Revolving Door of City Planning in Scottsdale

Last week’s AZ Central article, Scottsdale Waterfront enters final phases of construction, barely touches upon the controversy leading up to the groundbreaking for this “Downtown Infill Incentive District” housing project.

That turmoil included legal protests, threats of lawsuits from well-heeled residents of the existing Waterfront towers, zoning attorneys going head-to-head at the Kiva, and Councilwoman Linda Milhaven’s infamous revisionist statement when challenged about the council reneging on city promises to residents about the height of the project: “That was then, this is now.”

What better reason to break a promise?

However, my purpose is not to rehash the old battles now that shovels are turning dirt. Rather, I want to point out that this article illustrates two ongoing problems. First is lack of fidelity to detail in Scottsdale Republic coverage of these matters. I blame the editors and the editorial process more than the reporters.

My second issue with this article illustrates the first. Michael D’Andrea is quoted in the article as the “project manager” of Alliance Residential’s “Broadstone Waterfront” project that is the subject of the piece. Nowhere in the article does it say that D’Andrea is also the chairman of Scottsdale city governments most controversial rubber stamp: the City Council-appointed Planning Commission. D’Andrea himself was nominated to that post by Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.

Of course, D’Andrea recused himself from any public deliberation of the merit’s of the Broadstone Waterfront project, as do other members of the commission when they are financially-involved with projects before the body. So, there’s no technical illegality or ethical violation in D’Andrea sitting on both sides of the development fence.

However, I question whether a city appointee can ever truly represent the citizens in situations where the appointee is an active, salaried members of their profession sitting in judgment of projects presented by their peers.

And it doesn’t help that the self-proclaimed “government watchdog” Arizona Republic won’t print the basic facts of these situations.

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