As a resident of Scottsdale for 16 years, I have seen significant change in our community.
Some of it has been positive, but more recently the over development has become a major concern.
The impact of this rapid growth and development is being felt throughout our city. Views have been lost. Population density has increased.
Traffic is snarled. All of which have a costly effect on city infrastructure and resources. The current City Council majority continues to ignore the voice of the citizens and instead grants developers and land owners any change they request with no regard for its impact on the city and its residents.
It is time for a change. It is time to have a City Council that is responsive to citizens. I am running for City Council to usher in this change.
I have seen these issues and heard the concerns of our citizens first hand. As president of Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, I witnessed virtually all requests for higher density through “zoning district map amendments” be routinely approved by our City Council majority without even questioning its impact on the city.
There is no recognition of the existing zoning, existing Character Areas, or the General Plan, which I naively thought were promises by the city to maintain the continuity of our neighborhoods and protect our quality of life.
Unfortunately, City Council majority continues unfazed by the objections of its citizens and bends to the whims of developers.
No area in the city is immune from these changes as high rise apartments, office buildings, and densely packed subdivisions are being approved everywhere. Citizens voiced their objections to many if not all of these developments only to be ignored by the council majority.
Looking forward, zoning regulations need to be tightened, loopholes need to be closed (such as phantom parking which allows a developer with insufficient parking spaces to pay a fee to offset the deficiency), and granting “bonus height and density” allowances with no benefit to the city or the public stopped.
All requests for zoning and/or General Plan changes must be reviewed with careful consideration of the short and long term consequences. Both the quality of life of our residents, and the financial impact on our city budget, need to be major considerations to grant any change.
Currently, Scottsdale is in violation of Arizona state law because it has not provided a voter-approved updated General Plan every 10 years. The General Plan is the guiding light for community goals on growth, development, and character of our city. It should be the citizens’ vision of how the city will grow.
This is why voter ratification is required. Previous attempts to update this 20 year old plan have failed.
The citizens voted down the most recent plan update in March, 2012 because it failed to satisfy their concerns. The city then directed that more outreach be conducted. Citizen committees were formed to draft a new General Plan.
Following agreement by these citizens, the final document was submitted to the city in fall 2016. Council members did not like the citizens’ proposal, so they shelved it rather than submitting it to the voters for ratification. It never saw the light of day --- another total disregard for the wishes of the citizens!
Currently the city is updating the General Plan. Let’s make sure it represents us.
The one single issue that was of greatest concern to me, and got me involved, was the city’s plan to build a $65 million Desert Discovery Center (Desert Edge) in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
As you are well aware, the Preserve was formed, ratified, and paid for by the citizens of Scottsdale. Yet the City Council majority attempted to proceed with this boondoggle without citizen approval despite overwhelming vehement citizen disapproval.
In reaction, two other concerned citizens and I filed bylaws on July 8, 2016, that formed the nonprofit corporation Protect Our Preserve. This started a nearly three year arduous journey to bring Prop 420 to the ballot box to give Scottsdale citizens a vote, and therefore control of any Preserve development.
Prop 420 passed with over 70% voter approval. This has effectively stopped the four member City Council majority from interfering with the citizens’ desire to keep the Preserve as pristine Sonoran desert.
I am most appreciative of the hundreds of Scottsdale citizens who worked tirelessly for passage of Prop 420. However, citizens should not be forced to undertake such a labor intensive, expensive project every time they object to City Council decisions.
Instead let’s elect a resident friendly City Council in 2020. Let’s elect council members who listen to the citizens. Let’s restore the citizens’ trust in City Council. This is my goal.
If you agree with me, vote Janik 2020.
Editor’s Note: Betty Janik is a Scottsdale resident, president of the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale and candidate for Scottsdale City Council.