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Doug Reed's Update on the Scottsdale City Council, January 20, 2017

Scottsdale is again offering a program called “Scottsdale City Government 101.” It is a free program consisting of a series of meetings summarizing how the various departments of our city government function. There will be a series of 8 weekly sessions beginning this March running from noon until 2:00 on Thursdays at 7506 E Indian School Road. Free food is included. If you are interested, please see me after the meeting.

We finally have a new City Manager-Jim Thompson, the former City Manager of Casa Grande. Among the urgent issues he will face: Downtown parking (lack thereof) due to explosive growth; Need for additional fire and police services in South Scottsdale, again due to rapid growth; Additional investment in infrastructure which has been neglected for several years.

As of fiscal year end 2016, the City had $34 million in its Unreserved Fund Balance, an increase of $4 million over the projected amount. This is money the City has collected, but has not yet figured out how to spend. If you have any thoughts, let the City Council know.

 SHORT TERM RENTALS-Our state legislature, in May of this year, enacted a bill which states, in part “A city or town may not restrict the use of or regulate vacation or short term rentals…”. Essentially, cities cannot place zoning restrictions on short term rentals which are 

inconsistent with zoning on single family homes. We might think of this as the AirBnB law. Currently, Scottsdale limits short term rentals to zoning districts which permit hotels, motels and resorts, so we are not in compliance with the new state law. City Council discussed and passed, reluctantly but unanimously an amendment to the zoning ordinance so that we are now in compliance with state law. 
There was a fair amount of discussion related to how to protect the rights of individual property owners to use their property as they see fit while still protecting neighbor’s rights. The Council’s concerns seemed to center on how to avoid the abuses that disrupt a neighborhood such as one house in an area becoming “party central” every weekend. No solution offered, but Council will work on it.  This item has been agendized, so it will come up at a later City Council meeting. Potential solutions include changing the local ordinance to add penalties for the owner as well as the tenant, and revocable license provisions, as well as an effort to change the State law.

Here is an example of how people can get together and work with the City to accomplish a goal. Arizona Public Service, in order to add capacity to its North Scottsdale service area, is building a new 69kV power line. It will be constructed on steel poles about 65 feet high. It will run from the substation near 90th Street and Raintree to the substation near 91st Street about ½ mile north of Bell. Property owners who will be impacted by the overhead lines are forming an Underground Improvement District to bury a portion of  the lines. The extra cost is about $3 million, which will be front end funded by APS and  repaid by the property owners  over 15 years, with the City collecting the money and forwarding it to APS. The process is complicated, involving figuring out the area to be included, getting approval of more the half of the owners, and then figuring out how to apportion the votes (does someone who owns two acres have twice the votes of someone who owns one acre?). I should note that only a portion of the power line will be buried. The rest will be above ground.

Anyone who has tried to park in the downtown area might be interested in this-the In-lieu Parking Program. This program has been in effect at least 25 years. Basically, if you want to redevelop a downtown property, you can pay the City an extra fee so that you don’t have to provide as many parking spaces as city code requires. The fee is currently slightly over $13,000 per parking space. (It started out at $7,500 in 1992 and has been indexed for inflation). There is a fairly extensive application process, including City Council approval.  If you are an optimist, you might say that this park-in-lieu program encourages property owners to renovate rundown and outmoded sites. A pessimist might say that the program invites property owners to skimp on parking in order to increase the size, rents, and values of their properties. According to Councilman Smith, the in-lieu    fund currently has a balance of $386,000. That money is dedicated to improving downtown parking.  Just yesterday, Council approved a project at 6900 1st Ave which involves teardown of two older homes on about a one half acre lot to be replaced with a 15,000 square foot three story office building which includes one level for 17 parking spaces. City code requires 33 parking spaces, leaving a deficit of 16 spaces. The property owner will make a one time payment of $208,000 ($13,000 per space) to the City’s in-lieu fund. Council congratulated the owner on the design of the property, expressed concern about the parking situation downtown, voted 7-0 in favor of the project, and agreed to discuss how to solve the parking issue at a future meeting.

Virginia Korte & 80 acre parcel

You may know that I am on the Bond Oversight Committee for oversight on the street repaving and fire station bonds which we passed recently. We meet quarterly and have had four meetings so far. There are seven members on the committee, and several city staff, including the treasurer and public works director also attend. We are given a power point presentation and invited to ask questions.  I have been a little surprised at the brevity of the power points, and at the lack of questions from the committee members, but I have been reasonably pleased with the response from the city staff to the questions which are asked. At the most recent meeting, for example, I requested that the city treasurer put together a presentation on his plans for actually issuing the bonds. He will do this at our next meeting in April. A quick note on the bonds-no bonds have been issued yet, although the city has paid for some of the repaving and fire station projects. The city could issue the bonds right away, put the money in a checking account, and pay the contractors as the work progresses. However, the city has  allocated but unspent money in other segregated accounts. What they are doing is “loaning” at no charge money to the paving and fire station accounts. When the amount spent justifies the issuance of a bond, the city will use the proceeds to repay the segregated accounts. 

A brief history of the bond program:

We voted to approve $12.5 million to repave (the City advertised) 140 miles of deteriorated pavement. We will actually get about 38 miles for our $12.5 million. The reason for the difference is that the City when they promoted the project, was talking about “lane miles”. A lane mile is one lane of a street repaved for one mile. Thus, a four lane street repaved for one mile would be four lane miles.
It would have been worse (the original projection was for only 29 miles rather than 38)  until your Bond Oversight Committee pointed out that wheelchair ramps, which constituted a large percentage of the cost, were being included with the bond expenses. The ramps will now be paid for using transportation sales tax money, resulting in all of the bond money going to repaving. Repaving, by the way, is scheduled so as not to conflict with the traffic congestion during the tourist season, and also can only be done during limited temperature ranges, so the construction does not run for 12 months per year.


Lone Mountain & Cave Creek-Architect has been hired to design the station for $311,000, which is $70,000 less than budgeted. Construction should be completed about the end of 2018.

Jomax & Hayden-Construction should start early next year to be completed mid 2018

Station relocation-A location on Indian Bend near Pima has been purchased for $250,000 more than budgeted. The property owner is threatening to sue to retain his property, but the court has determined that the City has the right of eminent domain. The City has posted a bond for the purchase price and has the right to build while the potential suit progresses. Legal expenses will be paid using bond money.


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published this page in Scottsdale City Council & DDC 2017-01-21 08:57:02 -0700