Sustainable Communities Lecture Series Discusses Prop 207 and the Fight Against Downtown Neglect






Photos by Alonso Parra/Lamp Left Media

Last week, another installment of the Sustainable Communities Lecture Series took place at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. The topic of conversation was Proposition 207, titled the “Private Property Rights Protection Act”, a ballot initiative passed in 2006 intended to protect private landowners from government actions that may decrease property value.

I was unable to attend either of the last two panel discussions for this series , which is sponsored by Women Design Arizona and Blooming Rock Development. Thankfully, Tim Eigo, editor at Arizona Attorney Magazine has written about both at his blog. Compared to the previous panel, which took place in February and focused on water security, Prop 207 is considerably more esoteric, applying to landowners, developers, policy-markers and the like. However, the broad implications of this measure, it’s been argued, effect  historic preservation initiatives and the city’s ability to regulate land use, which in turn damages  Phoenix’s ability to overcome many of it’s current problems.

Eigo writes on his blog,

. . . As we sat in the empty lot of the Downtown Public Market, surrounded by food trucks and farm-to-table produce on a beautiful spring evening, I had to wonder.

That empty lot, and dozens of identical ones that surrounded us, are zoned for a pie-in-the-sky 500 feet of development. As Gammage pointed out, those massive structures will never be built in any of our lifetimes. And yet property owners hang onto these lots for generations, in case Phoenix suddenly morphs into Dubai.

In a Prop 207 world, panelists agreed, city leaders are unlikely to move to downzone anything, let alone declare a neighborhood historic.

For someone like me, who is young, idealistic, and has no knowledge of law whatsoever, these are very daunting topics. Walking around the city, observing everything from vacant lots and red-bricked llanteras to multi-million dollar projects like CityScape, I try to make sense of what seems to be a sporadic pattern of misguided sprawl. Our city bears the markings of poor design and development even for those not well versed in law or urban design. People like Tim Eigo and the Sustainable Communities Lecture Series, however, help to popularize these issues, making them more accesible to the general public. When topics like Prop 207 are presented in an inviting manner and discussed openly in a public forum, the city becomes that much less obscure, welcoming more people to get involved in what then becomes familiar ground.

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One Response to “Sustainable Communities Lecture Series Discusses Prop 207 and the Fight Against Downtown Neglect”

  1. Tim Eigo Says:

    Thanks for this excellent post! I appreciate your coverage of the evolving (and occasionally devolving) downtown.

    I wrote previously about the water resources panel you mentioned here:

    Keep up the great writing and advocacy!

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