Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Land Pirates

Welcome to Arizona, a playground for Land Pirates and their allies the Mega-builders. Their mission in life, squeeze every nickel out of the land – “take it all, give nothin’ back”. To be fair they will allow a coin or two to slip through their fingers, but in the long run the stress the fabric of the communities in place ‘til it tears. Streets not capable of bearing high volume traffic are now crowded and crumbling, Water trickles out of the tap because too many folks are trying to use it at once (that and it is the desert), city governments can’t keep up and law enforcement is stretched very thin. Spread so thin that snapper-heads can vandalize the library right in the middle of downtown El Mirage with apparent impunity.

The Land Pirates and builders find lots of support from state and local governments that do not make enough demands or think far forward enough about the impact that all this building has on the land and infrastructure. I know the development companies file impact reports, but one has to wonder how accurate they are and if the thought of expansion and more tax dollars for the cities overrides the damage done.

Water is a big problem out here, but if you go by the developer’s attitude you’d think we were living somewhere in the Midwest. Housing areas with ponds, city water parks, “waterfront” shopping centers and then the government here has the audacity to tell residents they are watering too much and we need to conserve water through this terrible drought. What a load of two-faced crap that is. Not that I am down with lawns, many of my neighbors have large lawns, and all I can think is if you want that much grass, move back to Illinois or wherever and you can water to your heart’s content. This isn’t “Maple Avenue USA” it is the desert. Desert = no water – get it? But wait, that’s not all…

There is the “Brown Cloud” of TV weather fame that hangs about the city. It is a combination of dust (construction, fallow farmland, assholes in four wheel drive monsters tearing up the desert, and pollutants. From cars. Too many cars, too many people driving themselves across town on a daily basis. There is an emissions control program, and it does control mine, but I can see many cars for which emissions are the least of the problem. Even half-assing the emissions won’t help as it isn’t the individual car putting out the monoxide that is part of the deal, but thousands of cars every day, day in and day out. Then I read a news article, an interview with our governor, someone I would have expect better from – she said we need more and faster freeways. We are approaching an election year and that is a hot button issue, but no we don’t; need freeways. We need reliable efficient mass transportation. The bus doesn’t even make it out to El Mirage. Now that would be one long bus ride if you work in Scottsdale, but that is where trains come in. I have tracks right in back of my house, what a great place for a station! I know the railroad pisses and moans about high track usage to support the builders, but this is easily remedied by charging a huge land development tax (oh my God, that would halt expansion in the Valley – that’s the idea).

Housing and land values have rocketed to all time highs squeezing investors out of the housing market, so now the they are turning folks out of affordable apartments so they can cash in on the Condo craze. Where is the sate government when you need them? Well, they don’t even have the rocks to pass an anti-gouging law so regulating or stopping the source of all their wealth and power by limiting builders ain’t ever going to happen.
I am not against progress. I just believe it can in an educated, measured fashion with an attempt to keep the impact on the area to a minimum. Face it, when the water is pretty much gone the developers and builders will be off raping greener pastures. Bad enough we the homeowners and buyers have to pay for their avarice now, wait ‘til the price of water per gallon outstrips the price of gas – no mean feat here in the valley of