John Wesley le the charge to introduce urbanism into mega-suburb of Mesa, Arizona.
The Dobson Ranch development in Mesa, Arizona. A square-mile burb extending eastward and southward from Phoenix, Mesa, Arizona is not the largest city not at the center of a metropolitan area. But whereas Fort Worth and Long Beach both function like center cities—replete with their own industries and speed date in Miami Florida own downtowns—Mesa sprawls into the record books as America's largest suburb.
Atresidents, it tops Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis, and Cleveland, among others.
With a relatively scanty downtown and countless square miles of low-density residential development, Mesa might seem like a planner's worst nightmare. Planning Director John Wesley, though, is enthusiastically taking on the challenge of urbanizing Mesa—and distinguishing it from its fellow mega-suburbs and, of course, from Phoenix.
A native Oklahoman and former planning director of Stillwater, Wesley knows about wide-open free dating Erie review. He also knows about conservative politics, the challenge of urbanizing in the age of the Tea Party, and the need for cities to adapt to a warmer Earth. Before I came here from Oklahoma I had never really heard of Mesa and was surprised to find out how big it was.
I had my image of cities of something thousand populations and big, booming downtowns. Mesa is not that way. It's a product of the ss urban sprawl, and very low-rise.
We have a very low resident-to-job ratio. We export a lot flirt Mount Airy NC workers every day to Tempe and Phoenix. Mesa was formed back in the late s by a group of Mormon pioneers coming down from Utah. That history is of being a very conservative, family-oriented community. It's strong on property rights, which led to the idea that any development was good development.
A new general plan was approved in —the "Mesa Plan. When the Phoenix light-rail line first opened inwe got a mile extended into Mesa so that we could say we were part of the system. It was wildly successful. The Mesa station was the most used station on the line.
There's a lot of interest for new development in our downtown area. We got council support a few years ago for a downtown plan, and also to create and adopt a form-based code for downtown. Council approved an extension of that form-based code for our smart growth community plan for Atlantic City or dating original light rail station, which was a park-and-ride lot.
We made it clear that that was not the case. As a city of over square miles, people want different types of environments. We want to provide that variety of neighborhoods and opportunities.
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In the past we have catered to the low-density sprawl, auto-oriented development approach. We know that's not going to go anywhere. In the first few public meetings we had a pretty good turnout. I did my best to listen to them Tempe AZ i a flirt hear what their concerns were. We have a place in Mesa near our original mall that was kind of a strip retail center that everything went out of business. A property owner put a chain link fence around it and it sat there and became an eyesore.
There are private property rights. We have basic standards for health and safety, but they can do what they want with that property. Hemet aged women dating younger men were still there in the background, but the vote was very much in support.
Our general plans here in Arizona have to be approved by voters. It was on the ballot in I imagine that brings a public relations aspect to the planning process. How do you think about voters and about good planning at the same time? It definitely makes it a bit of a challenge. On the one hand, we are striving to represent the people of Mesa and what they want to see their community become. We are putting before them what we see and understand to be the best approaches. With the community outreach we did through the planning process — giving people the chance to express their Dallas Texas TX (toronto) online dating, values and needs for the city — we feel like we were able to put together a plan that represented the community at large.
We had strong support from the city council. After the council approved the fuck date Fort Myers in June for the vote in November we had bits of publicity and we kept talking to advocacy groups.
We didn't do a whole bunch of outreach; we just tried to do a few things to keep it fresh. That doesn't happen all the time. Many directors speak of urban social problems: poverty, racial strife, poor schools, and so forth. How does that play out in Mesa? Is Mesa mainly a land use planning challenge or are there major social challenges that affect your work? The major thing iranian Fontana dating those lines is that we had the original square mileage of the city and then initially grew to the west towards Phoenix in the ss, and then started moving east.
All the new development hookup forget men Fort Collins in east and southeast, and the older area is west of downtown. Those areas are starting to show their age. There are more apartments on Honolulu dating profiles west side. There are old shopping centers that have degraded. The demographics are a little older, a little less educated. Some of the long-term residents of the city are concerned about the future of west Mesa. The council has considered approaches, particularly associated with light rail and the low-income housing tax credit.
People are saying we already have enough low-income people and want to spread the wealth around the city. That puts the council Pennsylvania teen dating a bind, which projects to support and not support. They want people with disposable income. What are your concerns about climate change? How do those prospects influence planning in Mesa?
But we still addressed those issues to the degree that we could by promoting quality de. But we know, here in our city, every summer it gets hot. We need to provide shade, we need to New York NY dating services Tempe AZ i a flirt ways to orient buildings, use materials that are appropriate for our climate. That made sense to them. I find sex in Tyler TX thinking that because we are in the desert with a lot of sun we ought to see building styles that are different than we might see, maybe with a more Southwestern theme to it.
But we don't. So much of it is corporate architecture. What do you like and what things concern you? The profession encourages us to look for those people who might not be able to represent themselves holistically. I think as we've evolved over the last five to ten years some good and exciting things have gone on: getting connected with public health and working on connectivity, walkability, and sustainability issues.
Back before, we were so focused on the traditional Euclidean zoning, and separating things. Pre-recession, I had a staff of professional planners of around 25 to 26, plus all the support staff that went with them. Today I have ten. The work levels are about back up dating for millionaires Orlando Florida FL what it was pre-recession. Conducted in Marchthis interview has been edited and condensed.
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How do you characterize Mesa and its role in the greater Phoenix area?