By The Voice of Chandler |
Last month, the City of Chandler unanimously passed Resolution 5656 to reject the proposed ‘Landings on Ocotillo’ high-density housing project. From the start, the developer has been smearing our neighbors for no other reason than we support the plans that have been voted on and approved for our community.
Along with the city, we support additional affordable housing for the community. But the fact is, this isn’t about affordable housing. If it were, then the developer—and their high-paid zoning lawyers, PR firms, and nonprofits—would have found a way to make the project work at one (or more) of the 14 other sites that fit within existing planning.
This is about profit. And to make matter worse, in just 15 years, this housing can (and probably will) convert to regular market rate housing. This means that the subsidies will go away, and the tenants who need the subsidies will get kicked out.
The reality is that the City of Chandler has already approved multiple affordable housing projects in line with the voter-approved City Master Plan. In October, the City of Chandler approved a large public housing development for seniors. In November, the City approved hundreds of affordable housing units in its Downtown District. Resident and neighborhood opposition groups have been unanimous in their support for affordable housing, which can be further evidenced by their 85% affirmative vote on the Chandler General Plan.
The problem is that the high-density housing project (Landings) proposed by the Developer (Dominium) is on an unsuitable county island site. Development as a multifamily living site is incompatible with the voter-approved General Plan, the Chandler Water Master Plan, and the Chandler Airpark Area Plan, as noted by the City Council in Resolution 5656.
Given that Arizona is a desert, the largest issue is the incompatibility with the Chandler Water Master Plan—the site in question does not have the water capacity to support any form of housing. The City allocates water in accordance with the Chandler Water plan depending on intended use and zoning. The site in question is currently zoned for farming with the plan to rezone it to light industry or employment under the Chandler General Plan and Chandler Airpark Plan. Light industrial/employment is allocated 121 gpd per 1,000 ft, whereas the proposed multifamily housing requires over twice that amount at 253 gpd per 1,000 ft. If this project were approved, the site would have grossly insufficient water. Neither Dominium nor its representatives have addressed in the media or to government officials how they will supply the 102 gpd shortfall. With existing drought conditions, Chandler is currently under Tier 2 water shortage restrictions. There is simply not enough water to support this proposed development at this location.
The assumption that this land would be used for light industrial uses has been the basis for other plans like traffic planning. Using this land for housing instead of light industrial would increase the number of cars on the road in an area that already has the highest traffic incidents with a record injury rate when compared to the rest of southern Chandler. The full impact on traffic from current construction projects is yet to be felt in this already congested area, and this unplanned project would only make it worse.
The City of Chandler offered Dominium fourteen other locations for consideration that are in line with existing plans. Dominium refused to consider these other locations. Instead, it is focused on this specific parcel of land. The alternate locations are smaller, but they have the requisite water allocation and would fit within the parameters of the voter-approved Chandler Master Plan.
The everyday residents who live and work in this neighborhood were all universally opposed to the project at the City Council meeting. Those who spoke in favor were from other cities and organizations. Should special interest groups and outside actors determine what is best for a city? Is the voice and concern of the neighbors and residents inferior to that of a deep-pocketed developer with the right political connections?
Enough is enough. Where a voter-approved plan exists, we the people should always have final say—not some multi-million-dollar corporation. And when this case is brought before the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors this year, they must affirm this important principle.
The Voice of Chandler is a group of concerned Chandler residents fighting for the rights of We The People. You can find out more about their work here.