Kush: The multifamily impact on the environment

Posted 8/3/22

Like many people, I follow the social media site Next Door as it can often keep me informed on what’s going on in my immediate neighborhood.

The problem is, like many social media sites …

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Kush: The multifamily impact on the environment


Like many people, I follow the social media site Next Door as it can often keep me informed on what’s going on in my immediate neighborhood.

The problem is, like many social media sites (such as Facebook) Next Door is often used as a bully pulpit for the haters in the neighborhood. A recent cause célèbre on the site has been strong opposition to building more multifamily projects in Scottsdale.

Anyone who reads the paper knows that Scottsdale, like many other cities in the Valley, is the home of a strong, minority, anti-housing coalition which has become so vocal that it is, in part, responsible for the election of city council members who share their anti-housing bias.

These folks usually blame higher traffic counts and lowered property values as well as diminished quality of life as the main reasons for their anti multi-family position. This position is taken by them, in spite of the fact, that there is usually no supporting data or research to back up their position.

I for one, believe that the real and unspoken reason for their stance is the desire to keep “those people” out of their neighborhood. “Those people” often being defined as lower income people of mixed race. This belief comes in spite of the fact, that they themselves, most likely once in their lives resided in an apartment.

Most recently, the anti-apartment argument has been about the perceived water issue (shortages) and other negative environmental impacts of large apartment projects. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. All one needs do is to just take a look at the studies on the subject.

For instance, a 2018 study by the Water Management Association found that specifically in Phoenix the average single-family home used on average, 331 gallons of water per day while the average apartment used 182 gallons per day or 46% less.

Another topic has been discussion about the “heat island” effect that Phoenix is experiencing and how apartments only increase the problem. According to the site “Macro Trends” Scottsdale adds approximately 4,000 new households each year.

That means 4,000 dwelling units are needed to house this group of new residents. If you put them in a single-family home with the average Scottsdale single family lot taking up about 7,000 square feet, it works out to 642 acres of land needed versus probably less that 40 acres required to build the multifamily units to house those 4,000 households.

If you take into account other multi-family advantages such as shorter commute times; fewer swimming pools; more modern energy and water systems that are found in modern apartment projects, it becomes easy to see why the anti-apartment crowd needs to spend more time on the actual facts and less time inventing unsubstantiated fear tactics.


2 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • xway.mike.norton

    Given the rapid aging of the Scottsdale population, we need all the multi-family and assisted living facilities we can build. We're building some - but not nearly enough. This City has never seen 3,000 multi-family homes built in any three year period in its history. There might be a big pipeline, but it's a slow moving pipeline that doesn't deliver housing at anything close to the demand.

    If we want to restore the disappearing "Family with Children" demographic, we need family friendly housing, too, and in big numbers. There is absolutely no Family Friendly housing in development. Scottsdale was built on 4,000' to 8,000' lots. Today we think anything less than two acre lots is "too dense".

    If we want families with kids to disappear, then we're doing precisely the right thing. If we think that's a bad idea (I do), someone needs to step up and lead an initiative to restore family friendly community development in our City.

    Wednesday, August 3 Report this

  • jason.alexander

    Kush hits the point squarely about how we have a large anti-housing element. Kush suggests some un-American and unsavory reasons for not wanting people in our city. This was also mentioned in a recent article of the Arizona Progress Gazette: " We must wonder aloud if NIMBYism is becoming a facet of a bit of a local purity test for the Scottsdale GOP, much like stricter immigration standards are at the state and national level. "

    This is the uglier, extreme edge of anti-housing bias. But the bias exists in less pernicious constructs. Many of our older population were blessed to grow up in a time of abundant housing and affordable higher education. As a result, many feel that is the only paradigm of adult residences that is worthwhile and acceptable. Its a shame that rather than gratitude for the 40 year economic boom in which they grew up, they display entitlement and disdain for Gen X and younger who came of age when our post WWII boom was retracting, 2 working parents became the norm, and college degrees outpaced inflation by 700%. Candidate Pamela Carter callously suggested that to end the housing crisis young people simply needed to save more, as if recent grads have that kind of choice when one must earn nearly $75,000 simply to afford a 1 bedroom in Scottsdale.

    Perhaps older folks will re-assess the sacred cow of single-family home ownership when their taxes go up, their security is at risk because our understaffed Police and Fire Department continue to have difficulty hiring, services take longer and cant keep employees, and there are no children to make Scottsdale the city they so wrongly think they are keeping special.

    Wednesday, August 3 Report this