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What our community leaders predict for 2017

This statue of a bull pays tribute to rural life in Laveen, AZ.

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This article first appeared in the January edition of the South Mountain District News.

Community leaders say 2017 will be a year of many positive changes for the suburban community that takes pride in a rural atmosphere set against the backdrop of South Mountain. From an improved housing market to more retail, leaders said we should see economic growth while maintaining the diversity that makes the community unique.

The South Mountain District News compiled a list of five questions that were asked of multiple members of the community, including leaders and both new and long-time residents. We are sharing a sampling of the responses here.

Question 1: For 2017, what do you predict will be the most pressing issue facing the Laveen community? Why do you consider this an important issue?

Question 2: What do you expect for the housing in market in Laveen next year and why?

Question 3: What are your economic expectations for Laveen as a result of construction starting on the South Mountain Freeway?

Question 4: What is one aspect of Laveen that you treasure and why?

Question 5: What is on your wish list for Laveen?

Councilman Michael Nowakowski, D-7

He has served on Phoenix City Council since being elected in 2008.


Kate Gallego 150 x 129 pixelsQuestion 1: There are many issues that the Laveen community is passionate about, but one of the most pressing is the need to increase patrol officers. In order to keep Laveen neighborhoods safe, we must have the necessary police officers on the street to respond to calls for service. We have increased sworn police officers, but we need to ensure every area has the necessary police staffing to respond quickly to the community’s calls for service and to keep officers safe during calls.

Question 2: The City of Phoenix has seen an increase in building permits this past year with the number of single lots submitted for preliminary site plan review up 70 percent, total inspections are up 25 percent, and our Planning and Development Department reports that construction activity in Laveen was up for 2016. Given the citywide trends in permitting and construction inspections, I expect a healthy housing market in Laveen for 2017.

Question 3: District 7 has experienced dynamic job growth along the Southwest Phoenix Industrial Corridor and continues to welcome companies like Medline, Stitch Fix, PAC Worldwide and Hadrian Manufacturing to the area. We are looking forward to continued growth and new investments in the Laveen area as a direct result of the South Mountain Freeway to usher in a high technology corridor and quality, high-paying jobs.  Major freeway infrastructure investments such as this will provide several opportunities for business that include improved access to a talented workforce, new utilities, and connectivity to the rest of the region.  All of these things are likely to attract new investment in both retail opportunities and employment-related sectors as a new, key high technology commercial corridor is created along the freeway.

Question 4: I treasure the diversity of Laveen.  When you come to Laveen you can experience an environment of rural meets urban with farms, dairies, ranch homes, new home subdivisions an influx of new restaurants and shops. I value how Laveen wants to keep a rural feel but at the same time welcomes new development to their community. I also treasure the unique community events that Laveen residents produce each year – the annual Laveen BBQ and community parade, as well as the Memorial Day event at Cesar Chavez Park to honor our fallen officers and firefighters. These unique events show off the spirit of Laveen residents and demonstrate our pride in our community and our city.

Question 5: My wish is to have safe neighborhoods across Laveen, including an increase in patrol officers and establishing the Estrella police precinct as a full precinct. It also has been a wish of mine and the community to secure funding to build and maintain a community center at Cesar Chavez Park. A community center will be a place where kids can join safe, supervised activities and get active in quality sports programs and where people of all ages can participate in affordable general-interest classes to learn new skills.

Councilwoman Kate Gallego, D-8

She has represented District 8 on the Phoenix City Council for the past three years.

Question 1: Recently we celebrated the beginning of construction of the 202 South Mountain Freeway, and 2017 is the year when construction will be in full swing.  As the Loop 202 extension progresses, we will finally begin to see the expansion of services that Laveen families have been asking for — new restaurants, construction of a movie theater, and the types of amenities that come with accessibility and connectedness with the rest of the Valley.  At the same time, we will have to do a careful job of balancing this with the things that make Laveen a unique community. This balancing act will be a delicate, but a critical one as this year kicks off what will be a consequential time in Laveen’s history.

Question 2: While I’m not a real estate professional and so am not qualified to speculate about the housing market, the Laveen and South Mountain areas are among the most desired places for young families in the Valley.  With access to schools, natural beauty, and a strong community, Laveen will continue to be a place where residents will come in 2017.

Question 3: The construction of the South Mountain Freeway will be the jumpstart to a period of economic prosperity in Laveen.  Business leaders from around the Valley and around the country have told me how they have plans to expand to Laveen with the coming of the freeway, bringing services and amenities that will be second-to-none in the Valley.  Laveen is at the outset of an economic era that will bring not just jobs, but improved quality of life.

Question 4: To me, what makes Laveen special is its people. It’s rare to find a community that, despite having over 100,000 residents, is still a place where people take care of each other.  The vibrancy of Laveen, and the warmth with which neighbors support neighbors, make it a place I’m proud to represent.

Question 5: In 2017, I hope that we continue to grow not just bigger, but better.  When neighbors take the time to get to know each other, get involved in their community, volunteer, and do all the things that make a community strong — that is what will make 2017 a great year in Laveen.  I hope to do my part, and look forward to what 2017 has to bring in Laveen.

Rob Olson

He is a Laveen resident and owner of Red Bus Realty.

Question 1: Traffic.  Baseline Road is already busy, with overspill onto Dobbins and Southern.  We may start to see construction too, as the freeway begins to take shape.  That will create its own set of headaches.  But, it’s a means to an end.

Question 2: I expect nothing but great things for the housing market in Laveen. Right now, we have an inventory crunch.  It’s a sellers’ market around here. Laveen is also a community that is covered under the “Pathway to Purchase” down payment assistance program.  When people are presented with the opportunity to buy a home with little, or no money down, I need houses to put them in.

Question 3: The Valley lacks a “big city” transit system.  We primarily travel by car everywhere.  So, freeway access is a premium.  Having a freeway through this community will certainly bring more retail.  We’re starting to see more development around 51st Ave and Baseline.  Retail also brings jobs.

Question 4: What is one aspect of Laveen that you treasure and why?

I still like that it’s semi-rural.  We have wide open fields so close to downtown.  There are ranches and farms. And there are the amenities and beauty of South Mountain, too.

Question 5: I’d love to see more community events.  We have great people living here.  Let’s all get together and do great things!

Jeff Hale, 12-year resident

He is also a partner at Turf Realty and co-leader of Laveen Soccer.

Realtor Jeffrey Hale

Question 1: I don’t think there will be a major problem in the Laveen area, but if I had to choose one thing that will be an annoyance, it would probably be driving in traffic that will get a little worse as the growth continues.

Question 2: The housing market will continue to be strong in Laveen.  In the Phoenix Metro area, the market for homes under $250,000 is still hot and with the incentive programs that encourage people to buy in Laveen, the market will just get hotter.

Question 3: The construction of the South Mountain Freeway will only strengthen the economy here in Laveen.  The easy commute from Laveen to other parts of the Valley will get even easier with the freeway and it will attract more people who want new affordable houses in a great location.  More houses will be built to accommodate that demand and a higher population will encourage commercial and retail to follow, producing even more jobs and economic growth.

Question 4: I love the diversity! I honestly can’t think of another part of the Valley that boasts such a mix of race, culture, religion, etc.

Question 5:  How big can my list be?  I’d love to see more parks that are lit at night, a Major League Baseball spring training facility, movie theater, Costco or Sam’s Club, restaurants, offices, etc.
Phillip Wooley, 16-year Laveen resident

He is principal at Betty Fairfax High School and a member of the Laveen Village Planning Committee.

Question 1: Corporate social responsibility. The residential and commercial developers must continue to take into consideration those of us that call Laveen home.

Question 2: I would expect that the housing market will continue to increase for 2017. We need to make sure our educational opportunities are prepared for the growth.

Question 3: The South Mountain Freeway will bring new positive growth and challenges for Laveen.

Question 4: Although growing all the time, Laveen still has that sense of a small-town community. That is rare in most areas around the Valley.

Question 5: A community pool is on my wish list.

Wendy Ensminger, 12-year resident.

She is also the president of the Laveen Association of HOAs.

Question 1: The most pressing issue is economic development. It is going to be a challenge to mix the small town feel that we have all lived with and the development that will be coming.

The Laveen character is “rural, equestrian and open space.” The open space will be gone with development. I hope that the City of Phoenix will not circumvent the other two, and ruin the character of Laveen and what makes us a unique village in the City of Phoenix.

Question 2: I do think the housing market in Laveen will pick up. I think existing home prices won’t climb very much, but with all the residential zoning requests that were approved we should see an increase in new homes.  We will probably see some apartment complexes going up as well.

Question 3: If the city does it right the economic development for Laveen should be considerable, but I don’t hold out much hope for that. Our representation for Laveen is lacking.  It is becoming a joke that the city only cares about downtown and the rest of the villages are taking a back seat.  Laveen could be an economic jewel, but I don’t see that happening.

Question 4: The small town feel in the big city (we are 20 minutes away for the airport, downtown, sporting events etc.).  Little story ? At Fry’s (51st and Baseline) I pulled into the parking lot and parked next to a truck with a goat and hay in the back, next to that truck a BMW was parked, and I thought what a unique place to live.  I also love the diversity of Laveen; we really have a great community in Laveen

Question 5: “We are going to grow as a Village (economically and population).  I hope that we grow thoughtfully and responsibly, this could be the best place to live in Phoenix.

Kevin Danziesen, Laveen resident

Danziesen and his family own and operate Danziesen Dairy in Laveen.

Question 1: Sounds weird, but traffic.  With the building of the Loop 202 (South Mountain Freeway) we could see substantial road closures.  Getting to major freeways is already a big issue and this could make it worse.  We’re glad this is a short-term problem.

Question 2: We expect the housing market to stay steady. It’s easy to get over confident because of the Loop; however, we feel steady is good!!

Question 3: Expectations are high.  It won’t take long for businesses realize the positive attributes of this community.

Question 4: We treasure the pride Laveen has in its agricultural roots.  Laveen is an awesome place to live and we are proud to be a part of it!!!

Question 5:To make Laveen the chocolate milk capital of the world!!!

Several Laveen residents also expressed their wishes for Laveen in the coming year:

Rick Hakes,12-year resident.

He lives in the Bougainvillea neighborhood.

QUESTION 5: I wish Laveen would stay green. There is almost a mile between my back fence and the next house. In between, lies a golf course followed by alfalfa fields, and then a great view of the mountains. To top all of that off has been the wildlife of coyotes, quail, an occasional skunk, hawks and cottontails. It is really sad to see that it will soon go along with the peaceful silence.

Mark Mitzel, 12-year resident

Mitzel lives in Southern Ridge.

QUESTION 1: The most pressing issue will be traffic. The city continues to not complete projects before they start the next one. The squeeze before our community (on Baseline Road at about 57th Avenue) has caused dozens of accidents so we need that widened to four lanes ASAP. Leaving our community on Baseline is almost impossible after 7 a.m. They put the stop light in the wrong location. Kids cross right across Baseline to go to school from our community. I guess a kid will have to die before they make this right.

QUESTION 2: The housing market will boom with the freeway coming. I wish we would get actual sit-down places to eat. The fast food here is out of control and we rarely ever eat at any of them. We need a theater and big box shopping. We love Laveen but the crime is getting out of control. We need more patrols and we need to start pushing out people who are criminal elements in our community. See a crime call the police. Have neighbors that don’t follow the rules to our community? Report them over and over and push them out. We need to hold the city accountable to make sure we get the same sound control issues on the freeway as Scottsdale did. They will try to cheap out and due the minimum. We need to have sound walls, sound deadening asphalt, etc. Everything possible to make sure the sound is controlled.

Daniel Felix, 2-year resident.

Felix lives in Laveen Crossing.

Question 1: Crime and traffic.

Question 2: We are staying optimistic about the housing market next year but don’t see it rising until the freeway is completed.

Question 3: We anticipate that more restaurants, commercial business and hoping a movie theater will be built.

Question 4: My fiancé and I do treasure the beautiful views of the mountains and hope to see more parks and recreational places.

Question 5: Our wish list: Costco, Harkins theater, Olive garden, Target and shopping center.

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