historic home Louis Emerson House

Louis Emerson House, Phoenix.

This past month, the Arizona Republic has been engaged in a noble bit of historic preservation: highlighting the most-endangered historic buildings in Phoenix.

Yesterday, the Republic staff featured the Louis Emerson House. As they note, “The Queen Anne/Eastlake style home is one of the few remaining residences in the Evans Churchill neighborhood. The Louis Emerson House has been relocated before to make way for the Arizona Center retail development. It is listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register.”

I was pleased to see that an attorney, Robert Young, owns the home.

“He believes two occupants lived in the house before 1902, but that is the year Louis Emerson and his wife Clara moved in.”

Young says, “Louis Emerson was a meat cutter for the Palace Meat Market. He used to advertise ‘Meat fit for a king.’” Young said he believes Emerson died in the 1920s. Clara remained in the house until the early 1930s.

That recurring feature got me thinking about other historic structures occupied by lawyers and law firms. Downtowns throughout Arizona are dotted with them, but they may be a declining resource, if the Republic series is to be understood.

Seeing the Emerson House reminded me of a feature story we published in Arizona Attorney back in 2001. It was a pictorial spread of great law offices housed in unique spaces. In that article, we covered and photographed a law office housed just up the street from the Emerson House. It is called the Oldaker House, at 649 North Third Avenue.

You can see the whole story here.

What do you think? Should we revive that feature and locate a new great list of attorney spaces?

Meanwhile, I point out that my Editor’s column that’s about to be mailed includes a contest of sorts. Send me a photo of your law office and/or desk, and I may send you a prize (read the column to find out what). (The whole thing is in the spirit of a previous blog post.)

Looking forward to seeing your space!

A dedication ceremony on Saturday, December 7, will include a wreath-laying and remarks by state historian Marshall Trimble, Rear Admiral Scott Sanders, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

A dedication ceremony on Saturday, December 7, will include a wreath-laying and remarks by state historian Marshall Trimble, Rear Admiral Scott Sanders, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

If your December is like mine, your days (especially weekends) are chock-full of events. Not only are we swamped with holiday gatherings, but the (typically) nice weather ensures that Arizonans emerge to revel as much of the rest of the country shovels.

If you can fit it in, an event tomorrow morning (Saturday, December 7) is worth your time. That is when a World War II Memorial is formally dedicated on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Sited on the Wesley Bolin Plaza, the new installation is comprised of gun barrels of the U.S.S. Arizona and U.S.S. Missouri, as well as installations honoring Arizona veterans.

A website tells more about the Memorial and the events surrounding it.

Leading the dedication of the site called “Guns to Salute the Fallen” will be Secretary of State Ken Bennett.

Here is a description of the efforts via Secretary Bennett’s office:

“For nearly three years, the Secretary has spearheaded the effort to build a complete WWII Memorial in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza. Hundreds of individuals and companies in Arizona including Phoenix Rotary 100, SDB Contracting Services, Marco Crane & Rigging and BNSF Railways donated thousands of dollars in cash and in-kind services to build the memorial which features the names of Arizona’s WWII soldiers who died and historic gun barrels from the USS Arizona and USS Missouri.”

“Saturday’s events include the formal dedication ceremony which begins at 9:45 a.m. and is preceded by a DPS escorted commemorative motorcycle ride finishing at the plaza. More than 1000 riders plan to attend. The riders will be greeted by The Saluting Marine, Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers.”

Their office predicts that thousands of people will attend. So keep this in mind: Bring a lawn chair, as the only reserved seating /parking will be for WWII veterans.

Here is a complete listing of events:

  • 7:48 a.m. Run to the Guns departs EagleRiders, 1000 N. McClintock Drive, Tempe
  • 8:30 a.m. Run to the Guns arrives state capitol complex
  • 9:00 a.m. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Flag is installed in a case in the Relic Room of the USS Arizona.
  • 9:45 a.m. WWII Memorial Dedication & Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance Ceremony begins
  • *9:50 a.m. Arizona Capitol Museum will play a live feed of the Pearl Harbor Observance from Hawaii
  • 10:55 a.m. B-17 Flyover by CAF (Commemorative Air Force, Airbase Arizona)
  • 11:45 a.m. Approximate end of ceremony
  • 1:00 p.m. American Concert & BBQ in celebration of the WWII Memorial and fundraiser for veterans, featuring Jimmie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd – 1000 N. McClintock, Tempe

Some maps will help you get there (and park); click to enlarge them. Have a wonderful weekend.

AZ WWII Memorial Parking DirectionsAZ WWII Memorial LARGE EVENT MAPAZ WWII Memorial designated parking areas

Grand Avenue Festival 2013 logo

Grand Ave. is quirky; so is its Festival logo. And yes, you can get it on a T-shirt.

It’s been awhile since I could share a straight-up Change of Venue Friday. For new readers, that’s when I post on a non-law topic, but one that may be of interest to the many other parts of our brains.

Today I have the opportunity, so I urge you to take a Saturday trip to downtown Phoenix and attend the 2013 Grand Avenue Festival.

As a fellow history buff, you may recall that Grand Avenue is notable for a few reasons. Yes, it’s the only diagonal street in our gridded city. But it’s also the urban portion of the U.S. 60, the road that back in the day took travelers from Phoenix to Las Vegas—and beyond.

That history is everywhere on the street, which is dotted with historic warehouses, now transformed into businesses, artist studios and gallery spaces. And the festival includes art, music and food. But it also includes a “Re-Dapt Historic Commercial Building Tour.” So cool.

Organizers posted the complete event program here. But, almost as if they know how busy you are, they also provided a “Short Guide to the Festival” here.

Finally, if you like a little law mixed in with your Change of Venue: Note that Grand Avenue business owners, area residents and the City of Phoenix recently were awarded a greening grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The amount from the EPA–$80,000—wasn’t huge, but it allowed street improvements that will slow the racecourse-speed traffic, improve lighting and street parking, and install some of the most innovative crosswalks and bike lanes I’ve seen (in Phoenix anyway). I’ve posted a few images below of the crosswalks and bike lanes being hand-painted; click to make them larger.

The crosswalk design was the result of a call-for-ideas. The winning design is a combination of traditional interstate highway badges that include the words Grand Ave. Congratulations to Bob Graham of Motley Design Group (sited on Grand Ave.) for the cool idea.

Have a Grand weekend.

The July 5, 2011, haboob over Phoenix. Photo by Haboob Daniel Bryant.

The July 5, 2011, haboob over Phoenix. Photo by Haboob Daniel Bryant.

I know that I promised a brief vacay for the blog and me. But I couldn’t resist sharing an important anniversary.

No, it’s not legal in the least. But that’s the beauty of Change of Venue Friday, when we get to exercise multiple parts of our brains.

And on top of that, who’s reading blogs today anyway? Everybody’s by the pool eating grilled meats, aren’t they?  (Except for those of us at our work desks, licking our injustice wounds by reading blogs and watching Youtube videos).

Well, you can join in the workplace fun, as we recall the massive dust storm—a haboob—that engulfed Phoenix on July 5, 2011.

Yes, your flight's delayed. Haboob at Sky Harbor Airport.

Yes, your flight’s delayed. Haboob at Sky Harbor Airport.

First, here is a scientific explanation of why the 2001 dust storm was so large.

Searching around Youtube for haboob video is kind of fun (but be sure to include the “ha,” at least at work). It’s amazing how much video of the event was shot and shared around the world. Finally, our state was famous for something unrelated to policy choices!

Here is a great video piece posted by the photographer Mike Olbinski (you can see more of his work here).

It is his ground-based time-lapse video as the haboob sweeps into downtown Phoenix on July 5.

The second video is an aggregation of shots from around Phoenix.

Finally, to add some news value to this post, let’s turn to a compilation of 2011 haboob coverage—or, more accurately, a mashup of TV correspondents using the word “haboob”—sometimes gleefully, other times awkwardly.

For the last bit of haboob humor on this holiday-ish Friday, I offer my shot of a sign in front of Revolver Records in downtown Phoenix; the words appeared within hours of the dust cloud passing. There’s probably no news event that cannot be translated into eye-catching commerce through the use of three exclamation marks.

Haboob at Revolver Records 08-13-11 lo

That’s right. It was a haboob!!!

That’s it; I’m out. Have a great weekend!!!

Disrobed cover by Fred BlockThis past month, I wrote about a great new book—and a terrific lunch with judges that introduced me to it.

Below, I share my column from a recent Arizona Attorney Magazine. I encourage you to enjoy Judge Fred Block’s new book, and to dig into some Chinese food. Here’s the column:

Candor and courts go together like professional and conduct.

That’s true from the attorney’s side, where we understand that statements uttered to judges must be true and accurate.

But the return flow of information from judges may not always be quite so candid.

Before anyone yells “Contempt,” understand I’m not viewing candor’s opposite as dishonesty. Instead, it’s guardedness and caution—characteristics that describe many judges.

Judges have good reason to hesitate before speaking about courts and the justice system. Nonetheless, most people appreciate the occasional glimpses they offer into a system often shrouded in mystery.

And that’s why I’m glad I accepted an April lunch date with two judges.

The first was the wonderful Judge Bob Gottsfield, of the Superior Court for Maricopa County. Accompanying him was a federal district judge from New York, Fred Block. Judge Block was presiding at a trial at the federal courthouse in Phoenix.

We met at Sing High Chop Suey House—a first for me. What brought us together was a conversation about the legal system—and a book that Judge Block had penned.

Sing High Chop Suey HouseAs I tucked into my white-meat chicken chow mein (a house specialty), I listened with pleasure to the law practice stories Judge Block told. He avoided commentary about his book, politely preferring to have a conversation rather than a press junket.

So impressed was I by the chat and by the judge that I ordered the book from Amazon the next day. And I urge you to do the same.

Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge is that rarest of animals: a candid book written by a sitting judge. His story—from a solo law practice to an Article III Judge—makes for enjoyable reading. And the cases he analyzes range from front-page fodder to colorful New York. Scanning the index gives an education: “Bondi, Richard ‘The Lump,’” “Madoff, Bernie,” “Casso, Anthony ‘Gaspipe.’”

Judge Frederic Block

Judge Frederic Block

In between bites, the judge explained that too few people understand anything about the justice system, let alone what a district judge does. He hoped his book would go some distance in educating the public.

I haven’t finished the book, but what comes through is voice with a capital V. As I prepare for May, when I’ll be writing a lawyer profile, I will devour and learn from Disrobeda masterful rendition of a profession, a time, a man and his many chapters.

Plus, I can’t wait to get to “Gravano, Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull,’” and “Simpson, O.J.”

pro bono gavelHere is a challenge I offer to you today: Share a law-related item via social media or email.

Whoa, pretty easy, right? I bet you thought I was going to ask for some major heavy lifting. Instead, it is a simple click, share, send, done.

The item is connected to a topic I covered before: a State Bar of Arizona Law Day event that will offer free legal information to those who need it.

Really, truly, honestly free. The information will be provided by generous Arizona attorneys who know that the gap between legal services and people who need them is too, too wide. Those volunteers are offering their time pro bono to help shrink the gap just a bit.

All of the pertinent details are here. If you share nothing else, send this link to anyone you know who may be able to use it. As the State Bar says:

“The 2013 Law Day Legal Aid Clinics will serve as a free legal resource where members of communities from across the Valley and Tucson can attend information sessions on a variety of legal topics.”

“The information sessions will be conducted by volunteer lawyers and will last 90 minutes. Lawyers will provide guests with a presentation on a specific legal topic, as well as reserve time for a question and answer period. Guests can participate in one or more sessions at one of the five partner locations.”

Are you connected via social media or email to any groups that could benefit? Send it their way. Post it on your Facebook timeline. Share it on your neighborhood association listserv. Ask your firm administrator to post it prominently.

Your sharing news of Saturday’s event can help guarantee its success. Possible attendees have to be informed about the locations, the topics, the opportunity on offer. Success of the event, as measured by attendance and questions answered, will help ensure that it can be done—again and again.

For at least a part of the morning, I will be at the event staged at Phoenix’s Burton Barr Central Library. I want to hear some of the information offered, and I want to thank the lawyers who are offering it—and their Saturday.

I hope to see you and your friends there. And if you missed that link, here it is again.

Earth Day Phoenix 2013Here’s an easy and non-challenging way to get back into a new week: Think about celebrating Earth Day.

I’ve written about this event before, more than once, and luckily there are a few items that you can still add to your busy, Earth-loving schedule. (Sorry, Tucson; your city’s events largely occurred on Sunday the 21st.)

First, if you have the time, stop by the City of Phoenix’s festivities, beginning at 11 a.m. today. Organizers promise: “You’ll learn about recycling and sustainability, take home useful giveaways and share your enthusiasm with thousands of environmentally minded attendees.”

More information is here.

ASU School of Sustainability logoIf you’d prefer a more scholarly approach to the day, head over to ASU’s School of Sustainability, where a speaker asks (and answers, I suppose) the question, “Who is responsible for climate change?”

The 4 p.m. lecture will be delivered by Naomi Oreskes, a UC-San Diego professor.

Bidder 70 movie posterFinally, if the visual is more your cup of tea, then a movie on Monday evening may be just the ticket.

“Bidder 70” is a documentary about a young man (and former ASU student) who, “in an act of civil disobedience, derailed the outgoing Bush administration’s Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction. As bidder number 70, [Tim] DeChristopher bid $1.8 million and won 22,000 pristine acres surrounding Utah’s national parks. He had no intention to pay or drill.”

DeChristopher incurred the wrath of the federal government, which charged him with two felonies that could lead to a 10-year prison sentence.

The movie screening is free, but RSVP here.

All of the School of Sustainability’s activities and events are listed here.

Happy Earth Day.

Venue Projects Beef Eaters sign

Longtime lawyer eatery Beef Eaters Restaurant, about to be reborn via Venue Projects

Here is a Friday Change of Venue story that really goes above and beyond. Let me explain.

Change of Venue is my casual Friday, where I divest myself of the pressing need to remain focused on law and law practice. I mean, give a guy a break!

Today’s story is a little far afield. But as I examined it, I realized how lawyerly it was. (Just when I think I’m out, they puuuull me back in!)

The story relates to an announcement just yesterday. The shell of a former restaurant is being transformed into a space that will house three diverse businesses.

So right away I spot a problem. This story has “adaptive reuse” scrawled all over it, and there are few land-use topics that are more lawyer-heavy than that one.

Making it worse is the name of the former restaurant: Beef Eaters, in Phoenix. That venue was a prime eatery of lawyers when it operated from 1961 to 2006. So as much as I want to give you an attorney-free, protein-rich blog post today, I’m afraid I can’t do it.

Who remembers lawyer meetings at Beef Eaters? I do!

The wood-paneled restaurant near the intersection of Central and Camelback was often lousy with lawyers back in the day. At yesterday’s press conference, a speaker pointed out that Beef Eaters was a site where many of the business deals that shaped the Valley were hammered out (and a few lawyers got hammered).

I recall quite a few State Bar of Arizona Section meetings being held there. It was always a pleasure to walk into the banquette-filled dining room. (Ironically, because Sections always watched their pennies, we never ate beef while we were there; we were chicken-only diners.)

Anyway, in case you’re wondering, here is what is slated to move into the refurbished digs by November 1:

  • A restaurant being developed by Justin Beckett, the culinary mind behind the award-winning Beckett’s Table.
  • Another branch of Changing Hands Bookstore, the first outside Tempe of the nationally recognized independent bookseller.
  • A collaborative office, work and meeting space, called The Lively Hood (say it slow; you’ll get it.)

The project is being conceptualized by Venue Projects, the folks who adaptively reused numerous other spaces in town, including the restaurant now known as Windsor/Churn.

Lorenzo Perez of Venue Projects said, “We’re salvage-hounds,” as he waxed poetic about the walnut floors, antique chandeliers and masses of clear oak they discovered on the property.

Even the seats for the press conference speakers—described by City Councilman Tom Simplot as “Austin Powers chairs”—came from the property, and will likely find a revised home in the new space. (See the fantastic chairs below.)

Venue Projects L to R: Shannon Scutari, Kimber Lanning, Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot, Mar. 28, 2013.

L to R: Shannon Scutari, Kimber Lanning, Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot, Mar. 28, 2013.

Other speakers were builder John Kitchell, Local First AZ founder Kimber Lanning, and Shannon Scutari, of the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, which had pointed out that the Light Rail-adjacent parcel could be eligible for a significant amount of transit-oriented development funds (there I go with the legal stuff again). The architect on the project will be John Douglas, FAIA, who has designed, among other things, the Phoenix New Times building and the Heard Museum.

In honor of the Beef Eaters longtime owner Jay Newton, the project is called “The Newton.” And in synch with the project’s nostalgia, Lorenzo said he would like to hear people’s Beef Eaters stories. What events, happy or otherwise, did you attend there? Do you have photos of events and family gatherings? How about business (or Section) meetings?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

To prime your interest, take a stroll over to the website of Modern Phoenix, where they have captured the leather-bedecked interior, pre-construction.

Have a great weekend.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, center, speaks, alongside fellow panelists Grady Gammage, Jr., and Christina Sandefur. Phoenix, Ariz., March 20, 2013.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, center, speaks, alongside fellow panelists Grady Gammage, Jr., and Christina Sandefur. Phoenix, Ariz., March 20, 2013.

It doesn’t take much to frighten people. In fact, when it comes to those charged with designing livable and dynamic urban centers, all it takes is three numerals to make the blood run cold.

2. 0. 7.

As in Arizona’s Proposition 207, now enshrined at A.R.S. § 12-1134.

That law, requiring government to compensate private property owners for any diminution in value that flows from government action, makes quite a bit of conceptual sense. But according to a few panelists last night, the result of the law has been a municipal failure of nerve.

That was a message that arose at a panel discussion including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. (It was sponsored by Women Design Arizona and Blooming Rock Development, and I previewed it here.)

All of the panelists were in general agreement about what the law says. But the law’s effects—especially in a city that is, as the Mayor said, among the “king of vacant lots”—drove the discussion.

“We already have one of the weakest historic preservation ordinances in the country,” Mayor Stanton said. Given that, “Isn’t it time to look at everything” that affects neighborhoods, including Prop 207?

Attorney Grady Gammage, Jr., opened by pointing out that “Arizona is not a place that’s especially hard on property owners.” Despite that, and due to a backlash against the Supreme Court case Kelo v. New London, voters opted for Prop 207. As a result, Gammage said, “Arizona is the only state that may have to compensate when any incidence of government action may alter a property’s value.”

Flowing from that, Gammage and the Mayor agreed, we’ve witnessed a “chilling effect” in city halls. Fearing lawsuits, city attorneys and the councils they advise live by the admonition, “Don’t do anything unless you can get everyone to sign a waiver of their Prop 207 rights.” And Gammage—a development lawyer and historic-property advocate—added, people never like to sign that document, so “it’s screwed up our ability to get development done.”

Disagreeing on the direness of the situation was Christina Sandefur, a Goldwater Institute attorney. She pointed out that cities may still regulate as much as necessary for health and safety. And if there are instances in which even small decreases in property value must be compensated, what’s the moaning about? Pay the small amount.

During the Q&A, the topic of waivers arose again. And for me, that led to some musing on what it means to be an effective lawyer. First, the waivers.

Gammage explained that there are two kinds of Prop 207 waivers. The first is called a Section I (as in i) waiver. It is sought in advance of any kind of development change. Municipal attorneys most often want these signed by all affected neighbors. And in the example of attempts to designate a neighborhood historic, those attorneys usually advise city councils that the neighborhood opinions must be unanimous.

As Gammage said, “We don’t do nothin’ without it.”

But, he added, there is an alternative: the Section E waiver. With that waiver, government does the best planning it can do to create a livable city. They make the designation, even if it’s not entirely unanimous, and then they wait to see if they receive a demand letter. In the worst case, the city may decide it’s best to waive out of the designation the one or two property owners that raise a stink.

Just like you, I’m sure, I live in a neighborhood. And in my neighborhood, 100 percent of the folks don’t agree on anything. The idea that we must stall any new ideas or development while we await the magician’s trick of unanimity means that nothing occurs—and that a city may remain the king of vacant lots.

I asked the panel if there should be changes in city attorney offices. All of the panelists were very circumspect on that question. And, to be fair to counsel, Mayor Stanton pointed out that the views of city attorneys and all staff “reflect decades of views” voiced by Council members. Lawyers follow; they don’t lead. They dispose; they don’t propose.

But as we sat in the empty lot of the Downtown Public Market, surrounded by food trucks and farm-to-table produce on a beautiful spring evening, I had to wonder.

That empty lot, and dozens of identical ones that surrounded us, are zoned for a pie-in-the-sky 500 feet of development. As Gammage pointed out, those massive structures will never be built in any of our lifetimes. And yet property owners hang onto these lots for generations, in case Phoenix suddenly morphs into Dubai.

In a Prop 207 world, panelists agreed, city leaders are unlikely to move to downzone anything, let alone declare a neighborhood historic. And so there is more and more room for food trucks.

Panelists mentioned that city attorneys are largely an elected bunch, so that may have something to do with their over-caution. But every speaker last night is an attorney, so they understand that lawyering is not an off-the-shelf commodity. Lawyers are not widgets, all identical, ever replaceable by another.

Because that’s the case, it may be worth examining who leads the law departments at the nation’s most progressive cities. Are they visionary, or belt-and-suspenders types? Do they counsel stasis and safety, or dynamism and risk-taking? Do they view their job as foreclosing the possibility of any lawsuit, however remote? Or as collaboratively problem-solving, willing to offer a variety of options and best practices?

Gammage alluded to those kinds of possibilities, including “creating attractive alternatives to property owners. Provide them benefits they can opt into.”

Yes, council-folk and mayors lead cities. But surrounding yourself with creative staff may help you get a city you’re proud of.

Until then, panelists concluded, we lumber on with our overriding fear of litigation, and a chilling effect that hampers development.

Artlink Phoenix logoToday, I share a classic Change of Venue Friday. That means it’s on a topic that may be far from the law, but that lawyers and law students are bound to enjoy it.

On Saturday and Sunday, get out and enjoy some art. The Phoenix Art Detour is a free two-day event that celebrates and shares the work of hundreds of artists throughout downtown. Artlink, which hosts the event, says that more than 90 galleries and “pop-up art spaces” will be open for viewing.

“The event that launched Phoenix’s First Fridays Art Walk phenomenon is returning to the streets of downtown Phoenix for its 25th year on March 2 and 3, 2013. The silver anniversary of Art Detour will take a historical look at the downtown arts scene, celebrate the many people who contributed to its success over the years, and recognize the artists, galleries, organizations and businesses contributing to the arts today.”

WHAT:   Art Detour 25 (25th Annual – Silver Anniversary)

WHEN:   Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3, 11 am to 5 pm.

WHO:  Over 90 participating venues including artist studios, galleries, restaurants and temporary “pop-up” spaces.

WHERE:  Phoenix arts districts in and around Downtown Phoenix, including Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, Jackson Street, and Calle 16 (16th Street).

The First Stop! is at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, (1202 N. Third Street), where visitors will find maps at the information tables and access to the shuttles.

Even more detail is here.

If 90 arts venues are not enough, you might enjoy the Phoenix Art Detour Mural Tour.

If 90 arts venues are not enough, you might enjoy the Phoenix Art Detour Mural Tour too.

And click here for a map of all the venues.

And if the spirit hits you, why don’t you Like Artlink on Facebook.

Have a great, arts-filled weekend.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,165 other followers