A Slightly Different Lie

For the third article in a row since the election, Beth Duckett and her editors (including Chris Coppola) at the Arizona Republic have dishonestly portrayed the major differential in this race: Whether to follow the best practices of city planning and the voter-ratified organic law of Scottsdale’s 2001 General Plan.

I raised this same objection on a previous AZR article that portrayed these arguments as ‘growth vs no-growth.’ In today’s AZR article, Duckett says,

The four top candidates are evenly split between two political camps that have faced off in Scottsdale. Milhaven and Robbins, both incumbents, have generally favored new developments in the city, including new apartment buildings that are being built.

Littlefield and Smith have spoken against the trend. The two sides also have been divided over the direction of the city’s downtown area, particularly the nightclub district, with Littlfield [sic, obviously proofing help is needed at the AZR, too] and Smith advocating more controls to stem problems associated with the nightlife.

However, every new apartment building approved in Scottsdale recently has enjoyed massive zoning concessions, which is to say deviations from development standards like setbacks from the street, step-backs of upper floors, and floor-area-ratios (square footage of space in the buildings relative to lot size). All of these erode the visual character of Scottsdale, and the floor-area-ratios also jamb a lot more people into a given part of down. That increases traffic congestion and pressure on public services and infrastructure.

With regard to the “nightclub district” (which is a euphemism for “bar district”), “controls” are a band-aid. The real problem is that the liquor/development industry so aptly represented by Milhaven and Robbins has been allowed to build up the highest concentration of liquor licenses in the State of Arizona in about a quarter-mile square. This was accomplished via “conditional use permits,” with empty promises from Milhaven, Robbins, Suzanne Klapp, Virginia Korte, and mayor Jim Lane to revoke those permits of problematic bars. The council majority has never even had a discussion about a specific revocation.

This bar district concentration should never have been allowed in the first place, and it’s one of the fundamental principles of city planning our genius council majority continue to ignore.

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  1. John,

    I will freely admit I have as a citizen of Scottsdale for 48 years no issues with either the bar district or the apartments being built.

    I do however see where you are coming from. I am nowhere close to being as versed as you are in the technical aspect of all this. I dont really know whats in the 2001 General Plan you speak of. Since I believe you to be an honorable person, I will take your word for it.

    A question. Is that a law of the land plan? Is it a suggestion? I would suggest that most Scottsdale citizens dont really know or understand what it is or is in it.

    My next question is does something like that written in 2001 still viable in 2015? If you tell me that its a die in the wool plan then I would support your position. If it is, then it should be changed before any deviations take place. If it is a “suggestion”, then your comments and feelings are up for debate.

    Wether we like it or not, the world including Scottsdale has changed a lot in the last 13 years. What was appropriate then may not be now. The charm and character of Scottsdale is not what it once was, and will never be again. Having said that, Scottsdale is still a desirable place to live, just maybe not in the same way you think it should be. I applaud your efforts. Whatever part of the old Scottsdale you can help hang on to is great. The city needs more people as active and that care as much as you do.

  2. While some would like the Gen. Plan to be a “suggestion” it is a requirement of state law. Having worked on the 2001 GP that we are currently functioning under, and having spent the last four years working on the current update process, I can tell you that it is the foundation for responsible growth and sound economic revitalization.

    Scottsdale has gotten very used to master planned communities calling the shots for growth and development. The same tactics cannot be used when trying to accomplish sound development and growth as infill in and among mature residential and business neighborhoods. Only lazy leadership thinks to allow developer drive infill.

    I worked on Cindy Hill’s campaign for City Council. She is a strong proponent for managed, innovative, responsible, sustainable growth and development. What she repeatedly brought up in discussions and articles she wrote was the lack of planning for an entertainment/bar district. We don’t even have a definition in our planning documents for either of those terms. Why? Because it means the Council and Planning Commission would have more work to do, would have to interact with residents more and developers and bar owners could not drive growth.

    Our bar/entertainment district is so lacking in sustainable options, variety, a comprehensive vision and sophistication that the one entertainment district planning organization mostly highly thought of in the country, RHI Social Cities, turned the offer down when invited to hold a national conference here.

    As Cindy Hill has said from the beginning, “A healthy city can accomplish all types of housing to fit the needs of residents and the working community that creates economic vitality. And a healthy community plans for redevelopment and growth through infill in order to budget for all facets of infrastructure, improvements and replacements.

    Responsible, managed growth is good governance and just common sense.

  3. Tom Kennedy – The general plan is something that every city has to ratify every 10 years. It is a document that says this is the way we want our city to grow and look like (my simplified description of it). So if you had a city of Tom, it could look like this sports mecca, and will grow into a greater sports mecca. So your city could be that grand sports mecca. With a few stadiums, hotels, restaurants, etc. Now your citizens want to keep that look of Tom to ensure that it stays sports centric and not become another bland city. (I went with the sports mecca from your postings on sports over time)

    As time passes some well-funded people come in and start saying that the city of Tom needs some high rises. You know to help with the ‘new image’ of Tom. That way you can get the big rollers in town. Then you need a new casino, and this new thing and another. Soon the city of Tom is no longer about sports but something else. Now your general plan said the city of Tom was about sports. It is all laid out in detail how to build and continue that theme and/or style. How to reinforce and ensure the sports lifestyle. So why is this happening? Well those new people are not reading your general plan or just not caring about it. They are simply ignoring your plan and reinventing the city around you.

    Now, as far as I know, you don’t have a city named after you Mr. Kennedy, but Scottsdale is having the same thing happening to it. It has a general plan, but people are ignoring it. This plan is supposed to be updated every 10 years, but the last time it was put up for a vote, it was rejected, so by law the last plan is still in effect. That is why we are using our 2001 plan. But our city council still DOESN’T USE IT! Heck it is 2014, you think by now they would have read it.

    The newspaper is missing the huge point, certain candidates and sitting council members (and even the mayor) are simply are not doing their job, which is to follow the general plan. The voters say this is our plan for our city, follow it! IF the voters want a change, they vote for changes. The problem has been the sitting council has seen fit to not do that, and we get this mess. This ‘entertainment/crime’ district is NOT in the general plan, it simply does not exist! This high density residential is NOT in the general plan, so why is it being allowed to happen? They are not following the general plan.

    I don’t know how else to explain it, maybe next time Tom if you are watching a baseball game and the pitcher throws out a football and they have to play on a hockey rink, then you can say – Well that is like the Scottsdale city council, they didn’t follow the general plan! – That is what happens when they don’t follow the general plan.

  4. Mr. Kennedy – At first I thought you were kidding about the GWI, but here is a nice report for you to read that they did create about this issue. (Link at the end)

    Now what happened in this election was not really covered in the GWI report, it is the actions of the ‘Strong’ and ‘United’ groups. They are like the groups in the GWI report, but they want the old nugget of joy – light rail. Yep, I will bang that old drum until somebody realizes that those two blasted groups are NOT giving up on that dream.

    Look why in the world is Judy Eisenhower involved with them? Does she just have so much free time and love those certain candidates that much? Well she only got ONE into power, and that was Millhaven. So that was mucho dinero for one candidate.

    So until more people ask the simple question – Are these people following the General Plan – we get more monkey shines with development. GWI or not, somebody has to hold these people’s feet to the fire, because they are impacting our lives and the lives of those we love and care for. Here is the link as promised.


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