Mall AdjustedTo the Editor,
Regarding "Big Box Redux" (The Skinny, February 10): I would like to thank Judge Donfield for finally putting to rest the illusion of self-government. It is a relief to know that citizens have no effect on what happens in their city, and that city government is basically just ornamental, installed to decide appropriate issues, like where a new school crossing should go, while leaving all the big-people decisions to responsible corporations like Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
The flowering of big-box stores that will surely ensue in the wake of the Honorable Judge Donfield's decision will have incredible beneficial effects on our community. Now citizens will no longer have to drive that extra mile down Broadway to Target in order to find economy-sized orange juice. Moreover, Tucsonans in our historic neighborhoods will now have walking-distance access to three-for-a-dollar T-shirt deals and Mariah Carey CDs. Sure, we give control of our city over to corporations, intensify traffic, make the urban sprawl even uglier, but isn't this a small price to pay for the benefits of all those blue-light specials?
Of course, it would have been a terrible blow to the city's economy if those stores were not built at El Con. Not only would the spending power of the mall owners themselves have been drastically jeopardized but Tucson would have lost another source of minimum-wage, futureless jobs with low benefits. That's the mainstay of our economy! As for limiting their size, well, as our national ethos tells us, more is always better. If eating one bag of Wal-Mart brand corn chips is good, then eating three is better. Why else would we have that great three-for-one-deal?
I think the only healthy, sane thing to do would be to cede all municipal power to the board of directors of Wal-Mart or one of the other big boxes. Perhaps as a democracy we could vote on which one. In fact, once city planners step down, I would personally like to write Wal-Mart and ask them to take Big K's idea one step further and build a Wal-City where that Saguaro National Park now stands. What use is it serving as is? Perhaps a new Disney theme park in the Catalinas? Once city government is out of the way, anything is possible.
Let's hope there are no unsightly protests once construction begins at El Con, nothing like those shenanigans in Seattle last year. Let's all be adults and swallow whatever anger we might feel, expending the energy on something useful instead, like perhaps a family trip to Big K?
-- Jeff Gibbs
To the Editor,
Regarding Margaret Regan's "El Conclusion" (February 17): On the surface the big box/El Con controversy seems a no-brainer. The owners of El Con, your typical, greedy slimeballs, are trying to convince the neighbors what's good for El Con is good for Tucson and the neighborhood. The poor neighborhood bonds together to fight the good fight to keep their little part of the planet just the way it is. The Weekly and others seem to think: Big Box Bad, Neighborhood Good.
Seventy-five years ago, the land in question was the desert, open to all. Then the land developers started the march -- some might say goose-step -- to economic development and progress. A resort and subdivisions were carved out of the desert. The resort was torn down and El Con Mall built in its place. Both of these projects seemed way out east, but now are just about the center of the city. All this, mind you, was done in the name of economic development and progress. After 50 years of this so-called progress, Tucson ranks low in wages and high in ability to afford a home. So who other than the speculators really benefits from paving over the desert?
On Friday, February 11, the neighborhoods near El Con held a meeting to present a new and innovative plan for the El Con property -- never mind it's not their property. This new plan combined residential work places, shops and recreation all within walking distance of each other. Gosh, that's what Tucson was like before its heart and soul was torn out and replaced with the civic center/convention center/government center in the 1960s. Soon downtown died as neighborhoods were torn apart. Retail moved in the name of economic development and progress to the mall (the first major mall was El Con). The 'burbs grew, the pattern was set: keep growing at all cost. So now we've accepted the concept that more is better, growth is inevitable so it must be economically good.
The sponsors of the Friday meeting, Linda Ronstadt and Cele Peterson, live in the neighborhood. My guess: like most of their neighbors, they depend on the ever-expanding marketplace. Linda needed to sell more records, Cele more clothes, and their neighbors need more clients, patients, customers and sales to support their lifestyles. Take a quick trip through El Encanto or the homes east of El Con and you may notice these are not your 1,200-square-foot homes of stick and stucco. If you do go, don't walk, because there are no sidewalks, so just stay in your cars, thank you.
I'm sorry the big box/El Con struggle is nothing more than a pissing contest between two groups who have created a lifestyle based on economic development, growth and so-called progress. Now that creation is out of control as it rolls over its creators, much as they rolled over the desert in the name of progress. Maybe now some of these people will have a little insight into how the folks who had homes, friends, and a neighborhood where the civic center now stands felt as they moved out in the name of progress.
Linda and Cele both have a good reputation for supporting community causes and charities, and I'm sure many in the area are equally as generous. I can't help but think all the energy that was wasted in this hassle could have been put to better use helping to find solutions to substandard housing, low wages, homelessness, hunger in our community, loss of open space, or any number of worthwhile causes in the name of economic development and progress for people who truly need it!
-- David Horowitz