Update on the General Plan Update

According to Scottsdale City Clerk Carolyn Jagger, a total of 15 arguments were filed for Proposition 430 (“Scottsdale General Plan 2011”), for the March Special Election. Four arguments were in support and eleven were opposed to Prop 430. I’ll let you read them for yourself without further comment, except to say that you should look carefully at the authors of the supporting arguments and the fact that they all stand to potentially make money from the proposed changes.

Please take a moment to forward a link to this article to all your contacts, and ask them to forward to theirs. This is likely the only online resource where these arguments will be published verbatim. You know the Republic won’t cover this until they do a puff piece right before the election.


The Board of Directors of the Scottsdale Area Council urges Scottsdale citizens to vote in favor of the proposed General Plan, adopted by the City Council.

The General Plan, required by law under the Growing Smarter state legislation, sets the course for the city for the next ten years. That course, if approved by the voters, creates general guidelines for elected officials regarding land use and neighborhood protection.

Within the General Plan, 70% of Scottsdale’s land is set aside as open space, the largest part of that open space being the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and our expansive parks system throughout our great city. Roughly 3% of land in Scottsdale is designated as commercial with the remainder primarily residential uses.

The General Plan recognizes that there remains very little developable land in Scottsdale and that the city has entered a period of a different kind of growth, primarily through infill and redevelopment. The plan reduces the size of land parcels that would require a General Plan amendment from fifteen acres to ten acres, thereby offering greater protection for neighborhoods in the event of an assemblage of property exceeds ten acres.

Scottsdale has grown over the years from one square mile in the 1950’s to its current 185 square miles. The city is constantly recognized as one of the nation’s most livable places and one of the finest in the nation for families. The proposed General Plan enhances that livability while also recognizing the need for revitalization of key areas of our city.

Scottsdale has achieved great success in part because of maintaining a positive balance and a clearly defined set of values. Please show your support for the General Plan by voting Yes on Proposition 430 so that we may continue to celebrate our past and plan for a bright future.

Kurt Zitzer, Chair, Board of Directors, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce
Rick Kidder, CEO & Secretary of the Board,  Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce


Scottsdale Healthcare Supports Proposition 430!

Scottsdale is a wonderful place to call home and its quality of life is second to none. As the city’s largest employer and healthcare provider, Scottsdale Healthcare’s roots in our community run deep. Our nonprofit community-based mission, to provide the highest quality medical care for all individuals, embraces the vision on which our city was founded. Since our inception in 1962, we have shared in supporting the health and economic well-being of our community, as well as worked together for the successful future of greater Scottsdale. Proposition 430 will contribute to that vitality.

Passage of Proposition 430 will ratify the plan and create a stronger Scottsdale. It does not change the character or essence of Scottsdale. Indeed, the vision and values of the Scottsdale General Plan 2011 reflect the diversity and vibrancy of Scottsdale. The vision recognizes that Scottsdale is home to world-class medical and research facilities and the goals support efforts to strengthen that economic base for our city and residents.

As a locally-based, nonprofit community hospital system, we are responsive to the needs and expectations of the community. Scottsdale Healthcare believes that Proposition 430 positions Scottsdale as a great place for our employees, physicians and volunteers to live, learn, work and play both now and into the future.

We hope you will join us in voting “yes” on Proposition 430.

Tom Sadvary, President & Chief Executive Officer, Scottsdale Healthcare
Wendy Lyons, Vice President, Community Stewardship


YES on 430!  We know that the quality of life in Scottsdale stands apart from the Cities around us. That is not by chance. Since 1967, Scottsdale’s growth has been guided by the wisdom of its General Plan. We enjoy a beautiful and vibrant city because long ago, we created a well conceived Plan, and we have been true to it.

I urge the citizens of Scottsdale to vote a resounding YES on Proposition 430, for Ratification of the Scottsdale General Plan, 2011. The City’s General Plan is a State mandated document that serves to guide the City’s evolution, and is based on our community’s collective vision and values. You and thousands of your fellow Scottsdale residents contributed to formation of the updated Scottsdale General Plan 2011 by responding to questionnaires that came with your water bill, leaving comments on the City’s General Plan website, attending public meetings, and through the direct participation of the citizen volunteers who serve tirelessly on the City’s 19 Boards and Commissions.

Our General Plan is updated every 10 years, adapting to our ever-changing landscape. For example, as Scottsdale approaches build-out, our goals and policies begin the shift away from a growth economy, and toward a more long-term sustainable, employment based economy. The Scottsdale General Plan, 2011 identifies and encourages those opportunities, while continuing to protect the assets that we so treasure. As a document, The Scottsdale General Plan 2011 has been made more user friendly, with streamlined text, and high quality graphic exhibits. It will serve Scottsdale very well for the next 10 years.

I kindly request that you acknowledge your involvement, and over two years of hard work by the City staff and citizens who contributed to the General Plan Update, by voting YES on Proposition 430.

Michael Schmitt, AIA, LEED-AP, Former Planning Commissioner,
Chairman of the General Plan Working Group


For more than two years, City Planning Staff worked with members of numerous City Boards, Commissions and many other interested parties to prepare the General Plan Update.  Thousands of collective hours were invested, and more than a dozen public meetings were held.  The process integrated feedback from citizens, business owners and many other stakeholder groups.  The draft General Plan evolved considerably in response to the diverse input gathered throughout these meetings. The General Plan Update represents considerable improvements to the past document and provides Scottsdale with the vision and clarity needed to move forward into the next decade.

The updated General Plan achieves the balance of protecting what is unique and good about Scottsdale, but still gives Scottsdale City Council, Planning Staff, its Boards and its Commissions the tools required to properly serve the future.  Scottsdale must grow and adapt to the changing economic landscape. The General Plan Update is a critical step in facilitating this growth and adaptation.

The relative benefit of updating the General Plan to reflect current and likely future conditions outweighs the concerns of those who want to return to the past.  As Scottsdale citizens consider the ratification of the General Plan Update, it is critical that they look to the future.

We, as individual Scottsdale citizens, urge our fellow citizens to approve the General Plan Update.

Erik Filsinger, Planning Commissioner
Jay Petkunas, Planning Commissioner


Scottsdale’s residents enjoy great quality of life. The General Plan ensures orderly development and redevelopment that respects the unique character of Scottsdale. It is that unique character that provides our great quality of life.

There are many small things in Scottsdale’s General Plan that need to be updated. Unfortunately, the current Mayor and City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and the real estate development industry have snuck in many serious changes in this update to make it easier for them to ignore the high standards of our General Plan.

The General Plan has protected our quality of life well for many years. Developers and “their” politicians constantly try to circumvent the General Plan to increase profits at the expense of the residents. That expense comes in the form of reduced public services and increased traffic and congestion.

Thoughtless overdevelopment also erodes our attractiveness to tourists. Tourism is one of our biggest industries. However, it will falter if developers and politicians are successful in making Scottsdale look like Mill Avenue.

Developers and politicians have already had some success at circumventing the General Plan. However, it is still cumbersome for them and they want to water down the General Plan even further, to the point of being meaningless. They’ve already created so many loopholes and layers of complication that even THEY can’t understand it, let alone explain it.

If you chose to live in Scottsdale because of its unique character and charm and you want to see future development and redevelopment respect and honor that legacy, send a message to the Mayor and the City Council. Tell them they need to respect Scottsdale’s legacy, and they need to respect the residents. Send it back to the drawing board. Vote NO on this General Plan Update.

John Washington


Please join me, Councilman Bob Littlefield, in voting NO on Proposition 430, which asks voters to ratify and approve the “Scottsdale General Plan 2011.”

The General Plan is Scottsdale’s most important planning document.  Ideally it should embody the community’s vision for what kind of city Scottsdale should be, provide guidance to city government when making land use decisions, enhance Scottsdale’s world-wide appeal as a highly desirable tourist destination, and protect our community’s exceptional quality of life.

Unfortunately, “Scottsdale General Plan 2011” achieves none of these goals.  In fact, it actually weakens the General Plan through language that encourages special interests to exploit Scottsdale’s unique character for their own short-term gain by circumventing the citizens’ vision for our city.

Scottsdale is an exceptional place to live, so much so that we all pay a premium to live here, no matter what part of our city we call home. That didn’t happen by accident. The high standards for development that make Scottsdale a special place to live are the product of decades of volunteer effort by concerned citizens from all parts of our community. They also support Scottsdale’s strong tourist economy. Making it easier to circumvent these high standards is bad for our quality of life, bad for our city finances, and mortgages Scottsdale’s future.

Bottom line, this update has plenty of things for special interests to love but nothing for residents concerned about preserving Scottsdale’s high quality of life and economic vitality.  Not surprising, since it was crafted with insufficient citizen input.

The State Legislature has extended the deadline for cities to update their General Plans to July 1, 2015. We should reject this update and use the extra time to develop a resident-friendly General Plan that truly reflects the desires of our citizens and the community’s vision for Scottsdale’s future.

Bob Littlefield, Scottsdale City Councilman


Scottsdale has reached the point where there is very little land left to develop, and yet there are people who insist the city must continue to grow. The only way for that to happen is to increase building heights and population density which will have a dramatic negative impact on our quality of life, the special character Scottsdale is known for, and Scottsdale’s tourism industry which is what really sustains our city.

According to the ballot language, the General Plan is “a policy document setting forth THE COMMUNITY’S long-term objectives, principles and expectations for future growth and development”. As such, it should present a clear and unambiguous vision of what the city will be and look like the future, and that vision should be what you, residents of the city, want.

Unfortunately, this update fails miserably to accomplish that goal. It presents NO VISION of what the city will be and contains nothing that leaves residents with the feeling that their quality of life will be preserved. Way too much is left open to interpretation and speculation so special interests, who want to profit from Scottsdale’s success, can do whatever they want and claim they conform to this General Plan. We could either turn into Phoenix east or remain the small friendly tourist destination we are, but this plan doesn’t define which way Scottsdale will go, and therefore fails to accomplish its purpose.

You deserve a General Plan that will clearly layout the future of this city, don’t settle for anything less. If you are concerned about where the city is headed, if you like what Scottsdale is and what it offers now, if you value the quality of life you have now, then vote this plan down. If you want Scottsdale to become Phoenix east, then vote for it.

Howard Myers


The General Plan is the overarching policy document for our city.  It is the document that will guide Scottsdale’s growth and development over the next decade or more.  It should represent the Community’s collective vision for the future of our city, not be a roadmap for inappropriate development.

There are serious concerns with the direction the 2011 General Plan is taking as respects future development throughout Scottsdale. The revised General Plan language fails to provide very necessary protections to our residential neighborhoods, unique downtown, Scottsdale’s reputation as a destination tourist attraction and our magnificent McDowell Sonoran Preserve from the negative impacts of inappropriate development.

The 2011 language provides a clear blueprint of a fundamental change in the city’s attitude toward development and the past two decades of the citizen visioning process that led to the first General Plan.  Under the proposed 2011 General Plan, what makes Scottsdale different and attractive to residents and tourists is subordinated to an almost unbridled development focus.  It could easily be mistaken as a plan for Phoenix.

The city has until July, 2015 to update its current General Plan.  If Scottsdale voters fail to ratify the proposed 2011 General Plan, the current General Plan will remain in place until the City of Scottsdale presents to Scottsdale voters a revised General Plan that truly represents our residents’ vision for the future of our city, and that protects all of Scottsdale from the negative impacts of inappropriate development. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 430.

For the Coalition of Pinnacle Peak,

Robert J. Vairo
Linda J. Whitehead


Please join me, former Councilwoman Marg Nelssen, in voting NO on Scottsdale General Plan 2011.

For the past 25 years my husband, the late Councilman Tony Nelssen, and I worked with scores of other concerned residents to develop and nurture a vision for Scottsdale that would help sustain and promote what makes Scottsdale special.  Sadly, this proposed update to the General Plan makes a mockery of those efforts.

There are many problems with this update. The vision statement, which supposedly guides how development in Scottsdale should be done, is weak.  The update makes it easier for developers to amend the General Plan, a process that should be made stronger, not weaker. And instead of treating “Growth Areas” as places where intense growth might be allowed, it treats them as places where intense development is virtually required! While developers may love this last provision, the citizens of Scottsdale certainly have not worked for nor asked for that.

Worst of all, the update fails to resolve the issue of how to properly combine character areas so as to reduce the number of them while retaining the reason they were created — to preserve the unique character of our city. Even city staff has admitted they don’t know how to handle the direction to combine character areas without destroying them.

The development community loves this update, but everyday citizens oppose it because they know it will degrade their quality of life.

I urge voters to reject Scottsdale General Plan 2011 and send the city back to the drawing board to do a new update and, this time, do it right. Because in any final analysis, it has been citizen input, volunteerism, energy and effort that has been the most important factor in elevating, maintaining and promoting the Scottsdale we love.

Marg Nelssen


I am opposed to Proposition 430, the Updated General Plan, for the following reasons. First, the General Plan is supposed to be the plan of the residents of the City for how they want the City to grow over the next 10 years. The drafting of this Updated General Plan was done by the City staff and select members of the City’s Boards and Commissions. Residents were not involved until after the plan was drafted. While some of the concerns expressed about this Updated Plan were addressed, too many resident concerns were simply ignored. Disapproving the Plan will force the City staff to work with the residents to produce a better Plan for Scottsdale’s growth and development over the next 10 years. Second, the purpose of the General Plan is to guide the City’s growth and development through zoning ordinances and defined amendment criteria designed to protect Character Areas and Neighborhoods by preventing inappropriate development. Over the past 2 years, many examples of inappropriate development have occurred.  One example has been the proliferation of bars with “Live Entertainment Permits” in the “Entertainment District”, which was exempted from the City’s Noise Ordinance, allowing bands and DJs with loud outside speakers that have ruined local resident’s quality of life and property values. Another is the creation of “Infill Districts”, allowing tall (up to 150 feet) commercial, office and apartment buildings within or by Residential Neighborhoods in violation of the zoning ordinance height restrictions, restricting resident’s views, degrading their quality of life and property values, and adding traffic congestion and air pollution in their areas. This Updated General Plan simply makes inappropriate development easier to do against the desires of the residents. I urge residents to vote “No” on approving this Plan.

Robert Cappel


One need only look at a singular critical item which has been removed from this 2011 General Plan Update to understand why Scottsdale voters should not approve it. Scottsdale has always been proud to embrace strong citizen participation in defining its future and neighborhoods and the use of Character Areas was the mechanism chosen to preserve the unique characteristics that make our city so desirable. You are being asked to approve a General Plan which no longer requires any proposed development project to conform to the defined character of an area or face the more difficult Major General Plan Amendment process.  The changes to this Update now include (a) a Vision Statement which has been re-written to reveal no “vision” (b) much added language about encouraging growth, and (c) the elimination of the Character Area Criteria. This Update provides no clear direction for our city, thus becoming an open book for changing the General Plan at will.  One has to only look at recent attempts, endorsed by our city, to construct a gas station adjacent to the Scottsdale Preserve in a unique very low density rural neighborhood. One of the important tools which prevented this from occurring was the fact that the current General Plan required a Major General Plan Amendment because of the change in character of the proposed development.  This proposed General Plan Update contains no such criteria.

If you consider citizen input important to Scottsdale’s future and you believe our city should be responsive to its citizen’s vision, building on the characteristics which make it so unique and desirable, then please VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 430.

Respectfully Yours,

James T. Heitel
[Mr. Heitel served 6 years on Planning Commission, currently Vice Chairman McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission]


Vote NO on Scottsdale’s Proposition 430

As a professional Realtor in Scottsdale for the past 17 years, I believe this land-use Plan is extremely detrimental to the future of Scottsdale’s home values. It is my experience that people come to Scottsdale for very specific reasons: its wide-open spaces, views, specialty events, shopping, the Preserve, and eye-catching well designed residences they are proud to own. Scottsdale offers something different – a unique sophistication and cache’ not readily found in other communities.

Current residents generally concur that we have a special feel here in Scottsdale, a one-of-a-kind sense of space, grace and beauty.

I feel this land-use plan weakens the future of Scottsdale by allowing height and density increases to be made much more easily. More height will distort or destroy many panoramic views and cause an increase in traffic, noise and air pollution. This, in turn, will cause an overall decrease in desirability for many of our tourists and visitors to stay in Scottsdale. Indeed, I have already heard negative comments from clients who have read about the Council-approved high-rise apartments going in at the Airpark and Downtown. If our Council is not careful, they will destroy all that is unique and desirable as a destination to our visitors.

As a hardworking full-time Realtor specializing in the Scottsdale area, I have a finely-tuned sense of what people are looking for when they come to Scottsdale. High-rises, noise and traffic jams are not what homebuyers want.  If fewer people return to Scottsdale to buy homes, the market for these homes will decrease.

The real estate markets are already battling national and statewide hurdles in valuations. Let’s not further decrease our home values by allowing height and density increases to decrease the desirability of our Community.

VOTE NO ON Proposition 430.

Barbara Allyn, REALTOR


Vote No on Proposition 430, Scottsdale’s General Plan Update 2011.

The proposed General Plan Update 2011 is not good for Scottsdale residents.  It is very good for development interest groups who want short-term profits in their pockets at your expense.

This Update does not protect our quality of life or our neighborhoods, and in some cases actually weakens protections that currently exist. It encourages growth at the expense of our quality of life. Character Areas are supposed to protect neighborhoods from inappropriate development. If this update passes they will not be considered when determining if a proposed project would require a super majority vote for approval by the City Council.  This means you can expect changes in all parts of the City, leading to higher building heights, greater density and inappropriate development in residential areas.  No neighborhood will be immune.

Another major concern with the Plan is I find no clear direction regarding where and how the City should be moving in the future.  This vision of where our City should be going is vital to our endeavors to measure appropriateness and progress in achieving our goals, especially as we approach build out.  How can we know we are traveling on the right road if we don’t know where we want to go or even where the road we are on leads us?  Years of citizen work, insight and input have been totally ignored and omitted from the Plan.  I believe this is a dangerous precedent to set on many levels.

Arizona has extended the cities’ deadline for General Plan updates to July, 2015.  We should take advantage of this gift and use it to develop a citizen-friendly General Plan update that preserves our neighborhoods and our way of life.  Isn’t that what we expected when we moved here?

Kathy Littlefield


The 2011 General Plan Update fails the city of Scottsdale in a number of important ways.

The General Plan Update fails to provide a defined vision of what Scottsdale should be as it approaches build out.  Without a clear vision, there is no effective way to evaluate whether a project or development is beneficial or detrimental to the community.

Scottsdale has spent decades developing an internationally recognized brand.  We are renowned throughout the world as a premier tourist destination and an exceptional place to live and work.  We have accomplished much of this through effective land use policies and high standards for development.  The 2011 General Plan Update weakens these policies and standards.

The new 2011 General Plan Update does not adequately focus on and protect our residential neighborhoods, unique downtown, tourist magnet status, and McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Vague language and ease of amending allowed in the General Plan Update will deeply weaken the few protections that are included.

A careful look at the type of amendments to the 2001 General Plan city planners have been recommending and the council has been approving gives clear indication where the 2012 General Plan will take our city.  Scottsdale development would become taller, denser, “mixed-use” driven with far less separation between incompatible land uses.  This is in direct conflict with the land use policies that led us to our “most livable city” status, and will drive away tourists and businesses alike.

Please defend our unique brand and vote NO on the 2012 General Plan Update.

Chris Schaffner


Ballot Argument Against Proposition 430 General Plan Update

Ask yourself this question: Will the proposed 2012 General Plan protect and ensure the high standards that have made Scottsdale the envy of every municipality in the State, or will it open the door to a stampede of unbridled and unwanted density and growth?

The proposition to reduce our character areas from 22 to only 6 is an open invitation to tear down the fabric of our communities and neighborhoods.

Given the recent unwanted and unneeded developments such as Apartments in the Airpark and the Infill Incentives for 15 story buildings downtown, only shows that your City Council cannot be trusted with the current General Plan, let alone a new one that invites even more height and density across Scottsdale.

One of the reasons I am running for City Council is that common sense has taken a back seat to a quick buck at the expense of the taxpayer. What you need is a General Plan that truly protects your quality of life and property values and a City Council that will enforce it. Notice the “for Prop 430” names. Are they bureaucrats and developers with a vested interest in changing Scottsdale for their own profit, or long-time Scottsdale residents who want to protect your property?

The State mandates that municipalities Review and Update, not Change, their General Plans. The original Plan protects your character areas from encroachment by special interests. If you love Scottsdale in all its beauty, then I urge you to vote NO! to this ill-conceived 2011 General Plan Update.

Guy Phillips
Candidate – Scottsdale City Council


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  1. When locating to Central Scottsdale years ago I thought I had arrived in one of the nicest places. Accessible shopping, public transportation and other public services. Either I am naive or I watched something very pleasant deteriorate. I finally had to move to a quieter neighborhood in Tempe. I could no longer tolerate the constant emergency equipment up and down CB most evenings and late into the night. The weekend drunks, noise makers, refuse tossed and left for me to pick up. Add in rogue real-estate agents, remiss property owners and management. It was pleasant while it lasted. The entertainment district will eventually become passe and the City will be stuck with the trash that comes with it. The entertainment district is a hot spot and my friends that visit love it, because they don’t live in AZ. They live in nice quiet places in other states. That part of Scottsdale is just party central and you don’t have to take the trash home with. Thanks for the good times Scottsdale. However, I bid you good-bye.

    1. That’s a shame, GLH, because I moved here for exactly the same reasons as you. I hate it that you left; absolutely hate it. So many others are leaving for the same reasons. Pretty soon we’ll be just another Mill Avenue. Thanks for your comment.

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