It appears that Arizonans are all for property rights until a Goodwill store tries to open in their neighborhood. And then not so much. A group led in part by my former Republican Congressman John Shaddegg believes that their "right" to determine how other people's property is used were trampled by allowing a local strip mall to rent a large vacant store space to a legitimate business.
Basically, these residents live in a small prosperous neighborhood called Moon Valley surrounded by less prosperous areas. There are apparently not enough residents in this neighborhood to support the upscale commercial boutiques they would like to see, so their preference is that this poor landlord leave his property vacant rather than rent it to a business that might cause these folks to encounter a poor person on the street. I am sure these folks would say they have no problems with poor (likely mostly Hispanic) folks per se, but not in their neighborhood! (By the way, in this town we have the nicest Goodwill stores I have ever seen -- my daughter loves to shop for funky stuff there).
I don't think I am being too hard on them. Here is one letter to the Mayor's office from a resident:
What does this mean? Quite simply, we now have a mega store/WAREHOUSE in Moon Valley. Goodwill has closed all the surrounding stores to create a "funnel" effect whereby all the surrounding neighborhoods will flock to Moon Valley for a deal. And, they are now free to import as many goods as they like from anywhere they choose to fill up their new mega store and bring loyal Goodwill shoppers to Moon Valley by the droves.
I sat in the parking lot of the Shaw Butte Plaza today and was so saddened. I thought, "We are such a wonderful, unique, special neighborhood, why would you do this to us? Was furthering your political career worth it?" Because, make no mistake, you have sold us out.
I guess all that brown skin walking around is going to destroy her little bit of specialness. Tough.
We have the same thing going on in our neighborhood. The country club on whose golf course many of the houses in my area are located was recently revamped. It was redesigned into a links-style course that is very unusual in the Phoenix market. I actually thought this was a pretty smart move -- when there are something like 200 golf courses in the area, it makes sense to try to be unique.
Well, most everyone in the neighborhood thinks it is ugly -- I don't live on the course but I actually kind of like it. But the sort of shaggy, wild look they adopted for it is not at all what Arizonans are used to. I will confess they did some things that seem crazy to me, like removing all the trees, but my general reaction has been, well, its their land. My neighbors do not share my insouciance however, and have freaked, writing letters and threatening lawsuits. Everyone wants property rights for themselves but veto power over what all their neighbors do with their property.
Disclosure: I grew up in Houston, so zoning is foreign to me.