• Mark L. Johnson

Marana Housing Chat

Updated: Aug 12



TA attended the Marana Town Council Housing Study Session (8/10/21). Click on the Button to View the Study Session PowerPoint.




The following are notes and observations:


The Marana housing design standards have not been updated since 2006 and this Study Session was a pitch to perform a Housing Assessment/Study to determine what changes are required to the housing design standards.


After the PowerPoint presentation by staff, there was a good discussion by the Town Council members present (Post, Kai, Craig and Officer):


  • Higher Density-Townhomes, apartments and smaller homes are needed. Reduces infrastructure costs.

  • Residential Above Commercial Buildings-currently only allowed in downtown Marana.

  • Diverse Housing Architecture-desire to move to more architectural options instead of current "cookie-cutter" subdivisions.

  • Housing Technology-include latest water and power conservation devices and provisions for electric cars.

  • Rental Housing Subdivisions-current trend but needs design standards.

  • Home Owner Associations (HOAs)-move toward HOAs with private streets and amenities within the subdivisions to reduce Marana Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.

  • Marana Housing Processing Capacity-staff reported that Marana Development Services can process 80-110 new homes per month. Using the average of 95 homes per month yields 1,140 new homes per year! How long can this last?

  • Housing Assessment/Study-agreed to proceed and appears to include engaging the public.


Some Observations:


Residential Housing Decay


I have owned/rented 9 homes in MA, CT, IL, CA and now AZ. They were built from 1965 to 2019. In the last few years, we've retraced our steps across America and visited all of these homes. They were progressively built in nice (at the time) lower middle income neighborhoods to higher middle income neighborhoods. The original home was built by my Dad (carpenter) in 1965 in MA.


The 6 homes that were built in the period from 1965 to 1992 are now in residential neighborhood decay. These neighborhoods were once thriving and beautiful neighborhoods and virtually all the homeowners took pride in their homes. Now, some 30-50 years later, as the original owners moved on for various reasons, there is not the same neighborhood/home pride. Many of these homes need lots of work. It is sad to see.


Gentrification is apparently not a solution as it typically displaces lower income families. Perhaps HOAs or something similar is a potential solution? I am hoping Marana, with its fairly young residential home age, come find a way to prevent residential housing decay.


Single Story vs Multiple Story


Multiple story homes work well in wooded and more urban settings. Single story homes work well in areas where view sheds are desirable, e.g. desert environments. Single story homes also work better for older residents. I hope Marana can come up with a good solution for this one. I personally like driving up Dove Mountain Boulevard where the housing is fairly hidden because the homes are single story.


Lot Size


Smaller lots/homes work for some and do require less infrastructure but many times these homes are expanded to provide more space (if zoning allows) or the homeowner sells and moves to a larger lot/home.


Larger lots/homes work for some but do require more infrastructure. Larger lots/homes should be available to those willing to pay for the added costs.


Water


We will learn more about Marana Water at the Study Session on 8/24, but as previously opined, residential housing should not be approved at the Planning Commission stage until the Designated Assured Water Supply (DAWS) is resolved.


These are just a few observations. I am sure you have more. You will have the opportunity to provide input when the Housing Assessment/Study proceeds. TA will provide Alerts when more information becomes available.