Another storage building is proposed for Lake Havasu City. U-Haul’s plan for a three-story storage building on the city’s northside is the latest in what seems like an endless parade of such proposals.

This editorial is not intended to be a criticism of storage facilities. Rather, the U-Haul proposal brings another issue to the public’s attention: Just what do we want visitors to see first when they enter our community? U-Haul’s proposal would place a 45-foot building right at the city’s northern limits, not far from the welcome sign at London Bridge Road and State Route 95.

The truth is, for all of its land use planning, Lake Havasu City doesn’t have a great plan for its gateways, and if we don’t start talking about that now, it’s inevitable that something will creep in. Other developments will happily take the space along the highway and our community will lose any chance it had to cultivate its own first impressions with visitors.

The argument against city involvement, of course, is that government ought to have a light touch in regulating how private landowners develop their own property. However, it’s important to note that the city does have some stake in how the area around The Shops at Lake Havasu ultimately develops. Years ago, when that area was first envisioned as an auto mall and retail center, the city agreed to certain financial concessions to lure auto dealers here. Ultimately, however, the 2008 financial crisis derailed those plans despite the city’s initial investments in the area.

Visual appeal isn’t going to be at the top of the priority list for private developers, so the city needs a larger voice at the development table when it comes to our northern and southern gateways. Lake Havasu City needs a very specific development plan for its entryways, with an emphasis on encouraging the development of park-like settings that preserve some views of our iconic lake and surrounding mountains.

The first thing visitors should get when they arrive in Lake Havasu City is a warm welcoming view of the city we all love.

— Today’s News-Herald


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