Mike Kelly on the General Plan Vision Statement

I believe Mike Kelly is the only Scottsdale resident to have attended every city meeting relating to the 2011 General Plan update process. In my humble opinion, Mike is the most expert person in Scottsdale on our General Plan, articulating its importance, and the history by which it was derived.

Mike recently sent this email to the City Council as a follow up to the recent effort to construct yet another vision statement for this update process.

Honorable Mayor Lane, City Council Members, Acting City Manager Dan Worth, City Attorney Bruce Washburn, and City Clerk Carolyn Jagger:

My comments below discuss the process you have set in motion to construct a proposed 2014 General Plan, as a possible replacement for our City Council adopted and voter-ratified 2001 General Plan.  My inability to participate in the Arizona Town Hall “visioning” event accounts for my sharing these comments with you directly.

Michael S. Kelly
Scottsdale, AZ 85258


1.  Scottsdale’s City Council recently directed that 100 selected citizen volunteers construct a new “vision” for this community and memorialize it in a new general plan “vision statement”, utilizing an Arizona Town Hall facilitated “visioning” event.  I can only hope that the “vision statement” resulting from the Arizona Town Hall effort will evince a traceable and unmistakable connection to both Scottsdale’s “Shared Vision” and our “community vision” from the 2001 General Plan.

2.  Below are our two historically traceable “vision statements” for Scottsdale which you are considering modifying or replacing.  The first is our currently operative community “vision” from our 2001 General Plan.  The second is Scottsdale’s 1992 “Shared Vision.”  To my knowledge, as of this date, neither “vision” has been nullified or rescinded by this community.

Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 “Community Vision”:  “Each of us has a vision of what Scottsdale should be like in the future.  Although our visions are different, they share common qualities and reference points.  We hope to create a safe, attractive city for ourselves, our children, and for future generations.  We envision a city where the natural environment is protected, where excellent services are provided, and where citizens are true partners in their city government.  We aspire to create a city that is economically healthy and a good place to do business.  We envision a city that has balanced mobility options and connections to citywide and regional networks.  We see our community as a great place to live now and in the future.”  (City of Scottsdale General Plan 2001, page 2.)

Scottsdale’s 1992 “Shared Vision”:  “Building on its southwestern heritage, stylish reputation, and innovative methods for delivering municipal services, Scottsdale has evolved into an internationally recognized resort center, art community and health care provider.  The desert community of Scottsdale has always been its own special place.  It has never tried to be all things to all people.”  (Scottsdale Shared Vision, City Council Review Edition, December 14, 1992, page 35; and, City of Scottsdale General Plan 2001, page 4.)

3.  After much reflection, I have come to believe that Scottsdale erred when it failed to use Scottsdale’s 1992 “Shared Vision” (above) as the community “vision statement” when drafting Scottsdale’s 2001 General Plan.  I don’t know why this didn’t occur.  Ultimately, not using Scottsdale’s “Share Vision” created confusion within this community as to what Scottsdale’s “vision” actually is.  As I see it, this decision weakened the structural continuity citizens had a right to expect from this community’s prior visioning and planning efforts.

4.  The purpose of the General Plan is to guide our governmental decisions and to help us build/achieve our “vision” for Scottsdale, by methodically implementing the policies, standards, and objectives specified in the separate planning “elements” required by Arizona Statutes, and in the three non-required planning “elements” put there by the citizens of the community — Community Involvement, Economic Development and Character and Design.  This requires paying day-to-day attention to those policies, standards and objectives.

5.  I believe our 1992 “Shared Vision” (above) remains Scottsdale’s foundational “vision.”  The 2001 General Plan “community vision” lays out the specifics of what we want for ourselves in a city built upon the four dominant themes of the 1992 “Shared Vision”  — Sonoran Desert, Resort Community, Arts and Culture, and Health and Research.

6.  Scottsdale’s 2001 General Plan was created to give physical form to the “Shared  Vision.”  The “elements” of the 2001 General Plan are grouped under the Six Guiding Principles that came from our CityShape2020 effort.  A proposed 2014 General Plan should remain true to the purposeful way in which our 2001 General Plan was conceived and organized.

7.  I believe we should reaffirm our 1992 “Shared Vision” as Scottsdale’s “vision” as we commence work on the 2014 General Plan.  If deemed necessary by the community, and after community-wide discussion, we can modify the “Shared Vision,” by eliminating one or more of the existing themes or adding new “Dominant Themes.”

8.  Scottsdale’s Six Guiding Principles remain valid and important.  Citizens here have ratified having our elected officials and professional staff follow those six principles in making all of Scottsdale’s governmental decisions involving growth, development and revitalization.  Scottsdale’s Six Guiding Principles are:  (1) Preserve Meaningful Open Space; (2) Enhance Neighborhoods; (3) Support Economic Vitality; (4) Seek Sustainability; (5) Advance Transportation; and, (6) Value Scottsdale’s Unique Lifestyle and Character.  Those Six Guiding Principles are in fact Scottsdale’s “core” values when it comes to governmental decision making.

9.  I believe that as Scottsdale moves forward with its proposed 2014 General Plan, we should hold as close as possible to the 2001 General Plan, while adding the two new required “elements” along with any related maps, charts, etc., to bring it current.  Additionally, we should more clearly define the criteria for changes/amendments to the general plan.

10.  To my mind, community wide discussions to clarify unresolved community issues should have been held prior to any attempt to refine Scottsdale’s “vision” and certainly should be held before putting words on paper for a new draft general plan.  This still has not been done, despite Scottsdale’s voter-ratified General Plan 2001 containing a “Community Involvement” Element that directs early and continuous public involvement in city matters that involves them.   I have made this point to you before in public testimony and in writing.  It now appears that some community discussions may be held, but only “after” a “vision statement” has already been created.

11.  The 2014 General Plan you propose to compose must be constructed in such a way so as to facilitate the implementation, the building, of the “vision” communicated by its description, i.e., — the “vision statement.”

12.  In closing, as I have explained to you before in writing and in person, Scottsdale’s community vision must be achievable.  And, our progress in implementing that “vision” must be closely monitored, precisely measured, and regularly reported upon to this community.


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