This is my original letter and response to the West Valley View. Tonight, a City Council meeting is taking place that – unfortunately I can’t attend because I have a funding contract due for a City Grant for the Trailwood Neighborhood this evening. This requires me to be at the Phoenix Mountain View Precinct.
That said, the article I’m referring to was written took facts only from one side. Here’s a link to the original article.
Sometimes when you fight a losing battle that you truly believe in, you still have to do the right thing – that thing which you believe to be true, which may still end up futile. That’s what separates the people who do from the people who simply wish. You work until the battle is no more, and you don’t stop until then. Because even if you lose, you gave them a hell of a run for the win, and forced them to recognize the power of your ideas, and they will have to think of why they savor that victory so much every time.
I fight because these people deserved it.
Mr. [Editor] and [Assistant Editor]
I read in dismay the article and the complete “miss” on the front page of the West Valley View yesterday in regards to the Villa de Paz golf course. The article was written from the perspective of Mr. Lazarus, the lawyer and lobbyist on behalf of a Canadian property investor. It’s almost as if he wrote it himself, handed it to a reporter, and you guys decided to get a single quote from “resident Paula Dee” to “round out the article”.
As a Community Leader for the Trailwood Neighborhood in the neighborhood next to Villa de Paz, I have watched – and joined – as no less than 60 tireless residents that I’ve met and talked to – most of them senior citizens in this older community – fight *EVERY DAY* for that community against an investor who bought the property, tried to change the rules in the dead of night, took credit for things the Residents did (like the improvements on 107th, which was strictly resident and Block Watch organized), and now proclaims that the golf course being removed is “already going to happen”. It is NOT going to happen, since the stipulations prohibiting it are in place, and the residents are fighting to keep those stipulations in place. The headline is WRONG, and the story leads your readers to believe everything the lawyer wants them to read.
Even the promise by Mr. Lazarus, “The houses would be similar in construction to surrounding ones, already built in the Villa de Paz neighborhood” is false since those plans don’t even exist yet. These homes are 40 years old. He’s going to build similar floorplans of 40 year old homes?
Further, I have personally and proudly joined about 60 people in protesting and raising awareness that the golf course is actually in danger in the neighborhood. Why? Because this is happening and even the Villa de Paz residents are unaware. Attached is a picture of the protest several weeks ago that we invited the media to (nobody came). The injustice is that your article severely kicked the hopes of those fighting, and some have no idea there’s even a fight taking place.
I’m 40 years old. But these are older people in their 60s and 70s and even older – who have worked their whole lives for a view of the golf course that they were promised would always be there. According to Zillow, their homes are barely worth 100k, and they are coming together to fight with what little energy and PR smarts they have to save just that. This is a human rights story if I ever saw one. Your paper should be covering THEIR stories!
Mr. xxx and Mr. xxxxx, I respectfully request that you give serious consideration to affording one of those community leaders in Villa de Paz the opportunity to correct your article’s doomsday destination and at least give the community a fighting chance against a well-funded lobbyist, well-funded lawyer and rich investor who has promised lots, but is required to deliver little to a community of people, many who can’t fight the way younger people can fight.
Please respond and I’ll be happy to put you in charge of one of the Community Leaders of Villa de Paz who can give you the counter-arguments and the perspective this incomplete story lacks. With all due respect, this article is all about the developer, and I don’t blame you. Their PR people are paid top dollar to tell a great story. You even posted their free “Survey Monkey” website link giving the community the option to choose between “Holy crap, this choice sucks” and “Holy crap, this is even worse!”. I can’t think of a better way to illustrate to a community that nobody gives a darn what they think than to shuffle together some “This or That” solution on a free website as part of “reaching out to the community”. Nobody is buying that. And based on the numbers, the residents also question the figures on the golf course losses that have been claimed. It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t seem like Mr. Lazarus is being very transparent when our only “dialogue” is limited to clicking a multiple choice option on a website that he put together, does it?
This is PRECISELY their response to the community outcry, and the people in the community deserve to be heard, also. At least more than this article layout of “lawyer said… lawyer said… lawyer said… resident speaks… lawyer disagrees… lawyer says… lawyer gives website link”.
You have a very real and very local human events story on your hands that real people would be interested in. If you grab it, this could get really interesting.
No other news outlets were interested when we were gathering, protesting or meeting. But Mr. Lazarus gets a front page article quoting himself all over it and counter-pointing only a single opposing view? That’s not right. I implore you to give the people who have lived in this community for upwards of 3 decades or more a chance to be heard.
12 Year Resident and Full Time Employee
Captain, Trailwood Neighborhood Block Watch
Coordinator, G.A.I.N. Trailwood Neighborhood
Chairman, Architectural Committee, Trailwood HOA
Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 12:24 PM
Subject: RE: Villa De Paz Front Page
It is my understanding that stipulation or not, the golf course is closing. That is a fact. The golf course has lost about $2 million. I do not understand why Villa de Paz residents are under the impression that they can either force a business that is losing money to stay in business and continue losing money or sell to another golf course at a major loss. It’s as if the residents feel they’re owed something by the private business. It seems to me that there is nothing personal going on, it’s truly just business. The only question seems to be whether the property will become an empty dirt lot (for the time being anyway) or have houses built on it.
We are planning on having a reporter and photographer at tonight’s meeting and will continue to report on the story as it progresses.
1050 E. Riley Dr., Avondale 85323
Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 3:19 PM
Subject: RE: Villa De Paz Front Page
Thank you for responding so quickly. That shows a lot of class and integrity.
I’m thrilled to hear that you’re covering this, and that’s what my request ultimately was: a chance to have a public dialogue with both sides represented. Two guys presenting tonight will be Ken xxx and Jeff xxxx. They’ve been at the lead on this on behalf of the residents, and I hope your reporter gets to spend a little time with them to get the perspective I think is relevant. In fact, I hope you go. See what those guys have to say. Their case is very compelling, and I only saw the preview.
I don’t believe that the residents are reacting out of “feelings”, but instead fighting for what they were promised when they purchased the properties in a residential golf course neighborhood, and some at a premium lot price for their golf-course backyard. Lots of people bought legitimate real estate in Villa de Paz for the golf course view in their backyard, and are standing their ground after paying for their property – that’s also “just business”. In that respect, they are indeed “owed” what was advertised and sold, and approved by the City with stipulations that protected that.
Any business deals with profit or loss. So the developer selling the land at a “major loss” is also part of “just business”. Why this particular developer thinks he should ram 1100 more cars and homes into a single square mile against the will or knowledge of people already living there so he can realize a profit on property that has limited use when he bought it is bad business. Maybe he should sell it to someone who can manage a golf course.
And that’s my parting viewpoint. I’ll be happy to give you the last word.
Thanks for your time, and I look forward to reading the results and submitting some “Letters to the Editor”. I appreciate the time you’ve afforded me and my views, and I respect yours, even if they continue to differ. It means a lot to me, and I’m sure the residents, that you’ll be covering this. I thank you for that.
I completely understand where the residents (especially the ones who paid a lot premium to be on the golf course) are coming from. However, if their real estate agents promised them that their lot premiums would ensure golf course views forever, then they were either unscrupulous (as many are, just ask people living in Dreaming Summit or Wigwam Creek what city they live in, plenty will tell you Litchfield Park because that’s what their agents told them) or naïve. I’m sure there was nothing in their contracts that said they were guaranteed golf course views forever. The bottom line is nobody can force a private business to stay in business. And nobody can force a private business to sell his business at a loss.
But we will continue to cover the issue and it sounds like there are quite a few more steps to go through before anything is finalized. However, I did speak to David Leibowitz who is representing the owner this afternoon and he assured me that the golf course is indeed closing.
1050 E. Riley Dr., Avondale 85323
Good luck tonight, residents of Villa de Paz. Send them packing!