Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Scottsdale Nimby Sighting and Update

Apparently south Scottsdale and north Scottsdale have two (and perhaps only two) things in common - the name 'Scottsdale' and a lot of Nimby-ites.

...Went to a meeting of the Community Council of South Scottsdale tonight and found out that Nimby-itis isn't restricted to the denizens of north Scottsdale.

The main thrust of the meeting was an update and discussion with City staffers on redevelopment activity in south Scottsdale, particularly in the McDowell Road corridor.

One of the proposals that was discussed, in fact, the main topic at the meeting, was a pending proposal for redevelopment of the current Los Arcos Crossing location at the southwest corner of Miller and McDowell Roads.

The proposal/idea that was presented by Rick Sodja of retail developers PDG America and lawyer Lynne Lagarde of Earl, Curley & Lagarde, P.C (I think!) was for a mixed use project with some retail space, some office space, and 595 units of residential space (mixed rental and townhome).

The crowd in attendance stirred when they heard about the residential component, but when they heard about the height of the residential structures planned for the center of the location - 5 stories, 60 feet - they just about flipped.

More than a few mutters of "that's not Scottsdale" and the like could be heard among the shouts of outrage and consternation.

I don't know if this is actually a good proposal or not and can't comment on that; however, this meeting showcased something else that I've noticed about this area of the city.

Many of the residents of south Scottsdale cry out for new retail and other commercial developments for shopping and dining, but then object to any new developments that include a residential component to make the project financially viable. They ignore the fact that most businesses are unable to make a sustainable profit in the area because of the low density and dominance of the working class or retired demographics of the residential areas and hence avoid it.

In addition, many of the attendees cited the recently-opened Tempe Marketplace and wonder why that couldn't have happened in south Scottsdale, ignoring the fact that the Tempe Marketplace was built on 300 basically empty acres. South Scottsdale is basically completely built out - creation of any site large enough for serious development requires the assembly of a large number of lots into one parcel and tearing down any existing structures.

An often prohibitively expensive process, that.

The folks in this part of the city have to make a choice, and understand that whatever choice they make will have effects, some of which they won't like.

We can keep on trying to hang on to the Scottsdale of the past, and sit back and whine when modern businesses operating under modern business models take one look at the faux Pleasantville of south Scottsdale and pass us by; or

We can accept that change is going to happen, with some aspects that some folks don't consider to be part of 'traditional Scottsdale' such as taller structures or higher residential density, and *control* it. These days, to too many people, "control" means "block."

As for the situation right now, too many of the residents (and at least a couple of City Council members) are wondering where 1960s-era Scottsdale went, and how they can get it back. Activists fight any changes in Scottsdale, and are just effective enough that development in the area can be haphazard and uncoordinated. Often, there are infrastructure and congestion problems, or unexpected neighborhood disruptions.

Not all development is good, and not all development is bad, either.

Unfortunately, the City Council, the City Staff, and the City's activists seem to fall into either one camp or the other.

None are looking for that elusive middle ground.

Other notes from the meeting:

Campaign season has started - candidate Nan Nesvig was there with petitions in hand, and Councilmembers Tony Nelssen and Bob Littlefield made their presence known, too.

Nelssen, while sounding basically opposed to the Los Arcos Crossing project, expressed a desire that if it comes to fruition some of the rental units be set aside as 'workforce housing' with "deed restrictions" limiting tenants to 'good' workers like teachers, firefighters, and police officers. No "landscapers" or the like would be allowed.

Damn, I love code words. They reveal as much about what the user means as the actual words would.

Councilman Littlefield used the meeting as an opportunity to more than once call for "regime change in 2008."

Oh, and a north Scottsdale Nimby update -

Some north Scottsdale speed cameras have been shut off at night because people in the area are bothered by the flashes.

From the AZ Republic article on the subject -
Scottsdale police have shut down the Pima Road speed cameras for unspecified hours at night after neighbors complained about the bright flashes.

The cameras, on Pima Road north of the Loop 101, are operating the rest of the day and will be back in service as soon as the city can keep the lights from bothering nearby neighbors, said police Sgt. Mark Clark.

Apparently, the concept of closing blinds is too subtle for the denizens of north Scottsdale. :))

Note: As I wrote earlier, I don't know if the Los Arcos Crossing project is a good one. However, Mr. Sodja and Ms. Largarde were verbally beat on by almost everyone at the meeting, but they never lost their cools, and should be commended both for their politeness and their willingness to bravely venture into the "lion's den" (aka - they knew the audience would be hostile and still showed up).

They acquitted themselves well.


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