Noisy Neighbors

One of the big issues making noise in Downtown Scottsdale right now is…noise.

On one side, the bar owners, patrons, employees, and those in our city government who support them. On the other side, long-time residents, many of whom moved here to retire and otherwise enjoy a quiet, comfortable life in the vintage neighborhoods adjacent to the city-designated downtown boundary.

Nowhere is this issue more contentious than around Camelback and 75th Street. South of Camelback there are a number of trendy bars, some old but there are many new ones, too. North and east of that intersection you’ll find a section of historic Villa Monterey, Daryl Estates 2, and Maya Condos; neighborhoods from the 50’s and 60’s whose residents have passion for their homes and look out for those around them.

We have a newly-minted noise ordinance to help mitigate the impact of entertainment noise. Unfortunately, the city has dragged its feet on enforcing the ordinance. The ordinance is also seriously flawed in that it doesn’t protect many of the areas where the residents are having these problems.

The ordinance also does not cover the most irritating and penetrating bass frequencies of the noise, and it doesn’t cover highly amplified music from bar patrons’ automobiles traveling to and from the area.

In addition to the noise, bar patrons park on neighborhood streets, leave litter (and worse) behind. The city has offered the possibility of neighborhood permit parking, but has put the burden on the residents to formally request it, circulate petitions, etc.

The noise ordinance (whether or not properly crafted and/or enforced) and permit parking in the neighborhoods are merely bandages on the festering wound that the city staff and Mayor Lane and the city council have created by their willy-nilly approval of every liquor license and bar conditional use permit application. Most are approved on the City Council’s ‘consent agenda’ with no real discussion of the possible pitfalls.

These actions are justified by vague arguments of  ‘economic benefit,’ but even the city treasurer says the tax receipts don’t equal the cost of enforcement…even at its current pitiful level.

The residents were here first. The very purpose of zoning and city planning are to protect residential areas from uses of greater intensity. One of the most important responsibilities of elected officials is to make sure this happens. Ours have dropped the ball, and continue to bobble it even though they are fully aware of these problems.

Not only does this situation erode quality of life in these neighborhoods, it erodes property values. And, in a community like ours with such a long reputation as a tourist destination, it erodes the character of our community our tourists come to enjoy. That costs us all money. It is the revenue from tourism that drives our quality of life and the low cost we pay for it.

It is time for Mayor Lane and his Council cronies to realize they were elected by the residents, to represent the residents to our city government. If they won’t force City Manager David Richert and Police Chief Alan Rodbell to do the jobs they were hired to do, we need to vote them out of office.

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