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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Thought Leaders Sharing Predictions

 Jacqueline Jackson

What lessons were learned in 2013 and what will 2014 bring to the South Mountain and Laveen villages? The following community leaders shared their thoughts with the South Mountain District News:


  • George A. Young, publisher of the South Mountain Villager and chair of South Mountain Village Clean and Beautiful
  • Carlie Back, realtor for The Carlie Back Team at Keller Williams Lifestyle Realty
  • Kate Gallego, incoming Phoenix City Councilwoman for District 8
  • Dr. Bill Johnson, superintendent of the Laveen Elementary School District
  • Victor Vidales, CEO of RE/MAX New Heights Realty
  • Dr. Jacqueline Jackson, superintendent of the Roosevelt School District
  • Steve Glueck, executive director of the South Mountain/Laveen Chamber of Commerce


How did your industry fare in 2013, and what big lesson did you learn?


Young: The South Mountain Villager magazine had a good year. We had an opportunity to report lots of good news to the folks in our Villages. We are looking forward to making some positive changes to our magazine in 2014 and appreciate all the community support we are getting.


Back: The real estate industry had a great year. We began the year with a low inventory of homes available for sale. This continued through the first three quarters and the heavy demand for the limited properties available caused prices to increase. Inventory increased by the last quarter and demand went down. The demand went down due to buyers who got off the fence in the early summer and bought before rates increased any more. This caused future buyers to buy sooner, slowing down demand in the last quarter (which is historically already the slowest for transactions).


The lesson is to pay attention to the market and the numbers, including supply, demand, days on the market and absorption rates. When the market shifts, you must make changes accordingly.


Gallego: 2013 was a good year at the City of Phoenix. South Mountain was well represented as we began our city’s 10-year plan, and I expect the final plan to emphasize a better-connected city, including new investments in trails, bike paths and mass transit for our community. I made my first run for public office in 2013, and I was pleased to learn that our residents are good at ignoring mudslinging when they can have a real, substantive conversation about where we want the district to go. We have a lot to teach the rest of America!


Johnson: In spite of challenging funding cuts from the state, Laveen Schools had another great year in 2013. In the past, when I told people that I worked for the Laveen School District, the inevitable follow-up question was, “Where’s Laveen?” That rarely happens anymore. The Laveen Schools are becoming well known as quality schools with high student achievement. The vision for the Laveen School District is to become universally recognized as one of the best school districts in the state. 2014 will see substantial continued progress toward that ideal.


Vidales: The real estate industry did better than expected in 2013. We had three strong quarters of residential and land sales but a slower than normal fourth quarter. There are currently 21,540 active listings in Maricopa County and 87 percent of that entire inventory is without distress. Only 13 percent are listings that have some level of distress, either short sales or bank owned. One year ago, only 68 percent of our listing inventory would have been defined as normal. Overall, it was a good year.


Jackson: Roosevelt School District fared well in 2013, having passed not one, but two overrides. Thanks to the generous support of the South Mountain community and its voters, we passed both a Maintenance and Operations override and a Capital Outlay override. As you know, education funding in Arizona can be an uphill battle and we are always looking for grants and other sources of funding to support educational programs.


What we learned from our community was that they value education and are willing to help with our mission of education for the children. The passage of the overrides is a multi-year commitment that will help to ease the financial burden on the district and assist with ensuring high quality educational opportunities for our students, as well as, provide educational and resource opportunities for parents through our parent education centers and community resource centers.


Glueck: When chamber of commerce and business organizations, in general, don’t have worthwhile programs, they’re not going to be able to retain memberships. Business organizations are having to run with minimal staff, in view of stagnant or declining membership – and that’s a direct result of the economy. You still have a lot of people who want to start businesses, but they can’t afford the memberships, so growth in member-based organizations is tough. For example, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce is battling membership numbers, but they’re doing well on the program side.


What should South Mountain-area residents be optimistic about in 2014?


Young: We will be moving forward with the Light Rail Transit Plan. We have a new council person in District 8 who we will work with on economic development of the area and on some new and old projects. The Broadway Road project will begin moving toward completion by the end of 2015. We will see the completion of several new housing developments and the filling of the currently vacant shopping centers. Several new charter schools will open. The Crosier Project on East Baseline will be started and may be completed. The South Mountain/Laveen Villages Festival committee will be creating and enhancing some of our community events. The South Mountain Village Clean and Beautiful have four clean-ups planned for the year.


Back: 2014 looks to be a good year. We will be in a more balanced market, meaning equal supply and demand. Prices should continue to stay strong due to the appreciation of last year but will level off. Interest rates should continue to stay historically low. 2014 should be something different for us for a long time – balanced!


Gallego: I am optimistic about the important role that volunteers play in South Mountain and the way our community has developed multiple generations of leaders. 2014 should bring new businesses to South Mountain and see strong recovery in housing values. I expect a better year for our entrepreneurs and non-profits than they have seen in many of the past years.


Johnson: Even during the slowdown of the housing market, the Laveen School District continued to grow and opened the new Rogers Ranch STEM School with over 900 students. Laveen schools have been very successful and the growth is expected to continue in 2014 as the housing market recovers. Great communities have great schools and schools can only be great when they have the support of their communities. The Laveen School District is very grateful for the continued support of parents, community members and business leaders.


Vidales: South Mountain and Laveen residents have plenty to be optimistic about in 2014. There are many new residential, commercial and industrial developments that are currently in process of being built or actively being planned. Jobs are being created, neighborhoods are being stabilized and there are far more owner-occupied homes than there were a year ago. We are still one of the most affordable communities in Maricopa County that can offer a high quality of life and connectivity to the urban core of Phoenix. Our community remains very attractive to individuals and families relocating from out of state, Canadians and other international buyers looking for a second home, and many of the current renters in our community are becoming stakeholders through home ownership.


Jackson: South Mountain residents should be optimistic about the fact that Roosevelt will continue our mission of education for students and families, build on our successes, and work non-stop to improve living and working conditions for residents in South Mountain through our community coalitions. Roosevelt School District is on a mission, moving forward into the future in South Mountain!


Glueck: Residents should be optimistic about the city and how the attention to our area, in general, is improving from what it has been in the past. A lot of that is planning, such as with light rail. Residents should be very positive about that because light rail has the attention of a lot of organizations. They can expect that by mid-next year there’s a good chance there will be

formal approval to add South Central to the light rail plan.


Residents can also be optimistic about more leadership concentrating on economic development that will improve employment for South Mountain residents. Retail will continue to improve. So residents can look forward to some new retail businesses opening in South Phoenix and Laveen.


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