In defense of places for people to live in Phoenix, Arizona
Since most of my friends in Phoenix grew up there, and have always been fairly upscale, the most common complaint I hear from them is when another subdivision, or apartment complex, is built. And it's usually a bitter complaint about how close the houses are, or how crowded together everything seems to be. And while none of these people would consider themselves rich snobs, really, they kinda are.
Growing up in Minneapolis, I remember my mom saying that the houses were so close together that people could pass dishes between the windows. That neighborhood was from the '20s, and she often wondered out loud why, with so much available space back then, and land being so cheap, why the houses were squeezed together like that. When I grew up, I figured out that it's all about return on investment, and mostly the best way to maximize profits on land is to get as many people as possible to live on that chunk of land. Unless, of course, you're designing luxury homes, which is a much more limited market.
When I lived in Los Angeles, land was even more precious, and the crowding more extreme. My tiny apartment in the San Fernando Valley had one (1) parking spot in the lot, and if someone was parked there, I had to drive around the neighborhood looking for street parking, which wasn't easy. I often had to walk back several blocks to my apartment, just glad that I found a place to park so I could go home. And so when I moved from there back to Phoenix I had forgotten how wonderfully spacious it was (Phoenix, not LA!). I called it "the luxury of space" and it was relatively cheap (compared to LA!).
Some of my friends now have become incredibly wealthy - what I call "beyond the dreams of avarice" - and are now purchasing massive multi-acre estates to spend the golden years of their lives on. But not everyone is so lucky. And I'm not talking about people that you would consider "poor", I'm talking about hard-working people who just need a place to live, maybe a room for themselves, and a separate room for the children.
I think about these people who would like a place to park their car, a closet, a bedroom, bathrooms. And from their point of view what my wealthy friends would consider cramped is luxurious. I remember the feeling. If they bought a house that was so close to the other houses that they could pass dishes from window to window, they'd be thrilled.
People need places to live. And while you're sipping on your iced latte, looking down your noses at them, I won't say a word. But here I will defend them.
Image at the top of this post: Flying over Phoenix, Arizona in the 1960s, a growing city.
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Posted by Brad Hall