Some time ago the City of Mesa so mishandled the acquisition of Bailey’s Brake Shop as it sought to redevelop a part of its downtown that it sparked a statewide uproar leading to a landslide victory to protect property rights known as Proposition 206.
We can’t help but be reminded of that fight now as one of the weirdest rationales we have ever heard for opposing an application in Scottsdale has arisen.
But first, some background.
In 2016 the Arizona Department of Health Services awarded a new medical marijuana license for the South Scottsdale CHAA. CHAA stands for Community Health Analysis Area. The state, not the city or a developer, did so because the area is one of the most underserved in Arizona. The state had a competitive bid process to select the licensee. A Scottsdale-based group known as Sunday Goods was selected.
Cities, by law, cannot regulate medical marijuana licenses out of existence. Indeed, there are now acute penalties for cities that run afoul of state law. In this case, Scottsdale’s rigid medical marijuana regulations made it nearly impossible to cite the new license in the broad area the state had granted.
Ultimately, city staff identified a very small area on the east side of the Galleria Corporate Center where the state directed medical marijuana dispensary could go.
It took Sunday Goods considerable time to negotiate deals with property owners, including one housing a tattoo parlor, to allow the license to proceed. Once achieved it made application to Scottsdale to build the facility. Since being announced in February the ideas has garnered widespread support in public opinion polls as well as input to city officials with Councilwoman Virginia Korte reporting that 95% of her input on the project has been positive.
But then along came a small group of surrounding property owners to protest the plans. A majority of these owners are not from Scottsdale and two of them own bars, one a smarmy one called Gilligin’s and the other a struggling one called Social Tap. So clearly the motivation is not moral. And they finally admitted so in recent articles saying their true rationale for opposition was that the low-scale dispensary would get in the way of plans to redevelop the block as a high-rise. They don’t name who the phantom developer is, or what experience the group has for doing so. Or what their huge parking needs and plans are. Or how a dispensary would harm redevelopment efforts when others haven’t in other parts of Scottsdale, or around the country.
But what we do know is this, and the City Council would be wise to keep it in mind. A suspect group of property owners is asking Scottsdale to turn down a state mandated license for its own development plans. In other words, it is asking Scottsdale city government to stop the property rights of others for an undefined, ill-defined development to enrich its own.
This is exactly the type of behavior that embarrassed the City of Mesa, and would do the same to the City of Scottsdale.