For those of you who attended the January GCNA General meeting at Emerson School you may recall that I spoke on the topic of “Community Involvement”.  As a demonstration, to illustrate the benefit that comes from the bringing of differing perspectives and views to the community table and the need for involvement of all members of the community I provided those in attendance apples and knives (yes a bold move when “Ratero” is giving a speech).  I asked that individuals slice the apples in half.  The majority of the room sliced the apple lengthways revealing the core in the way that we would commonly see the core of an apple.  There were a few individuals who sliced the apple the other direction providing a different view of the core of the apple.  It is those individuals who look outside of the box, who do not settle for someone else slicing the apple and providing cut pieces to eat but who insist on looking at things from an alternative perspective that open up new avenues of thinking and discover new ways, paths to lead.  While it is new and it is change, it reveals the core as a “star” and can be a force for positive movement for the community and those who live in it.

I would now like to respond to the Dispatch’s “editorial comment” on the zoning application and process titled  “Food for Thought” that accompanied the article written about the property refereed to “The Sanctuary” located on 917 East Sheridan in the January/February Dispatch page 7, it is linked here if you missed the article and accompanying editorial comment

Let me say that I have been a part of the Sanctuary’s entire journey beginning with the former owner’s zoning presentation at the GCNA General Meeting, and resulting letter of support from the community, Encanto Village Planning Commission, continuing to the City of Phoenix Planning Commission, and finally ending with a variance hearing.  While it is true that there was not a unanimous vote each time, there rarely is, there was overwhelming positive support from the neighbors for the proposed newly located business at the property.  Each step of the process was a healthy presentation by professional city staff, whose job it is to research and present findings and who reached the same conclusions that the zoning change would be a positive one. As the article states this was not just once but at each step of the process of careful consideration by differing bodies of city government with expertise in different areas.

The variance process is there and established by the city for the very reason that this moved forward, to allow for careful, reasoned consideration, and resulting change to what would otherwise be something that would not be allowed under existing rules.  The process works.

Many individuals operate business out of their homes, individual realtors, tax preparers and even web designers with no impact to the community.  As the article states “the next step up is a Residential Office Zoning, which may have some impact”, the zoning description speaks for itself.  Office zoning that is specific for a residential area. It is not the businesses that create what the editorial states are “A bit more noise, some added traffic?” These issues are addressed during the process so that the “residential fabric” is protected. This is not zoning for “offices and corner restaurants” as the article would lead you to believe. The editorial states:” Some of Coronado’s larger properties may make good offices or even trendy neighborhood restaurants…” this is a false statement of R-O zoning and leads one to imagine the   “fear of the what if” and runs contrary to a true statement of the reasoned, informed variance process and it’s potential to imagine rather a possibility for improvement That would not have existed before.  And in this particular case clearly did not exist before.

There is little to no “commercial encroachment in a traditionally residential neighborhood” in the residential areas between 7th and Central that was not a vacant lot zoned for that use.  In fact there has been an infill of residential homes and nice condo developments in the area over the past several years bringing a slightly higher residential density to an otherwise single family home pocket close to the downtown. More residents, more residential community feeling, preserving the “residential fabric” more so than it would have been if this had not occurred. There is and will always be a strong Alvarado and Los Olivos Historic Districts with commercial development on existing commercial zoning that has remained sensitive to the residential fabric of the community, and enhanced the value and preservation of the area in a broader sense.  Take a “cut through” drive sometime the homes are a stones throw from Coronado and are spectacular in their beauty and character side by side with some businesses that are keenly sensitive to their impact.

The Dispatch editorial states, “Simply put, property that is zoned commercial is worth more.” Let’s take a look at that apple again.  If the property is worth more, has more value, then it will more likely be well cared for, treated as though it did have greater value.  As the historical portion of the article points out regarding the history of the Sanctuary, there has been little attention and little value given to this particular property, changing hands many times with long periods of abandonment.  This is good?  This was in fact the trend, this is not a “what if”, this is the reality of “what was”.  This demonstrates the reason for the variance process; to change the trend, to set a positive precedent for the future.  Take a look at the improvements, drive by and look at how lovely this property is, and how it’s increase in worth has positively changed and impacted that particular area, from what it was.  Ask yourself would you like to see that happen to some of the other chronically blighted and problems areas of Coronado?  Would you like to see the variance process succeed like this when needed, and I clarify when needed, to bring about change? It is difficult to retrofit a property in a Historical Neighborhood designed and built in a different period of time under different conditions, therefore the variance process is implemented on occasion for various needs to be met that may fall outside of the guidelines of established rules.  The process has checks and balances to meet these needs while preserving the “residential-historical fabric”. Have you been pleased with the increasing value and worth of the historic homes in Coronado?  This has been brought on by investors increasing the value of the homes and with that comes the homes being treated with more care, increasing the value yet again.

Remember when consuming “food for thought”, you are what you eat. Read the labels and check the ingredients.  Never be satisfied with what is just served to you without looking for that star in the apple. Work hard, remain informed, be positively involved in the community and be a part of creating a better Coronado Neighborhood. Thank you to Level 4 Studio and its owners Tim Ward and Nik Perkovich and to developer Mike Snitz for slicing that apple a different way and showing the neighborhood, and the city the star that was always at the corner of Sheridan and 10th Streets.

Don’t live in “fear of what if” but always reason through an informed process to the positive possibilities of the future…..

Ratero Reporter

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