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Topic: Growth & Planning     Department: Letters

Swindle-ition vistas

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Proposing "smart growth" for a city as bloated as Phoenix makes no more sense than a doctor prescribing smart weight gain for a morbidly obese patient (HCN, 4/27/09). One might as well advocate socially conscious prostitution or ethical money laundering. Oxymoronic or not, a shuck is a shuck. The cabal of promoters, land agents, politicians, bureaucrats and so-called conservationists who dreamed up Superstition Vistas as a way to con the public out of state-held land and feed the urban sprawl beast is only the most recent in a long line of swindlers.

More than a century ago, James Addison Reavis, known as the Baron of Arizona, laid claim to the same area using a blend of charm, forgery and intimidation. Reavis was a colorful character living in a simpler time. Nowadays, banality is the rule as steering committees form up to commission studies and pay whopping fees to an endless line of consultants who will tell them what they want to hear, to wit: "Like it or not ... (growth) ... is going to come, so we should be planning for it." One and all, they will genuflect before the altar of "highest and best use." Then the bulldozers will roar to life and the desert will give way to another jerrybuilt subdivision, albeit one called a "planned community." There is a fitting symmetry in the fact that the first parcel of land sold in this scheme was named Lost Dutchman Heights; Jacob Waltz, prospector, high-grader and eponymous Dutchman, had a well-deserved reputation for knavery and treachery.

John Woodruff
Grand Junction, Colorado

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