Littlefield: Why I’m voting ‘no’ on Scottsdale’s general plan update

Posted 10/11/21

There has been a lot of misinformation floating around about my position on the general plan update (Prop. 463) and I want to make sure everyone knows exactly where I stand on this issue.

I voted …

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Littlefield: Why I’m voting ‘no’ on Scottsdale’s general plan update


There has been a lot of misinformation floating around about my position on the general plan update (Prop. 463) and I want to make sure everyone knows exactly where I stand on this issue.

I voted to put general plan 2035 on the ballot so the voters can decide whether or not to approve it. But I will not personally be voting for it.

The general plan is the guiding document regarding the development of Scottsdale for the next 10 years. It defines us as a city and gives guidance as to who we are, what we want to be going forward, and how we plan to get there.

There is no penalty, financial or otherwise, for a city to take its time to produce an update that truly reflects the desires of its citizens, which this plan does not do.

There is, however, a huge penalty for approving a weak and flawed plan such as this. That penalty is compromising Scottsdale’s special character, economic vitality and high quality of life for at least a decade. That is why I believe we must reject this current offering and go back to the drawing board to craft a better plan.

To be a successful plan it needs to offer guidance and protections for Scottsdale’s high quality of life for all citizens who live here, work here, and own property here. This plan does not.

Here are just a few specific reasons why I believe this plan should not be approved:

The City Council removed from the plan, phrases and directions like “We will be one of the finest places to work, live and play, and a place where the past and the future join hands,” and “Scottsdale is a vibrant city, with the charm, look and feel of a much smaller community.”

Several places in the plan the word “alternative” transportation modes was included. Words like “appropriate” and “various” and as stated above “alternative” were substituted but never defined.

In many locations of the plan a reduction on dependence of the automobile was stated as desirable. How many of you drove today? Instead, we are to use “alternative modes of transportation.” Never defined. A bus? A trolley? Bikes?

By not using cars, we voluntarily limit our mobility and our freedom to move around the city as we wish.

There are definitely attempts to allow tall, massive development into the “growth” areas of Scottsdale.

Think about Shea Boulevard and 92nd Street, 94th Street and Greenbelt 88.
I quote from the plan: “Encourage a variety of compatible mixed-use land uses within or next to Growth and Activity Areas, along major streets, and within particular Character Areas to reduce automobile use.”

Does this remind you of 92nd Street and Shea? It also makes me think again about pushing us out of our cars and into public transportation. This is really why they want these huge “development areas.”

It is also an attempt to tie the vitality in Scottsdale to population growth in these growth areas.

It is ironic we are having this debate at the same time these three too-tall, too-dense traffic-clogging apartment proposals are being considered by the City Council.

Despite the fact each of these projects faces near unanimous opposition from the surrounding residential neighborhoods, all three of them could be approved.

Because this sort of over-development is exactly what voters said in the last two city elections they do not want, many citizens are, unsurprisingly, skeptical of the City Council’s commitment to upholding the will of the residents and are therefore less likely to approve this General Plan update.

Proponents say this large attempt at massing development is to reduce density in low-density areas and conserve energy.

How about we just say “no” to building more than the current land uses allow?

In another location the plan changes the following “Preserve land will remain as permanent open space” to “Alternatives to the natural state MAY be subject to a municipal election…” The Preserve Ordinance already allows for building maintenance/bathrooms/trails and trailheads.

What else could they be including? Or have we been here before? The language in the current 2001 plan is much clearer and more definitive.

Just a few things other things for you to contemplate:

For those of you who have been told the developers do not want this plan to pass, and that’s why they are being so quiet, stop and think a minute.

This plan encourages multi-family, high-rise dense apartment buildings. Therefore, developers need to buy less land and will get a higher profit from what they do buy.

If automobile usage also is discouraged in favor of public transportation (of any kind), developers then need to build fewer garages and parking spaces which are money losers for them.

Developers will need to purchase less land to build more apartments with fewer parking spaces. This reduces their costs and increases their profits.

They are being quiet because they want this general plan to pass. It’s more money in their pockets for less work.

Finally, I am saddened to see some proponents of this update saying we should vote for this update because “this is the best we can do.” I reject the idea Scottsdale citizens are satisfied to settle for less than the best.

In this case “good enough” is, well, not good enough.

Voters should reject this weak and flawed update and insist the City Council appoint a task force that truly represents a broad spectrum of Scottsdale residents to come up with a plan that truly reflects the desires of our citizens.

These are only some of the reasons I do not support the new general plan and will not vote for it. I do not believe it is in the best interests of the citizens or of the city.

Please join me in voting “no” on this plan.

Mail your ballot by Oct. 26, to be sure it reaches the county in time. The Indian Bend facility and City Hall will accept in-person ballots starting Oct. 6, weekdays (not weekend). Both will be open Nov. 1, until 7 p.m. City Hall will be open until 7 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Editor’s Note: Kathy Littlefield is an elected member of Scottsdale City Council currently serving her second term.