Third-World Transportation

On the heals of my “Drunk In Scottsdale” post from a few days ago, a ScottsdaleTrails reader posted a comment today on an older bar district-related article on pedicabs:

 “What is the benefit to Scottsdale of having this third-world form of transportation?” – a short pedicab ride to a local bar no air pollution? or a 1990 Chevy Capri stuck in traffic spewing out TOXIC fumes? I feel your idea of third world may be lopsided. No matter what is done with parking there will always be a problem so long as there are cars. The easier you make it to park, the more cars you will get.

I appreciate the comment and it affords an opportunity to explore some of the deeper issues.

  1. The unspoken assumption is that Scottsdale MUST have a bar district, which in turn MUST have a transportation solution in order to enhance the party with even more participants.
  2. There is a a parking problem because Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale City Council (including incumbents Dennis Robbins and Linda Milhaven) keep approving bar-after-bar without regard to rational planning and zoning.
  3. Additionally, the mayor and council have no compunction whatsoever about waiving development standards for their bar buddies, especially requirements for businesses to provide ample parking for their patrons. Do a Google search for “in lieu parking” and “Scottsdale.” Or “phantom parking,” in the parlance of former councilman Ron McCullagh.

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  1. Bill Crawford has recently brought it to the citizens’ attention the horrific story about the young man who was severely injured in the pedicab incident more than a year ago.
    It is evident that pedicabs are not a good form of transportation despite the council voting for more regulations on that form of transportation. The city is being sued because of that terrible accident. It appears that tragedy has to happen to get the city government to pay attention. The downtown of Scottsdale is becoming a disgrace. Part of Fifth Avenue with soon be torn up to add more drainage and water lines. How many of those stores will go out of business over the summer? How many more bars will come into 5th Ave and Craftmans Court. Linda Milhaven made a motion to allow the Roc Bar to be able to leave their windows open for live music and it was approved by the majority of the council. It’s ruining that area with businesses and galleries suffering from the consequences of that vote. The new bar/restaurant with apartment built above was just approved at the corner of Shoeman and Scottsdale Road. Rumor has it that that developer, builds restaurants which then become strip clubs. Hopefully, our council will not allow a strip club for this new development. It’s bad enough that the W hotel has Burlesque shows as events on Thursday evenings. What will happen with Etzel – promotion company known for promoting Rock Concerts at West World? Why did the city award Fred Unger $200,000 a year to organize events for West World and he in turn hired Etzel? Hopefully, if the Mayor and the council read this blog, they will start doing a better job of awarding contracts and keeping the downtown safe and free from detrimental projects.

  2. I must say that is very ruthless comment “It is evident that pedicabs are not a good form of transportation despite the council voting for more regulations on that form of transportation.” – See more at:
    What evidence has been made that this is a bad form of transportation? A drunk driver hitting a pedicab? Really? So by this assumption it will be your fault because you get hit by a drunk. This is not a bad for of transportation, it serves its purpose.
    So if Etzel does promote a rock show, which it will. What is so bad about that? The project (West World) needs to pay the city back. If you have been to the horse shows then you will know it won’t happen with horse shows the intended use for the property.
    “.The unspoken assumption is that Scottsdale MUST have a bar district, which in turn MUST have a transportation solution in order to enhance the party with even more participants.” – See more at:
    I would like to see more tourism money in this city. Personally the way it has been in the past, yes it is a stain for the reputation of the city. Can you think of another way for the city to buy its way out of the mess? I would say that the more money brought in with more construction is doing its work. already the Bars are not as much of an eye sore they were years ago. Sorry if you don’t like it but not all tourism is going to be brought in with “Art Galleries” that is like saying ASU should give up it football program to start a dance team.

    1. “What evidence has been made that this [pedicabs] is a bad form of transportation?”

      Apparently the City Council agrees (finally), because they just passed an ordinance including additional safety requirements.

      “So what if Etzel does promote a rock show…”

      The ‘so what’ is the residents of McDowell Mountain Ranch who paid a premium for homes in a low-density rural environment to escape exactly this kind of annoyance.

      The city wouldn’t have to “buy it’s way out of the mess” if they didn’t create the mess to begin with. And the bars won’t solve the problem either. Even the former city treasurer provided the council with clear evidence that incremental public safety costs exceed the tax revenue the bars bring in!

      I would remind you that the ‘art galleries’ you deride were here long before the ‘bar district.’ Not before ‘bars,’ which coexisted peacefully. The difference now is excessive live music (which drives away art gallery patrons) and the extreme concentration of bars…the highest concentration anywhere in the state. That violates some of the most fundamental principles of planning and zoning!

      1. It is not evident that pedicabs are a bad form of transportation. It is evident that drunk drivers are a bad form of transportation. Besides a lot of your concerns are about noise/parking. Pedal cabs are much quieter less toxic than golf carts. Another solution you could look at that would be easier to do then stopping the bars from growing in number would be to instill stricter noise ordinances. I saw a dance party one time that the loudest peep in the place was the people talking. Make the bars invest into wireless headphones for all who want to dance or listen to the music. then the ones who want loud music can simply turn it up. The technology is their. No neighbor needs to be harmed. The police would love the break from the constant noise it may make there job easier. Stricter DB laws sounds like what your after. I don’t believe the concern is really over parking or pedal cabs I believe that is what everyone is really after. There are few parking problems during the day it seems to be all at night. The bars should be able to make the project worth it. Besides they could rent out the head phones and make some money on it. If the bar owners don’t like that then they can find a new place of business.

        1. Easier solution to the bar/noise problem? I suspect that (but don’t want to falsely disparage) you haven’t been involved long enough to know that Scottsdale has long had a ‘disorderly conduct’ ordinance which should cover this situation. Our city officials determined that it wasn’t objective enough…or at least that’s what they said. I believe they wanted to make a show of addressing this issue without really doing anything. So, we would up with a ‘noise ordinance’ that is all but unenforceable. In fact, I’m not sure anyone has ever been prosecuted under that ordinance.

          To try to craft an implement yet another layer–this one involving the purchase and implementation of patron-worn technology–would have absolutely zero chance of success. But, if you think it will work, write it up and suggest it to Mayor Lane and the City Council!

          Parking problems at night are still parking problems, and they are created by the same city officials who gave us the noise ordinance, via the ‘in lieu parking’ program that allows businesses (mostly bars) to bypass zoning requirements by purchasing phantom (i.e. non-existent) parking spaces.

  3. Look, I am not here to argue. I am merely stating a different point of view. The city has not determined that pedicabs are a bad form of transportation. They merely showed that there were some bad apples. The regulation has shown that with a severe decrease in pedicabs. Mostly due to the fact a lot of those bad apples can’t even get a drivers licence or insurance (Don’t worry though they are not going away, with the cost of fossil fuels they will only increase in number.). Great, I get that but to attack a form of transportation and call it third world is ludicrous. Your right I don’t necessarily by into the thought needing or wanting the bars (I hate that area.). The only thing I see is that at the tourism is impacted by the bars more than the art galleries. furthermore I don’t see that the loud music at night impacts the more day time oriented art galleries (just the neighbors that choose to live there and have for quite some time.).
    The mess I refer to at the West World is mostly due to the fact that they went in on that deal. Shouldn’t have happened for a bunch of horses. Don’t get me wrong I like horses, I just understand they are not going to bring in the kind of revenue to keep that place afloat. The biggest money event they have is a Car show that should prove something their. So it is happening, there is way too much money on the line to just stop that place from happening at this point. I am glad to hear you speak out as I hope you make the impact you are looking to make.

    1. If you think my reply was argumentative, I think you missed my point. The problem isn’t (necessarily) pedicabs. Neither are they a solution. They are only a symptom.

      With regard to “impact on tourism,” the real question is whether the net FINANCIAL impact is borne out by a given activity. In this case, the bar district is a net loser for the city, in terms of incremental tax revenue vs. incremental public safety burden. That’s simply an economic fact that has nothing to do with my “perspective” or yours. City planning should be a fact-based activity, not driven by campaign contributions.

      Bar patronage is not “tourism.” The majority of bar patrons live in Scottsdale or neighboring communities. They don’t book hotel rooms (at least not for more than one night), or otherwise bring disposable income from elsewhere into the city and leave it here.

      With regard to WestWorld and Barrett-Jackson, another little fact of which you should be aware is that almost none of the transactions are charged sales tax. That’s thanks to a legislative loophole carved out primarily for Craig Jackson. So, Scottsdale taxpayers shoulder the burden once again for an activity that returns less than it should, while it’s producers pocket a handsome profit.

      I would tentatively agree with what I believe is your sentiment that the horse shows don’t appear to carry their share of the burden. However, I haven’t studied that situation to any depth.

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