General Plan Reminder to the Candidates

This “My Turn” column from Scottsdale’s acknowledged General Plan expert, Mike Kelly, appeared in the Scottsdale Republic recently. Because AZR has apparently never figured out how to put these on AZCentral and because it represents an important point of view, I’m reproducing it here

MY TURN: Our 2012 Political Candidates and Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 “Vision”

Some of Scottsdale’s 2012 political candidates appear minimally informed regarding our codified community “vision,” Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001. Those candidates display little knowledge of the plan’s purpose, history, concepts and contents.

Adopted by our City Council in October 2001, and ratified by 11,568 voters (as per Arizona’s statutes) in March 2002, Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 “is” our “vision” for Scottsdale. “The General Plan” (as stated in Scottsdale’s March 2002 General Election “Information Pamphlet”) “is the community’s expression of our collective vision for the future of Scottsdale.” Scottsdale voters ratified that “vision” at the polls by a 2 – 1 margin.

Our general plan deftly married our decades long citizen “visioning” efforts with the evolving legal requirements of Arizona’s municipal planning law, creating a values-based, citizen ratified plan, designed to guide Scottsdale’s development and redevelopment.

Scottsdale has a city charter required and state statute mandated, city council adopted and voter-ratified general plan, which expresses this community’s “vision.” Therefore, any candidate touting a personal vision for this community, whether through ignorance or arrogance, displays little respect for, and little understanding of, Arizona’s and Scottsdale’s municipal planning processes.

Furthermore, our candidates need to know that Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 framework specifies three distinct levels of planning: citywide; character area; and, neighborhood. Hence, any “area” or “neighborhood” specific “visions” being developed within Scottsdale must align with and flow from our General Plan 2001.

Arizona’s “Growing Smarter” acts gave citizens a say in the future direction of their communities requiring, minimally, that citizens approve the community’s General Plan at least every 10 years. And, as the City of Scottsdale learned from the recent failure of its attempt to update our general plan, any update to the plan should incorporate extensive public discussion from the start. Scottsdale’s historical planning precedent has been for citizen “visioning” to drive its long-term planning.

Candidates need to understand that, if elected; by virtue of their position, they will assume a responsibility to implement the citizen ratified “vision” contained within Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001.

Scottsdale’s City Charter has required a comprehensive plan (general plan) since 1967. Arizona law has required them since 1973.

Several recent awards from various entities have highlighted Scottsdale as one of the best communities in which to live, work and play. These awards attest to the quality of life being fostered here by our following Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001.

Scottsdale’s 2012 political candidates should acknowledge that we have an already existent community-wide “vision” for Scottsdale, memorialized in our General Plan 2001, which was ratified by the voters in March 2002. Implementing this plan will bring our community “vision” to reality.

We need political leaders who will acknowledge that fact and who will be disciplined enough when in office to stay the course in implementing Scottsdale’s community-wide “vision” expressed in Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001, unless and until voters choose to ratify a replacement plan and “vision.”

Michael S. Kelly

Michael S. Kelly lives in Scottsdale. He is a long time Scottsdale resident, and retired USMC Lt Col. This “My Turn” advances themes first discussed in his Scottsdale Republic “My Turn”, “Don’t abandon original vision,” March 9, 2004

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