From the candidate

Ishac: Why ‘renter’ shouldn’t be a dirty word in Scottsdale

Posted 7/7/22

It is unclear when “renter” became synonymous with “undesirable,” but there are people that do not want renters in Scottsdale. I find that notion disturbing; it unfairly …

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From the candidate

Ishac: Why ‘renter’ shouldn’t be a dirty word in Scottsdale

Posted

It is unclear when “renter” became synonymous with “undesirable,” but there are people that do not want renters in Scottsdale. I find that notion disturbing; it unfairly categorizes people and fails to acknowledge their role in our economic strength.

I have been a renter in the past, and that is true for the vast majority of residents. Currently, between 25% and 30% of Scottsdale households are renters. And they contribute significantly to the economy and support our local businesses.

Renters span the entire age demographic and wage scale. People often choose to rent:

  •  Right out of college regardless of degree and starting salary
  •  When moving to a new city for a relocation
  •  After a separation
  •  To downsize and ease the demands of homeownership.

These folks are in transition, not transients detrimental to Scottsdale. They are not bringing crime into the area as some politicians want you to think. Blighted buildings and vacant lots attract crime, not high-end rentals with year-long leases.

Renting in Scottsdale is not cheap. Our rental prices are among the highest in the nation, growing by double digits over the past year, with many increasing 30% or more. An average one bedroom rate in Scottsdale is close to $2,000, a small house close to $3,000. Rentals require a background check, high credit scores, proof of income and security deposits. Average pay to qualify for a typical rental is about $80,000. Yet some people refer to renters as “riff raff.”

I do not think nurses, first responders and teachers think of themselves as undesirable. They are the backbone of our community.

Multifamily housing is environmentally friendly. Our Water Department records show multifamily units require half the water of single-family homes.

They are also far more energy efficient and require less infrastructure. Those who say the only way to address drought is to stop growing need to understand that 75% of the state’s water use is for agriculture and energy production. And 50,000 people are coming to the Valley every year. Whether they live in Scottsdale or elsewhere, they are still drawing from the same water sources.

Increasing housing within Scottsdale will actually help with traffic. We currently have more than 150,000 workers commuting into the city. If we want to relieve congestion, let us replace a portion of these long commuters with residents who live close to their work. Moreover, it is a fact that residential units create less traffic throughout the day than does commercial space.

Some of my opponents make you fear out-of-control, overbuilding. Actual figures show that from 2010 to 2020, the total number of housing units increased by 12.2%. That is about 1% per year. And the city’s pipeline shows that we would only be adding another 1% to 2% per year to our overall housing supply for years to come. This is not development gone wild, but thoughtful, sustainable growth to keep our economy strong and reinvest in aging properties.

All the candidates, even the incumbents who have consistently opposed development, now agree that the housing shortage is a critical issue. Our housing crisis affects our seniors, young families and our children. We need to think of the needs of all 240,000 residents and the impact that no growth would have on our economy, our taxes and our services.

We are not and should never become a city dominated by apartment buildings.

It is time to stop with the fear and political boogeyman. Throughout our history, development has included rental units, condominiums and single-family homes. City Council’s job is not to tell private property owners what they should do or how to live — we are a free market. Its job is to ensure that we only allow the best projects that are high in quality and complementary to our community.

Projects should support our economy, be more sensitive to environmental concerns and decrease traffic. Let’s stop demonizing renters and housing growth, and end campaigning on fear and false narratives. We must stick to facts, move forward smartly and with kindness. Working together we can make Scottsdale even stronger, more sustainable and more secure than we already are.