Stockdale Capital Partners owners Shawn and Steven Yari own over 30 acres of land and buildings in the northeast part of downtown Scottsdale, 24 acres located east of Scottsdale Road and south of Camelback Road including the Galleria Corporate Centre. It includes portions of the Entertainment District and its popular bars and restaurants. The first request of The Collective entitlement effort is to replace the Dakota Bar with a boutique hotel.
The development will help attract jobs and businesses to downtown Scottsdale, diversifying the local economy and tax base to help bring back to life tourism, hospitality, restaurants, and major events. The Scottsdale Collective brings an economic shot in the arm at a time when city needs it most.
The Scottsdale Collective adds new public and green spaces to an area without any, and will substantially increase the amount of shade, solar and public art in a key part of downtown Scottsdale not known for charm or architectural significance. Sidewalks will be widened, and pedestrian circulation dramatically improved at one of the city’s most iconic intersections.
The Scottsdale Collective will add new restaurants, residences, and hotels to the Entertainment District under the new plans and help the area mature and grow beyond its current collection of bars under the new plans. The area would be transformed over a number of years into a multi-generational tourist destination and expand the area’s appeal to families, young professionals, and the arts community.
“We are excited to significantly upgrade and mature Scottsdale’s Entertainment District and invest in the community when it needs it most. We have a positive plan focused on the arts, shade, engaging architecture, and significant pedestrian improvements. We truly believe it can and should be Scottsdale’s next great neighborhood,” said Shawn Yari, managing partner and co-founder of Stockdale Capital Partners and its predecessor family business Triyar Companies LLC.Read More
Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty Agent Preston Westmoreland is the listing agent for the Golden Star Ranch at 7718 East Golden Reef Road, Cave Creek, Arizona 85331. The asking price is $2.9 million.
The Cave Creek property features a main ranch house, casitas, horse trails and horse stalls and mountainside building sites potentially for new homes.
“This secret sanctuary offers unparalleled seclusion and peace as well as picturesque Arizona views and landscapes. The property is also a modern-day Garden of Eden with lush flower beds and more than 50 varieties of fruit and nut trees,” Westmoreland said. “People can’t believe they are in the desert.”
Westmoreland said the Cave Creek Ranch was recently the site of a Hollywood production for a science fiction movie called Solus. Westmoreland said the film’s director, Adrian Carr, picked the Arizona location because of its picturesque cliffs and rugged mountains.
The ranch also has historic roots serving as large mining camp with gold mines. A huge stamp mill used at the Gold Reef Ranch was donated and reassembled piece-by-piece at the Cave Creek Museum. Mineral rights come with sale of the property. Buyers also haven an option to purchase an additional 40 acres of adjacent land.
Nationally, Phoenix experienced the largest increase in rental prices last year and those higher rents only add to the financial squeeze middle-income renters already face. Greenlight is determined to ease some of this burden. The company is making a $325 million investment in new housing across the region.
Greenlight has developed an innovative business model that reduces design and construction costs so its high-quality communities can offer less expensive rents. Greenlight has brought contracting and subcontracting work in-house and has maximized construction efficiencies to help reduce costs.
“At Greenlight Communities, we have been able to eliminate many of the cost and time constraints other building projects and apartment communities around the country inevitably experience. We do this effectively by removing the middleman and streamlining our design and building process. For each new community, we use our own construction and administration staff, as well as the same Cabana design, with exactly the same blueprint for every project. This has virtually removed the long permit delays and higher construction costs that unfortunately get passed down to renters. Every aspect of the building design has been value engineered to eliminate material waste and labor inefficiencies, resulting in a significant savings. The best part is that this innovative design process takes nothing away from what the renters get from our housing. It allows for us to provide the community with attainable housing, in a time when it has never been so crucial. We understand the strain Valley residents are under and we are proud to be offering housing that can ease some of that burden.” said Patricia Watts, Principal and co-founder of Greenlight Communities.
Greenlight has identified an additional gap they knew they could fill. Historically, Phoenix has experienced a lack of studio rental options. Greenlight, however, recognizes that there is a demand for studio units, and that demand is only growing. Studios offer an affordable option for residents who want to live alone, for health and other reasons. “We are producing more studio units so renters can afford to live alone, allowing them to feel self-sufficient and free from having to share a place with roommates. Hard-working renters deserve their own space in a new, intelligently designed community they can feel proud of, and we are proud to be providing just that,” said Rob Lyles, Principal and Co-founder of Greenlight Communities.
Phoenix rents rose 3 times faster than the U.S. average during the past year, according to Colliers International with apartment rents in Phoenix up 40 percent since 2014.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is not unaware of these statistics and the housing challenges Phoenix residents face. She has made housing a top policy priority since taking office last year. She welcomes Greenlight’s private sector solutions and new innovative communities opening in Phoenix.
“We need affordable housing now more than ever. Phoenix is the fastest growing city in the nation and, because of this, we’ve also experienced rapidly rising rents. The impact of COVID-19 has only further magnified the need for affordable housing in our community. Helping residents find homes has a positive ripple effect that benefits our entire city,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.
Kareem Neal, a special education teacher at Maryvale High School and 2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year, knows first-hand the challenge teachers and other middle-income Valley residents face when it comes to finding affordable housing in Phoenix.
“I have been a teacher in Phoenix for more than 23 years and I know what it is like for teachers who work hard for their students and schools, but struggle to afford to live in the same communities they love and contribute to. Even while working a second job on top of teaching, I found it tough to find affordable, quality apartments to rent. Availability of quality, affordable housing builds strong neighborhoods and strong neighborhoods create better schools. I feel encouraged by what Greenlight is doing in Phoenix communities.” Neal said.
Greenlight’s new Cabana on 12th and Cabana on Washington communities are currently leasing, with units available for immediate move-in. These brand-new communities offer studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with rents starting at $899 at Cabana on Washington and $849 at Cabana on 12th, making them significantly less expensive than other new and existing apartment rentals in the Phoenix metro area.
A recent survey found just 42 percent of apartments renters say they are satisfied with their current living situation. Greenlight knows Phoenix residents deserve better. Greenlight’s Cabana communities are in desirable locations and offer renters the amenities they want, at prices they can afford.
Leasing is underway at both of Greenlight’s Cabana on 12th and Cabana on Washington communities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents can take virtual tours and talk to leasing representatives online via the apartment communities’ websites and virtual leasing portals. Residents are also welcome to visit the sites for in-person tours during business hours.
Cabana on 12th (located on 12th Street near Campbell Avenue): https://www.cabanaon12th.com/covid19-virtual-leasing.aspx
Cabana on Washington (located on Washington Street and 53rd Street): https://www.cabanaonwashington.com/covid19-virtual-leasing.aspx
Greenlight Communities has attainable housing projects under construction and in the development pipeline in additional cities as well, including Scottsdale, Goodyear, Mesa, and Chandler.
Owner and Founder Ann Siner said her Encinitas shops have been the target of harassment by Encinitas police officers who recently walked into the stores not wearing masks demanding her stores be shut down, with the only the option of selling her merchandise curbside.
Siner has since brought several racks of clothing outside the store hoping it will attract customers, but that business model just does not work.
“How do you sell clothing, accessories, furniture, Art, jewelry, handbags at the curb?” asks Siner. “It doesn’t work, but yet it’s okay for hundreds of shoppers to pour inside packed Target, Walmart, Home Depot and other big box stores by the hour. They are killing small businesses in California and they just don’t care.”
With more 15 different locations in Arizona and California, My Sister’s Closet, Well Suited and My Sister’s Attic took stringent safety and sanitary precautions when it re-opened all its Arizona locations. Business is now returning to the Valley of the Sun but not in California. Without in-store access to merchandise customers are not buying and revenues are not returning in California.
“Our constitutional rights are being violated and like we are starting to see in other states, business owners are fighting back and taking their states to court. You can’t pick and choose who’s allowed to open their doors and who can’t. This is hypocrisy at the highest level.”
The new changes and guidelines implemented include the following:
All staff have been trained in Covid-19.
Sanitizing stations will be available throughout the club including the front desk.
Staff will continuously disinfect frequently touched areas throughout the day with CDC-approved disinfectant.
Cardio equipment will be spaced accordingly. Every other machine will be turned off.
Towel cleaning temperatures have been increased to 150 degrees.
Group Fitness classes will have decreased capacities and will be available for pre-booking 12 hours prior to class. Additionally, more classes will be added to the schedules to offer guests more options.
All employees will have their temperature checked prior to each shift and will be required to wash their hands every hour. Disposable face masks will also be available to employees.
Children entering childcare will have their temperature checked and any child with a temperature above 99.9 degrees will not be permitted.
Mountainside Fitness will also continue its touchless service and check-in at the front desk, childcare and the M Cafe.
Guests will not be charged any memberships dues until June 1st.
Wanting to do its part both financially and responsibly, Mountainside Fitness additionally made a $100,000 donation to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund several weeks ago. The locally owned and operated fitness center also partnered with Patients Choice to offer a series of antibody testing sites for several weeks in its parking lots.
Tom Hatten, CEO and Founder of Mountainside Fitness said the company is proud to have made the donation, offer the test sites and now re-open with enhanced safety protocols.
“We closed our doors for two months and during that time we contributed to the fight against this virus by offering antibody tests sites and donating $100,000 to the state’s Coronavirus relief fund. We’ve now taken the final step by incorporating the highest level of sanitization practices into our daily routine at all 18 locations of Mountainside Fitness. Under these new enhanced protocols, we are proud to re-open our doors and welcome guests who would like to come back and work out,” said Tom Hatten, founder and CEO of Mountainside Fitness.
Why has it unnerved and angered so many in the city?
Because government failed, so obviously, at its most important function. Arrogance. Lack of planning. Lack of imagination. Lack of hustle. Lack of courage. There could be and are many reasons. The people know it. But the police – and some politicians – don’t.
To listen to the Scottsdale PD press conference today was pathetic. No apologies. No insight. No confidence building measures.
The so-called strategy to allow the city center to be looted to supposedly provide an off-ramp to criminals who might otherwise migrate to nearby residential neighborhoods is Monday morning spin. Nothing more. Department spokespersons last night were embarrassingly bad. They were no better today, even citing intelligence from “interns.”
What PD doesn’t get is they allowed rioters a victory. A big one. This will only beget more violence and more loss. They allowed the community’s Citadel – Scottsdale Fashion Square – to be ransacked without interruption and consequence.
It’s not only a blow to civic psyche, it is devastating to area small businesses who were already on their financial backs and now face a weeklong curfew.
It didn’t have to be this way. Scottsdale PD rejected help before the riots from state and other area municipalities. Rather than have the resources to stand its ground and say not on our watch, not tonight – it laid down, letting down the very people they are supposed to protect.
What is the citizenry supposed to now do when its government cannot protect it? What are the people supposed to do when so many and too many businesses were recently locked down over the past months yet government cannot and will not do anything to protect these patriots as they try to salvage their businesses? Anyone not moved by Scottsdale property owner Janet Wilson today alongside Old Town resident and business owner Bill Crawford at their press conference has little heart, or head.
None of this is meant to discredit the rightful frustration in the national African American community and many others over the death of George Floyd. Nor is it meant to excuse a President who is letting America burn because he believes it is serving his own political self-interest rather than attempting to gain justice and healing for our collective, best possible future.
Last night and as reported by Channel 12 a courageous Scottsdale jewelry store stared down the mob with a strong display of its Second Amendment rights. We can be grateful no violence occurred but how long will that last in Scottsdale or otherwise, if government cannot keep the peace?
It is OK to ask for help Scottsdale. That’s what true leaders do. But that’s not what was done last night. Literally, nothing was. Attempting to move the goal posts of success this afternoon when everyone saw the fumbles last night was disheartening and even sickening.
Heads need to roll. The community doesn’t need nor does it deserve a governmental response more akin to Hurricane Katrina’s than help, real help.
Gaining an outright win in August is highly improbable for any candidate. That means two will move on to an election in November.
How is this likely to take shape?
Think back to the Democratic Party’s primaries earlier this year. There was the oft discussed progressive lane led by Bernie Sanders and a moderate one that eventually coalesced around Joe Biden.
In 2016 Donald Trump created his own lane with one of the most unorthodoxed approaches and messages in Republican primary history. Typically, however, presidential nominating contests in the GOP fall into two camps as well: conservative and moderate.
In Scottsdale, the two lanes to replace the term-limited Mayor Lane are occupied by those who think the city is headed in the wrong direction and those who think it is on the right track. The former category includes candidates like former Councilman Bob Littlefield (the husband of current Vice Mayor Kathy Littlefield) and landlord lobbyist David Ortega. The latter by Councilwomen Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte.
Former Councilwoman Lisa Borowsky appears to be seeking a narrow path up the middle of these two highways although her comments during the mayoral debate ushered her more to the Littlefield-Ortega wing. Such a novel political journey by Borowsky will be difficult.
Littlefield is the clear, known leader in the Scottsdale Awry camp, whether you like him or not. Ortega has always been a politician in search of a message whether it’s been running for Scottsdale City Council, Maricopa County Supervisor or Scottsdale Mayor. But it was his desperation and despicability in the 2004 mayoral race that makes his ascension to Mayor an impossibility now. Seeking contrast with Mayor Manross who had been a Preserve champion from Day One, Ortega led the opposition that year to funding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. If Ortega would have had his way the Preserve vision would have died.
So, Ortega and likely Borowsky will likely need to find a way to leapfrog Littlefield by August 4th. That will be challenging.
The Klapp-Korte Lane is more uncertain and perhaps more interesting. Whoever wins it is likely the next Mayor because as was shown in 2016 Littlefield has a floor for Mayor, but also a ceiling. That’s also because a strong majority of Scottsdale voters think the city is headed in the right direction, a dynamic anathema to Bob Littlefield and the others.
Klapp has the important support of a thrice elected Jim Lane. And she has good, relevant experience as a small businesswoman and respected Councilwoman to appeal to voters in the rapidly changing political environment to favor those who understand business and can lead Scottsdale out of a Depression. But Korte boasts an incomparable resume in this regard, as well as social positions on LGBTQ issues (that contrary to popular belief the vast majority of Scottsdale voters support) and offers past leadership on Scottsdale Unified School District funding questions. This provides here with important constituencies.
This week’s debate did little but affirm this construct of this campaign as it now has little over a month before voting begins.
The Scottsdale City Council did the wrong thing when it accepted the Independent Ethics Panel report in the Guy Phillips’ matter. That is because the report created two immense loopholes in the City’s Ethics Code, thereby creating new vehicles for “dark money” for Councilmembers and Council candidates as well.
The Panel was applying an ordinance that is “intended to promote ethical conduct and public trust in the integrity of Scottsdale municipal government.” The Panel’s decision did neither. The Panel found that a member of the Council (and a member of any Council board, commission, committee or task force) can accept limitless gifts in limitless amounts from anonymous donors in not one, but in two ways.
The public needs to know what happened.
- Phillips was represented by the City’s immediate past city attorney; the same guy who advised Phillips on ethics last year. Citizens should realize that all of the statements about “Phillips said this and that” is misleading. Phillips said nothing. His (ostensibly free) attorney in the ethics matter was Bruce Washburn, the immediate past Scottsdale City Attorney. He is the guy who advised Phillips on the ethics code as recently as last year; now he came back to argue that two enormous new ways exist for directing dark money to members of the Council. Some would consider that a conflict of interest.
- The GoFundMe anonymous account was set up intentionally to hide the sources of the gifts to Phillips. Affidavits before the Panel established irrefutably that Bob Littlefield, the husband of Councilmember Kathy Littlefield, specifically advised that the GoFundMe account be set up so that the all contributors would remain anonymous—in other words, the thousands of dollars contributed to it would be “dark money.” Bob Littlefield has been silent on the subject. GoFundMe says that Phillips had access to the names—but the names remain secret. Anonymous money is dark money.
- The “benign purpose” GoFundMe dark money loophole. The first Washburn/Phillips loophole allows unlimited anonymous gifts in unlimited amounts to be made through GoFundMe to a Councilmember for a “benign purpose.” The term “benign purpose” is not defined; it can be anything. And, on top of that, the money collected for the “benign purpose” doesn’t even need to be spent for the “benign” purpose. Thousands of dollars were raised for Phillips for, supposedly, medical purposes, yet the money was mostly spent for non-medical private and business expenses. Anonymous money is dark money.
- The “personal gift” dark money loophole. The second Washburn/Phillips loophole allows a Councilmember to legally accept unlimited anonymous gifts in unlimited amounts as long as the recipient considers it to be a “personal gift.” The term “personal gift” is, again, not defined. It can be anything as long as the recipient puts that label on it—and then doesn’t need to disclose it. Anonymous money is dark money.
- The ethics code cannot be applied to candidates for office. Two candidates for Council suggested that the city’s ethics code be applied to candidates for office. That is not possible: ethics codes are applicable to elected and appointed officials. There is no way to apply them to candidates for office. Besides that, the ethics code today is useless and, for all practical purposes, non-existent.
- Campaign contributions from individuals must be disclosed, but they cannot be prohibited. Another suggestion made is that contributions from certain categories of people be prohibited. The US Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision ruled that you cannot do that. It said that the cure for receiving a campaign contribution is disclosure; report it. I, personally, don’t like Citizens United, but it is the law. Anonymous “gifts,” however, are a dark money alternative to having to disclose campaign contributions.
- Hypocrisy is afoot. While there is a lot of hullabaloo about how bad public, disclosed constitutions from developers are, Guy Phillips just attended a fundraiser sponsored by developers. I’m waiting to see if and when Phillips returns those campaign contributions.
- There are quick, simple fixes. The fixes to the newly created dark money loopholes are simple. Prohibit anonymous gifts. Prohibit GoFundMe conduits for anonymous gifts. Prohibit the ridiculous “benign purpose” and “personal gift” loopholes. They didn’t exist before the Phillips case. Eliminate them. Keep in mind that, today, because of the Phillips’ decision, any member of the City Council (or its boards, commissions, committees or task forces) can accept unlimited amounts of gifts from unlimited anonymous donors without disclosing the gifts. That’s the deal. The fixes are simple and can be done quickly. Until fixed, however, the gates for dark money are wide open.
Give Scottsdale what it deserves.
Scottsdale deserves honest government. It deserves public servants who serve with honor and a sense of duty. When I raised such a thought to the Panel, it was called “sanctimonious” by Phillips in a brief prepared by Mr. Washburn. If that is sanctimonious, then make the most of it. I am a citizen not seeking public office and with no business before the City Council. Mr. Phillips, with the help of Mr. Washburn, created, then took advantage of, two manufactured loopholes which the Panel, after the fact, found to exist.
Phillips was acquitted, but the job now is to make sure that nobody else can take advantage of the dark money loopholes. Give the public the assurance that unlimited anonymous gifts from an unlimited number of unknown persons cannot legally be given to the members of the City Council (and the members of its boards, commissions, committees and task forces). Eliminate the dark money; restore the ethics code. Sanctimonious or not.
James Derouin is an attorney who has lived in Scottsdale since 1985. He does not represent developers and has never represented a client before the city of Scottsdale. He was one of the authors of the City’s Ethics Code unanimously adopted by the City Council in 2006 and has served on various city task forces.
Here are the highlights:
*Former City Councilman David Ortega’s “State of the Union” backdrop gets best Zoom look. Bob Littlefield gets the worst for looking like he was playing a DJ in a dorm room.
*Ortega’s parroting of Littlefield’s anti-City Hall, slow growth message will pull votes from him. So will former Councilwoman Lisa Borowsky who has landed firmly in the same Scottsdale sucks camp as Ortega and Littlefield.
*All candidates acted like they were inspired by Rip Van Winkle, talking about the past rather than the future. But that’s not where campaigns are won. Save for Borowsky’s call to have a new lobbyist registration regime for Scottsdale (something we support) there wasn’t a single new idea offered by any candidate. That’s malpractice.
*Councilwoman Virginia Korte and Littlefield were fortunate that neither of their biggest vulnerabilities were discussed: Korte’s support of the Desert Discovery Center and that Littlefield is seeking to be Mayor at the same time his wife is Vice Mayor. Voters hate that idea.
*Councilwoman Klapp was fine but unremarkable throughout. She co-chaired a successful transportation campaign in 2018 yet failed to cite this when asked how she would improve the city’s transportation infrastructure. She did find her footing however in discussing the business community, rightfully highlighting its import while Littlefield, Borowsky and Ortega often railed against it.
*Ortega talked about Southbridge 2 more than most kids talk about ice cream. In particular he decried 150’ buildings on “our canal.” What a hypocrite. While on the Scottsdale City Council he voted to put two 150’ buildings known as the Scottsdale Waterfront on the same canal. The difference? This time he was serving as a nearby landlord’s lobbyist who opposed Southbridge 2.
*Korte was strongest in her opening remarks. As we have observed before she has, by far, the best resume to ever run for Mayor. And this was deftly emphasized in her early remarks. But she stumbled defending “special interests” later in the debate.
*Korte and Klapp, as incumbents, would be wise to more robustly and enthusiastically defend the direction of Scottsdale. People overwhelmingly favor it. Be champions for what you have done not defensive about assertions from the troika.
*Littlefield maintained his Bernie Sanders-like consistency with his anti-developer rhetoric yet made a faint effort to suggest why and how he would be best to help Scottsdale with economic recovery. That’s a little like Dennis Rodman talking about fidelity. He knows he has a problem and this debate did nothing to dispel this fault line if and perhaps when he makes it to the November run-off. Ortega’s answers to why he would be best to lead Scottsdale out of a recession were even worse because he had none besides “I am an architect.” What?Read More
Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips voted for the same heights at Scottsdale Fashion Square and the proposed Museum Square.
Scottsdale City Councilwomen Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead also supported 150’ heights for Museum Square.
We think all of those votes were sagacious. Yet, all of the people just mentioned also opposed the recent Southbridge II proposal.
Call it an ability, even a strength to diagnosticate.
The reason Southbridge II ultimately fell was not just the well-funded opposition from nearby property owners. It was the recognition by many that this part of Old Town was different, low-scale and should stay that way. Location, Location, Location. In other words, there were good arguments on both sides, and this was reflected by a narrow council approval (4-3) and split debate during the referendum drive.
Conversely, Museum Square was passed by acclamation not only because it would replace an abandoned transit station, but because it was NOT embedded on Scottsdale’s charming Main Street. If it would have proposed replacing chunks of the area rather than beyond it the outcome would likely have been similar to Southbridge II.
The Scottsdale Waterfront debate and result nearly two decades ago had similarities. That corner of Scottsdale and Camelback was hardly a neighborhood of charm. It was populated by a struggling grocery store, old movie theater, nightclubs and a smattering of other stuff that defined hodgepodge. What has replaced it is undoubtedly taller, but also undoubtedly better.
Fast forward to last week’s reports on plans to redevelop large chunks in and around Scottsdale’s Entertainment District, south of Camelback and east of Scottsdale Road.
The area reminds us of the former Scottsdale Waterfront site and offers none of the charm of other parts of Old Town. None. Walking tours of the area with some of the city’s toughest activists and graders last year appeared to open many eyes in this regard.
As proposed, new buildings would replace old bars. This is already making some neighbors in close proximity to existing uses happy. The architecture by Nelson Partners, especially for the southeast corner of Scottsdale and Camelback Roads is remarkable. So is the effort to introduce shade and art in a way Scottsdale has never seen.
And let us underscore this point: while heights would be increased beyond current zoning in limited areas, the OVERALL SQUARE FOOTAGE ALLOWED UNDER CURRENT ZONING WOULD NOT INCREASE. That’s remarkable. What other recent development proposals can boast such a thing?
Contrary to the assertions of some, this is not an effort to rush an approval through for the sake of doing so or because of a make-up of the current council. These plans have been underway for nearly a year.
Wise developers, especially those not only survived the Great Recession, but learned how to thrive from it, understand that improving properties now positions you – and the city – for success when we reach better economic times. And those times will come.
Indeed, the first element seeking approval is to replace the Dakota Nightclub with a new hotel. We don’t understand critics of the Entertainment District – we are not among them – decrying the area for what it is today and standing in the way of more sophistication for it tomorrow.
It is fair to acknowledge that the backers of the new “Scottsdale Collective” were also behind the controversial Marquee proposal that narrowly passed City Council last year. But to their credit they learned a valuable lesson. That process wasn’t enjoyable. They didn’t want to do it again. So, they undertook massive community outreach to cull the proposal that was submitted to the city. It’s impressive. Is it perfect? Of course not. Additional public input and the public process will identify and improve components.
But as Scottsdale’s economy endures the trauma of collapse, we should be grateful that there are those who believe in the city’s future so much to risk precious capital now.
Once upon a time the Scottsdale Galleria was Scottsdale’s embarrassing white elephant. It’s now a beehive of business activity, and hard to believe it’s now one of downtown’s points of pride. Backers of the Scottsdale Collective are responsible for that. They are not just propagators of Marquees and Mai Tais.
It’s now up to each candidate, councilmember and community member to decide this important proposal on their own.
Any city in Arizona would be thrilled to entertain a big investment like this in its darkest days. And we hope Scottsdale sapience will again make an appearance, resulting in a unanimous approval to transform what has often been a controversial neighborhood, into one that is compelling and collaborative.
Height already IS a part of downtown Scottsdale. In a lot of places. That has been good and will be helpful from Museum Square to Scottsdale Fashion Square. And this discussion doesn’t include the important rights of HonorHealth to expand its critical operations.
But we are ones that share the opinion that height doesn’t belong everywhere in downtown Scottsdale. It should be granted judiciously, just as occurred for the projects mentioned before, and where the merits and location make the element obvious.
We believe the Scottsdale Collective has and will meet that test.
The Scottsdale Ethics Code has been in the news lately, largely due to the ethics complaint filed against Council member Guy Phillips. On May 5, 2020 a panel of three independent judges (the “Ethics Panel”) held that Mr. Phillips had not committed any ethical violations. At the May 19 meeting of the City Council, the City Council adopted the panel’s conclusion by a 5-1 vote, with Council member Korte dissenting.
Following the decision by the Ethics Panel, several critics (including Mike Norton, who filed the original complaint against Mr. Phillips) have argued that the Ethics Code needs to be modified. In fact, the Ethics Panel agreed, stating that the Ethics Code contains ambiguities and problems which “need to be addressed.” In order to understand these criticisms, we are going to review Count 2 of the complaint, which was the focus of the Panel’s decision.
Count 2 centered around a GoFundMe account set up to help Council member Phillips with medical bills following an accident. On September 17, 2019, Mr. Phillips broke his leg, which prevented him from operating his air conditioning business. Susan Woods, an acquaintance of Mr. Phillips, set up a GoFundMe account to help pay Mr. Phillips’ medical bills. The account eventually received about $2,400 in contributions. The GoFundMe account was set so that payments would go directly to Mr. Phillips’ medical providers and the contributors to the account would be anonymous (although as beneficiary of the account, Mr. Phillips could have learned the contributors’ identity, he chose not to). On December 4, 2019, at a City Council meeting on the Southbridge II project, Council member Phillips voted against the zoning approvals necessary to construct the project. Ms. Woods, along with thousands of other Scottsdale residents, also opposed the Southbridge II project.Read More
“You who have been born in America, I wish I could make you understand what it is like not to be an American — not to have been an American all your life — and then suddenly, with the words of a man in flowing robes, to be one, for that moment and forever after…one moment, you belong with your fathers to a million dead yesterdays. The next, you belong with America to a million unborn tomorrows.”
We are here today to remember those who gave their lives for a million unborn tomorrows. They were our parents, grandparents, our children, sisters, and brothers. They looked like us, and had hopes like ours, and dreamed as we dream. And they died too soon, mostly too young, and it is still hard to understand sometimes.
Oh yes, they died for America. But what does that mean? Was their sacrifice worth it? If they could see us, speak to us, what would they say?
The young farmer-turned-soldier who fell in his own field near Lexington, Massachusetts in 1776 might look down the tunnel of years with some satisfaction. After all, he played a part in the first real step toward freedom from tyranny — a step that began the long American walk toward independence. At the time our young farmer fell, William Pitt across the ocean was telling his colleagues in the House of Commons, “You cannot conquer America.”
He was right. We turned our plowshares into swords, and then back again. We were to do it again, and again, most tragically when we turned inward against ourselves.
In the stone foundation remains of a house in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania guide explains that here, brother met brother, one in gray, one in blue. History does not record the outcome. And yet, it was from this most painful of wars — a foreign critic called our Civil War “a dirty chimney on fire” that our strongest national bonds were forged. Far from permanently splintering the Union of states, it drew them ultimately together. But it took row upon row of brothers to do it. From their vantage point, looking down through the years, the end of the debacle of human slavery, and the determination of the Union not to be split again might seem worth the price.
Fifty-three years later the symbol of American fighting spirit was written on a tent near the General Expeditionary Force in France –it simply said, “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken by Christmas.” It was probably written by one of the men under Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daly, who some months earlier in the Belleau Wood shouted to his troops: “Comer on you S-O-B’s! Do you want to live forever!” Those doughboys saw their duty and wrote their names in honor on our national pride. But you and I know there is more.Read More
Restaurants are fighting for survival amidst COVID-19. They need all the help they can get to avoid closing permanently and adding to the more than 39 million jobs already lost to the pandemic.
The city of Chandler is doing its part by transforming a downtown park into a beer garden and picnic area where diners picking up food to go at nearby restaurants can enjoy food, wine or beer.
This is just one example of what other cities across Arizona and other states should be doing to help restaurants survive.
Social distancing and some of the reopening rules imposed by governments make it tough for restaurants and bars to generate enough customers and business to survive, especially after being closed during COVID-19 shutdowns.
More space and seating options can help with capacity challenges. It can also offer more options and comfort to diners who might feel more confident in going out to eat if they can enjoy some fresh air and social distance. We need all the confidence boosts we can muster these days.
Other cities across the country including Kansas City, Tampa, Cincinnati and Norfolk, Virginia are fast tracking permits and are allowing restaurants to use parking and other exterior areas to help expand social distancing capacity.
Cities and towns who have not embarked on this path should be doing this immediately. Communities who are slow, resistant to change or have a ‘deer in the headlights’ reaction to COVID-19’s impact are going to see even more permanent closures of restaurants and other businesses.
Jobs losses from COVID are approaching 40 million workers nationwide. Restaurants, bars, hotels and retail and their employees have been hit especially hard.
There will more restaurants, bars and small business who will not survive the economic impacts of the pandemic.
We need to see efforts like what is being tried in Chandler replicated quickly in other cities to help save restaurants and jobs.
And, one of the bad things about the Town of Paradise Valley is its same micromanaging. Most any business owner will tell you that the more freedom and flexibility it has the more chance for success. Town staff and leaders have rarely migrated to this way of thinking, however. For example, a couple of years back a town staffer infamously tried to compel a new location for a prominent resident’s mailbox.
Fortunately, that type of thinking seems to have been put on hiatus. Look at this recent article from the Paradise Valley Independent.
The Paradise Valley Town Council has wisely adopted a plan allowing key properties in town more latitude to help them get through brutal times. It’s not only a refreshing display of municipal morality but financially wise too. After all, no sector in America has been economically hit harder by the Coronavirus than hotels. And there are a lot of them in Paradise Valley. The best of the best in the state. Revenues from them are a key reason no one in town pays a property tax. What oil is to Texas and gambling is to Nevada hotels are to PV.
Some cities, including the one next door in Scottsdale, have been slow to respond to a devastated business community.
That’s why the moves by Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner and the Town Council are so welcome. But they ought not to think this is all they can or should do. Businesses are fighting for their lives. Smart steps by cities and towns, like this one in Paradise Valley, can help give them an even better chance to survive and eventually thrive, again.
Scottsdale ranks as one of the top cities in the country for ‘staycations’.
WalletHub ranked U.S. cities for their recreational amenities (parking, hiking) as well as factors such as homes with pools. Scottsdale ranked 7th best nationally on the list. Plano, Texas near Dallas was first.
Local vacations and attracting tourists from California, other Western states and even Texas who might drive to travel destinations are going to be essential as the economy slowly emerges from COVID-19.
COVID-19 will continue to depress air travel and some tourists will be reticent to venture out too far. Some might avoid hotel rooms for a while just as there is a segment that will not be going to restaurants, sporting events or even coffee shops.
Those dynamics magnify the need to maximize business with consumers who are willing to get out and spend, who are willing to travel or eat out. That makes day trips, stay near home tourism and quick drives for long weekends even more important.
Locked down Californians are looking and going to be looking for getaways with restrictions on Palm Springs, San Diego, and Disneyland. Crowded Las Vegas casinos and buffets will take some time to start attracting visitors.
All that creates opportunities for drivable destinations with outdoor amenities and economic re-openings that encourage those who are wanting to get out. Arizona’s Colorado River communities have been attracting stir crazy Californians. The Grand Canyon, Sedona and Scottsdale can also be attractive and drivable trips for those from Los Angeles or San Diego or Las Vegas.
Experience Scottsdale and other Arizona tourism promoters know this and are targeting nearby markets with ads and marketing.
This needs to continue and aggressively.
COVID-19 has the tourism industry (resorts, hotels, bars, and restaurants) in survival mode. They have shed scores jobs and many could close permanently.
There needs to be immediate and aggressive investments in saving these businesses and jobs above and beyond the federal efforts. Tourism is crucial for tax revenue generation in Arizona and localities such as Scottsdale.
Attracting locals for ‘staycations’ at resorts or just a day trip as well as Californians and others for weekends will be critical for short-term survival. There will not be many international travelers this summer to the Grand Canyon or Scottsdale. We will have to rely on visitors from Tucson, Chandler, Riverside and L.A. to help carry for what could be an extended short-term.
There is also the potential to forge long-term loyalty with visitors. If they are impressed with their visit during the most stressful time, they might opt to return when life and the economy are not so strained. Those in locked down states such as California, Illinois, or Michigan might consider moving to states that have opened responsibly. The result could mean more workers, jobs and businesses moving once there is some visibility from the COVID-19 storm.
Of course, this all depends on the re-openings happening responsibly and there are not new upswings in COVID cases erode confidence and spark new shutdown orders.
That is one of the great unknowns we are facing along with all the economic stresses.
While state and regional tourism promoters can focus on ‘drive’ markets and staycations, local governments can find way to help restaurants, bars and other businesses reopen responsibly. Ideas such allowing restaurants to use parking lots for socially distant seating are a start.
Drive-in events, socially distant concerts and other ideas are being tried around the country. Our local businesses and governments should embrace them and see what might work and what does not.
Faster permits and embracing innovating and creative ideas that help the economy while balancing public health should be at forefront.
COVID-19 has hit Scottsdale and its tourism and event industries hard. But the city has assets and appeal for local visitors and drive markets such as California.
Let’s seize that opportunity in a responsible way.
That pomp and circumstance is something none of us forget, our entire lives.
While some school districts have not yet thrown in the towel it seems that so many have. That’s a shame. In the greater Scottsdale area, there exists an opportunity to do right by all of these high school seniors.
Over the years Scottsdale city and school leaders talk a good game about more collaboration for the collective good. Yet, it never seems to really happen. Here’s a chance.
WestWorld is best known as a 240-acre venue that is home to the world-famous Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction and Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. But it also has a massive polo field and adjacent parking field that doesn’t get much use this time of the year.
So why not turn it into a makeshift graduation venue, immediately, for as many local high schools that want to use it for drive-in graduation ceremonies?
Actual and pop-up drive-in movies are becoming all the rage as we social distance. There is no better venue perhaps in Maricopa County to now salvage memories for our seniors.
Scottsdale voters showed WestWorld great love in the November 2019 bond election by authorizing substantial new investment in the facility. Now it’s time for WestWorld, and city leadership, to return the favor to those who need it most. Now.
The polo field and parking lot can literally host thousands of cars, just as happens during Barrett-Jackson.
So, let’s make it so now. With temporary staging allowing students to be introduced and look out at a scene that may be even better than a normal graduation. Instead of clapping there will be the honks of cars. Instead of what might have beens there will be memories and smiles.
This can be Scottsdale at its very best, and safest. It has a great venue to save the day. A very important day. Do it.
The past few weeks I have spent a lot of time talking about the need to diversify our economic structure in Scottsdale, bringing in different industries and high paying jobs so we don’t have an over reliance on tourism. I truly believe that we have been hit harder and remain overly vulnerable because of our lack of economic diversity. As your mayor, I will work hard to remedy that.
However, I want to be clear that the tourism industry in Scottsdale is one of the best things about our city and I believe we need to do everything we can to not just rebuild it to what it was, but to build on it and make it better moving forward.
COVID-19 hit during our peak tourism season, causing steep revenue declines and temporarily shuttering some hotels, along with spas, retail and attractions. Other businesses – like restaurants – had to shift their business models overnight. For hotels that remained open, occupancy and revenue declined approximately 90% year-over-year in April
No matter how you spin it, this is a devastating blow to the tourism industry and it makes me sad every time I think about all the incredible employees and business owners who are suffering because of it.
But even during the crisis, Experience Scottsdale has been working to keep the destination top of mind. They’ve been working with media to generate editorial coverage to inspire travelers to consider Scottsdale when they’re ready to travel again.
Meetings are being booked for the summer and fall, travel agents are being trained virtually in how to sell Scottsdale, and American Express Travel named Arizona as one of the top 5 travel destinations.
There has been a heightened focus on outreach to the southwest region, since tourism will be driven more by road travel than air travel. Experience Scottsdale is rolling out a summer program immediately after Memorial Day and will be leading with messages about our wide, open spaces, experiences that allow visitors room to roam, and ways for visitors to create connections with family and friends – something we are all missing these days.
They continue to work with travel writers to produce Scottsdale travel features in key markets as well as luxury travel advisors to help drive customers into our resorts, art galleries, restaurants and retail stores.
All of us can play a role in supporting our tourism base by scheduling a “staycation” and spend some leisure time at some of the finest resorts in the world, right here in Scottsdale!
On top of all the outreach that organizations like Experience Scottsdale are doing, I have been working with other local mayors, chambers, business leaders, and local municipalities across the state to seek federal grants to help support the hit our city revenue will take from the economic impact. For tourism to recover in Scottsdale, we need to be able to guarantee our businesses and tourists are safe and that our city can maintain the high-quality city services and maintenance that makes Scottsdale such an appealing tourist destination in the first place.
Scottsdale wouldn’t be Scottsdale without the tourism industry, and I will fight to bring our number one industry back to a place where it’s stronger than before. Leadership Matters.
Virginia L. Korte
Virginia Korte serves on the Scottsdale City Council and is a candidate for Scottsdale Mayor.
The economy is reopening but it is going to take time to recoup the more than 36 million jobs lost to COVID-19 and the contagion’s shutdowns.
Veteran economist Elliott Pollack said Friday the economic recovery from the Coronavirus and its impacts could be a 2 to 5-year process.
Economists from the University of Chicago estimate as many as 42 percent of the lost jobs might not be coming back. That translates into 15 million jobs. There are already restaurants, retailers and other small businesses who have indicated they will not be reopening at all after the COVID-19 shutdown. Plenty of other companies are putting off new hires. Other employers will not bring back as many workers as they reopen and gauge the economy and how consumers and businesses are behaving and the impacts of social distancing.
This demands creativity, innovation and immediate actions throughout our economy, our communities, and our political system.
We know lives are at stake and the economy and businesses need to open safely and responsible. This holds true for restaurants, offices and sports and events venue.
We need the private sector to step forward with innovations, with new approaches and ways of doing business. We need economic developers, elected officials, and candidates in every community and at every level to have vision for how to create jobs, for how they will help important and hard-hit industries.
Employees should press their managers, bosses, and CEOs on how they are going to navigate these troubled waters and what are their short and long-term plans for coming out of this.
Voters should expect real answers from Donald Trump, Joe Biden, governors, mayors, city councilors and members of Congress, as well as anyone running for office on how we are going to create jobs and save businesses, especially small businesses.
We know this might be above the current pay grades for some. But it is chance for businesses to innovate and create and for elected officials to show empathy and leadership.
Creative and adaptive reuse of land and properties, regulatory, licensing and permitting reforms that help businesses retain and create job as well as tax, infrastructure investments and job training programs are starting points.
Conversely, elected officials should be listening to voters (including entrepreneurs and small businesses owners and especially impacted workers) on what might help them stay in business or find jobs.
At workplaces, employees need to engage and come up with ideas and changes on how to grow their careers and businesses. We all need to be thinking, praying, and innovating.
It might not be easy, but this is also a chance for workers and businesses to find better purpose to reset their goals and cultures.
The year 2020 is no time for conventional, top-down thinking.
We know there is fear, worry and lack of visibility on COVID-19 and the economy.
Many of history’s life changing innovations, inventions and transformations were born out of crises like pandemics. We are seeing and facing a lot of pain, but it is also a chance and an opportunity to save jobs and the economy while protecting and improving public health.
Let’s expect more of our ‘leaders’ and ourselves.
The psychology of COVID-19 is as impactful as its direct impacts on public health and lost jobs.
The pandemic has stirred fear, worry and anxiety. Those have been magnified by daily case and death counts as well as dire predictions of more cases and future outbreaks.
Beyond all the health worries, fear is driving everything from consumers, job seekers and investors to media coverage and business decisions.
We need to overcome the fear and worry on so many levels.
Beyond the losses of life and jobs, the Coronavirus has also canceled or postponed important events such as the Kentucky Derby, March Madness or high school proms and graduations across the country. In Arizona, Cactus League spring training games, Phoenix Suns games and Scottsdale’s Mighty Mud Mania and other community events have been canceled.
Those cancelations have psychological effects. They feed into the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty over when the pandemic might ease and when the economy might return to some sort of normalcy.
As the economy reopens in Arizona, Texas, Florida and other states, it is essential the re-openings are responsible and generate confidence.
That entails making diners comfortable at their favorite restaurant. Employees feeling safe at their workplaces. And, venues and sporting events need to responsible open and find ways to social distance but also give some sense normalcy.
Those can be big sporting events or smaller community ones that mean even more to our friends and neighbors right now.
Summer vacations, Labor Day Weekend, the start of the next school year and football games (from high school up to the NFL) in the fall could all look very different. But imagine the psychological impacts if those happen and if those do not happen.
The confidence will encourage further openings of phased in plans. Small businesses and employers will be able to reopen. This will help save jobs and bring back some of the 21 million jobs lost because of the pandemic and its closures.
The confidence will also ease consumers’ minds and encourage them to make purchases.
Increased confidence and optimism can also quiet the fearful and negative chorus especially in the media that at times looks as if they want rising death counts, more Trump Twitter tantrums, and endless closures.
COVID-19 is an event of the century. Its impacts are global and destructive. But as the economy reopens and the public looks for some sort of visibility about their health and jobs, it will be small victories that propel confidence.
Community events and outings and reasoned re-openings will be drive those small victories.
Elon Musk is promising to move Tesla’s headquarters out of California to Texas or Nevada over his frustrations with the Golden State’s COVID-19 shutdowns.
Musk will not be alone in evaluating and re-evaluating where to locate and land jobs after the pandemic ends.
COVID-19 has already cost the economy more than 21 million jobs. Some of those job losses are permanent with pandemic hastening the demise of some retailers, restaurants, department stores, media companies and small businesses.
Other jobs will come back as the economy reopens. Innovators and decisionmakers such Elon Musk will be looking at how to navigate social distancing, how to avoid outbreaks and where to locate jobs and operations.
States and communities will be judged on both their public health and economic responses to the Coronavirus. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, professional and creative workers will be deciding where they want to work and live. Some displaced workers will relocate to new places.
Musk is looking at Texas and Nevada in part because of California’s more stringent COVID-19 restrictions. Texas and Nevada also do not have state income taxes and offer cheaper costs than New York, California, and Seattle.
Arizona also has cost and regulatory advantages for businesses compared to California and other more expensive markets.
Musk is also looking at which states are best for him to grow his businesses (Tesla and SpaceX). He’s looking at which states are ‘open for business’ and open for innovation beyond COVID-19.
States and regions with Coronavirus lockdowns that did not try to find a balance between public health and jobs and the economy could suffer post-pandemic. Some governors and mayors have worked with businesses to get the economy reopen responsibly. That is the path Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has sought. Other elected officials have been more focused on shutdown orders and press appearances. They come across as tone-deaf to the economic hardships caused by the virus.
Communities will also have to prove their innovation and creativity during and after COVID-19. Cities and regions who are acting fast and finding creative ways to help small businesses and restaurants will save jobs now.
They are also likely to invite more job growth and new investments going forward.
Cities and states that are innovative and less burdensome with regulations and land-use can help save jobs now. They will also be able to parlay best practices going forward to benefit their economies.
The pandemic will also expand the use of technology and working from home. Cities have an opportunity to become leaders on those fronts or get left behind.
COVID-19 is causing unprecedented economic pain.
It is a challenge to find the balance between public health and jobs.
How state and regions respond to that challenge will impact their economies now and their economic development going forward.
The U.S. economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April. The unemployment rate is 14.7 percent and could hit 20 percent or higher due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Economies and businesses are gradually opening (including in Arizona). But it is going to take time for businesses to rehire workers and ramp back up operations. Consumers will also have to figure out their spending and behaviors (including travel and what kind of events and venue they may frequent or avoid).
We are still very much in unchartered waters heading into the summer when the 2020 campaign season will start to get even more intense.
As we all know COVID-19 is an unprecedented threat to public health, jobs, and the economy. It is the Spanish Flu and Great Depression combined potentially.
We need unprecedented, unorthodox, and innovative leadership to deal the pandemic as well as the job losses and fears that COVID-19 has brought. The 20.5 million who lost jobs just in April pretty much amounts to the entire populations of Arizona and Illinois.
There is a definitely the need for FDR (‘Nothing to fear but fear itself) assurances. Fear has gripped much of the media coverage and politics around the Coronavirus. We need leadership at all levels that rises above the fear and worry as well as the partisan rancor on social media.
We need that leadership all the way day down to the local level. We need business and community leaders to stress hope over fear.
Our communities and economy also need vision and creativity to how jobs, small businesses, and key industries such as tourism will come out the other side of the pandemic. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 7.7 million job losses nationally in leisure and hospitality, 2.1 million in retail and 1.4 million in health care. Those losses are equivalent to the respective metropolitan populations of Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City and Memphis.
We need leadership at the political, private sector and community levels that goes beyond dire public health warnings of COVID-19 cases and broad calls to reopen the economy. We need solutions and ideas short and long-term to create and save jobs, rejuvenate shopping centers, restaurant areas and other properties impacted by COVID-19.
Numerous companies are already or are looking at making some of their temporary layoffs permanent.
Nordstrom is permanently closing its store at Chandler Fashion Center. There are already numerous restaurants that are also not reopening. All that means lost jobs, lost tax revenue, and adversely impacted real estate.
Cities and states should be looking at common sense adjustments to regulations and licensing. They should be thinking outside the box in terms of land use and zoning.
They should be fast tracking permits and plans that create and save jobs. This is a challenge and requires city staff, state regulators, economic developers, and elected officials to up their game.
We also need to see the private sector to step forward. We know many businesses; many entrepreneurs and creatives are in survival mode. We know financing could be very tough after the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program funds are utilized.
But our communities and economy need job creators and innovators to do just that. This where innovators and entrepreneurs can rise to the occasion and find opportunities amidst this most challenging time.
This is the ultimate crunch time for the economy and our communities.
We need vision and action.
And Scottsdale City Manager Jim Thompson, over the past many years, has helped Scottsdale win. A lot.
He’s earned the respect of the business community, unions and activists. That’s pretty hard to do. Large special events appreciate his approach, in marked contrast to City Managers past.
With increasing confidence in city government Scottsdale voters authorized a one-tenth of one cent increase in the city sales tax in 2018 to secure road and transportation funds to aid the community over the next decade.
And last year, for the first time in two decades, Scottsdale voters didn’t just pass a bond and infrastructure for the community. They passed it overwhelmingly.
Maybe our minds are growing more feeble with age but we don’t recall embarrassing city scandals or controversy either.
And prior to the pandemic the city’s economy was booming.
All of this doesn’t happen without a smart, experienced City Manager, which Jim Thompson is. He doesn’t seek the limelight. He gives credit to his bosses, the seven elected officials who vote.
His hire was a smart one by the City Council in late 2016. It stopped the almost comical revolving door in the Scottsdale City Manager’s office and has returned the city to the can-do spirit that has typified its history.
Despite all of this another blog that comments on Scottsdale matters, purportedly run by an odd dude with a dubious win-loss record like the infamous Shelby Miller, recently opined about dissatisfaction with Thompson, even raising the specter of a potential dismissal.
Now if that’s not a foul ball, or a new version of a Scottsdale strike out, we don’t know what is.
While true that the city’s response to pandemic challenges has been sluggish, we liken it to the middle innings of baseball game. Just because you might be trailing on the scoreboard then doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t win the game. Over the next month Thompson would be wise to listen, very closely, to those on City Council and otherwise who don’t think the city has been doing enough to aid the business community or make internal cuts.
There is an increasing anger as the Scottsdale private sector gets decimated the public sector is doing precious little to share in the pain. Thompson needs to understand this better and put a plan in place for more city cuts, and its benefitting organizations now.
In fairness to Thompson, 257 jobs already have been cut, in addition to freezes. And Scottsdale has a bi-polar structure in which the City Treasurer reports to the City Council rather than the City Manager which can create challenges with decision-making.
But in the end Thompson and city leadership need to be on the side of the taxpayer, not bloated government. He needs to be listening more closely not only to his bosses but to those on the very front lines who begged city staff for more help and creative thinking at the outset of this crisis only to gain response from a city, as we have said before, that has seemed concussed.
But every game, including the most important ones, are often won in the later innings. We have every confidence in Thompson and the City Council to do just that on a budget and financial approach that makes the most sense for Scottsdale’s challenging times ahead. If there is friction so be it. It can often lead to the candor and conversations necessary for the best approach and compromise.
But for anyone to raise a question about Thompson’s future, well, they should be checked into the hospital for reasons other than those causing this crisis.
That business community many are counting on to help Scottsdale emerge from an economic catastrophe? They will be outraged about any talk of starting over with a new City Manager rather than continuing the respectful relationship with Thompson. The message to the marketplace would be devastating too. We also have a feeling many prominent activists would feel likewise because Thompson has treated them with the dignity, they deserve rather than the derision his predecessors deployed behind their backs.
Since being announced as City Manager on December 8, 2016 Thompson has stood tall on the Scottsdale mound. And there he should remain, serving the people and City Council as he has with fitness, finesse, and fortitude.
We’ll leave you and baseball analogies with this: Randy Johnson didn’t have his best stuff when he came in late to Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Yankees. After all, he’d pitched the day before and won. But is there anyone else the crowd wanted to see in that critical moment? Not a chance. He wasn’t the only reason the Diamondbacks won that night. But they did win. And Johnson ended up being the Co-MVP.
Nordstrom is closing its store at Chandler Fashion Center permanently. The Chandler store is among 16 locations Nordstrom is shuttering.
Other retailers will also be permanently closing stores with COVID-19 hastening the demise of some already struggling brands and locations.
Nordstrom’s closure at Fashion Center is a blow to Chandler. The East Valley suburb has worked for years to become more of a destination whether it be for technology workers or shoppers. The growth of companies such as Intel and Waymo (Google’s self-driving car venture) have helped put Chandler on the national map for technology jobs.
Nordstrom’s closure at Chandler Fashion Center is among a wave of lost jobs because of or quickened by the pandemic. The U.S. economy lost 2.1 million retail jobs in April and 20.5 million overall with COVID-19 grinding commerce and travel to a halt.
The Nordstrom store was also a feather in Chandler and the mall’s cap. The high-end department store brought significant tax revenue. The only other Nordstrom store in the Phoenix market is at Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Chandler has sought to be on the same level as Scottsdale when it comes to shopping options. The Nordstrom closure puts that effort back. Scottsdale is still the hub for luxury shopping and high-end brands. We will see how that segment also emerges from COVID-19 and all its fallouts.
Chandler has made a lot of progress, especially as a technology center. It is also looking to build up its roster of local restaurants in its downtown area as it sees the success of Gilbert’s Heritage District and Old Town Scottsdale.
Chandler and other cities will need to be creative and innovative on how they fill or redevelop retail and other business spaces left empty after COVID-19.
Nordstrom is also closing stores in California, Maryland, Texas, Oregon, Florida, and other states.
The Nordstrom closure hurts Chandler Fashion Center and hurts Chandler, but it should not diminish the East Valley’s other economic development and community accomplishments.
The Scottsdale City Council is running out of time to address the severe economic impact we are witnessing now in our city revenues. Each day we do not recognize and act on the dramatic drop in sales tax revenues, the budget hole for the city’s next fiscal year just gets deeper.
I am increasingly uncomfortable and alarmed with the lack of movement from city leadership on appropriately projecting significantly reduced revenues and developing a realistic budget that recognizes the unique and devastating effect the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the residents and businesses in Scottsdale and on our city’s financial health. Our city has been hit hard by the pandemic
This week the City Council held its second discussion on a 2020-2021 fiscal year budget that begins on July 1st; revenues are now projected by city management to decline about $25 million or around 7% from the previously projected $338 million revenue figure in the General Fund. Or, compared to this fiscal year’s adopted budget, revenues are projected to be down only $13 million or 4% less. The Council must adopt a tentative fiscal year budget in about two weeks. Final budget adoption will be on June 16th.
This most recent budget plan from city management projects what is referred to as a V-shaped recovery, where as soon as the city reopens, business will bounce back. As presented to the Council, the budget optimistically reflects that the present economic woes and rapidly declining revenues will immediately begin to improve in the first half of the next fiscal year – starting July 1st. After that, it’s back to “normal” or business as usual.
The notion that Scottsdale will regain its financial footing in a short period of time is absurd, and I hope my Council colleagues will see as I do, that we must prepare for a long recovery over at least a year or more. The chances of even a U-shaped recovery, where revenues remain flat for a while and then slowly begin to recover, are quickly disappearing. According to local economist Elliott Pollack, the recovery will be more like “a (Nike) Swoosh with a lot of bumps and dips along the way.”
Some public health experts project that the Coronavirus will return, possibly in the fall of 2020, which would then extend the bottom of the curve and possibly another shutdown of the city. All these scenarios appear to project that a quick recovery is likely not happening in Scottsdale.
Our budget should reflect that the city will use up its $55 million unreserved fund balance by early 2021, unless we begin more serious budget cutting now.
Too much latitude, too much discretion, is clearly unadvisable.
The City’s March sales tax receipts are now down 26% compared to March of last year. April’s decline will likely be double that of March, according to City Treasurer Jeff Nichols. And May sales tax receipts will very likely be similar to April, even with businesses slowly reopening. About 50% of city budget revenues in the General Fund are generated by sales taxes.
Slipping consumer confidence, health concerns and Scottsdale’s dependence on tourism and related activities will significantly slow the city’s ability to bounce back after this recession. According to the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index nationwide, consumer assessment of business conditions dropped a record 90 points in April. These consumers do not believe they will see their incomes rise. The overall consumer confidence index dropped from 118.8 in March to 86.9 – a rapid 27% decline.
Some steps have been taken in the last two weeks to cut our city budget expenses and stem the flow of red ink. Planned salary increases, representing $7.5 million, have been deferred, but have not been eliminated as I have strongly recommended. By delaying some spending and vehicle replacements, holding full- and part-time positions vacant, and some other cost-cutting mechanisms, total reduction in the general fund operating uses is now stated at $18.9 million – a far cry from where this number should be.
Yet, the Council’s report on budget balancing in our operations does not give a clear picture. A $10 million contingency fund has been set up by city management to contain anticipated spending: one-half year of salary merit increases, ($3.8 million), one-half year of salary market adjustments ($2 million), the vacation trade program (.7 million), and various other costs. This fund is still part of the budget expenditures, but is inappropriately separated into a contingency category in order to be utilized later at management’s discretion. About $7 million of the $10 million consists of items moved from the budget’s operating uses. A normal operating contingency fund would be about $3 million.
It is imperative that the City Council has clarity now on revenue figures and the actual spending plan, as I requested in the last meeting and which my fellow Council members affirmed by a 7-0 vote. My analysis of the budget is that expenditures have not actually been cut as much as was presented in this weeks’ meeting. Shifting planned expenditures from one category to another creates too much discretion and a true lack of transparency.
It is far too optimistic to project a $25 million drop in revenues. The revenue decline will be at least double that amount or $50 million, and realistically, the revenue drop could be as much as $80 million. I hope my council colleagues agree. If the drop is larger than our revenue forecast, for each million dollars we do not cut now, we will likely sacrifice 10 people later. Personnel costs make up 74% of the general fund expenditures.
These are hard decisions, but they must be made. Salary increases must be eliminated entirely, not held in a contingency account. We cannot contemplate increases at the same time that we are eliminating people. Some programs and services must be cut. Hours at some city facilities must be reduced. Selected capital projects must be deferred or closed to potentially free up millions of dollars in operating costs from the General Fund. Some jobs should be shifted to work-at-home or in remote locations to reduce facility costs. Some city properties (not in the Preserve) should be sold. There’s many more ways to find needed dollars.
I made a recommendation two weeks ago that the City Manager and executive staff should immediately discuss prioritizing services now to determine which are most and least important for serving our residents and businesses. That has not happened. Instead, there is a plan to hire an outside consultant to do this work.
Such a process will take months and will not help us to make decisions by June. I have faith in our own city people to discuss and set the proper programs and services priorities. Department heads know their operations intimately and the serious nature of the budget dilemma. We have talented people in our own organization who have the skills to lead productive discussions throughout the organization.
We have little time to face the reality, with each passing day, that our city’s economy is in a deep dive. With each passing day we will be digging the city out of a deeper hole and watching our city change dramatically. We have to answer tough questions about how we can do business differently, more efficiently, in a more cost effective way, while serving the residents and businesses in Scottsdale.
It is my job right now to navigate a perilous economy, to make realistic budget decisions, to help build consumer confidence to reignite the economy and to help get people back to work.
Suzanne Klapp serves on the Scottsdale City Council and is a candidate for Mayor.
Fortunately, one of its wannabe leaders, Scottsdale City Council candidate Betty Janik has stepped into the vacuum. Recognizing the profound despair being felt across Scottsdale by its restaurants, bars, and other small businesses Janik has proposed an innovative idea that should be adopted immediately by Scottsdale, all Arizona cities and ordered so by Governor Ducey, if legally permissible.
Janik described her bold, smart idea recently in a Scottsdale Independent opinion piece. You can read it here.
In a nutshell it is this: Since government is so restricting the ability of these small businesses to operate – including impractical distancing requirements – allow these businesses to function outside its walls on sidewalks, city streets and perhaps parking lots where appropriate and safe. In other words, if government won’t let bars and restaurants operate profitably inside – give them the tools outside – where they may have a chance to survive. And don’t take forever to study the idea. Do it. Now.
It’s simple. Allow these businesses to extend their own premises where food and beverage operations can take place. Restaurants by gubernatorial decree have already been allowed to sell liquor to go . . . and the world didn’t end. Neither will it with this reform. Indeed, it will be even better as more businesses will have a chance to make it, and by so doing, continue to contribute tax revenue so critical to local and state coffers.
It is not a bridge too far. This is a step that is desperately needed, and we thank Janik for suggesting an unorthodoxed idea for an unprecedented circumstance. More ideas like them are desperately needed.
PHOENIX (June 1, 2020) – If there is one thing Arizonans can agree on in this deeply partisan election cycle, it’s marijuana. When asked whether they would vote Yes or No on the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, 65% of Arizonans said they are likely to vote Yes in November.
Q. Next year, voters in Arizona may be asked to vote on the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. This
proposal would legalize the sale, possession and consumption of one ounce of marijuana (of
which 5 grams can be concentrate) for adults at least 21 years old. Marijuana would be taxed at 16% and the new revenue would be dedicated to fund community colleges, public safety, public health programs, and infrastructure. The proposal would ban smoking marijuana in public places like restaurants and open spaces like sidewalks and parks. It also requires all packaging to be childproof and labeled, bans advertising to children and bans the sale of gummy bears, gummy worms and other products that resemble kids’ candy. Knowing just what you know right now, would you vote Yes or No on this proposal? [Definitely/Probably]
47.0% — Definitely Yes
18.5% — Probably Yes
6.3% — Probably No
19.0% — Definitely No
9.3% — Don’t Know, Refused
65.5% — Total Yes
25.3% — Total No
9.3% — Don’t know, Refused
When broken down, although there is stronger support for its passing amongst Democrat and Independent and unaffiliated voters (Both around 70%), Republicans also support its passage with 56% expressing a willingness to vote Yes on the citizen initiative to legalize marijuana.
Voters 50 and older are likely to make up more than half of the Arizona electorate this November. Despite reservations that these audiences have indicated in the past, they appear likely to support Smart and Safe Arizona this time around. Voters 50-64 support the proposal with 63% and 65 and older indicated 55% support.
In fact, across all demographics, the only subset that did not achieve a majority of support was among those who described themselves as “Very conservative.” Among that audience, the issue was split evenly – 47.6% in favor and 47.6% opposed.
“As long as Smart and Safe Arizona can qualify for the ballot, all signs point to 2020 being the year that recreational marijuana finally becomes legal in Arizona,” said Paul Bentz, Sr. Vice President of Research and Strategy at HighGround, Inc., “Of course, there is still strong opposition among some of those who represent the most conservative segments of the electorate. We should expect a legal challenge coming from that audience because at this point, that’s the likely the only way they can defeat this issue.”
The road to legalized marijuana in Arizona has been rocky over the past few election cycles. But with the clarity surrounding the initiative language, the 16% tax to support public safety, community colleges, and infrastructure, it looks like this year might be the year Arizona joins the west in legal recreational marijuana use.
Bentz concluded, “Clearly, the initiative backers have learned from the mistakes of the past and have done everything they can to put together a more palatable proposal. In particular, they were wise to make this proposition more ‘family friendly’ by banning smoking in public and ensuring products cannot resemble children’s candy. Ultimately, that’s likely what got them over the hump with a majority of Republicans.”
Note: HighGround, Inc. has not been hired to work in support or opposition to the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.
About the Survey
The N=400 survey was conducted among likely voters 5/18 through 5/22. The poll surveyed likely Arizona 2020 General Election voters who have a history of electoral participation and was balanced to model the likely turnout of voters across party, age, region, and gender. The live interview survey of voters was conducted by HighGround Public Affairs to both landline and cell phone users. The partisan advantage was set at +4% GOP based on previous election trends and expected Presidential Election turnout. The margin of error is ±4.9%.
Three months after the start of the crisis and two months after the start of this tracking poll, the shock of coronavirus begins to wear off as Americans move towards returning to their normal lives. According to our latest data, the final in this series of tracking, the number of Americans that are at least somewhat worried about contracting coronavirus has dropped by 9 points since its high point of 76% on April 4. Our numbers also show the president’s approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus has decreased 6-points from the start of the survey on March 28. Details on these key findings and trendlines for today’s data points are presented below.
“With more and more states lifting their stay at home restrictions, we’ll most likely see the perception of the economy continue to improve as we go into the summer season.”
“While fear of contracting the virus is declining, fear about the future of the economy is on the rise.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling forces Arizona citizens who want to exercise their Constitutional right to vote, their right to initiative, and their right to free speech to disregard facts and endanger their lives. We believe that is a failure of justice based exclusively on political bias.
Despite our robust start in late-February, Save Our Schools Arizona now has no choice but to suspend signature collection efforts for the Save Our Schools Act, a citizen initiative aimed at reforming and limiting the state’s unaccountable private school voucher program. As a grassroots, volunteer organization, we do not have multiple millions of dollars to fund paid signature collection, nor are we willing to endanger our friends, neighbors, grandmothers, brothers and colleagues wo make up the Save Our Schools volunteer network.
Instead, we are committed to the following:
- Voter protect reforms and limits to private school vouchers in Arizona, either through legislative referral or a future citizen initiative
- Promote and support anti-privatization candidates up and down the November 2020 ballot
- Continue educating millions of Arizona voters about the harm of privatization in education and the value in supporting public schools.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is an obstacle in our mission to protect public education in Arizona and to stop reckless privatization in our state, but we are an organization that has proven we can and will succeed against the odds. This ruling does not change our plan to support the public schools serving 95 percent of Arizona students and permanently reform private school vouchers in order to better serve Arizona families, communities and our future.
— Save Our Schools Arizona
Despite the building economic pressure to reopen states, the majority of Americans continue to support stay at home restrictions. According to the latest numbers from the Firehouse Strategies and 0ptimus Analytics coronavirus tracking survey, 78% of Americans support current stay at home restrictions in their area. Our numbers also show concern for the consequences of moving too quickly to reopen, with 72% of likely voters saying they are more concerned about loosening restrictions too quickly than too slowly. Details on these key findings and trendlines for today’s data points are presented below. Look out for updated numbers on Thursday on our website.
- Even as states begin to open up, 78% of Americans support current stay at home restrictions in their area. Only 16% believe the restrictions are too strict compared to 30% who believe they aren’t strict enough, with 55% of Americans indicating that the restrictions are just about right.
- When asked about loosening these current restrictions, 86% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans are more worried that loosening them too quickly will result in the virus spreading quicker.
- Joe Biden continues to lead against Donald Trump in the general election ballot test by 5 point among likely voters (50% Biden – 45% Trump). He has maintained a 4-6 point lead in our tracking over the past two weeks.
“The majority of folks are in favor of restrictions in their area, but we are seeing some groups become more focused on the economy.”
– Scott Tranter, 0ptimus Analytics
Democrats and Republicans increasingly disagree on the pace of reopening.”
– Alex Conant, Firehouse Strategies
As your former Vice Mayor and current Paradise Valley Town Council member, I’m excited to announce my run for re-election.
Born in Phoenix, my current home in Paradise Valley is just a couple miles away from where I grew up. I have raised my family in Paradise Valley and cherish our Town’s unique values.
In difficult times, it’s important to have strong and steady leadership. My extensive experience in Town government and my four years on the Town Council have provided me with a significant amount of perspective on the challenges our Town faces and our next steps after the COVID-19 crisis.
I began as a Town volunteer serving on the Board of Adjustments, followed by serving on the Planning Commission. I’m a prior Board member of our Paradise Valley Destination Marketing Organization Experience Scottsdale, and well as former Council liaison for the Paradise Valley Arts Advisory Committee. I’m currently Council liaison for the Paradise Valley HOA committee and the Veterans Appreciation Vintage Car Show Committee.
My priorities hold true to our Town’s values:
- Support our police officers and first responders — now more than ever
- Fight to gain back local control over short-term rental properties
- Uphold fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget
- Ensure responsible development and preserve the unique residential character of our community and mountain views
- Oppose any local property tax — we don’t need to raise Town taxes to weather this crisis.
I would like to thank our current Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner, as well as former Mayors Scott LeMarr and Ed Winkler, for endorsing my candidacy, as well as other Council Members and residents who have encouraged me to run.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to provide steady, solid leadership during this difficult time. It’s important that we continue to work together to help ensure we get past this public health crisis and help our local resorts and businesses recover, while ensuring that Town services remain at a high level.
My experience over the past decade in public service has helped prepare me to serve the Town during this unprecedented time. I ask for your vote, and if re-elected I will continue to make comprehensive decisions that are consistent with our Town’s unique quality of life and values.
I have an open-door policy with residents and thank all those who have reached out to me. I welcome the opportunity to continue hearing from all of you about any issue that may be affecting your quality of life in Paradise Valley. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, as the re-election campaign progresses please visit me at www.ScottMooreaz.com.
Yours very truly,
Councilmember Scott Moore