The $2.2 Trillion CARES Act will help a lot of Arizona businesses; but relief for investors, private partnerships, large developers and construction companies, commercial and retail landlords or even master planned communities and homeowner’s associations is ambiguous or missing from the stimulus bill.
In Scottsdale and the Northeast Valley, where we rely heavily on growth to drive jobs and generate tax revenue, these exclusions could prove harmful.
The Northeast Valley is home to the fastest growing area in Maricopa County, which happens to be the fastest growing county in the country. So, while the stimulus package does include much-needed relief for the Arizona communities whose economies are grounded in manufacturing, agriculture or labor; and makes extraordinary efforts to support small businesses, keep the banks in the game with the interest on SBA 7(a) emergency loans; many of the sectors that factor into the economic health of Scottsdale and the Northeast Valley are missing.
We must address these oversights locally.
Arizona’s 6th Congressional District includes the second-largest employment center in the Valley plus several large master planned communities. We are heavily reliant on private investors, who provide backing for the commercial and residential developments in our community, and serve as building owners and landlords.
This makes the Northeast Valley vulnerable right now, especially the Scottsdale Airpark and the communities of Desert Ridge, Paradise Ridge and Sky Crossing.
Recent land sales involving large parcels in the Northeast Valley add to this vulnerability. Not only are we likely to experience a third delay in the build-out of Desert Ridge — a master planned community that has only reached 30% build-out in its 25 years in existence — but now we face the possibility that recent parcel sales could end up back in the hands of the state land trust.
If we fail to keep our homebuilders solvent, the construction companies and small contractors who are just now regaining their footing following the 2009 housing crisis will be out of work despite the federal stimulus protecting them in the short term.
The CARES Act is also unclear about how investors and landlords will get relief if they do not already have federally backed mortgages. Property owners are being asked to forgive late rent payments from their tenants, but if ownership is in the form of private partnerships or private investment groups, they will not receive relief in this act nor are they guaranteed forgiveness from their lenders.
This must be addressed to ensure apartment complexes and retail or commercial buildings with private loans don’t end up in foreclosure.
The stimulus package also does not address the impact this crisis is certain to have on HOAs if homeowners cannot pay their dues, especially among those who maintain small community parks or are responsible for street maintenance and landscaping that cover large communities in the Valley.
Here’s what we can do to protect our community.
The good news is these oversights are not an endgame. The treasury secretary has the authority to provide relief to larger corporations and sectors whose aid isn’t outlined in the CARES Act. Local and national organizations are putting together their own relief packages, not to mention elected officials and community leaders can take the initiative to negotiate deals that aren’t addressed in the act and collaborate on the ground to protect our community.
Scottsdale and Phoenix must make it a priority to work together to quickly address how these connected communities can protect investors, landlords and developers whose solvency is critical to a strong recovery for the Northeast Valley.
We need the Arizona State Land Trust to work with lessors and buyers to keep the land in the hands of the developers rather than reverting to the land trust as it did in 2009.
Arizona must put a moratorium on foreclosures related to unpaid HOA fees through the end of the year. We might also need local relief directly for the HOAs to help them through these tough times without consistent revenue. And we also need HOA service providers and vendors to continue work serving these communities using the federal stimulus funds as their payment while the HOAs cannot honor the contract terms.
In fact, we need everyone receiving funds for payroll to keep their employees on the job and working just as if the payments were received in the regular course of business.
Right now is the time when we all step up to the plate and give it our all without keeping score. We are all in this together and if we look at it that way — without expecting the same terms and conditions of working together in the past — we will emerge stronger than before and ready to tackle whatever comes our way next.
Stephanie Rimmer is running to represent Arizona’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.