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Kush: Last year’s heroes are this year’s shunned renters


This time last year, there were news articles and signs everywhere with slogans like “Hero’s Live Here” or “Hero’s Work Here” all of them honoring those in the medical fields who were risking their very lives on a daily basis caring for victims of COVID.

These accolades were well deserved with some workers actually having to live away from their families for months on end, fearing that their family might be infected if they were to say, even have dinner together.

Now, having a very short memory, many of the very same people who praised this hard working group are doing everything that they can to keep these same people from living near their chosen place of work or living anywhere near them.

Currently working its way through the Scottsdale zoning process are two multifamily projects which would bring over 500 badly needed apartments directly across the street from the HonorHealth hospital campus on 92nd street. Both projects sit on sites currently zoned for multistory office buildings which, I would argue, are not needed, especially with so many people now working from home.

The Shea hospital complex which is run by HonorHealth is no small deal. At 427 beds HonorHealth’s Shea campus is a $3 billion annual business with thousands of employees and takes up over 60 acres of land.

Many of the hospital’s employees cannot afford a home in the immediate area, which has some of Scottsdale’s highest home prices. There are few apartment offerings in the area as nothing new has been built in the immediate area for over 30 years.

In fact, a recent check on available apartments in the area show only four apartments currently available for rent. Hospital workers are therefore forced to commute to other cities taking time away from their duties and their families.

Both HonorHealth and the local nurse’s organization have written letters in support of these projects.

Who are these people opposing these needed projects? They are not immediate neighbors as neither of these two planned projects is even within view of any single family homes.

The opposition is coming from residents of communities like Scottsdale Ranch, which is over 1.5 miles from these planned apartment homes. Other opposition comes from anti-apartment groups several miles away in south Scottsdale as well as north Scottsdale.

These groups are all headed by Nimby’s (Not in my back yard) who oppose any and all multifamily projects in Scottsdale. They oppose these apartments all in the name of keeping Scottsdale from growing or accommodating the housing needs of all of the newcomers to our city.

Some NIMBY’s are even so bold as to say they do not want the project because of the “kind of people” who rent rather than own. These groups cite increased crime; traffic and negative economics while failing to understand that many of these “renters” will be paying more in rent than they pay on their mortgage, plus traffic studies show that these projects will not create more traffic than the office use currently approved.

Also, it should be pointed out that Scottsdale is one of very few cities that actually tax rentals thus adding revenue to the city’s tax base.

What is especially troubling is that many of our elected leaders (especially Mayor Ortega and Councilwoman Littlefield) have fallen prey to these anti renter groups.

City officials need to do what is best for the city not what is best for a small but vocal group of NIMBY activists.

When our city council continues to deny people a place to live, they are effectively “Redlining” our city. It is but a matter of time before the state and federal government take notice of these discriminatory actions and force the city to modify its anti-housing behavior.

I, like nearly everyone reading this article, have lived in an apartment. I went on to own several homes but as I grew older realized that renting was a better choice.

Apartments built today are nothing like to ones of the past, with amenities and features that are better than most master planned communities or new homes offer.

Editor’s Note: Larry Kush is a 45-year resident of Scottsdale, and former member of the Scottsdale Planning Commission. Mr. Kush is also a commercial real estate professional.