Let’s start 2019 on a high note, shall we? It’s not every day that the New York Times, busy authoring what it believes to be “the first draft of history,” forgoes a golden opportunity to slag our Valley. I believe being ignored by the East Coast media elite represents a sure sign of progress.
I’m talking about a story dated Dec. 26, by Times journalist Emily Badger. The premise: Every major American city has a nightmare fear of becoming another American city. Seattle, for example, fears becoming another San Francisco, with that city’s stratospheric rents and homeless camps. San Francisco, by contrast, fears becoming another Manhattan, chock full of vista-ruining skyscrapers.
Even New Yorkers are fretful, writes Badger, about “becoming Seattle on steroids.” In particular, that conjures up fears of “high housing costs, tall buildings and tech bros.”
The story goes on to inventory various city nightmares:
“You don’t want to become Manhattan (too dense), Portland (too twee), Boston (too expensive), Seattle (too tech-y), Houston (too sprawling), Los Angeles (too congested), Las Vegas (too speculative), Chicago (too indebted).”
Even the residents of Kansas City are worried. The Kansas City Star recently urged city leaders to “Stop the Denverization of Kansas City.”
Denver, it seems, has become synonymous with gentrifying neighborhoods and crowding out longtime residents. At least to people who for some inexplicable reason choose to live in Kansas City.
The Valley and Phoenix? Not a single mention. You’d think somewhere in America – maybe Pocatello, Idaho, or El Paso, Texas – some mayor or newspaper writer would take umbrage at the building of another new Walgreens and scream, “Let’s not become another Phoenix, people!”
Nope. Not a one.
You can take this omission one of two ways. Either the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area is such a nonentity that no other city even thinks about becoming like us. Or life is so good here, other cities wouldn’t mind becoming a bit more, shall we say, Phoenician.
Personally, I think it’s the latter.
The Valley ranks among the Top 10 metro areas for job growth these days in multiple lists. The cost of living and housing here ranks as significantly less expensive than New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago or Miami. Even the average Phoenix commute of 26 minutes, per U.S. Census statistics, creates far less hassle than the typical commute in New York (42 minutes), Chicago (35 minutes) or San Francisco (34 minutes).
The economic and housing market news emanating from the Valley has been so relentlessly positive these last few years, you really can’t blame the 24,036 people who moved here in 2017, placing Phoenix Number Two on yet another list – the fastest growing cities in America.
The New York Times may not have the slightest clue, but 65 people a day for sure got the message – the living isn’t exactly bad here in the Valley. I’ve lived in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and the Miami suburbs and I’m here to tell you, the only way I’m moving out of Arizona is in a wooden box or a tasteful ceramic urn.
As for collective community anxiety, I think we can all agree that metro Phoenix needs to keep an eye on not becoming the next Los Angeles (too much smog and too many Californians) or the next Las Vegas (a city with all the soul of a big box Walmart at 3 a.m. on the outskirts of west hell).
For now, though, we seem to be doing just fine.
No one’s afraid of us. No one’s even paying attention. And that’s very good news for the 4.5 million of us who call this Valley home.