OUTING INFILL

PHOENIX'S INFILL HOUSING PROGRAM IS SUPPOSED TO ENCOURAGE RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE CITY CORE WHILE CURBING URBAN SPRAWL. BUT WHEN IT SUBSIDIZES LUXURY HOMES IN EXCLUSIVE NEIGHBORHOODS, THE PROGRAM FILLS THE WALLETS OF BUILDERS

Tribken says infill won't occur until the cities surrounding Phoenix share the responsibility for providing affordable housing.

Meunier suggests doubling gasoline prices--to discourage commuters--and embracing old ranch houses as the next trendy home of choice for refurbishment.

Reed Krolof says bribery will do just fine. "I believe that most of the homebuilders in Arizona are not a particularly sensitive lot, and that the smell of money will attract most of them above and beyond any concern for the environment. So if a $2,000 waiver per unit is enough to get them, then fine. And if it's not enough, then raise it a little bit." Just about everyone agrees on one thing: Growth on the city's outskirts must be controlled. Holly O'Brien says, "If any city councilperson votes for annexing one square inch, they are against infill."

This year, the city approved an impact fee boost of $600 per house for development north of the Central Arizona Project canal--raising the fee to around $5,360, depending on location. The impact fees are designed to offset the city's costs for developing virgin desert; building in developed parts of the city is cheaper because water, sewer and electrical hookups are already available.

The impact fees now charged by the city are only a portion of the eventual cost of developing the land.

Krolof says, "Make the developers pay the entire infrastructure cost. Not some percentage--some wacko, weird percentage, like they've worked out before--but the entire infrastructure cost. . . . That will stop development at the perimeter, or it will dramatically slow it down."

Last week, the city council voted to double the infill program's budget, from $100,000 to $200,000. No changes were made to the program.

City staff showed slides of a subdivision near 16th Street and Missouri, and of houses that are part of the Elliott Homes subdivision in South Phoenix.

No mention was made of Gretchen Freeman's home, or the homes on North Central Avenue. Vice Mayor Craig Tribken says he plans to try to have a cap put on the waiver amount, so the most expensive houses don't get the most money, but the council didn't take action on it.

Frank Dolasinski, who administers the pilot program through the city's Business Customer Service Center, says he suggested capping the waiver amounts last year, when discussion of the program first came up.

Tribken tells New Times, "No question in my mind we ought to cap it."
So why not now?
Tribken chuckles.
"There's a mayor's race going on.

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