Proposition 403, the revision of Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 was defeated at the polls by a wide enough margin that it wasn’t a squeaker. Kudos to all who got the word out, and big razzies to those who said the General Plan and community character is a lackluster issue about which Scottsdale voters don’t care.
Especially I’d like to thank Guy Phillips for forming an opposition committee and putting out signs. Howard Myers and Bob Littlefield did great analysis, then they (and many others) circulated the information out to their email lists. Sonnie Kirtley and Jim Haxby did great work putting out signs and working the polls on election day. Many others got the word out to friends and neighbors.
I think it is important to recognize that many of these same folks and many others made a good-faith effort to participate in the update process for the last two years. Patty Badenoch and Darlene Petersen were among those. We attended meetings and visioning sessions, participated in the developer-crafted charades. We complained to the City Council and the Mayor, politely at first, and then with more vigor.
As city council candidate Chris Schaffner has said, a citizen-driven product would have had overwhelming support by the voters. That it was even close (let alone defeated) speaks volumes about the flaws in the process that delivered it.
As much as I’d like to think we beat this proposition, though, the truth is the bad guys did most of our work for us by mounting a lazy, self-defeating campaign. The opposition letters in the ballot publicity pamphlet really helped raise awareness, too. Thanks to all who wrote, submitted, and paid the $100 fee to do so!
However, the Chamber’s timing with their mailer resulted in an early ballot count that would have won the election, had it not been for poor handling of the campaign disclosure issue and subsequent retaliatory complaints. As a result the election day vote at the polls went drastically the other way and was enough to swing the total against the proposition.
Now we need to follow up by replacing the folks who delivered us this turkey, otherwise you’ll see it again (or worse) in 2013. If the Chamber-development complex retains a majority after the council election, they’ll have no hesitation whatsoever about dusting off this turkey and putting some serious effort behind getting it passed.
And the story of the campaign disclosure complaints isn’t over. I’ve asked the City Attorney to consider abating the fine relating to the complaint I filed against the Chamber. Hopefully, the penalties for the retaliatory complaint will be similarly abated. Otherwise, we’ll have to have a bail-raising party for Guy Phillips!
As for moving forward on constructively addressing the General Plan Update, here’s my open call to the City Council [which you can also see in the city council meeting video at about 2:00]:
The voters’ rejection of the revision of the General Plan doesn’t feel like much of a victory to me.
As I said to you months ago, the vote Tuesday represents rejection of thousands of hours of work over two long years. It is a waste of city resources, taxpayer money, and citizen goodwill.
We don’t need to hire a consultant to figure out what went wrong. The citizens of Scottsdale have been telling you since the beginning of the process. All you have to do is listen with honesty.
Instead of working so hard to figure out how you can change the General Plan, let’s get back to basics and try to understand IF it needs to be changed. How has it not served our needs until now?
Let’s back up further and ask what the General Plan is supposed to be protecting and nurturing rather than how you can use it to promote something new.
We need to start by honestly looking at ourselves as a community. We need to examine our strengths and build upon them, and stop trying to be something different. We need to be who we are…on purpose.
Many of us want to be part of a constructive dialog about the future of Scottsdale. But we need leadership to make that dialog happen.
This rejection is your chance for a do-over. You won’t get another one.
And as a reminder: The rejection of Proposition 430 doesn’t mean we no longer have a General Plan. The 2001 General Plan is still in effect as our master guiding document for vision and city planning until the voters approve something different. Until we decide how it needs to be updated, please adhere to the General Plan, in letter and in spirit, as it was intended.
Bob Littlefield included these comments in an email this morning:
This sends a clear message to my Council colleagues that Scottsdale residents are unhappy with their rampant approvals of unchecked development that is undermining our city’s special character, threatening our top-notch tourist industry and generally lowering our quality of life…
One reason this General Plan update was so objectionable was that the update process was driven by the staff and the development community – the residents were not allowed to be anything more than spectators in that effort. I intend to propose that, this time around we form a citizen’s commission to drive the update process. I also intend to propose that, since we have until 2015 to complete the update, we should wait to appoint this commission until after the fall elections. I suspect the voters have more messages they want to send about their dissatisfaction with this City Council’s approach to development.