The Scottsdale Republic printed this My Turn column by community advocate/watchdog Mike Kelly. Since they don’t post My Turn columns on AZCentral, I’m reproducing it here for your information.
Mike’s previous My Turn on the work of the Bond Commission also referenced the General Plan and the Morrison Institute reports.
Scottsdale is long overdue for its vision checkup
Scottsdale’s proposed General Plan failed to win voter ratification because, among other things, our elected leaders and city managers of the past several years proved unable to orchestrate a clarifying community visioning effort, one building upon Scottsdale’s community-wide Shared Vision effort of 1991-1992.
Sadly, community advocates also failed at this.
In 1994-1996, Scottsdale’s CityShape 2020 planning effort took our Shared Vision and built Scottsdale’s General Plan around it.
CityShape 2020 married Scottsdale’s Shared Vision with our city charter and Arizona statute-required General Plan. Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 was ratified by voters on March 12, 2002.
Soon thereafter, in March of 2003, Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute published its ”Which Way Scottsdale?” report. This business-commissioned [Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce] report challenged Scottsdale’s neophyte General Plan 2001.
It argued that Scottsdale needed to “transform the city to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” The report championed a vibrant downtown and the importance of pursuing knowledge workers and increased urban density.
Few here understood the significance of the threat that “Which Way Scottsdale?” posed to Scottsdale’s voter ratified General Plan 2001 and, by implication, to our Shared Vision and our CityShape 2020 efforts, upon which our General Plan was based.
Some misconstrued the “Which Way Scottsdale?” report as a policy adopted by the city. They saw this private report as a public-policy document, one that replaced Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001. However, it did not.
A community-wide discussion of the growth and redevelopment strategy and ideas raised by the Morrison report compared with those in Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 should have ensued.
If it had, I believe that we could have defended our General Plan 2001, clearly highlighting its preeminence as our foundational growth and redevelopment planning document.
Moreover, such a discussion could have allowed us to publicly reaffirm Scottsdale’s community vision, developed via our Shared Vision and our CityShape 2020 efforts.
But that discussion never occurred. Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 slipped from public attention for some time.
The recent failure of Proposition 430, the General Plan proposal, demonstrated that Scottsdale is still enmeshed in the unresolved public-policy confusion and arguments generated by ”Which Way Scottsdale?”
While the proposed 2011 General Plan retained much of our existing plan, many believed that it proffered changes at odds with the spirit and content of that voter-ratified 2001 plan. The criteria for making amendments to the General Plan were [among those changes].
The Prop. 430 results showed that Scottsdale’s vision, values and goals–adopted by the City Council and then ratified by Scottsdale voters via public election in March 2002 and contained in Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001–currently remain the long-term expectations for the growth and development of this city as supported by majority vote.
Any second attempt at drafting a new general plan should start with a community-wide effort designed to clarify our long-term community vision and to resolve those related contentious public-policy issues dividing Scottsdale.
Michael S. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, resides in Scottsdale.