Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scottsdale City Council and the Master Transportation Plan

Tonight, the Scottsdale City Council is meeting for its last meeting of 2007.

In addition to the normal consent agenda (mostly mundane stuff like licenses and such), the Council will be reviewing the Transportation Master Plan.

There are sure to be many controversial elements of the plan (a reversible center lane on Indian School Road, for instance), but none more so than the High Capacity Transit element, also known as Light Rail.

Opposition to even simple discussion of light rail in Scottsdale has already been loud and emotional, as this story from the AZ Rep demonstrates.

Tonight's meeting is certain to be as contentious as any that I've seen over the last 18 months of meetings (started paying attention in June 2006).

Unfortunately, tonight is also the night of the LD17 Dems' holiday party, and while I would love to attend the City Council meeting, the LD17 Dems are a *lot* more fun than the Scottsdale City Council to hang around with. :))

As such, I won't be able to comment at the meeting, and instead submitted the following public comment concerning agenda item 12, the Transportation Master Plan -

Mayor Manross and members of the Scottsdale City Council -

Tonight, you are considering the study results, elements, and previous recommendations concerning the Transportation Master Plan.

My comment is specific to one possible facet of Scottsdale's transportation future, High Capacity Transit, also known as 'light rail.'

Much of the 'discussion' surrounding the issue has consisted of people loudly proclaiming that light rail is not in keeping with Scottsdale's lifestyle or status as “the West's Most Western City.”

They ignore the fact that Scottsdale's 'lifestyle,' with its many amenities and services, is paid for by an economic core that is driven by a vibrant retail and commercial sector in downtown and north Scottsdale, a core that is moving east, south, and west as other Valley cities modernize while many here simply yearn for a return of Scottsdale's halcyon days as an unpaved, cotton-growing, tourist trap.

They also ignore the fact that the city's “most western city” slogan is just that
these days – a slogan, and nothing more. After all, when was the last time that there was a call out to the City to clean road apples off of one of its streets?* (smiling as that is said)

* = on non-Parada del Sol days

What you, the elected leaders of Scottsdale cannot ignore, is your duty to address
the future needs of Scottsdale.

That duty means that the Council must give an objective and complete evaluation of the HCT options, regardless of the emotional appeal or political convenience of nostalgic calls for a return to yesteryear.

Let me quote a letter to the editor in opposition, written by Clara Beauchamp -

“A lot of people don't seem to realize that Scottsdale is different than most towns and its very difference has been one of its greatest assets.”

If perhaps the name of the author is less recognizable than her sentiments, that might be because the letter was to the editor of the Scottsdale Progress and it was published in the April 19, 1951 edition of that paper.

And Ms. Beauchamp opposed the incorporation of Scottsdale.

That turned out reasonably well, don't you think?

Thank you.

Some things that I learned during the research for this comment/post -

...In 1951, Scottsdale had a population of approximately 2000 residents; now, it has approximately 250, 000, a growth of over 125 times.

...For an even sharper growth rate, consider this - in 1951, Scottsdale had two physicians; now, it has over 1300, a growth of over 650 times.

[Note - thanks to Roger at the Arizona Medical Board for quickly tracking down that 1951 number for me.]

...It didn't surprise me to find out that no one at the City of Scottsdale or the Arizona Department of Agriculture knew how many horses there are in Scottsdale today, much less in 1951, because that's a rather obscure statistic, but I was surprised by one thing.

It seems that ADOT's Motor Vehicle Division doesn't know how many vehicles are registered to Scottsdale addresses. I was told that they only break down the data "to county level."

Ummm, yeah. Either there's a lie there, or the MVD's computers and software are shamefully out of date.

...I learned that writing a short persuasive piece, such as the comment to the City Council is tougher than a longer expository one. It took me all day to write the comment, and I had put some thought into it over the weekend already. The rest of this post took just a matter of minutes.

Other Scottsdale campaign updates -

Mayor Mary Manross has a campaign website up now (info courtesy an AZ Rep article);

Council candidate Joel Bramoweth's site is here.

I can't find websites for the other announced or rumored candidates as yet, but that will change as we move further into the campaign season.


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