Fishman: A letter to City Council as it considers Old Town Scottsdale guidelines

Posted 12/7/21

I cannot emphasize enough the need for growth in Scottsdale. Great cities and great companies don’t get better or maintain their status without growth.

I believe the Scottsdale debate …

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Fishman: A letter to City Council as it considers Old Town Scottsdale guidelines


I cannot emphasize enough the need for growth in Scottsdale. Great cities and great companies don’t get better or maintain their status without growth.

I believe the Scottsdale debate between limiting growth and allowing for growth is misunderstood due to the rhetoric from political divisions.

Building heights and density are not growth. They are the fighting words used by growth opponents. This is a mating call to many citizens who are inclined to keep Scottsdale the same. Many of those citizens fail to fully understand the economic consequences of this position.

It also does not comport with the current general plan, which has nothing to do with zoning. Growth includes building heights and density when properly located, designed, and of value to the specific area. It also includes the arts, opportunities, community engagement, transportation, open space and more.

In the revitalization chapter of the general plan, it is recognized that most of the future development in Scottsdale will consist of revitalization redevelopment and infill projects. It also emphasizes certain growth areas.

This recognizes an intention to direct high intensity growth and development to preserve lower-intensity and open space throughout our community. It also emphasizes the need to preserve community character but allow for growth to reach other required goals of economic vitality, further development of arts and culture, and becoming a continuously desirable entry point for visitors.

In addition, the growth of downtown must be effectively utilized as an area of growth allowing for smart and world class density and architecture. Today our government seems more inclined to say no to new projects. It this continues our economic viability will greatly diminish within the next decade and probably sooner. Do we want to continue to double down on tourism as our economic engine or have a greater percentage of our revenues from a diversity of sources?

Great leaders see the future and make decisions, often difficult, regardless of the politics and re-election consequences. Currently our City Council is not doing so. Perhaps this is due to the rather weak performance objectives of council in support of the strategic plan.

For instance, the Economic Vitality objective has numerous elements incomplete. However, of even greater importance is the objectives themselves.

Are they specific and measurable? Who does the evaluation?

For starters I would have City Council rethink its objectives as well as do a self evaluation of its performance during the last 12-18 months. This should be presented to the public. I would also suggest that Mayor Ortega start this process in his annual review of the city.

We have a great place to live, play, and grow personally and professionally. So far, I mostly see accolades for who we are and not for who we should strive to become. Please move forward in a thoughtful way to ensure our continued success in the future. Right now, we are stagnant and riding the wave of tourism.

Editor’s Note: Robert Fishman is a resident of Scottsdale.


2 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • jason.alexander

    Very perceptive article. Great job laying out the facts of how Downtown ties in to our economy and its vital importance to the city as it moves forward. Unfortunately, several on Council are unwilling, unable, or uninterested in understanding how our local economy works.

    Councilor Littlefield only cares about the immediate present; she has no vision for the future beyond finding a parking spot on her next trip Downtown. She listens only to people who think of their present, not their future.

    Councilor Whitehead doesnt understand our finances, she is outside her expertise managing something as complex as our City. She doesnt listen to experts or delegate well. She's not a capable executive and leads our city to bad, or more often ineffective, decisions.

    Mr. Ortega wants to rollback our zoning to suit the City of 40 yrs ago. He wants to dictate his vision for the City, not the public's vision. He has no support other than a few landlords downtown.

    Littlefield and Whitehead hopefully will be voted out in 2022, and Ortega in 2024, so we can continue being a prosperous, world-class City.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2021 Report this

  • xway.mike.norton

    Well said, Mr. Fishman.

    Over the next few weeks the City staff will present to City Council an analysis of the 2020 U.S. Census.

    We will learn that our City shrank in population - while all other cities grew.

    We will learn that our City aged.

    We will learn that the Family Age Group Demographic shrank sharply.

    In other word, we are a slowly dying City. But we are not dying from the head. We are dying from the foundation. Until we find a way to embrace and attract households with children we will continue to die through slow atrophy of our community.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2021 Report this