Breaking News: Letter to Mayor and Scottsdale City Council – Proposed Changes to Zoning Ordinances

From the Goldwater Institute

Mayor David D. Ortega &
Scottsdale City Council Members
City of Scottsdale
3939 North Drinkwater Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Re: Proposed Changes to Zoning Ordinance

Dear Mayor Ortega and Members of the Scottsdale City Council:

As an organization dedicated to the protection of private property rights, we are writing to
express our concern with respect to certain proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance and the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan. We are concerned that, if adopted, these changes would likely expose the City to liability under Arizona’s Private Property Rights Protection Act (A.R.S. §§ 12- 1131–1138). That law requires the City to compensate property owners whenever it imposes a land use regulation that reduces the right to use property in a way that diminishes that property’s value.

The proposed changes currently under consideration would restrict the rights of property
owners far beyond existing zoning requirements. In particular, by reducing maximum building height and building heights and floor area ratios (FAR), increasing setback requirements, causing parcels to be converted from Type 2 to Type 1 (thereby further reducing maximum heights and FAR), creating a new “sensitive edge buffer,” and imposing a new “publicly accessible open space” requirement, these proposed changes would diminish property values for hundreds of property owners in Scottsdale. If adopted, these amendments may result in a large number of Proposition 207 claims against the City.
Under A.R.S. § 12-1135(D), the City could also be responsible for court costs and attorney fees from any resulting Proposition 207 litigation.

Of course, beyond the direct financial liability to the City, these proposed changes would also discourage the development and improvement of Old Town and surrounding areas, harming the City’s economy and devaluing neighboring properties elsewhere in the City at a time when Scottsdale residents are already confronted by challenging economic conditions.

We urge the City to take these financial and economic consequences under consideration as it contemplates these zoning proposals. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be helpful to you as you consider these proposed amendments.

John Thorpe
Staff Attorney
Scharf-Norton Center for
Constitutional Litigation at the
Goldwater Institute