The New Year and decade ahead hold challenges and opportunities for our clients and partners.
Just as in years past, the combination of legal expertise, political acumen and strategic insight will be essential in guiding successful projects from start to finish.
Land use regulations, zoning restrictions, entitlements and permitting in Arizona are going to remain complex, especially as it relates to achieving sustainable, environmentally responsible developments.
What follows are our insights on what to anticipate in land use in 2020.
#1 Growth in specific markets will not slow down in the foreseeable future.
Some of the significant areas of new development to take note of in 2020 will be healthcare and hospitals; assisted-living and sober-living homes; infill multi-family (especially apartments); education/student housing; golf course preservation and redevelopment; and medical marijuana and possible recreational marijuana.
#2 Substantial new employment opportunities in Arizona will greatly increase the need for single-family residential and associated neighborhood commercial developments.
2020 will continue to see substantial new employment opportunities. Consequently, there will be a need for new single-family residential and associated commercial development in areas where major employers will locate. Adequate water supply and new infrastructure improvements will be issues affecting the success of zoning in these areas. Simultaneously, the demand for these uses will affect infill developments because of the limitation of land and the effects of new developments on surrounding neighborhoods in the inner city. Expect a continuation of entitlement issues related to growth such as traffic, height, and view corridors, density and noise, and air quality.
#3 There will be a greater focus on infill as a sustainable form of development.
Infill development requires extensive work with surrounding neighborhoods and determining the win-win path forward for adjacent neighbors and the new project. Constructing new multi-family housing within existing communities will be critical to maintaining housing affordability. Educating the public on the importance of multi-family housing and the desire of newer generations to rent and live in multi-family communities will be key to successful zoning entitlements.
There will be a heightening of community input on many entitlements as it affects development in surrounding communities.
While cities and towns will want to take advantage of the economic opportunities in 2020, there will be more pressure from the public not to affect what they perceive to be their current lifestyle. Therefore, anticipate continued struggles within the legislative bodies that, on the one hand, promote jobs, increase tax dollars, pay for new much-needed infrastructure and, on the other hand, succumb to pressures of existing and future anti-development factions.
#4 There will be a greater need to educate the public on new projects before discussions become inaccurately framed.
As various list-serves and other modes of communications for neighborhoods have increased, one of the biggest challenges will be educating the public on new projects with facts before inaccurate hyperbole frames the discussion. Elected officials, design review boards and government staff will rely on the development community to ensure effective communication and appropriate framing of issues.
Because NextDoor and similar apps do not lend themselves to people trying to understand all sides of an issue, the development community will need to anticipate inaccurate information and work to get the facts of a case into the public as part of the decision-making process.
# 5 Developers will be asked to bear the costs for increased density and height through zoning requirements, stipulations and development exactions.
Developers will be asked to bear the costs related to traffic accommodations and assuring enough water, sewer and energy to their properties. On the other hand, cities will need to address mass transit, including light rail and buses; parks and recreational opportunities; alternative people movers such as scooters and bicycles; additional heights to accommodate appropriate densities; and pedestrian-friendly environments.
#6 The cost of upsizing infrastructure to assure sustainable communities will need to be addressed.
Most of the infrastructure like streets, water, sewers have been constructed based on growth models that did not contemplate the level of densification now being proposed to ensure we create sustainable communities. Generally, jurisdictions permit “hooking up” to the current system as long as there is capacity. We need to develop a new approach so that the first project to be proposed once capacity is utilized is not saddled with the costs of upgrades. If this problem is not addressed soon, then infill will come to a halt after the last project is completed using the existing capacity.