A new icon is available to indicate accessibility in the City of Phoenix.

A new icon is available to indicate accessibility in the City of Phoenix.

This morning, a group gathers in the Phoenix City Hall to announce the launch and allowed use of a new symbol designating accessibility (you can see it above). It’s been a long time coming.

The new icon is described as “reflecting a disabled community that is active, motivated and determined.” Phoenix is the first Arizona city to adopt the icon.

Mayor Greg Stanton will speak at the event at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Also offering remarks will be Alisa Blandford, Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department Director; Edward Kim, President & General Manager of Cigna; and Jennifer Longdon, disabled rights advocate (and a neighbor of mine!).

As an Arizona Republic article has explained, Cigna was the company in Arizona that instigated the requested use. The new icon was designed by Sara Hendren, a professor of design at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts. She also helped found the Accessible Icon Project, “a group dedicated to providing people with supplies and services they need to make the switch.”

As the Accessible Icon Project so well describes it:

“The symbol does not ‘represent’ people with disabilities, but symbolizes the idea that all people with disabilities can be active and engaged in their lived environment. Our active accessibility symbol helps re-imagine how society and individuals view people with disabilities.”

The Project also provides a timeline of sorts of accessibility icons over time:

Accessibility icons through the years (from the Accessible Icon Project)

Accessibility icons through the years (from the Accessible Icon Project)

Below you can see the symbol that is being phased out (it is called the International Symbol of Access, which was created in 1969). Congratulations to the City of Phoenix for your leadership in this area.

This accessibility icon, designed in 1969, may become less prevalent in Phoenix.

This accessibility icon, designed in 1969, may become less prevalent in Phoenix.

University leaders and dignitaries break ground at the ASU Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix, Nov. 13, 2014. Those pictured include law school Dean Doug Sylvester (third from left), retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (center) and ASU President Michael Crow (right).

University leaders and dignitaries break ground at the ASU Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix, Nov. 13, 2014. Those pictured include law school Dean Doug Sylvester (third from left), retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (center) and ASU President Michael Crow (right).

On a crisp and clear autumn day, Arizona State University officials yesterday welcomed a throng to downtown Phoenix to witness the groundbreaking for its new Center for Law & Society. On a temporarily closed Taylor Street, nearly 200 attendees, many garbed in maroon and gold, happily ate pastries, sipped coffee and smiled as speakers praised the university and touted the new building’s innovative features.

The building ultimately will be 280,000 square feet and cost $129 million to construct and launch. (According to the university, “This includes the cost of the construction, furniture, IT/AV equipment, and all of the soft costs associated with the project.”)

Fork-branded construction headgear awaits dignitaries at the ASU groundbreaking.

Fork-branded construction headgear awaits dignitaries at the ASU groundbreaking.

Speakers at the ceremony included ASU President Michael Crow, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.), Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Dean Doug Sylvester, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

President Crow said that the notion of a new kind of law building was conceived as immigration fights raged across Arizona. The topic, he said, is “one of the most important issues we face,” and yet the dialogue was “a rather uninformed series of debates.”

What was missing, he said, was the university’s projecting “our role as teachers and thinkers. We needed a new gathering spot,” he said, and it should be in downtown Phoenix, center of the state’s activities.

President Michael Crow speaks at the groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

President Michael Crow speaks at the groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

The building, Crow and other speakers reiterated, would be far more than a law school. It would be “a community center for engagement in law.”

According to the dedicated website, the structure will contain the law school as well as “two think tanks, multiple centers with cross disciplinary focus including the Lincoln Center, and the new ASU Alumni Law Group that will house the first teaching law firm associated with a law school.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the site “ground zero for discussions of critically important issues.”

“This is about building the kind of community we want,” he continued. “It is about being embedded in the community.”

He added, “There is not an inch of space between the success of ASU as an enterprise and the future success of the City of Phoenix.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton signs a construction helmet as attorney Leo Beus looks on, Nov. 13, 2014.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton signs a construction helmet as attorney Leo Beus looks on, Nov. 13, 2014.

In her brief remarks, Justice O’Connor noted with pleasure that the building would be “open to the public and open for community events.”

President Crow acknowledged the struggles the legal profession faces today, but said the building signifies a new strategy.

“The older models have run their course. We’re forging the new way.”

As of that morning, Crow said, $34 million had been raised toward the building’s construction. ($10 million of that comes from attorney Leo Beus and his wife Annette. It is reportedly the largest single donation in the law school’s history. Leo spoke at the groundbreaking; more detail on his gift is here.)

Shovels await their users at the ASU groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

Shovels await their users at the ASU groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

Following the remarks, dignitaries and guests turned some dirt with silver-plated shovels. Meanwhile, attendees could gaze into the two-story-deep excavation where workers prepared footings and rebar for the building’s construction.

Besides the Center’s own website, you also can get more information from its project site, on which you can watch its ever-updating construction cam.

Click here to see more photos from the event at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page. Below is some more information provided by the university.

Screen-grab from the university's construction cam, Nov. 13, 2014; the groundbreaking occurred near the white tents at the top of the image.

Screen-grab from the university’s construction cam, Nov. 13, 2014; the groundbreaking occurred near the white tents at the top of the image.

“Construction on the Arizona Center for Law and Society began in July. The new building will be ready for classes by August 2016. The College of Law currently occupies its home of almost 50 years, Armstrong Hall, on the Tempe campus. ASU and the College of Law are committed to ensuring that the Armstrong name will be honored in the new law school.”

“The Arizona Center for Law and Society is being funded by the city of Phoenix—which is providing land and $12 million—construction bonds through Arizona State University and private donations. ASU Law has set a capital campaign goal of $50 million for contruction of the building. The College has raised more than $34 million so far.”

“‘This could not have been possible without the generosity of our alumni and connected legal communities,’ Dean Sylvester said. ‘We are particularly honored that long-time Phoenix attorney Leo Beus and his wife, Annette, recently made a $10 million contribution to the building’s capital campaign.’”

“The building is planned to be approximately 280,000 gross square feet with two levels of underground parking. It will have 18 rooms in which classes will be regularly scheduled, including one large lecture hall dedicated to university undergraduate education. Features of the new law school include a high-tech courtroom and an active learning classroom.”

“‘Not only will the new law school have state-of-the-art learning facilities, it also will provide our students with incredible opportunities,’ Sylvester said. ‘The downtown location is near the courts and the city’s legal district, which will prove invaluable to our students in the form of internships, externships and networking.’”

“The Ross–Blakley Law Library, currently located in a separate building near the law school in Tempe, will be moved to the new building. The library will occupy multiple floors and create the main circulatory structure of the center. The first floor of the building will have retail space consisting of a school bookstore and a café.”

“The Arizona Center for Law and Society also will include space for two think tanks, multiple centers with cross-disciplinary focus and the new ASU Alumni Law Group, the first teaching law firm associated with a law school.”

“The lead architects on the project are Ennead Architects and Jones Studios, with DPR Construction as the lead builder.”

 

Construction crane on the site of ASU's Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix.

Construction crane on the site of ASU’s Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix.

Dick Segal when a student at North Phoenix High School

Dick Segal when a student at North Phoenix High School

Recalling attorneys who have done great things for the community is always a pleasure, and that is what took me to an event back on September 10. In the old Phoenix courthouse, fellow leaders from the Phoenix Community Alliance gathered to remember the achievements of Richard Segal.

He had died suddenly on April 18. (I noted his passing here. And read his obituary here.)

Among other things, Segal was the longtime managing partner of Gust Rosenfeld and former State Bar President. In a historic conference room, though, in an event deftly led by PCA President Don Keuth, folks mainly recalled Dick as a founding officer of the PCA.

Marty Shultz recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

Marty Shultz recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

Marty Shultz reminded listeners of Segal’s calm in the face of chaos. He would routinely “pipe in with a soft voice with the most useful solutions to problems.”

Terry Goddard praised the organization and the man.

Terry Goddard recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

Terry Goddard recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

“PCA’s formation as a triumph of hope over reality,” he said. “Quietly, competently, he kept PCA on track, on mission.”

Hon. Glenn Davis (ret.)  recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

Hon. Glenn Davis (ret.) recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

Retired Judge Glenn Davis praised Segal’s support for the Maricopa County Justice Museum & Learning Center, which shared a floor with the conference room. He urged attendees to view the Legal Hall of Fame display next door, which included Segal, “a lawyer’s lawyer.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton recalls Dick Segal, Sept. 10, 2014.

The current Phoenix Mayor, Greg Stanton, estimated that Dick Segal had worked with 13 mayors, “always prodding them toward excellence.”

Dick Segal

Dick Segal

“Dick knew that positive change wasn’t a spectator sport,” Stanton continued. “He was present, always there.”

Mayor Stanton told those assembled that the accumulated value of the legal time given pro bono by Dick and his firm “must run into the 10s of millions of dollars.”

The Mayor also noted that Dick was instrumental in launching the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and in bringing an office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to Arizona. He also helped in creating the Human Services Campus near downtown.

“Our city needs more Dick Segals,” the Mayor concluded.

For more information on the gathering and the man, read the Downtown Devil article.

And if you have not visited the Museum, head over there soon. Here are a few images (click to enlarge).

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.