Monday, February 27, 2023

Oro Valley is an Adult Community

Oro Valley is an adult community
Oro Valley is an adult community. This despite efforts many of the current and prior town councils to bring younger families to Oro Valley. In 2013, then Mayor Hiremath announced in a “State of the Town” address that Oro Valley is “no longer just a retirement community”. We pointed out at that time that he was wrong. We pointed out that Oro Valley was getting older and not younger.

Hiremath and his councils focussed on building rooftops. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the rooftops that grew were suitable for adults; not for young children. Most of the homes built in Oro Valley don’t have suitable backyards in which kids can play and be safe. As one council member told us: “Young families choose Marana and Sahuarita because they get more suitable housing for their kids.” And the data supports that statement.

The Oro Valley resident is older than other local communities
Oro Valley got even older in the last 10 years. The median age of an Oro Valley resident is now 54 years. That is up from 49 years in 2010 and 45 years in 2000. Indeed, today’s Oro Valley resident is 13 years older than a Marana resident and 17 years older than a Sahuarita resident. Those are huge age differences.

81% of Oro Valley households have no children
Oro Valley had almost 300 fewer households with children 18 or under in 2020 than it did in 2010. The town's 3,800 households are 19% of the town’s total households. That’s a five percentage point decrease from 2010. In Marana, 28% of households have children under 18. The comparable number for Sahuarita is 35%!

Economic development reflects the demographics of Oro Valley
People who want to invest in Oro Valley by opening businesses understand the town’s demographics. The graphic we posted a week ago Thursday on business economic development [see panel below-left] shows that seven of the sixteen businesses that are investing in our town are healthcare businesses; three are restaurants. Most of these companies focus on serving an adult population.

Click on picture to enlarge
On the home building side, most of what we see in the future speaks to adding even more adults to our community. For example, there are three residential projects that will bring a lot of people to our town, but they’ll likely be older people.
  • There’s a large retirement village being built across the wash from Home Depot
  • There is a plan to build apartments in the Oro Valley Marketplace. When you look at that project, you’ll notice that the apartments will be part of a mini city. There aren’t many people who want to bring up young kids playing on the streets, with cars and the associated pollution. Or parents who want to tell their kids to make their way, unattended, to the two acre centralized park.
  • There are two proposed projects by Avilla homes, which we call the tiny homes projects. If approved, these projects would bring about 200 new 800 square foot homes. None of these will be suitable for raising a family.
All this has Implications for future town planing
Oro Valley leaders have stated that they want to bring in younger families and quality jobs. The policies and actions of this council and previous councils have failed to do so. The failure has nothing to do with them. It has nothing to do with town staff. It has to do with the housing stock and the town’s predilection for "cluster zoning".

There are some businesses that provide quality employment here. The newest, Leonardo Electronics, has yet to start construction. But there are not a lot of them. And only a few located in Oro Valley in the past ten years.

The bottom line is that you can’t always be what you want.. You have to build on your strengths
The town’s housing stock, lack of quality jobs, and the towns preference for cluster zoning pretty much predicts the future of Oro Valley. Most of the people who will come to Oro Valley will be adults, generally older ones. The median age of Oro Valley residents in 10 years will probably be 60. The need for healthcare and personal services will grow. Oro Valley will struggle to bring in quality jobs.

It’s not a bad future. Indeed, promoting the fact that Oro Valley is an adult community… a great place for working adults and retirees to settle seems like a huge win for our town. Few other towns can match it. Indeed, this may the best way to solidify a prosperous future for Oro Valley.
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