From a sustainable city perspective, historians may someday note November 2011 as a pivotal point in Phoenix's history. It marked the publication of the book Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City, Andrew Ross's scathing narrative disparaging Phoenix's public- and private-sector leadership for fast-growth/low-density policies that created an unsustainable urban environment.
That same month, former city council member Greg Stanton won election as Phoenix's mayor. Among the many challenges he accepted when taking office was repairing the city's environmental-sustainability image. "My personal conviction led me to only one course of action," Stanton explained, "and that was to change our direction."