I’m posting this as a follow-up to my article last week on the “Beach Club” project in the Entertainment District.
Tuesday night I asked the City Council to reconsider their approval of the zoning change for this project. I did so because in their deliberations Mayor Lane and Councilwoman Klapp specifically cited revenue data from two “studies” (one by a liquor industry consultant, the other by the city treasurer) that had not yet been entered into the public record, had not been formally adopted by the city as policy guidance, had not been distributed to all council members, and had not been reviewed by the public.
After reading the studies, I know why. Aside from the liquor industry funding, both are inapplicable to the Entertainment District because they cover the entire Downtown. Thus, the cost of calls for service to the Entertainment District are diluted into the larger average (most establishments outside the ED have few calls for service). And, the revenue is much larger, especially because real restaurants bring in greater revenues and report more of it.
Clearly, these studies do NOT refute earlier published information from the city treasurer to the effect that Entertainment District revenues to the city are exceeded by the cost of additional public safety requirements.
I’m not holding my breath that Lane, Klapp or any of the other ‘yes’ votes will call for reconsideration (and so far no one has)…but that shouldn’t stop you from berating them unmercifully for violating public process.
You can see my comments at about 0:04:00 on the meeting video.
My follow up email to the City Council is below, and the studies referenced are linked below that.
Mayor Lane and members of the City Council,
In your deliberations last week about the Beach Club bar and nightclub, you and Councilwoman Klapp referenced a “study” that you said refuted earlier published information that tax revenue from the Entertainment District doesn’t pay for the additional public safety costs.
Assuming for the moment that economic vitality is a valid reason for ruining residents’ quality of life, I thought I’d read this “study.”
So, I asked the city clerk for a copy. She had never seen it.
I filed a public records request. I was told that the city didn’t have a copy.
I requested a copy from the company which supposedly performed the study. I got no response.
I finally received a copy of the study from another source yesterday.
This document you called a “study” is actually labeled as a “memorandum.” It appears to have been written at the request of the bar owners in the entertainment district. I say, “Appears,” because the memorandum doesn’t actually say who paid for it. Funding disclosure is an absolutely fundamental part of any legitimate study.
This memorandum includes only one source reference. That source is another study performed by the same company that wrote the memorandum, and paid for by the liquor industry.
There is almost no discussion of data collection methodology or analysis.
The methodology section does say the memorandum covers all of Downtown, which is an area at least ten times the size of the “entertainment district.”
This creates a classic apples-to-oranges comparison. Entertainment district complaints are focused on degradation of resident quality of life and measured by complaints and by calls for public safety services.
However, downtown businesses outside the entertainment district generate a fraction of the calls for public safety services compared to the nightclubs and bars inside the district. Those businesses included in the memorandum but not actually in the district include convenience stores, pharmacies, and a grocery store, all of which only sell alcohol, but do not serve it.
By including economic impact of the area outside the ED in your deliberations, you have been duped into inflating the economic impacts. At the same time you have diluted the numbers of calls for service over a much broader area.
I do not believe this deception was intentional. However, the result is the same. You cited this information in your deliberations on the Beach Club zoning case, yet this flawed study was never even entered into the public record, let alone formally adopted as official policy guidance. Further, it is clear that this information was not available even to all the members of the city council.
For those reasons, I am gravely concerned that using this information in your deliberations constitutes a violation of the AZ Open Meeting Law.
The residents want honest assessment of economic impact AND quality of life impact.
I urge you to reconsider your flawed decision to approve the rezoning to accommodate this nightclub.
Economic analysis “memorandum” of Downtown Scottsdale by the liquor industry consultant.
Economic analysis brief of Downtown Scottsdale by the City Treasurer.