feeling that the common people there weren't good enough for the local government. Did I mention the Muslim Sanctuary Manifesto? Well, a while back the City of Tempe put forth a statement declaring all their facilities to be official refugee centers where Muslims could go when (not if) those poor persecuted peace-loving Muslims were attached by the evil, bigoted, racist, redneck citizens of Arizona, all carrying pitchforks and wearing white robes with crosses (they hoped!). I kid you not - you cannot make this up. Anyway, I digress. Back to the plan... Tempe is pretty much Tempe and doesn't fit with any other city around. Well actually, there is south Tempe, which is very similar to Ahwatukee (although this in many ways should be in Chanbert!). So, to make a long story short, I have decided to put Tempe, Kyrene and Ahwatukee together and call them Tempeecee. Not only does this preserve the historically relevant Tempe name (given by a drunken Englishman who thought that the barren, rocky, cactus-filled desert landscape at Hayden's Butte reminded him exactly of the lush, green, tree-filled hills and meadows in central Greece. Have another drink, Duppa!), but when combined with the last letters of AhwatukEE provides a clear message that expresses the basic political philosophy that governs every asspect, every thought, every decision of that local government. Tempeecee will be known as the most sensitive city in Arizona, or maybe even in the universe. PS: Ahwatukee is an old Indian term that means: Ahwa = the world or planet, tu = superlative of big or large, kee = a corral or burrow. In other words, it is an expression roughly equivalent to "biggest dead-end sul-de-sac in world."
Luxury living with unforgettable extras - and an attitude.
I will be the first to admit the big problem here was the choice of the name for the new city in the Northeast valley. There were several possibilities: Scottsdale Valley, Paradise Free, Carefree Paradise, Verde Cavefree, Scottscave,... I just couldn't come up with a good name. Also there is the fact that if I used the "Paradise" from one of the communities, it would mean that poor people might get in and we couldn't have that, even virtuous poor people. The 'care' and 'free' are out also because they don't care and ain't nothin' free there. Also, call me a romantic, but I refuse to use the words rio, river or creek unless there is some natural water around, within 10 miles at least. In the end, after much thought, I decided on Scottsuppittydale. Yes, it is a terrible name, but it expresses not only the sentiment of many people in Scottsdale, but also other nearby towns included with it. Actually, I was going to call it Scottswearebetterthanyoudale, but I couldn't get my tongue around that. Actually I live in what is now Snottsdale, I mean Scottsdale, but since I am south of Thomas Road, the people on Drinkwater Blvd wish we would disappear somehow, someway. Actually, my part of Scottsdale will become part of Mexizona, and latinos rock. Well, the Sherwood or Papago areas are not heavily Hispanic but many surrounding neighborhoods are. Oh well. In summary, the city of Scottsuppitydale will include areas formerly known as Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Carefree, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Rio Verde, Tonto Verde, and, what the heck, the Arcadia district (which was supposed to be in Scottsdale anyway, back in the 1950s) and was one time known as Ingleside, kind of. Yes, I know that Carefree and Cave Creek don't get along, but I told them I would send them to Tempeecee for 'sensitivity training' if they didn't learn to get along. They immediately declared true and unending love for each other which is really something considering that both communities are next to infamous Pleasant Valley and adjoining what is known as Bloody Basin - site of Arizona's own McKoy vs Hatfield feud. Pleasant Valley wasn't pleasant for about 10 years as the Tewksberrys and Grahams fought the bloodiest range war in Arizona's history, using guns, knives, forks, teeth and ropes. It ended when the last surviving Tewksberry killed the last surviving Graham. None of that 'Romeo and Juliet' crap for us, and obviously they could have used some sensitivity training. How did I get off on the Pleasant Valley war? Scottsuppitydale will continue to be a place known worldwide for its affluent life $tyle and 'sufizticaded curtural enverment' and, of course, million-dollar condos built over a big, smelly irrigation ditch (aka, the Waterfront). Come on, Scottsdale has culture. I mean, that, like, if you say you have it, and it costs lots of money, it is culture, isn't it? As I write this essay (12/2006), the head of the Scottsdale Commission for the Arts or Cultural Council (or whatever the name is...) is stepping down because of: a. certain fiscal and administrative irregularities, b. so she can dedicate herself to her preaching ministry, c. to have more time for her mud-wrestling career, or something. I got two out of three right, I think. But art is hard work and it takes great talent. For example, a great project in progress is "Flowers on a pole" in South Scottsdale. Yes, for a mere $50,000 some lucky neighborhood (Cox) is getting a couple of really unique masterpieces, crafted in real plastic and steel, no less. I hope the folks from the Louve don't try to steal them. Actually, this is less about art than City Hall sending a message to South Scottsdale - and what better way to say 'we care' than with steel and plastic flowers. Oh yes, the flowers spin - round and round. Let it also be said that Scottsdale's greatest cultural event this year was a full house, standing room only hearing by the city council in which the main attraction was America's number one movie porn queen, JJ, in person, who owns a strip joint in town. This meeting was to determine exactly how far away strippers or nude dancers must be from clients - and it only took the council about a half dozen trips to work out the proper distance. Now that is real dedication to culture.
7. Goodale Park
I had the same problem with the Southwest Valley that I had in the Southeast - too many places that are alike in too many ways. So, I am going to take Goodyear, Avondale (ex-Coldwater, ex-AguaFria), Litchfield Park, Tolleson and other smaller and more distant communities on the lower west side of old Phoenix and create the city of Goodale Park (or should it be Gooddale?). Included into the new GOODALE are also Buckeye, Laveen, Liberty, Cashion, Perryville, Santa Maria, Tonopah, Palo Verde and down to the Estrella community and even Rainbow Valley. This is one of the fasting growing parts of the nation, with people moving to the Goodale area to enjoy the comfort of Southwestern living, beautiful weather and the chance to the experience the 20 mile long parking lot that is Interstate I-10 highway, twice a day, as they go to and from their spacious homes with the 10 foot deep backyards and 6 foot separation from their neighbor's house. Buckeye and other westside cities are planning for 200,000 people in 2020. Wow! So why do people move to Goodale Park? Is it the varied, rich cultural life? Is it the joy of driving into the sun both ways each day? I am trying really hard to think of something that characterizes the Southwest Valley - something that makes it different from other areas in the old Phoenix metropolitan area. Nada, nothing, zilch. I could say it is boring, but I have already said that about the Southeast side. Of course, to be boring means there is something to do, even if unexciting and dull. Goodale Park is less than boring; there is nothing to do there except watch the developers plow up an acre of farmland every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to build uninspired, indistinguishable cookie-cutter houses and strip malls. I wish I could say something nice about this area, but my mind is as blank and empty as the social and entertainment scene in the area. I wonder at what point will the urban sprawl turn on its children and eat them? When will people see the foolishness of driving 5 miles for a quart of milk? If the Creationists ever want an argument against Evolution, they should ask why people in Arizona still have legs! Legs, useless biological appendages, serve only for occasional exercise or to interface with the floor controls on the vehicle. Nobody walks anywhere. The car rules! Wow, am I off on a tangent. When will the unrelenting physical facts such as distance, the cost of energy to move an object from point A to point B, and the required investment in extended and underutilized infrastructure make the suburb economically unsustainable? It may be never, or it may be soon, depending on resources, economic conditions and population trends. Unlike many modern urbanists, I don't see suburbs as a disease; I do see them as delicate economic and social structures with positive and negative aspects. I also certainly see a severe environmental cost. What will happen in this battle between suburbs and the complex realities of life? I don't know, but it will happen first in the Southwest Valley - in Goodale Park - with its great distances, large tracts of land and low economic profile. When will it end? Only when the last middle-aged or retired couple has moved from California to Goodale Park.
OK, the name is not great, but it is better than my first idea: Oldfartland. Think "Oldie, but goodie." More than anywhere else the Northwest Valley is known for retirement living, golfing, knitting tournaments, bulky underwear, viagra parties, estate sales, watching the grass grow and all the other perverse joys that are typical of what are called the "Golden years". Of course not all the good folks in Sun City, Surprise, Sun City West, Youngtown, El Mirage, Beardsley, Wittmann, and other communities along Grand Avenue are old. But then again, if the minimum age limit to live in a place called Youngtown is (or was) 55 years, imagine the rest. Oldieland also has what is the best free entertainment in Arizona, the daily Snowbird Golfcart I-can-go-slower-than-you races. Talk about adrenaline flowing and hearts stopping. Unbelievable. Some of the carts hit 4 or 5 miles and hour and they turn on a dime, without the driver even looking sideways. Actually, I hate to say it, but Oldieland is one of the more dynamic and fast moving parts of the Valley, maybe not as much as Mexizona, but certainly on a par with Chanbert and Scottsupiddydale. The folks in Oldieland have a sense of humor, and enjoy life as it is, from one yard sale to the next, little caring what other people think of them. This area is, for sure, the friendliest part of town.
That is it for this part of the essay.
I hope I have insulted everybody enough
and nobody in particular too much.
Of course, I am joking about all this,
but even so there is a lot of truth in this stuff.
Well, that's it! I count about 50 place names, and I probably missed a few localities. It is all a joke! Mostly.
The diverse nature of the many different parts of the Valley - or even within one city - is a fact that is recognized by local governments. The City of Phoenix has attempted to take the very different characteristics of its different parts into consideration, forming distinct "Urban Villages" for planning purposes. I will quote from their website at http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/planning/vpcommtt.html:
The City of Phoenix is divided into 15 Urban Villages (see map). Each Village has a Village Planning Committee that is appointed by the City Council. The Village Planning Committees assist the Planning Commission in the performance of its duties. Village Planning Committee activities include: identifying areas or provisions of the General Plan text that need refinement and updating; identifying problems and needs related to implementation of the General Plan; defining in greater detail the intended future function, density and character of sub-areas of the village; and commenting on proposals for the new zoning districts or land use districts.
The fifteen planning areas are as follows:
1. Ahwatukee Foothills
3. Camelback East
4. Central City
5. Deer Valley
6. Desert View
11. New Village
12. North Gateway
13. North Mountain
14. Paradise Valley
15. South Mountain
I think this is a good idea. Let it be known that the Phoenix city government is generally considered to be well run and efficient, by both local and national standards, and has a reputation for treating its employees well.
The "we want out" of Tempe case
The humorous essay above (I hope!) about our many cities and the new for more rational boundaries reminds me of a letter that was given to me a few years ago, of which I kept a copy.
It is a letter, a rather strangle letter, from a downtown Tempe commercial organization called MAMAMIA (now defunct) asking that part of Tempe be transferred to the city of Scottsdale (see image of letter!)
Anyway, here is part of the text from the first page of that document, addressed to the mayor of Scottsdale:
Representing over 110 commercial enterprises in the downtown area of the community of Tempe, the Mill Area Mercantile And Market Intermediary Association wishes to solicit an official opinion as to the feasibility of annexation, by the City of Scottsdale, of the area encompassed by University Drive, College Avenue and Ash Road northward within what is currently considered to be part of Tempe.
An exhaustive study by our legal counsel has determined that, according to paragraph 14-1 of the revised statues of the City of Tempe, and certain provisions of the original charter of the township (1887), any portion of the city may secede from the township if a two-thirds majority of property owners in a contiguous area deem that the township no longer represents the interests of those citizens.
In returned for the benefits to be derived from the enlightened leadership of Scottsdale, a responsible fiscal and commercial code, a prosperous and progressive economic policy and a sophisticated cultural environment - all of these missing under our current municipal government - we offer over one hundred dynamic businesses and thousands of energetic employees seeking to serve our community and willing to work for the common good, uninhibited by the callous, morose attitudes and despotic actions of our current city leadership, which has chosen to ignore the welfare of both residents and the local business community. To add insult to injury, in a strange paradox of values, the government of the City of Tempe has not only forsaken the average citizen, but has managed to prostitute itself with both capitalistic financial conglomerates and liberal 'politically correct' interest groups at the same time. In either case, the mores of each of these groups more often than not offend the sensitivities of common working families in Tempe.
Additionally, we would also like the City of Scottsdale to consider the fact that once annexation is formalized, by reason of geography, we may initiate a subsequent "de facto" arrogation of the Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Butte and the Papago Park areas, insomuch as they will be enclosed by the new, expanded greater Scottsdale. It has been suggested that these should be renamed Drinkwater Lake, Scottsdale Butte and Freedom Park, respectively. This action, while extreme, is necessary to
And I don't have the rest of it. It got lost in the clutter that is my historical file, otherwise known as the cardboard box in the corner of the garage. Darn it! I bet all the good parts, with the sex and deep dark secrets were on the second page. Oh well...
I really don't know what to say about that letter. I had heard of MAMAMIA, and I knew there were some issues between the Mill Avenue businesses and the City of Tempe, but I had no idea that they would be driven to such extremes. I am shocked. Wow!
Downtown Tempe has serious structural and identity issues. It has been that way since the 1970s. In my view they made the final mistake when the tore down the old bridge (the 1920s one) and built a new one at the end of Mill, next to the 1930s Old bridge. They should have put the new one at the end of Ash, and turned Mill into a pedestrians only walkway, with maybe even a canal going through and linking to the lake. But they wouldn't listen to old John.
The New Times (an 'alternative newspaper') recently had an article about the problems with downtown Tempe and its relationship to ASU and to similar but different problems in downtown Phoenix. Let's face it, compared to downtown Phoenix, Tempe is an anthill crawling with life. But then again, there is very little difference between a cemetery and downtown Phoenix after 7pm. The NewTimes says that the walking the streets of Mill Ave in Tempe is a chore and they are often deserted. That is a lie: there are almost always some bums around asking for money, or groups of very untalented artists playing what is supposed to be music. It really sucks, but it does qualify as a form of life. Yes, there are some empty, boarded-up stores, but there are also a few open for business. I have even seen a real customer in one, standing near the cashier - so she could have been buying something. So there! I know one of the business owners on Mill quite well and for more than a decade I have heard him speak of the joys and sorrows (mostly the latter) of having a business in downtown Tempe, and the multitude of ideas that have come out of city hall to 'fix' Mill Avenue but which in reality have done nothing: new signs, new parking regulations, double lane traffic, single lane traffic with parking, no sitting on sidewalks, no standing on sidewalks, no breathing, no panhandling, no panhandling near ATMs, no smoking (cigarettes, but grass ok!), and so on. It is not that there are no people on the streets of downtown Tempe; it is that there are no people with money to spend in the shops that are in downtown Tempe. The kids - the ASU crowd - do not waste time when Scottsdale, which has a life, is a few miles up the road - an anything goes in Scottsdale if it puts money in their pockets. Old people like me don't really want to associate with people that wear more than five pounds of body piercing ornaments, and this just on their faces - so we avoid Tempe also. Even so, the City of Tempe doesn't think there is a problem, and if there is, it is because the people don't appreciate their ideas.
Annexation: games local politicians play
Someday I am going to write about the politics and sociology of annexation. This the game where cities extend their legal boundaries to include larger areas, which means more taxes, which means more money, more city staff and departments, which means more power and bigger egos. Actually, it is a team game, like football, and the politicos must play with the developers, bankers and real estate people to score points.
In many ways, annexation is like chess, and the ultimate move is to landlock your opponent. This is the checkmate of city government, and there is nothing more satisfying in Arizona than for one city to cut off another so that it can no longer expand endlessly.
Some day I'm going to write about this....
Some maps, some images...