General Plan: What’s Next?

Twice during City Council meeting “public comment” periods since Proposition 430 was defeated I have called for Mayor Lane and the City Council to undertake a citizen-oriented effort to ask some serious questions like:

  • Do we NEED to change Scottsdale’s General Plan?
  • Did the citizens’ vote to defeat Prop 430 satisfy the Arizona statutory requirement for our ten-year review?
  • Should we focus on what the General Plan is supposed to be protecting (community character), instead of what they want it to promote (growth, height, density)?
  • If we are going to restart this dialog how do we make it citizen-driven, rather that staff- and developer-driven?
  • Shouldn’t the council reaffirm the 2001 General Plan so that everyone knows that is still our governing document?

[You can view my comments at 15 March city council meeting at about 0:02:15; and at the 20 March meeting at about 0:23:30]

The Coalition of Greater Scottsdale published an analysis and questions earlier this week that I posted here.

Nancy Cantor this morning shared the following via email:

I spent time with Erin Perrault and Ross Cromarty on Wed.  so far no one on staff has asked to meet with them, BUT the Chamber public policy committee did ask to meet with them last Monday. Surprise! Surprise! Frankly I would expect the Mayor and Richert to be sitting in the closet with their ear to the door.

The only thing that Erin and Ross have batted around is going the route of three Town Halls. They wanted to know what I thought.

They would be willing to do a working meeting with groups like COGS and COPP to help with the visioning process, too.

When the update process started there were 14 people on staff for long range planning. There are now two full time staffers and three interns.

City Councilman Bob Littlefield

Councilman Bob Littlefield has agendized an item for discussion at the next council meeting:

Request to Consider Establishing a General Plan Update Citizens Task Force

Request: At the request of Councilman Littlefield, discuss and provide possible direction to staff to agendize: “A presentation, discussion and possible direction to staff regarding the establishment of a task force of Scottsdale residents to develop a new General Plan update.”

Note: The only Council action to be taken on Item No. 23A is a decision on whether to agendize the referenced matter at a future Council meeting. No public comment will be taken at this time.

Littlefield goes on to say:

Under the new rules of Council procedure (which are designed to stifle debate on issues put forward by minority Council members) public comment will NOT be allowed, so we need to get people to email the Council (starting about next Monday) “encouraging” them to vote to agendize this item.

I have already submitted a My Turn on this issue which I hope the paper will print.  In that I propose that “we should wait to appoint this task force until after the fall elections so it does not become a political football. Working in the charged atmosphere of a contentious city election campaign (not to mention meeting in the summer when many Scottsdale residents are out of town) would make it harder for this task force to produce a truly resident-friendly General Plan update.

Another reason to wait to appoint this task force until after the fall elections is that I believe the voters have more messages they want to send about their dissatisfaction with this City Council’s approach to development.”


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  1. Hi John!

    What is still unexplained in the defeat of the General Plan are the specific objections to its content. Why is it now ‘friendlier’ to development? What other changes are offensive and too whom? Character area reduction from 24 to 6 was decided in 2007 and needed to be included in the revised plan. Why were they not objectionable until now?

    I am sure that Erin and Ross explained the tremendous public outreach efforts which were substantial plus the inclusion of 19 citizens representing every Board and Commission in Scottsdale was a great cross section of our community.

    Most distressing is that nearly $500,000 of taxpayer money has been wasted due to Guy Phillips and other naysayers out to make politcal capital with this defeat. Two years of work, countless hours of volunteer time, numerous efforts at public outreach at cost of half a million dollars is an unbeaarable burden caused for nothing more than to prove that they could. Well congrats to them for proving why they should not be leaders in our city.

    1. Hi, Bill, and thanks for your comment. I respect the perspective that naysayers defeated this proposition. However, I attended many meetings early in the update process even before the task force was convened. It didn’t take long to figure out that it was developer-driven, not citizen-driven.

      Long before the task force got to work, many of the citizens who are the most passionate about community character (me among them) had quit attending because their inputs were all but ignored. That’s why many no longer attend Planning Commission meetings, too.

      However, it is unfair to characterize them simply as, “naysayers.” Folks like Mike Kelly, Sonnie Kirtley, Howard Myers, Nancy Cantor, etc., have the historical knowledge of how the General Plan was original crafted, and how well it has worked until recent efforts to circumvent it. They (and I) have been trying to warn the city council for YEARS that this process has run off the tracks.

      I personally cautioned the council late last year that Proposition 430 was headed to defeat, and I petitioned them to postpone the election until we could figure it out. They didn’t even RESPOND, let alone make an effort to head off this disaster. They are responsible for the waste, not the citizens who opposed this.

      The state gave us an extension, but the council and city manager were determined to push this through at all costs. Well, we now know the cost.

      1. Hi John!

        Sorry I was on vacation last week and just saw your reply. I know you, Mike, Sonnie and others work really hard to help our community and do respect your efforts greatly, but disagree with your frustrations. We elect our city leaders and they do their best to hear from the community. Never known you to’ give up’ or stop trying due to lack of listeners.

        The process was open to all and to waste $500,000 of taxpayer money without giving specifics is just plain wrong. Clearly, you sowed doubt and won, but as a community we all lost. As a very active citizen, I aggresively challenged the proposed General Plan over the 2 years it was in progress and concluded it was an improvement and deserved to have been approved. We will now have to wait another 2-3 years before it will be able to come back plus substantial new taxpayer funded costs that should not have been necessary. Unintended consequences are a bitch!

        Glad you are running for mayor and wish you the best. The debates will be far more informed and represent views that need to be included. Although we will not likely agree on many issues, please know that I and many others care as deeply as you about seeing our city continue to grow and prosper. Please try to look forward as opposed to the past. The needs of our 30+ mile length will never return to the days when we were 1 square mile. Be well!

        1. Again thanks for your comments and perspective.

          >We elect our city leaders and they do their best to hear from the community.

          The consensus I’m hearing is exactly the opposite. The leaders are NOT listening to the community–at least not the residents, and I don’t know how else to define “community.”

          There have been many “specific” objections voiced by some of the most knowledgeable residents of our community. The Mayor and the Council addressed a few of them, but the most egregious were not addressed. I’ll save the point-by-point for a later effort, but will gladly share those thoughts.

          What it boils down to for me is not whether to have growth and redevelopment; not how fast it should proceed; or whether it mirrors 1951.

          It’s a question of, do we follow the rules or do we CHANGE the rules.

          And further, if we are going to change the rules, shouldn’t we do SOME analysis of why we have the rules and what we stand to lose if we change them?

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