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Wednesday October 18, 2000

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Sprawling towards Gomorrah

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By Cory Spiller

What are voters supposed to do with all these propositions? We may recognize a few when we step into the voting booth; however, most of us won't have done the proper research required to vote intelligently on every proposition. Vote "no." When in doubt, vote "no." Most issues can wait another season. However, Prop 202 is different; it is important, and it is worth your time to familiarize yourself with it: Prop. 202 addresses the sprawl problem in Arizona. The Growth Management Initiative must be passed to end the abuse of our cities, wildlife, and democratic system.

Driving north from Tucson, the suburbs stretch on. Oro Valley and Marana reaching north, as if hoping that they will someday be suburbs of Phoenix. Should sprawl continue at its present rate, it won't be long. Phoenix, unfortunately, has worse problems than the Old Pueblo: pollution defiantly caps the valley, reaching greater than critical proportions. With sprawl comes traffic, and with traffic, exhaust, and smog. Mass transportation in Phoenix is a fantasy. Subways are too expensive and the bus system takes too long, Phoenix is just too big; and Tucson is quickly catching up to its bigger, smellier brother.

Prop. 202 puts the power and the decision-making abilities concerning growth management back in the hands of the communities. This has the land development community pulling out their hair, sucking their thumbs, and stuffing money in the propaganda machine. Developers should be scared, to a certain extent: their overzealous building practices have thus far worn our cities thin.

For decades, developers have been accustomed to calling the shots. They buy land, rezone it, throw up shoddy homes, make a goddamn killing, and leave the construction of libraries parks, roads, and sewer systems to the burden of the taxpayers. Because of Arizona's laissez-faire approach to growth management, we have become one of the fastest growing states in the Union; increasing by nearly 1.15 million residents since 1990. Maricopa county was the fastest growing county in the nation between 1990 and 1997. And our growth as a state is remarkable however most voters agree that its ruining the quality of life.

Opponents of Prop. 202 have thrown millions of dollars into ads and commercials vilifying Prop. 202 as a secret attempt at destroying Arizona's economy. Barney Brenner, a candidate for the Board of Supervisors, said, "I see 202 as competing with every value we have in the state." Barney is right. So long as every value we have in our state is protecting the hegemony of the land-development community, then Prop. 202 is against everything we believe in.

Placing the power of decision back into the hands of the community should be attractive to Arizona residents. Opponents would like us to believe that it would be the end to future developments, which is a huge industry in Arizona. However, the decisions will be made by all sorts of leaders of the community, which include business people, developers, and, yes, Sierra Club members, and anti-sprawl advocates. Opponents for Prop. 102 want to keep the opinion of voters, of common citizens, away from the growth management. That's down right undemocratic, and we won't stand for it.

Plans for future growth management would be made at public meetings and approved by public vote. This would include growth boundaries that the city government could not exceed with the construction of roads and sewers. An ad for the opposition harps on this subject with a commercial depicting a young boy having to use a portable toilets next to his parents dream home. The young boy then whines, "its unfair!" It is also unfair that taxpayers have had to pick up the bill to pay for the extension of roads and sewers to isolated homes on the edge of the city.

As new commentates are constructed miles from city centers, the inner city dies. Prop 202 would give incentives to developers that construct near already existing infrastructure, or in areas that require much needed revitalization.

Developers have been ruining our cities for too long, and our quality of life has suffered to fill their fat wallets. We must stop the sprawl and Prop. 202 will give us that chance. Developers don't care about our quality of life, they care about profits. You may not remember every proposition come November 7th, but remember 202. Vote "yes," and send the power of growth management back to the people.