Ortega: General Plan 2035 must not fail due to leadership

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In 2020-21, new citizen-driven committees, city staff, vital citizen input and City Council must create an acceptable city blueprint, called General Plan 2035.

The only current, valid document is General Plan 2001, which was ratified by Scottsdale voters in 2002, when I served as city councilman (2000-04).

General Plan 2035 is a long-over-due document. Somewhat similar to the 9/11 era, it which must be completed during a crisis --- the COVID-19 crisis. We may have physical limitations, for the time being, but we must succeed.

Arizona “Growing Smarter” legislation and the Scottsdale City Charter mandate that our city adopt a General Plan every 10 years. Yet in 2010-11, the City Council, including Councilwoman Korte, Councilwoman Klapp, Councilwoman Borowsky and Councilman Bob Littlefield presented General Plan 2011, which voters defeated in 2012.

Rather than reworking objections, council relied on extensions and city legal opinions to bypass GP-2001 directives, such as Major Plan Amendments criteria.

But I digress. The current disconnect of City Council and citizens correlates with failure to abide by a citizen-driven General Plan. Our General Plan 2035 must not be allowed to fail due to poor leadership.

Back in 2000-01, even with the 9/11 attack, it took a great deal of on-the ground, citywide meetings to listen, gather diverse views and create GP-2001. As council members, we broke up in pairs to attend community meetings.

Councilman Tom Silverman and I were a defenders of the downtown, Councilmen Ned O’Hearn and Wayne Ecton were champions of the ESLO refinement and Character Study basics, Councilman Robert Pettycrew, Councilwoman Cynthia Lukas and I worked on downtown, economic revitalization and neighborhoods and Mayor Mary Manross went everywhere.

It was a team effort and we all made it a point to rotate to each area, never having more than three council members present, to conform with the Open Meeting Law.

It was an enormous task in 2000-01, and if I recall correctly, Ned O’Hearn (an English major), applied his meticulous wordcraftsmanship --- great asset to us.

Today, because of COVID-19 restrictions, we will not have the personal contact, sidebar conversations and live without personal tone in written texts.

The General Plan 2035 should have the leadership of the mayor, who has institutional memory of a successful General Plan process. Since most of the staff has retired, staff must be reminded that GP2035 is not a blank slate.

General Plan 2035 will define our community goals for growth, neighborhood life, character, human services, transportation, economic vitality, Western heritage, parks and recreation and city council accountability. I helped craft the Guiding Principles and Vision of General Plan 2001, which must be interwoven into GP2035.

City staff is rolling out the game plan to initiate citizen responses. As a candidate for mayor, please join with me now, in this citizen-driven process.

We must ensure that our citizen-driven guiding principles direct the future city council decisions; not where council makes decisions on their own.

I have the architect planning experience and councilman experience to listen, learn and lead.

Editor’s Note: Dave Ortega is a candidate for mayor of Scottsdale, an architect and former City Councilman. Go to electDaveOrtegaMayor.com.

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