Opinion

Norton: State weighs in on Scottsdale’s ‘desert rural’ land use suggestion

Posted 3/24/21

Let there be no mistake. The desert rural designation and the onerous super-majority requirements created by the proposed general plan will crush land values.

Our state relies on high land values …

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Opinion

Norton: State weighs in on Scottsdale’s ‘desert rural’ land use suggestion

Posted

Let there be no mistake. The desert rural designation and the onerous super-majority requirements created by the proposed general plan will crush land values.

Our state relies on high land values to fund our K-12 schools. The “Don’t Call Me No-Growthers” on our City Council forgot about kids a couple of generations ago after theirs left home.

But a billion-dollar loss in land value for the 1,280 acres on Jomax Road and another 1,000+ acres on Pima Road did not escape the attention of our state’s property managers.

Our state is not alone in its anger. Hundreds of land-owners bought the land to the north hoping that they could create some permanent value for their kids and grandkids after they subdivided in to generously large 1+ acre lots.

But none of that is good enough for the “No-Growthers-But-Don’t-Call-Us-No-Growthers” who hope to impose draconian restrictions on development north of Loop 101.

There are issues that define the career of every elected official. Those voted out in 2018 and 2020 are tattooed forever as “too builder-friendly” or the “Desert Discovery Center Advocates.”

The 2021 City Council will be labeled the most self-destructive in the history of the city if they persist with the proposed desert rural plan. Don’t believe me.

Watch the plaintiffs’ law firms line up for the slaughter. Then watch the bond traders.

You cannot hammer the values of the land owned by 1,400 people who thought they now owned million-dollar building lots, but now find they own “I don’t know what value” building lots without expecting to get sued.

You cannot hammer the value of the State Trust Lands, which also hammers state K-12 funding without invoking the wrath of educators and bringing the wrath of the state down on us.

Our city really will get sued. It’s not a thought. It’s a reality.

And in all likelihood our city will lose. The 7,000-plus acres impacted will decline in value by not less than $1.5 billion. Who will pay that tab? The Janik/Durham-led COGS? The Littlefield-led anti-growth majority? Or all of us?

The answer, of course, is “all of us.”

If we are foolish enough to allow the desert rural designation to go through, Scottsdale bonds are an immediate short sale.  We will get sued. We will lose. We will owe over $1 billion to those damaged. They will profit from our loss.

No worries, however. We can always sell off 1,000 acres of the Preserve to cover the jury award of damages, right? Or perhaps we could back away from this foolish proposal.

Editor’s Note: Mike Norton is executive director of Athena Foundation Scottsdale and longtime Scottsdale resident.

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