Newly elected Tempe City Council members emphasize student issues

From affordable housing to public transportation, Tempe City Council concentrates on ASU students

With over 50,000 students attending ASU's Tempe campus, local government leaders are making student and University issues a focus of their platforms.

In last month's Tempe City Council elections, Jennifer Adams and incumbents Lauren Kuby and Robin Arredondo-Savage were elected. They will be sworn in on July 9.

One of the focuses of Adams's campaign was increasing public transportation availability for the Tempe population.

"I want to get people out of their cars and on transportation and make it affordable and convenient," Adams said.

Adams is also committed to expanding on-campus student housing options.

 “What I found when I was canvassing is that a lot of people were complaining that students had moved into their neighborhoods and having parties," she said.

Read more: ASU students staff Tempe City Council campaigns to advocate for student-centric policies

One solution, Adams said, would be to build more housing on-campus, which she thinks would better both for the students and the working families of Tempe.

Kuby, who has also made housing a focus, said one of her goals is to increase access to "affordable housing" in Tempe.

She said one example of that is The Humble Homes Project, an affordable housing community project consisting of a dozen small houses under development close to campus.

“Projects like that can really serve as models or pilot projects for even more affordable housing projects in the city,” Kuby, who is also a program manager at ASU's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, said.

But for students like Cormac Doebbeling, a political science sophomore who lives in Tempe, political promises aren't enough.

"I just hope that there will be actual action toward affordable housing," Doebbeling said. 

As far as transportation goes, Kuby said she plans to focus on commuter and pedestrian safety.

The city of Tempe recently adopted Vision Zero, a commitment for no pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorist deaths. Kuby said that a commitment like that needs investment, and she wants to spend more transportation dollars on bike infrastructure.

Doebbeling, the secretary of the ASU Young Democrats, said he's pleased with Kuby's efforts toward increasing public safety.

Part of Kuby's plans for increasing public safety include increasing access to shade in Tempe, which she says needs to be "doubled in an innovative way."

“We need to plant smarter, plant more water-efficient trees, and we need to hire an urban forester or a tree warden who will be responsible for taking care of those trees,” Kuby said.

She also has plans in store for tackling the issue of homelessness in Tempe.

Kuby said that while Tempe already funds programs and organizations that help the homeless, such as Tempe community action agency and the Salvation army, she wants to build a permanent supportive housing development.

“This is going to be housing for people that will never be able to either afford (it) or they’re not capable of working or they don’t have any income coming in,” Kuby said.

Arredondo-Savage said her goal is to make Tempe a place to "live, work, learn and play."

The main student-centric policy Arredondo-Savage brings to the table is her goal to enable ASU students stay in Tempe after they graduate by allocating resources for affordable housing.

Arredondo-Savage said she wants to expand the city’s down payment assistance program and add a non-profit to the city’s housing authority to create more “flexibility” around workforce housing.

“I want to see ASU students want to stay in Tempe," Arredondo-Savage said. "I think it’s really important that we make sure they have the opportunity to do that.”

Median rent in the city of Tempe has climbed over the past several years, going from $1,100 a month in January 2011 to $1,400 a month in January 2018, according to data from Zillow.

In order to understand what the ASU community wants from the city of Tempe, Arredondo-Savage said she wants to launch engagement efforts between the city and the school. Ideally, she said, these efforts would take place in the fall so that students have time to understand the effects Tempe city government has on their lives.

“Whether you live here or you’re just here temporarily, you are a part of Tempe and we want to make sure that you have a great quality of life," she said.


Reach the reporter at ajmistry@asu.edu or follow @jay_mistry52 on Twitter.

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