Where will you live? How will you get to work? Who will be governor? And what about that bullet train to Tucson? Turn the page, and steal a glimpse of the Valley that could be.
Utopia vs Dystopia
Before we start: Our Best and Worst Case Scenarios for Arizona.
Utopia By Craig Outhier
2016: Heavier-than-expected winter snowfall blankets the Rocky Mountains. Water levels at Lake Mead recover, forestalling water rationing. Unemployment dips below 6 percent in Phoenix for the first time since the Great Recession.
2018: Uniquely poised between the health and technology sectors, the Valley becomes the epicenter of America’s med-tech boom. Blood-testing firm Theranos moves its main headquarters to Scottsdale and becomes the state’s sixth Fortune 500 company. Researchers at TGen share a Nobel prize for synthesizing a cancer-killing virus which will raise the average American lifespan by two full years, experts predict.
2020: Phoenix wins an award of excellence from the Congress for New Urbanism for its aggressive in-fill initiatives. Dirt lots disappear. Pedestrians fill the sidewalks.
2021: Intrigued by the “Phoenix Renaissance,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – principal investor of Dubai’s 2,722-foot Khalifa Tower – breaks ground on a 1,000-foot skyscraper in Downtown Phoenix. It will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi.
2022: Breakthroughs in battery capacity create a fertile economic environment for solar power, and Arizona becomes the Southwest’s energy breadbasket. Utilities adapt, building a 500,000-acre “energy farm” west of Tonopah, capable of cranking out a full megawatt of power.
2023: After the Great Ventura Earthquake of 2021, Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures decamp for Arizona, building studio complexes in Tucson and Gilbert, respectively.
2026: Responding to the demands of new-look “interstate” commuters, state transit authorities finish construction on a new magnetic-levitation high-speed rail system between Phoenix and Tucson. Trip duration: 55 minutes. First passenger: Arizona Governor Steve Nash.
2031: Mexico’s successful “surge” against drug cartel lawlessness – and vastly improved economy – cut deeply into illegal border crossings. For the first time, the Mexican government allows foreigners to own land. Many Arizonans buy homes on the Sea of Cortez.
2041: Scientists successfully synthesize a carbon monoxide-eating atmospheric fungus. The greenhouse effect subsides. Temps in the Valley return to early 20th-century levels.
2056: A bloodless democratic coup in the People’s Republic of China ingnites a renewed spirit of political and economic cooperation between China and the U.S. Researchers at ASU and Tsinghua University jointly develop the world’s first fusion-powered flying car, which they unveil at Tempe Town Lake. The cryogenically-preserved brain of 101-year-old ASU President Michael Crow takes the first spin.
Dystopia By Jon Talton
2016: Despite the happy talk of boosters, Phoenix’s homebuilding industry never recovers. Efforts to create a tech economy falter. Continued political influence of utilities prevents solar power from reaching its potential. Further defunding wounds universities.
2019: Although many continue to deny human-caused climate change, sustained 100-degree-plus days become normal from April through November. Overnight lows soar. Two-week blasts of 120-degree highs become common. Saguaros start to die as rainfall slackens.
2023: Silt and instability force dismantling of Glen Canyon Dam. This does little to help the historic lows of Lake Mead. Mandatory water rationing begins. Phoenix’s population begins to shrink for the first time. One reason: Fewer people can afford to retire and move here. Residents also leave for the better climate of the northern states.
2024: Unemployment soars to 12 percent, compared with the national 10 percent. Robots, automation and artificial intelligence replace more humans at work.
2025: Millions of refugees fleeing climate change gather at the border. Many attempt to push down the border fence before being driven off by soldiers. Congress refuses President George P. Bush’s plea to allow some into the country. Mexico receives aid from China, increasing tensions between Washington and Beijing.
2026: Phoenix’s distinct look fades as thousands of shade trees are removed to save water. Most golf courses close; treated sewer water is needed for drinking, especially in newer subdivisions outside the Salt River Project. This summer claims 1,100 heat deaths.
2030: Congress votes down President Chelsea Clinton’s infrastructure plan, including desalination plants to serve Arizona. The state’s last agriculture folds. Snowpack in the High Country hits historic lows. A mammoth fire wipes out Payson.
August 1, 2034: The First Sino-American War includes a nuclear detonation in the atmosphere producing an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). It fries most electronics and the power grid. For Phoenix in high summer, the consequences are catastrophic. Hundreds of thousands die from the heat. The Palo Verde nuclear station’s backups fail and a radioactive cloud is released.
2045: Phoenix recovers to about 100,000 population. With world trade decimated by the war, people return to local manufacturing and farming. Emboldened by a weak federal government, Arizona splits from the Union and, led by Supreme Grand Chancellor Ben Quayle the Merciful, rebrands itself as the Sovereign Republic of Saguarotonia.
Currently the nation’s sixth-largest city, Phoenix will leapfrog Philadelphia to take the No. 5 spot by 2040. Much of the growth will occur in the city’s north “villages,” but central density-driven projects will also flourish. Efforts are afoot to restore Downtown – a slumbering cultural vacuum during the city’s main expansion years – to its former glory. Of particular interest: the once-blighted areas south of Jefferson Street. The New Urban activists at This Could Be Phoenix (thiscouldbephx.com) took us on a tour of their Downtown dream, envisioning the Jackson Street Promenade as the “entertainment district” of Phoenix’s future, with an open-container zone dotted with bars and wineries, music stores and performing arts venues. Note: All projects are speculative.
According to the Arizona Department of Agencies, non-Hispanic whites will constitute less than 50 percent of the Valley population
starting in 2029. Hispanics will outnumber whites by 2048.
Zombies or solar?
Some positive predictions for Phoenix...
>> Mayor Greg Stanton’s SustainPHX project hopes to reduce particulate pollution by 15 percent by 2024.
>> Former Governor Janet Napolitano predicts that Arizona could be the "Persian Gulf of solar energy." (see page 109)
>> The Valley's housing recovery will hit full-tilt in 2016, according to Scottsdale economist Elliot Pollack.
… and some negative ones.
>> Social critic and business writer Jon Talton estimates that the Valley will have to shed two-thirds of its population to survive water shortages. (see page 108)
>> In his apocalyptic novel The Water Knife, author Paolo Bacigalupi envisions a not-too-distant Arizona future ruled by water kingpins and teetering on the brink of civil war.
>> Prepper survivalist Tim Ralston sells zombie kits for $109.99 on gearupcenter.com
A Futuristic Economy
Most economic forecasters agree that a more diversified economy in the Valley – long powered by expansion and home-builds – is necessary for the long-term health of the region. Led by an influx of banking services and financial sector jobs, the economy has presented some positive trends – but still not enough manufacturing.
Since conservation efforts began in 1991, the 47-square-mile McDowell Sonoran Preserve has remained untouched, save for some trailhead signs. At 36,400 acres, the preserve constitutes roughly one-third of Scottsdale’s land and is larger than the entire city of Tempe. Though some locals are convinced this land will ultimately open to developers, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane says slim chance. “We have a goal to maintain pristine mountain desert lands,” Lane says. “That has changed the equation for us, as to how we might grow in the future.”
Poppin' Up Along Pima Corridor
The area’s hottest real estate? It could be the 9.5-mile, commerically-zoned (outlined in blue dots) stretch of tribal land along the Loop 101. Worth billions in real dollars, the corridor is attracting some new residents.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Map OdySea
(9500 E. Via de Ventura) A 200,000-square-foot aquarium with two levels. ETA: Fall 2015
Cove Family Fun Center
(Corner of the Loop 101 and Via de Ventura) This massive complex will include laser tag, bowling, an arcade, go-karts and more. ETA: Summer 2015
Great Hearts Academy, Cicero Campus
(7205 N. Pima Rd.) A nonprofit, tuition-free K-12 charter school serving 1,200 students. Open now.
The Cure Corridor
From Shea Boulevard to Scottsdale Airpark, the bio-life sciences and health care industries will continue to be the city’s major economic driver. These major players are sure to shape the city 's economic future.
Mayo Clinic: The Valley’s premier end-user healthcare entity continues its groundbreak oncology research.
Translational Drug Development (TD2): This pharmaceutical subsidiary of the Translational Genomic Research Institute conducts clininal trials on emerging drugs.
IDM LabTrack: Develops business information management systems for healthcare applications.
McKesson Specialty Health: Distributes oncology and specialty drugs to healthcare providers.
HonorHealth: The result of a merger between John C. Lincoln Health Network and Scottsdale Healthcare. Provides a network of care.
Looking into our crystal ball, we see opportunity for these presently-fictional products in 2040:
Alcor Life Extension residence towers: For a soft landing after the deep freeze. Welcome back, Ted Williams!
Cosmoceuticals, Inc.: Antibiotic-rich lipstick, botox-infused eyeshadow and other medical-hybrid products.
GeneCorrex: Remove the disease-markers from your DNA with a handy smartphone app..
Number of bio-life sciences jobs in the Cure Corridor in 2015: 27,000
Estimated number of bio-life sciences jobs in the Cure Corridor in 2035: 42,000
Average salary in the Cure Corridor in 2015: $60,143
Estimated average salary in 2050: $112,550
New Old Town?
Nah. With the Valley’s bio-life sciences and healthcare industries securely planted and proliferating in North Scottsdale and the nightlife/club scene having defected from the area in the early aughts, Old Town will remain the city’s art gallery epicenter, cushioned by trendsetting culinary concepts and cocktail bars, the place “Where the old West meets the new West.” And what will be the “new” West be in 2050? “More populous and culturally diverse than at any time in its history," according to Scottsdale Cultural Council CEO Neale Perl. "The arts offer a unique way to bring people together while driving civic vitality, tourism and more. They will play an important role in those conversations and solutions."
Though “built out” – to use a city-planning term – Tempe will see modest population gains over the next few decades as high-density residential projects near ASU cater to high-tech workers and white collar professionals.
Sporting Good Business
“ASU’s Athletic Facilities District provides an amazing opportunity for the university and Tempe,” Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell says of the more than 300 acres being developed around the university. Office, retail and amateur sports facilities and fields are on deck, as is a $256 million revamp of Sun Devil Stadium. Rather than paying property taxes, developments in the district will pay fees to ASU. Mitchell says the Tempe Streetcar project will flourish on Rio Salado Parkway and connect areas of the district.
Multi-family housing. 2,500-3,000 apartments and condos.
Mid- to high-rise offices. 3.5 million square feet will make Tempe Town Lake the second-largest office hub the Valley.
Relocated Verde Dickey Dome. The indoor practice facility will make way for multi-use developments.
More parking. To relieve crushing game-day gridlock.
Two hotels. Developer names and other specifics haven’t been released, but if they follow the area’s recent lodging trends, they’ll be sleek boutique hotels à la Aloft Tempe and Graduate Tempe.
“We have a city council that is strongly committed to advancing Tempe in the realm of sustainability,” Mitchell says. Some sustainability-minded initiatives a-brewin’:
> Voluntary compliance with retailers and restaurateurs in reducing the use of plastic bags
> Goal: Have 20 percent of city operations powered by renewable energy sources by 2025
> Tempe Grease Cooperative to produce biofuels from restaurant grease
“We are now using CNG-powered trash trucks and are even pursuing the possibility of electric motorcycles for police employees.” – Mayor Mark Mitchell
Educated for the Future
An estimated 42 percent of Tempe residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with an estimated 28 percent average
among all Arizonans.
As the last vestiges of its agrarian past are converted into sprawling bedroom communities, the East Valley will develop its own urban personality: tech hotspot, entertainment hub, mini-metro.
Founded in 1912 by veterinary surgeon A.J. Chandler, Chandler has bid adieu to its agricultural economy to embrace a new generation of high-tech startups. It was one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the United States during the 1990s, going from 30,000 residents in 1980 to more than 245,000 today.
According to small-business service directory Manta.com, there were more than 130 “information technology” companies with headquarters in Chandler in 2015. Factor in satellite branches of national tech companies like Intel and Freescale Semiconductor, and this “Silicon Valley of the Southwest” easily tallies more than 200 technology companies over 58 square miles. “Looking forward to 2050, Chandler’s economy will continue to be driven by innovation, research, entrepreneurial talents and renewal,” city leaders wrote in a collective vision for PHOENIX magazine. “A new generation of entrepreneurs... will pioneer the implementation of new industries such as the Internet of Things (IoT), which connects physical ‘things’ through the use of sensors, electronics and software with the Internet to achieve greater productivity.” Translation: the code for your Internet-guided self-driving car could be written in Chandler.
Top Tech Employers in Chandler in 2012
Intel: 10,300 employees
Ebay/Paypal: 2,000 employees
Verizon Wireless: 1,685 employees
Microchip Technology: 1,540 employees
*source: City of Chandler 2012 Economic Development Report
Top Tech Employers in Chandler in 2040
Intel reduced its global workforce by five percent in 2014 and announced an unspecified number of layoffs in June 2015 at their Chandler factory, citing a slow-down in the personal computer market. If the Internet of Things continues to grow, here’s a handful of potential big-time players:
Ebay/Paypal: 4,000 employees (workforce will double as e-commerce continues and evolves).
General Motors IT Innovation Center: 3,000 employees. The company initially hired 1,000 employees when it opened in 2015.
Infusionsoft: 2,500 employees. The e-marketing software firm estimated it would have roughly 1,400 employees by 2016.
Once known as “the hay shipping capital of the world,” Gilbert was named one of the best places to live in the U.S. by CNN’s Money magazine in 2008. Thanks to the farm-to-table focus of restaurateurs in the town, and the “urban farm” community Agritopia, the town – incorporated in 1920 – maintains its agricultural roots even as it grows to include massive office-complex developments and a university.
Happenings at Heritage Marketplace
With a passel of new restaurants opening along Gilbert Road in the Heritage District – joining old favorites like Joe’s Real BBQ and Romeo’s – along with new retail and education developments, Heritage is becoming the East Valley’s premier cultural hub.
A. Barrio Queen: Second location of the Old Town taqueria opened in May.
B. Pomo Pizzeria: Chef Matteo Schiavone’s VPN-certified Neapolitan pies will be arriving in late 2015 or early 2016.
C. Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles: Gilbert is all about soul food. Opened spring 2015.
D. Zinburger: Sam Fox’s haute burgers arrive in Gilbert. Is a Culinary Dropout next?
E. Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row: The hometown star brings his country-nightlife concept to cow country. ETA: October 2016.
F. Unnamed Mixed-Use Project: Patterned after a similar project in Portland, Ore., this three-story mixed-use development will include a women-only cooperative workspace, and a top-level rooftop bar.
G. Snooze: The Denver-based breakfast chain opens its latest AZ outpost this summer.
H/I. Joyride Taco House/Postino East: Tasty tacos, affordable wine. The sister Upward Projects brands occupy contiguous spaces on Gilbert Road.
J. St. Xavier University: A satellite campus of the Illinois-based Catholic college is opening this fall. Offering more than 43 undergrad programs and 25 graduate programs, the university “will [expand] to meet the needs of not only Gilbert’s students, but students from around the Valley, state and country,” mayor John Lewis predicts.
“Gilbert will be the center of the East Valley. It will be the preeminent city of the East Valley.” – Joe Johnston, owner of Joe’s Real BBQ and Liberty Market
The East Valley’s CityScape?
A 250-acre mixed-use development located at Gilbert Road and Arizona State Route 202, Rivulon is a 20-year build-out currently under construction. Upon completion, it will include 3 million square feet of office space; 500,000 square feet of retail; and hotels. “That’s going to be an over $750 million investment into the community, and a significant development that will really serve as an anchor for that central business district,” says Dan Henderson, economic development director for Gilbert.
Founded in 1878, Mesa already had a long history of being occupied, first by the Hohokam people – who built canal systems circa 1450 – and, starting in the late 1870s, by Mormon settlers. Today, it is the third largest city in Arizona, after Phoenix and Tucson.
Brady’s Crystal Ball
Three predictions from Mesa City Manager Chris Brady:
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway as a jobs engine. “We think that the airport will become a major regional employment center, not only servicing people for their leisure travel, but business travel.”
A Fiesta District makeover. Known mostly for its aging mall, the area will “see a change from a major retail area to a major office complex” that includes Mesa Community College and Banner Hospital.
More light rail. “Hopefully, in another 25 or 35 years, the light rail line continues to extend further east, maybe even to Power or Ellsworth Road. For the city, that would be consistent with our long-term plans.”
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Developed in 2012, Mesa’s Gateway 2030 plan calls for the $1.4 billion long-term development of a new east side terminal and other enhancements that will ultimately allow the airport to process 20 million passengers a year – more than Orange County’s John Wayne Airport.
Passenger volume (2014): 1,242,237
Terminal building: 33,000 square-feet, with four gates
Top Destinations: Bellingham, Washington (30,000 passengers); Fargo, North Dakota (30,000 passengers); Sioux Falls, South Dakota (29,000 passengers); Provo, Utah (28,000 passengers); Cedar Rapids, Iowa (26,000 passengers)
Phase One: Construction of a 300,000-square-foot terminal with 14 gates; runway enhancements to accommodate Boeing 757s and other large aircraft. ETA: 2022
Phase Two: Will add six more gates and parking for 10,500 vehicles, increasing passenger volume to 4.4 million. ETA: 2027
Phase Three: Adds eight more gates and second level to main concourse, raising passenger capacity to 10 million.
Phase Four: Completes 2030 plan. Total gates: 60. Total passengers: 20 million annually. By comparison, Sky Harbor has approximately 100 gates and serves 40 million passengers annually.
*source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Research and Innovation Technology Administration, United States Department of Transportation, 2013
Go west, young futurists. With its wide open spaces and plentiful resources, the West Valley will enjoy the most statistical growth of any Metro Phoenix region over the next decade.
Current population stats and projections for West Valley cities:
City of the Future: Buckeye?
Dark horse, thy name is Buckeye. The largely agrarian community has been quietly building up its CV over the last decade or so, with impressive results. First, size: At 600 square miles, Buckeye is the largest city by land in all of Arizona. It also boasts the largest number of master-planned communities in the world, says Buckeye chief communications officer Jennifer Rogers: 25 and counting in its general plan, including the new retirement community Victory at Verrado.“Mayor Stanton said, ‘If we don’t get Buckeye right, we are in trouble,’” Rogers says. “He is right. He, like our visionaries, understands that Buckeye is one of the only places that can truly afford to grow, with the rich soils and water resources for growing populations.”
Coming Soon to the WV
Skyline Regional Park. World-class horseback, hiking and mountain biking trails; Boston Marathon qualifier marathon. ETA: 2016
Buckeye Municipal Airport. If the Valley ever gets a Virgin Galactic spaceport, even money says it lands here.
Eco-friendly amusement park. Dream project built around hiking, biking, horseback riding, zip-lining, rock climbing, bird watching, etc.
Master-Planned Agriculture co-op. Buckeye’s Canadian population requested this amenity; Victory at Verrado is beta testing an on-site vineyard.
Ahh, Glendale. Despite the city’s many well-publicized problems – the Tohono O’odham casino controversy, possible bankruptcy, the ongoing Arizona Coyotes fiasco – City of Glendale planning director Jon Froke remains sanguine about the West Valley’s largest and most-scrutinized city. “Glendale will continue to grow as we near build-out over the next 25 years,” Froke says. “Mid-rise condominium buildings will be built on parcels where Glendale’s auto row once existed many years ago, [on] Glendale Avenue, between 43rd and 51st avenues... and [Glendale] will continue to be a leader in the West Valley as a destination,” with its many retail, medical, education, employment and defense hubs.
“As a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan, I am still hoping for that elusive first NBA Championship. As a lifelong Sun Devil, I am still hoping for that elusive first NCAA Football and Basketball Championship as well as a sixth Baseball Championship. Carson Palmer will lead the Arizona Cardinals to consecutive Super Bowl appearances, winning one. His No. 3 jersey will be retired by the football club.” - Jon Froke, City of Glendale planning director
West Valley Visions
We asked officials from three emerging West Valley cities to outline their visions for the future.
Peoria: Playing it Safe
Think of Peoria as the tortoise to Glendale’s hare. “I believe our smart, careful planning and conservative fiscal approach at the city will give us a greater role in future regional policy discussions,” Mayor Cathy Carlat says, quite reasonably. Recent business development coups include Aviage Systems, a $1.3 billion joint venture between General Electric and Aviation Industry Corporation of China that chose Peoria as its American headquarters. Its concentration of young families and senior citizens will help it preserve its “modern...small-town feel” going into the future, Carlat says.
Litchfield Park: West Side Mayberry
“Litchfield is a small city, but we anticipate our population to increase by 50 or more percent in the next 10 to 15 years,” Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas Schoaf says, adding that he hopes businesses will grow at the same rate. “Litchfield Park has been voted by several organizations as the best place to live in Arizona. We regularly rank in the top five in most all reviews of cities in Arizona.” Think Scottsdale lite or a workaday Fountain Hills for the future of LP.
Goodyear: Up and Away
If you’re an industry titan looking for an Arizona HQ, Goodyear is the place, says Mayor Georgia Lord. Health services has become a niche industry, with an outpost of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Abrazo Health Care and Phoenix Spine Center calling Goodyear home. But most exciting is the aviation/aerospace boom. Lord touts the Phoenix Goodyear Airport as a one-stop shop for pilots and airlines, with aircraft cleaning and maintenance and flight training school.
Let’s assume rumors are correct, and the Arizona Coyotes vacate Gila River Arena. What will happen to the $220 million boondoggle without its anchor tenant? Our unsolicited suggestions.
Turn it into a giant Walmart. Convert the luxury boxes into live-in facilities for the mega-chain’s most loyal customers.
Medical marijuana grow farm. Using vertical-farming techniques and cutting-edge hydroponic technology, Glendale can be an agricultural mecca once again.
Interstellar space port. Give Richard Branson a bit of competition. Westgate could become the only place in the world where you can catch a matinee at AMC, grab a waffle sandwich at Crave, do a few shots at Hell’s Half Acre, and then catch the midnight shuttle to Mars.
So what would happen to Phoenix if it lost half its water supply?
It’s not an implausible scenario. Phoenix gets about half its water from the Central Arizona Project, a 336-mile water delivery system fed solely by the Colorado River and its main reservoir, Lake Mead, on the Nevada border. Lake Mead is dangerously parched, falling to levels not seen since 1938, according to CAP. Today, the lake sits at 1,085 feet above sea level. If current drought conditions continue, it will fall to 1,000 feet in 2020 – a critical threshold that will result in deep water cuts to Arizona. “The possibility of cutbacks of water deliveries to municipalities is higher than we’ve ever thought it was going to be,” CAP board member Sharon Megdal told the New York Times last spring.
Would your family still have drinking water? Well, yes. But the crisis would cast ripple effects across the city and region. Here’s how we’d cope.
• In the short term, utilities would be forced to tap their
underground recharge systems, like Salt River Project's
massive Granite Reef Underground Storage Project, which may hold up to 1.8 million acre-feet of water.
• Water rationing to neighborhoods would incentivize
xeriscape lawn conversions and other programs that have proved successful in water-parched Southern California.
• State officials would reevaluate territorial
water rights with farmers, who use 70
percent of the state’s water.
• Newer communities outside SRP service
would feel the crisis the most. Emergency
deliveries would suffice in the short term.
Don’t Blame the Sprawl
Is sprawl the biggest water liability in the Valley? Not really. Phoenix is actually getting much more efficient with its water use – per-capita water demand has dropped by 20 percent in the last 20 years. That’s because of smaller residential lots with more desert landscaping, fewer new pools, and higher water cost. Phoenix’s heaviest water users are older, wealthier neighborhoods like Alhambra, Encanto and Arcadia. Meanwhile, Scottsdale and Tempe have the highest per-capita use rates in the state (see chart on page 46). Newer homes on the edges of the city are much more likely to have efficient plumbing and smaller lots with desert landscaping.
The 1 Percenters: Golfers
If you read the New York Times, you’d think golf courses are the biggest threat to Phoenix water supplies. Not really. Yes, the city’s 33 golf courses can each use a million gallons of water per day in the height of summer. But that’s only about 1 percent of the total potable water used annually in the city. The rest of the water comes from untreated surface water, recycled water and/or groundwater from private wells. Could that water be treated and used elsewhere? Probably, but not without great expense.
*municipal/industrial use annually; source: University of Arizona
50% of Phoenix’s water comes from the Salt River Project, which funnels water from northern Arizona down into the Valley through the series of lakes – Saguaro, Pleasant, et al. – people like to drunkenly speedboat around.
Arizona utilities providers have a reputation for being hostile to residential solar power – and perhaps a well-earned reputation at that. But the Valley’s two main power providers, SRP and APS, are heavily leveraged in large-scale solar technology. SRP, for instance, has a 25-year exclusive
purchasing agreement with the 20-megawatt Copper Crossing Solar Ranch in Florence. The plant currently produces electricity at 5.4 cents
per kilowatt hour – comparable to fossil fuels.
The Palo Verde of Solar?
Future solar power projects include the proposed 1,200 megawatt Sterling Solar plant in Mohave County – a facility three times more productive than any existing solar project. That’s still miniscule by traditional standards: Palo Verde Nuclear Generating station, at 3.3 gigawatts, is about 3,000 times more powerful.
Will the Future Be All-Solar?
Don’t bet on it. But with 299 days of sunshine annually, Arizona is clearly a growth market.
“There’s no reason that Arizona should not be the Persian Gulf of solar energy.” - Former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano
1.8% Energy produced by APS in 2008 that came from renewable sources, i.e. solar.
15% Percent that must be renewable by 2025, as stipulated by Arizona regulators.
In the ‘80s, it was S&L corruption. In the ‘90s, it was growth... and more corruption. In the 2000s, it was immigration. So when Arizona historians look back, what hot-button issues will define this decade... and those that follow?
• The ‘10s: Education funding. “The current decade is very easy to pick,” Tempe pollster Michael O’Neil says. “Low taxes, limited government, and schools get squeezed. The cuts to K-12 have been severe.”
• The ‘20s: Water. Central Arizona Project may be forced to cut water deliveries to the Valley as early as 2020 (see Water & Energy, p. 108-109). “Would it be the end of the world?” O’Neil asks. “No more lawns?” For Arcadia-folk, it might.
• The ‘30s: Rise of the grays. Gen Xers hit retirement, Boomers hit their 90s and Arizona faces a potential shortage of income-earners.
• The ‘40s: Arizona turns blue... or at least purple. Liberal wishful thinking? Maybe. But most demographers forecast an Hispanic plurality in Arizona by 2040... which could spell curtains for Republican dominance.
• The ‘50s: Zombies. Because... Democrats?
Stars of the Future
Doug Ducey started out as a beer salesman. Kyrsten Sinema was a social worker. And John McCain... well, McCain was always a star. But most of Arizona’s superlative statesmen toiled in obscurity for a few years before rising to national prominence. Here are three not-yet-well-known politicians who could make a run for Washington in a few years.
Kimberly Yee: The current Arizona Senate majority leader (R-Phoenix) is a Phoenix native and career politician. She’s also female, Asian and deeply, unapologetically conservative – a demographic hat trick that hasn’t gone unnoticed within her party. The Republican National Committee named her a Rising Star at the 2014 Winter Meeting in Washington D.C. Prediction: U.S. Senate candidate
Ed Ableser: Like Yee, this first-term Arizona Senator (D-Tempe) has an intriguing tool kit. He’s Mormon, but progressive, winning an endorsement from Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Fluent in Chinese, he’s a licensed psychologist and justice studies PhD. The 37-year-old is also well-connected: His father-in-law is Dean Heller, the junior U.S. Senator from Nevada. Prediction: Will run for Governor
Katie Hobbs: Like Sinema, the Arizona Senate minority leader (D-24) has a background in social work, and has “executive functioning” written all over, having led Emerge Arizona, an incubator for female Democratic political candidates. If a run for Congress doesn’t materialize, she’d be a compelling candidate for statewide office. Prediction: Arizona Secretary of State
Pollster Mike O’Neil, on the upcoming 2016 U.S. Senate race: “It’s not really fearless to predict this, but (John) McCain wins. It's chicken-s**t... but we tend to keep our senators.”
ARTS & CULTURE
Prognostication may be a sucker’s game, but it seems like a safe bet that in the future, people will still want to go out for a good time. But what will that look like? In the year 2030, will ballet still be a thing? Symphony? Opera? The movies?
Binkley’s Future: Skinless Tomatoes
What will the future hold for Valley dining? Culinary mad scientist Kevin Binkley – the molecular gastronomy devotee known for his thimble-size sloppy Joes and frozen-pebble gazpachos – has some ideas.
As someone who uses high-tech gadgets in your kitchen, what would be your dream machine?
I’d like a centrifuge where you can do low-temperature distillations. They’re already invented, but I haven’t gotten to play with one yet. They cost a fortune, and you need a place to put it in the kitchen.
What other innovations would you like to see?
I’d love it if they could grow eggs without the egg white, or tomatoes without the skin. Tomatoes, peaches, grapes.
No egg whites?
Well, the yolk’s the best part, right?
Three Cuisines We’d Like to See in the Valley by 2030
1. Burmese: Imagine if an Indian tandoori chicken dish made love to a pad Thai. Delish.
2. Uruguayan: Can somebody make us a chivito, already?
3. Insect Fusion: It may sound unappetizing now, but the global insect-food market is booming with products like Lepsis, a grasshopper-cultivating device. Only a matter of time before Binkley gets his hands on one.
“[Fifty years] in the future, theaters may become the lowest-quality way to view content, trailing Ultra-HD TV and Internet devices that leave [digital cinema projection] eating their dust,” according to Variety magazine. Thus, personal “holodeck”-style entertainment products could spell doom for popcorn-and-a-chair movie exhibitors.
Nostalgia and revival screening may hold the key to keeping cinema alive, speculates Steve Weiss, director of No Festival Required: “[Crowd-pleasing films] will still be available... as will a romantic notion of the ‘old days,’ with nostalgically-projected 35mm silver screen films.”
Not Your Grandfather’s Opera
Opera is often regarded as an enthusiasm of older people, but Ryan Taylor of Arizona Opera sees a demographic shift in his audience: “31 percent of our audience at the opera this year had never before bought a ticket to the opera,” Taylor observes. “In addition, our education numbers are up for children and families by about 2,000 this year.” The most exciting project on the horizon for the opera: an operatic adaptation of Arizona favorite Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, slated for the 2016-17 season.
Planners at the City of Chandler forecast a “museum without walls,” which will operate “from several facilities in a network of heritage nodes” and will include interactive kiosks, a hologram of town founder A.J. Chandler, newsreel-viewing infused with era-appropriate scents and pop-up exhibits in schools.
HEALTH & MEDICINE
The Thighs Have It
Medically speaking, the future belongs to fat. The major healthcare issue facing Arizona in upcoming decades, says Chandler gastroenterologist Sudhakar Reddy, is “diagnoses of obesity and diabetes. More and more people are obese and diabetic, and this leads to big problems – liver disease, acid reflux, coronary artery disease.”
• According to the St. Joseph’s Foundation, esophageal cancer rates grew 400 percent between 1975 and 2000, likely due to obesity and related conditions like acid reflux.
• Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is expected to increase 50 percent by 2030.
• Obesity-related Type II Diabetes rates in Arizona now exceed the national average and will continue to rise, according to the CDC. (2022 figure is based on current trends.)
Arizona is aging fast.
In 2010, 13.7 percent of Arizona residents were 65 or older.
By 2030, about a quarter of the population will be seniors, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s State Plan on Aging. One result of this, says Dr. Abram Burgher of The Pain Center, will be an increase in “pain and associated disability in the elderly, especially Medicare population. This consumes an enormous amount of healthcare resources and... will be an issue of disproportionate relevance in Arizona.”
Innovation and technology are the future, they say – so much so that in the year 2050,
Google consolidates all state universities into a mega-education monopoly. Arizona State University is converted into a sleek hub for STEM-focused students, with GoogleGlass for everyone!
Not-Hot for Teacher
Education will continue to be the decade’s definitive political issue in Arizona. The state’s per-pupil spending of $7,208 was the third-lowest in the U.S. in 2013. Low pay, dwindling resources and mercurial testing requirements and teaching guidelines have caused Arizona educators to leave the field en masse – thousands in the last five years alone, according to a 2015 report by the Arizona Department of Education. “The average teacher makes less than a Costco employee,” says Heidi Vega of the Arizona School Boards Association. “To make matters worse, 23 percent of Arizona educators will be eligible to retire in the next four years, according to the Arizona State Retirement System.” The new crop of teachers entering the workforce isn’t sufficient to make up the deficit of the retiring and fleeing educators – 62 percent of public schools reported unfilled teaching positions in September 2014, a trend that will continue until legislators and districts address the causal issues, Vega says.
Budget cuts have been a bugaboo of educators for years. Some challenges K-12 education will be facing in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and beyond:
• Elimination of Student Success Funding: $21.5 million cut
• Reduction in funding for all-day kindergarten. Districts that provide the service, which is not funded by the state, will likely cut back to half-day kindergarten.
• Athletic participation fees. In more and more districts, families must pay if a student would like to participate in a school sport because of cuts to athletic programs.
• Four-day week school districts. Out of Arizona’s roughly 225 school districts, 41 have already made the switch to four-day school weeks.
Dust Off the Apple IIe?
Arizona’s education budget woes may disrupt implementation of the next-generation “digital classroom” envisioned by futurists.
• Desk-size screens: Will allow educators to create ultra-immersive learning programs. ETA: 2020
• Mobile learning platforms: Part of the “disintermediation” theory of learning, these mobile teacher AI devices handle student personalization while teachers focus on teaching. ETA: 2025
• Digital field trips: An afternoon class tour of the Great Pyramid of Khufu? Enhanced virtual reality could make it possible. ETA: 2029
Note: The following article is satire. Don't take it seriously.
January 6, 2064
As newly sworn-in U.S. Senator Julio Arpaio takes office this week, we begin our series of stories chronicling his unlikely and inspiring personal journey to Washington. We begin with Arpaio's adoptive greatgrandfather: Sheriff Joe Arpaio – mythic relic of Twitter-era Arizona and swaggering, Seagal-deputizing defender of the border. Though his divisive brand of politics are largely a thing of the past, Arpaio continues to amaze historians.
“If you wanna see yourself on the picture screens, give the folks a show,” Joe Arpaio tells his protégé, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, in the fictionalized Willow Smith-directed biopic Babby (2047). And give ‘em a show the Sheriff did.
Though overshadowed by his heirs, Arpaio was the most polarizing man in state politics for nearly 30 years – a stage-seeking populist strongman, part Vince McMahon, part Huey Long. His department did not excel in traditional law enforcement activities such as investigating violent crime, but it did make for extraordinary theater. The pink underwear. The political investigations and fund-draining court settlements. Letting celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal and Ted Nugent play cop. It was the kind of balls-out, unchecked political reign that makes today’s schoolchildren ask, “Was that really possible?”
Yes, children. It was.
Arpaio began his career as a “narc,” or federal drug enforcement agent, during the era of marijuana prohibition. He briefly took a job selling tickets for a civilian space rocket that never took off. He was elected Sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992, the same year current President Chelsea Clinton’s father Bill took office. The populist Arpaio modeled himself on the lawmen of the Old West. His methods weren’t especially efficient or effective, but, boy howdy, they were entertaining. Like today’s Sensi-Vid users, the people of the Valley would gather around their color televisions to learn about his nutty new schemes to foil the “im’grants,” as portrayed in Babby.
Rather than build climate-controlled jails, Arpaio just bought a bunch of old canvas army tents last used in the Korean War and set them up on the edge of town. For reasons no one could ever explain – save kinky predilection – deputies made male prisoners wear pink underwear. Some capers were truly outrageous: Before an election, Arpaio’s deputies arrested a would-be “assassin” on live television. A judge later determined the kid was set up by deputies and gave him $1.6 million – a lot of money back in those days!
And it was only a drop in the bucket compared to the moola taxpayers shelled out to political opponents who crossed Arpaio and his buddy Andy Thomas, the disbarred county attorney who later gained fame as a dissident brothel owner on the Chinese island of Macau. After county supervisors nixed his budget, Arpaio launched anti-corruption investigations. The criminal cases got tossed by a grand jury and the former supervisors sued. Settling those lawsuits cost taxpayers more than $50 million. It was a windfall for local journalists. The only hitch was the danged criminals.
Between fighting federal lawsuits for racially profiling Latino motorists and other hijinks, Arpaio and his crew didn’t have much time to investigate actual crimes. Under his watch, three out of four cases were marked “closed” before being investigated. The MCSO once dropped an investigation into the rape of a 14-year-old girl because the suspect didn’t want to come in for questioning. Hoo boy, folks kicked up a fuss about that one!
The cause of Arpaio’s death is still debated in some corners. In a scene you may remember from Babby, Arpaio (Paul Giamatti) collapses by the back door to Durant’s steakhouse in Downtown Phoenix. As in the film, Babeu tossed his waiter a $100 bill and ran outside to comfort Arpaio, softly singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” as the sheriff waited for an ambulance driver who “got lost trying to find” the century-old, bright pink steakhouse. While an autopsy found Arpaio died of a heart attack, his family alleges he was poisoned by a dishwasher. Babeu himself followed one lead to Guadalajara, where he underwent a political metamorphosis while chasing a coyote on a peyote-fueled spirit quest.
We all know what happened to Babeu in the aftermath: a succesful run for the U.S. Sentate, peacemaker with California, 42 years of service to a grateful nation, et al. This week, he bequeaths his Senate chair to his own protégé. A new Arpaio. The circle of life, complete.
So, despite his transgressions, can there be any doubt that Sheriff Joe Arpaio shaped modern Arizona? Some seem to resist that fact. County officials want to name the sparkling new Scandinavian-style “open jail” on the former Tent City jail site West Durango Street in Arpaio’s honor. Don Stapley III has opposed that, saying he thinks the move “needlessly digs up old skeletons.”
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