Latest Inquiry From Arizona Republic

by John Washington on July 24, 2012

In my opinion, our Mayor should primarily serve as the chief representative of and advocate for the citizens. But that’s not really news. I’ve written about that before.

The Arizona Republic sent me some questions this week, in addition to those I’ve previously answered here and here.

So I thought I’d share their current list with you, along with the answers I provided them. I’m told it’ll publish in the Republic this week.

<begin questionaire>

Top issue facing Scottsdale:

The mayor and council have not been honest in portraying that we have a “balanced” budget, when in fact we have an $8 million deficit that will add to a whopping $1.3 billion in debt.

Worse yet, this budget is based upon wildly optimistic revenue projections.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lane and the Council continue to give away taxpayer subsidies to advertise polo matches; to build golf clubhouses; and to prop up a money-hemorrhaging private business which contracts with the city to “manage” taxpayer-owned cultural arts facilities.

Honest, conservative, zero-based budgeting is the only solution.

What are some solutions you believe could help boost recovery and redevelopment along the McDowell Road Corridor?

The long-standing Los Arcos Redevelopment District (which carries the stigma of potential condemnation) should be immediately revoked. I’ve called for this for years, yet Mayor Lane and the City Council have ignored this fundamental problem.

We have had two decades of city government tinkering with the McDowell Road corridor (including the LARD, SkySong flooding the commercial office market, etc.), and most of the city’s “solutions” have made matters worse.

The city should make it clear to McDowell Road property owners that taxpayer subsidies are not in their future (not even for an elevated trail to nowhere) and that they need to deal with the realities of the free market. Any repurposing of properties must respect the adjoining neighborhoods.

What do you believe are specific steps the city can take to protect its tourism industry?

First and foremost our leaders have to recognize that Scottsdale is different for a reason. That reason is community character built upon high standards in development. We have a good set of development policies (embodied in the General Plan), and citizen involvement is critical to maintaining those standards and policies.

Recognizing our strengths and what draws tourists is a fundamental step to protecting and nurturing those characteristics. Only then can we leverage them for an even stronger tourism industry. Once those characteristics are lost—through poor planning practices—we can’t get them back.

If elected, what are some ways you would support businesses throughout Scottsdale?

Keeping Scottsdale a great place to live, work, and visit is the primary role of city government. If we do that, businesses will SURVIVE the current economic climate, and they will thrive when the economy finally rebounds.

Mayor Lane seems to have no problem eliminating red tape for developers seeking zoning concessions. We should be able to streamline city government for the benefit of small and medium-size businesses, too.

There are more than 5,000 apartment units planned throughout the city. Are you supportive of this number, and why or why not?

No. I do not support this drastic oversupply in the rental housing market; the citizen-ratified General Plan doesn’t support it; and the citizens through their rejection of the Proposition 430 changes to the General Plan have stated that they don’t want it. Neither is it supported by common sense or fundamentals of economics.

Developers don’t build what the market wants; they build what they can finance. The mayor’s economic advisors have told him that, too. Why won’t he listen?

Do you believe the city is doing enough to address concerns about improper behavior and the clustering of bars in the downtown entertainment-district? Why or why not?

Categorically the city is not doing enough to control these problems…and the city (Mayor Lane and the City Council) CREATED these problems.

The underlying problem with the bar district is that city staff and the council violated the fundamental purpose of zoning as well as the explicit purpose of the General Plan in locating the highest concentration of bars in Maricopa County across the street from an historic retirement community. They abused the conditional use permit process to do it, and have taken NO action to enforce the requirements of the CUPs to address the issues.

We need to STOP issuing CUPs until we can implement some real solutions, not only for noise and other offensive behaviors but also for fundamental issues like inadequate parking. The city treasurer has already debunked the myth that this activity generates positive economic impact for the city, so our leaders should stop perpetuating that myth. Instead, we need to do some HONEST analysis of what works in that area and what doesn’t.

What is the no. 1 quality you’d like to see in the next city manager?

Respect for the citizens and recognition of the purpose and value of THEIR General Plan. Of course, without a mayor and council who have the same respect, this is a meaningless quality in a city manager and he or she won’t last very long.

Do you agree with the direction the city has taken in terms of the downtown-infill incentive district? Why or why not?

The DIID is a fundamental violation of the General Plan, as well as a violation of the strict requirements for changing the General Plan. It radically altered the character of Downtown, to the detriment of the properties and residents adjoining DIID projects.

It was essentially a giant loophole to disregard the context in which projects were approved. The result was trading quality of life of the neighbors for the profit of select friends and campaign contributors. This is the very situation the General Plan was crafted to prevent.

<end questionaire>

Friends & Supporters: If my answers above resonate with you and agree with the vision you have for Scottsdale, please feel free to use one of the cute little buttons below this paragraph and share this article (or any others) with your friends. Scottsdale’s primary election is August 28th, but vote-by-mail ballots go out next week. I need your help in spreading the word – just a couple clicks from you will help do that. Thank you!  -JW

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