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My Turn: More thoughts on 'keeping' Scottsdale special by Bob Littlefield

I have used the slogan “Keep Scottsdale Special” in several of my political campaigns, including my recent unsuccessful run for mayor earlier this year. In fact, I literally own that name, having registered it as a trade name and as a web address. So, I was obviously interested to see architect Vern Swaback’s recent column mocking the very idea of “keeping” Scottsdale special.

Bob Littlefield

Sadly, his column repeats for the umpteenth time two falsehoods some members of the development community have been using for years to promote bad projects in Scottsdale.

It's not about opposition to change

The first of these falsehoods is that those of us who want to keep Scottsdale the special place it is are merely “opposed to change.” If I had a nickel for every time I have heard this nonsense during the 20 years I have been involved in Scottsdale development issues (including 12 years as a City Councilman) I could be retired on the Riviera by now!

I have to laugh at the idea that I of all people am “opposed to change.” During my 25 years in the computer industry I experienced – and embraced – more change than most people see in a lifetime. But that experience taught me not all change is good, and not every new idea qualifies as progress.

Over the last 60 years Scottsdale has indeed had many bold, visionary ideas such as 

 

the Indian Bend Wash, Civic Center Mall, mechanized refuse collection, the STEP Committees and Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. But, sadly, most of what has been proposed to the City Council during the last 20 years has been tall, dense and ugly high-rises that block our views, clog our streets and overstress our infrastructure. The development community has hyped them as "bold, visionary, iconic and world class." But the only thing bold about them is the level of greed exhibited by the special interests who want Scottsdale residents to compromise our high design and development standards for their own short-term profit.

And make no mistake, Mr. Swaback is one of those special interests who benefits handsomely from the “change” he professes to love. In his column, he should have disclosed that in June of this year he received over a half-million Scottsdale tax dollars to design the Desert Discovery Center (DDC), a project uniformly opposed by residents and beloved only by those who stand to profit from it. This on top of the $400,000 Scottsdale tax dollars he received in January 2010, also for DDC design work.

Knowing this, readers would be justified in asking whether Mr. Swaback’s enthusiasm for “change” is motivated by a love of Scottsdale or by personal material gain.

There's good growth and bad, parasitic growth

The second falsehood in Mr. Swaback’s column is the assertion “each and every decision is either on the side of growth and renewal or death and decline.” Once again, there is good growth and there is bad, parasitic growth, and forcing Scottsdale residents to accept bad, parasitic growth is the actual path to the decline of Scottsdale’s special character and high quality of life.

For most of Scottsdale’s history our city was able to accommodate reasonable growth while preserving and enhancing Scottsdale’s special character. Smart developers were fine with building within the high design and development standards enacted by concerned and involved Scottsdale residents, because they knew in the long run doing so would make their projects more valuable.

It is only in the last few years this win-win approach has been abandoned. Today, a few special interests use their ability to influence city elections with vast amounts of campaign cash to exploit Scottsdale’s special character and high quality of life at the expense of Scottsdale residents.

This is a trend we need to reverse if we hope to, dare I say it, Keep Scottsdale Special!

Bob Littlefield is a former Scottsdale City Councilman. Reach him at bob@boblittlefield.com or www.boblittlefield.com.

 

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My Turn: More thoughts on 'keeping' Scottsdale special by Bob Littlefield
@TPScottsdale tweeted link to this page. 2016-12-15 07:05:11 -0700
published this page in Scottsdale City Council & DDC 2016-12-15 07:05:03 -0700