By Laraine Rodgers
There has been a lot of focus recently on the subject of Scottsdale’s General Plan. It’s one of the top campaign issues heading into the city’s upcoming mayoral and City Council races. It clearly is one of the most pressing concerns on the minds of many residents in the city.
A citizen review committee (CRC) has been appointed to update the General Plan that will go to the City Council for review and action and ultimately to city residents to approve in 2021. As its work continues, it would be helpful to know how the city’s overall planning framework operates.
The city’s municipal planning process (see chart at end of this article) consists of an integrated framework at three levels, policy, regulatory/strategy and operations.The General Plan is the primary tool used to guide short- and long-term decision making for the city’s operations. Starting with a shared vision and guiding principles, the goals and policies are implemented through ordinances, regulations and procedures. Community input and feedback are received throughout the process.
Character Area Plans
“The city of Scottsdale has a long history of using area-based plans to provide policy and program direction for certain areas of the city. Consequently, Character Area Plans are components of the General Plan that focus on long range, area-related goals and policies. To avoid repetition, Character Area Plans supplement the city-wide goals and policies provided by the General Plan.” — Source: City of Scottsdale
There are three levels of the city’s planning process:
–Level 1: Citywide Planning: This incorporates policies that that apply to the city overall.
–Level 2: Character Area Planning: These plans, developed on a priority basis over a period of time, address goals and special attributes of areas like land use, infrastructure and broad urban architectural design philosophy.
–Level 3: Neighborhood Planning: These plans identify and implement efforts to improve specific neighborhoods within the city.
As of today, seven Character Area Plans have been adopted:
–Cactus Corridor (1992)
–Shea Area (1993)
–Desert Foothills (1999)
–Dynamite Foothills (2000)
–Southern Scottsdale (2010)
–Greater Airpark/Airport (2010)
–Old Town/downtown Scottsdale (2018)
Three of these plans — Southern Scottsdale, the Greater Airpark/Airport and Old Town/downtown Scottsdale — have been designated as growth areas, meaning areas considered as most appropriate for development focus. Old Town/downtown is the most recently updated plan.Since its adoption in 1984, the downtown Scottsdale plan had been successful at shaping its area’s growth, both financially and physically. Over time, the majority of the goals, policies and implementation programs established by the community have been successfully accomplished under the plan.
In January 2018 the City Council initiated the review of the 2009 downtown plan to adjust to changes in business, residential and retail uses. The city staff conducted a six-month public outreach process to obtain the community’s vision and goals for downtown and worked to align it with other plans adopted in prior years.Because the city rebranded downtown Scottsdale as Old Town Scottsdale after a year-long outreach project, the revised plan was renamed the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan. City Council adopted it in July 2019. The city’s website lists several resources related to the Old Town Character Area Plan, including the Old Town Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines.
The General Plan
The work of the Citizen’s Review Committee (CRC) is a vital step in the update of the General Plan. State Statutes for public participation will be followed in all steps throughout the process:
· January to December 2020: CRC established; review and make recommendations on the Draft 2035 Plan. The Final Draft 2035 Plan will be released for community, Planning Commission and City Council consideration.
· January to July 2021: The Final Draft 2035 Plan will undergo public outreach: city boards and commissions, community open houses, study session, working sessions.
Laraine Rodgers is a former chief information officer, long-time Scottsdale resident and civic leader and director of operations for SCOTT.
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