Pima County’s future in Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuaritaby Hugh Holub on Mar. 14, 2011, under economy, politics
The other day the Arizona Daily Star had another one of its usual “bad things are happening because of growth” stories:
From Arizona Daily Star:
If cities were businesses, Tucson would be losing market share.
While the city and its suburbs both kept growing during the past decade, the suburban growth outpaced the city’s so much that it further chipped away at Tucson’s share of the overall population.
The percentage of all Pima County residents living inside Tucson is now only 53 percent, new census figures show. As recently as 1990, it was 60 percent….
…Suburbanites have long flocked to those areas in search of cheaper housing, better schools and more spacious living conditions. But many planners and environmentalists criticize sprawl on the grounds that it hurts the tax base of the main city, runs up big taxpayer bills to build new roads, and destroys open space near important natural lands….
Oh how awful it is that more and more people are living in Marana, Oro Valley and Sahaurita and the city of Tucson’s share of Pima’s population has dropped to only 53%.
Did you know what the city of Phoenix’s share of population in Maricopa County is? 37.8%
(Phoenix has 1,445,362 people and Maricopa has 3,817117 people).
When you look at the 19 largest cities in Arizona, 11 of them are all in Maricopa… Mesa with 439,041 people…Chandler (which just a $5 billion Intel plant) has 236, 123 people and on down to Buckeye with 50, 876 people.
Oro Valley made the top 19 with 41,011 people.
What happened in Maricopa County over the last 60 years was that urban growth was not limited to Phoenix. The surrounding suburban towns also grew…with Mesa probably going to overtake Tucson as Arizona number 2 city by 2020 or 2030.
Reading the Star this is terrible. All those people having to drive their cars over all those roads. But wait, maybe there is salvation if gas hits $4 a gallon and people can’t afford to live in Marana or Oro Valley or Sahuarita….or so it is conjectured.
Just imagine all the desert open space that could be saved in people would quit moving to Pima’s suburbs and live inside Tucson’s city limits.
But…why do you think the suburbs are growing much faster than Tucson?
The Star noted affordable housing as one draw. Master planned communities are another.
One could not in all probability build a Rancho Vistoso or a Rancho Sahuarita inside the city limits of Tucson. There are not large tracts of land available (except all the state land Tucson annexed which will stay vacant for decades) .
Even if you wanted to build a master planned community you still have to get sewer service from Pima County which is extremely hostile to suburban growth.
Maricopa County plays virtually no role in suburban growth because if someone wants to develop land and get water and sewer service, they have to go to the neighboring city or town to get utilities. The neighboring cities and towns don’t extend their water and sewer utilities outside their city limits without an annexation petition.
Now you understand why Pima County is fighting Marana over the sewer system out north? Pima wants to be able to throttle Marana’s growth. If Marana succeeds in throwing Pima County Wastewater out of their town, Oro Valley and Sahuarita will soon follow. Pima will be out of the growth control business.
One can fairly guess that the population in Pima County will reach 2 million in another 20 or 30 years. And it is also a very good bet most of that growth will be in Marana, Oro Valley and Sahaurita.
Environmentalists will whine how bad this will be for the Sonoran Desert Tortoise.
But one very obvious thing about the difference between Maricopa and Pima counties is there are a lot more and better paying jobs up there than down here.
Why? Because if Phoenix didn’t want an Intel plant or a Motorola plant, Chandler and Tempe and Mesa said come on over here. Competition between Maricopa’s cities and towns was the fuel for their growth.
Tucson for decades fought the incorporation of new towns in Pima County.
Pima County has tried to throttle metro area growth by surrounding Tucson with a giant park under the guise of its Sonoran Desert Conservation program. Tucson wanted a monoply on urban growth. Pima is trying to assist.
Marana, Oro Valley and Sahaurita aren’t buying Tucson’s urban monopoly ambitions nor Pima’s environmental land protection agenda.
And the obvious truth is people are buying Marana’s, Oro Valley’s and Sahuarita’s visions of suburban life and moving to the towns where schools are better and life is good.
It won’t be long before the three towns are the main event for new job creation in Pima. They already have self-sufficient commercial development…the final step is landing their own job centers so people would only have to commute to Tucson to go to the Gem Show down at the Convention Center.
Tucson and Pima’s hostility to growth have generated the future of the towns.
And so what if Tucson ends up with only 37.9 percent of the urban population….Phoenix is not exactly hurting with that low percentage.
I remember in the old days everyone saying Tucson didn’t want to end up like Phoenix.
If you drive around the two metropolitan areas now….they are virtually the same except there is more of metro Maricopa than metro Tucson.
We have managed to marginalize the political power of Pima and diminish economic opportunities for southern Arizona families by letting Tucson and Pima County be run by a small group of frightened people who care more about saving squirrels on Mount Graham than making sure we have enough high paying jobs to pay for schools and roads and health care down here.
The frightened people still run Pima County and the city of Tucson’s governments. And no wonder they constantly pump out stories of gloom and doom about the growth in the towns in Pima County…because the future is with the towns. Pima and Tucson are losing control of growth to the towns.
The leaders of Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita are making the future happen. And those that like that vision are moving to live in the towns.
The ultimate referendum.