This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Why land on the west side of Phoenix is cheaper

The land on the west side of Phoenix, or to be more accurate, on the west side of The Salt River Valley, is cheaper, and always has been. It includes such communities as Glendale, where I live, Peoria, Sun City, Surprise, Avondale, etc. The reason for that has been so effectively controlled in the past 140 years, and especially by the Maricopa Flood Control District, that it's nearly impossible to see. And they're still working on it.

If you strip away, in your imagination, all of the roads, freeways, buildings, etc. and look at the Salt River Valley, you will see its overall shape is a bowl that slants from northeast to southwest. And everything drains that way. The Salt River is easy to see, but the other waterways aren't so easy to see anymore as they have been controlled. Well, most of them.

The massive flood plain on the west side of The Salt River Valley extends from the Agua Fria River (which is west of the 101 freeway) east across to the edge of Shaw Butte (about 19th Avenue) and then south to where it ends up at Tres Rios Wetlands. If you run your finger along the Arizona Canal on a map in this area you will see a gigantic diversion channel, called Thunderbird Paseo Park. And a lot of flood control is underground. The next time you see a lot of torn up roads on the west side, it's probably where they are putting in more flood control.

This floodplain is not easy to see. Obviously, no one in their right mind wants to build where the land itself will wash away, so over the last 140 years Phoenix has made some great strides in hiding this flood plain. But you can still see it. On a Google Satellite view, look for open areas that run north and south. Look for farmland, golf courses, "lake communities". All of these reveal the flood plain. Look at the jog that the I-17 takes near Metrocenter as it avoids the ancient flood plain.

No, you won't see this stuff driving around in your car with your local real estate agent. But that's the reason for the lower prices. And when the flood control is finally finished along The Agua Fria River, the price of land there will go up. It's already happening.

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