Council Recap

Last night’s city council meeting was–shall we say–interesting. There were a couple of small but important victories for the residents, and some important discussion about other items that was largely due to me making numerous public comments on the consent agenda. Normally the consent agenda would have been approved all at once with a single vote and no discussion.

I received a nice recap of the meeting by email this morning from Sonnie Kirtley, chair of Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (aka COGS). She did such a good job that I’ve reprinted it below and I’ll refrain from further comment myself other than to say you can see some of my pre-meeting comments on an earlier post this week, and you can read more about the Airpark residential project in Edward Gately’s Scottsdale Republic article. You can also review the video of the council meeting paying attention to Chris Schaffner’s comments at 00:22:00; my comments at 00:25:00 and 00:30:00 (several items in a row from the Consent Agenda), and discussion (including my comment) on the third Airpark residential project at 00:56:00.

UPDATE: AZC articles are now up regarding the employee bonus issue that was withdrawn, and the purchase of land for the Preserve.

When you are finished reading Sonnie’s recap, please click over to the COGS website and take a moment to join up (which for the moment you have to do by snail mail). Your $10 membership will help cover the cost of the website and keep that valuable information flowing!

Thank you for reading the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) E-Newsletter:   There were two major wins last night at the City Council meeting for the City of Scottsdale residents and taxpayers. 

BACKGROUND:  Our city  is suppose to make governmental decisions following existing guidelines that are defined as policy statements in our current General Plan, and as specifically written in our approved ordinances and existing land use designations.  SO, when you attend a City Council meeting or commissioner hearing and it is obvious that someone is interpreting on a personal/political bias, it is a major cause for citizen concern.  A council member should never be heard to say, “It is not our prerogative to decide if it is a good project or not” or “well, times have changed and this [existing….] is antiquated” –(sic) -so we need to make a decision based on today’s needs and not our written guidelines.  All government officials should follow EXISTING policies, ordinances and land use designations until they are procedurally changed.

WHO CAN REQUEST A GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT?  …only 3 sources… (1) the City Council  (2) the Planning Commissioners by majority vote (3) the owner of a property.

GENERAL PLAN TEXT AMENDMENT 7-TA-2011  Last night a commercial property owner requested amending the floor area ratio development standard from 0.6 to 0.8 (denser) and to eliminate the volume development standard for the Commercial Office District.  What is the problem with that?  (1) Do we amend our General Plan for one project?….for the benefit of one property owner in the city? When a developer purchases a property they already know the allowable land use and development standards so who is encouraging them to buy and then submit for special value-enhancing approvals?  Does this city want to continue the recent practice of decision project-by-project?….or to make decisions based on existing land use designations and development standards.    Adjacent property owners deserve predictability that their existing standards remain protected.

WHAT ELSE HAPPENED LAST NIGHT?  The request on case  7-GP-2011 was denied.  The applicant wanted approval to change the land use on a 12.2 approx. acre parcel at 15333 North Hayden Road to Mixed Use Residential.  So what was the problem?  (1)This proposed residential project is partially within a restricted airport impact zone (2) Renter potential noise complaints could compromise usage of the airport much as we’ve read about for Deer Valley Airport and Falcon Field (3) The daunting effects of a potential FAA decision that residential construction approval would jeopardize the millions of federal investment requests in the future –$8 million was granted in 2011. (4) The most serious problem is that some of the 2011 city council members did not want to honor/respect a clearly stated 2010 city council policy that would deny consideration of such a residential project in/near the Scottsdale Airport.    ….Did you know that our airport is the ONLY profitable public airport in the southwest?  Did you know that our high-end visitors land here because of the runway upgrades, quality of the airport services, and proximity to our signature events?  Our airport is a powerful economic engine for our city and must be protected.

Special thanks to Councilwoman Borowsky, Councilmen McCullagh and Littlefield and Mayor Lane for denying approval of this (and hopefully any more) Scottsdale Airport area residential construction.

A CITIZEN PETITION WAS APPROVED TO BE ON A FUTURE CITY COUNCIL AGENDA:  Hundreds of residents signed a petition requesting the termination of the current Galleria parking garage lease agreement.  According to spokesperson, Bill Crawford, the developer of the Galleria owes the city $1.8 million dollars.  The original agreement was for PUBLIC parking [forever] in the garage.  The city has not received one dime and a modified December 2003 agreement was described as not in the city’s favor.  Currently valet parking firms are blockading the Galleria garage and charging bar patrons.  The impact is “I’m not paying to park in the Entertainment District when I can park free in the nearby residential neighborhoods” practice. North of Camelback Road from 73rd to Miller Road becomes littered with beer cans, bottles, unmentionables and parked “party-drinking” cars.   The citizen petition requests that the city council terminate the current, modified lease with a 30 day notice and to return the availability of free and public parking in the structure.  Mr. Crawford stated that the bars want to rent the parking garage spaces at $10/night/space… funds would go to the city but to ????

COGS strongly supports public parking as one element to re-gain control of the public areas within the Entertainment District and nearby residential areas.  Another element: Strong enforcement of legal conduct in the streets and sidewalks with immediate consequences (handcuffs, jail, large fines) is encouraged.  Additionally: Bar managers are encouraged to deny over-served patrons.    And, we wish for success with the implementation of a Residential Parking Permit program north of Camelback Road and hope that other neighborhoods will jump on board.

GOT YEAR-END  ITEMS TO SHRED?   Mark December 14th, Wednesday, from 7 am to 11 am at 9000 Indian Bend Road for free shredding sponsored by the City of Scottsdale Police Dept.  You can bring up to 5 boxes—remove staples and paperclips, please.  The location is in the north parking lot near the Pavilions.

COALITION OF GREATER SCOTTSDALE POLITICAL COMMITTEE:  The COGS Political Committee is legally separate from the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (author of this COGS newsletter).  Allan Henderson is the chairperson and David Schwartz is the treasurer.  They are launching their website this month to begin gearing for the 2012 Mayor and City Council campaign.  So far the paperwork has been taken out by 4 council candidates and 1 mayoral candidate.  The COGS PC will interview all candidates and issue any endorsements early in 2012.

For the COGS Board of Directors, Sonnie Kirtley, Chair     e mail:  cellular: 602 717 3886 anytime   COGS MISSION ….”to encourage policies that result in consistent land use.”

2012 dues are a great $10  investment  Treasury is solely used for the COGS website, printing position papers for hearing and council presentations, COGS E-Newsletter updates, and our COGS mailbox.  No Board members are paid for serving and our annual spring get-together is potluck.  Mail your dues to COGS, 3370 North Hayden Rd Suite 123, PMB 766, Scottsdale AZ 85251.  Thank you.

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