By Larry Kush
During my many years of service on the Scottsdale Planning Commission, there were several meetings where city staff updated us on the progress of the revised general plan and asked us for our comments. City Planning Staff put in untold hours of work on this plan, holding several meetings with stake holders (citizens) to explain the plan and receive input. Eventually, the commission approved the plan, as written and passed it onto the new city council members., To a person, the city council approved the plan and sent it on to the voters. In fact, several of them (to include councilwoman Whitehead and Mayor Ortega) have written articles on the plan encouraging the public to vote YES this November.
The new plan clearly outlines areas of the city designated as “growth areas” where mixed use projects are encouraged. One of these areas is along the Shea corridor in North Scottsdale. Recently, two multifamily developers have proposed new, badly needed, apartments in this area. Councilwoman Whitehead initially supported these plans, that is, until the local NIMBY (Not in my backyard) crowd, who do not even live near the planned project, flooded the council woman with protest emails and other social media condemnations making it clear to her that she was forgetting that opposing growth is why they had elected her in the first place. Well, you guessed it! Whitehead immediately caved and withdrew her support of these planned communities and for good measure withdrew her previous support for the redevelopment of a failed shopping center on Osborne and Hayden Roads. The very same project that she highly praised when it was presented at the Development Review Board meeting of which she was the chair.
The developers have all cried foul and accused the councilwoman of perfidy. Each of them having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to please councilwoman Whitehead and the surrounding community, only to be abandoned by Whitehead at the last minute. As of this writing, each of these projects have postponed their planned city council hearings, not wishing to throw good money after bad as well as not knowing who in City leadership they can trust.
During my six-year stint in the Army during the Vietnam war, one thing that I learned about leadership was that you cannot serve two masters. If you do, you will eventually alienate both of them and lose all credibility of those you are tasked to lead. This stated abandonment, by Whitehead, of these critically needed apartment homes is a good example of failed leadership. The development community has learned that she is not to be trusted and the NIMBY community is angry that she supported these projects in the first place. Ms. Whitehead is running for re-election, hopefully she will not prevail, as our city needs leadership upon which they can count.
Solange’s actions are why I will not support the new general plan (and encourage others to join me) for what is the point of supporting the plan which our mayor and several city council members (lead by Whitehead) all support while at the same time showing through their actions that they will not support the development guidelines laid out that very plan? I, for one, cannot bring myself to join in their hypocrisy.
Larry Kush is a six year member of the Scottsdale Planning Commissioner, 40+ year Scottsdale resident and lifelong advocate of fair housing