Being an urbanist is hard in Phoenix. Even when the city takes a step in the right direction, it faces opposition. This week, one such example has come to my attention. The proposed expansion of the “Arts, Culture and Small Business Overlay” is being discussed at the Central City Village Planning Committee on Monday.
The current overlay has been in place since April 2008. It has been responsible for many of the new galleries and small businesses in and around downtown that have opened in the past few years, including many featured during this past weekend’s Art Detour. It has been such a success, in fact, that the city would like to expand it to other parts of downtown. Alas, there has been some opposition by nearby residents, making a slam dunk decision into a much more tentative one.
Here is a letter from one of my friends who will be directly affected by the outcome of this weeks meeting.
My name is Katie Hess. I am relatively new to the neighborhood. I bought a house at the NW corner of 13th Ave. and Roosevelt about a year and a half ago.
Since I purchased my house, I have worked hard to fix it up, and have had many volunteers as well, including a group of herbalism graduates that came to help plant trees, plants, and flowers. We also painted everything inside and out. The house used to be a drab dusty color, and now is sky blue with a mango wall.
My intention in supporting the overlay program is to bring goodness and positive energy to the neighborhood. When I first moved in, people were taking naps in the front lawn everyday, but that soon stopped. We’ve noticed that the negative activities in our area have declined. There is less trash in the alley and fewer intoxicated people hanging out. Over time we’ve really gained respect on our street because we take pride in our neighborhood and really value what we have.
My background is in natural medicine, my main specialty in flower essence therapy (the kind without the scent, taken internally to enhance happiness). I hand-collect the flower essences from flowers around the world, as well as growing flowers here at the house to infuse them into elixirs, body care, spa products, and even organic dark chocolate. My business partner, Lisa Reinhardt, owns an organic, fair-trade dark chocolate company. We may know some of you from the Downtown Phoenix Farmers’ Market, as we’ve had a booth there for several years now.
Since this house is zoned R-5 we have permission to use part of the space for business purposes, and so for the last year or so my flower essence therapy clients have made appointments with me there during the day.
We are in support of the overlay program for our property, because we’d like to have the opportunity to allow people to come and buy organic chocolates and organic skin care/body care products. We think it would be wonderful for our neighborhood to have a resource, sort of a ‘wellness’ atmosphere, where you can walk down the block to buy healthy chocolates that boost your immune system and other organic products to keep you healthy and happy. I believe that this type of community activity would continue to decrease the negative things that we all don’t want to see and enhance our neighborhood.
I have talked with most of my neighbors to the west of me all the way to Grand, as well as the apartment buildings to the south and to the east of us, and everyone is supportive.
For these reasons, I’m asking for your support of the Arts, Business, and Culture Overlay Program. The proposed overlay areas would only affect the corner of 13th Ave and Roosevelt west to 15th Ave and Grand Ave, as well as one property on the NE corner of 15th Ave and Portland St.
If you have any questions I am happy to answer them.
Last week, I talked about the need for people to get involved in their community. Katie has done this. She now wants to take here involvement to the next level. Expanding the Arts and Culture Overlay will allow her (and others) to do just that.
However, to make her dream a reality, she needs your help. If you are free Monday night (Mar 8th at 6pm) please come out and show your support for the overlay expansion at the Village Planning Committee meeting. The meeting will take place at 6:00 pm at Emerson Court, School District Board Room, 1817 North 7th Street (southeast corner of 7th Street and Palm Lane).
It is important that those of us who seek a vibrant downtown make our voices heard at events such as these. You don’t need to speak, or even stay for the entire meeting. You can just fill out a card with your name and address, and say that you are in favor, and then leave. If you can’t make it, yet want to show your support, please send an email to Katherine Coles, the City of Phoenix contact for the committee.
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