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Open Letter to the Public

Dear Reader,


Much has been happening in South Phoenix over the last few years.  Not many Phoenicians are aware of the changes that have been happening.  I did not even think about South Phoenix before researching its many interesting issues and characteristics.  South Phoenix was only the “bad part of town” to me before I got the chance to really learn and understand South Phoenix.  But, South Phoenix has been growing and even though it is a lower income area, it is not necessarily more dangerous than other parts of Phoenix.  

            One thing that has been happening in South Phoenix is newer higher income people are moving into the area.  Instead of traditional homes that are different in architectural style and color, homes are now being built in the subdivision style where all homes are light colored and controlled by a Home Owner’s Association.  Home values have been increasing due to the higher demand for land and housing in South Phoenix.  One issue is where the current lower income residents will go when housing becomes too expensive.

            Another interesting characteristic of South Phoenix is the Mexican culture that is prevalent there.  Many buildings are different vibrant colors with signs in Spanish.  There are Mexican food markets, meat markets, taco stands, and other Mexican style businesses to serve the large Latino population of South Phoenix.  When walking around or going into a strip mall, people speaking Spanish can be heard.  As the manager of the Ranch Market said, “It is like going to Mexico while not having to leave Arizona.”  But, Latinos are not the only people that live in South Phoenix, people are races live there.  Mexican businesses such as the Ranch Market have customers from all backgrounds that are welcomed.  It is a very ethnically and culturally diverse area of Phoenix.

            In addition, the City of Phoenix recognizes the changes that have been happening in South Phoenix.  The City is trying to attract more retail and franchise businesses to area.  But, the City is doing this by rezoning, public works, and by trying to entice middle to upper income people to move there through the rezoning of various spaces of land.  Again, as South Phoenix changes, how will it look and what type of people will eventually live there?

            One of the projects the City of Phoenix is undertaking to transform the South Phoenix area and attract more business is the rebuilding of the Salt Rive environment in the Rio Salado project.  The park is envisioned to be a mini preserve and able to attract visitors and citizens to use the running and bike paths near a beautiful stream.  While the city envisions it as beautiful, some citizens like Steve Brittle see it as a breeding ground for disease infested mosquitoes.  Could the Rio Salado project be detrimental to the citizens’ health?  It could be, just as the many tons of poisons that have been released into the air by companies in the area over the years.

            South Phoenix is a dynamic part of the city.  It is good to see that the City of Phoenix and concerned citizens like Steve Brittle are paying attention to it more closely.  It will be interesting to see how the issue work out over the next few years and how South Phoenix will be shaped.  One thing is for certain, South Phoenix is a very promising place in the Phoenix area and many people have a stake in what will happen there.



T.D. Gammill