Scottsdale’s State of the City Address: What We Would Like to See

Photo Credit: Arcadia News

Scottsdale Mayor Dave Ortega has his first State of the City address coming up next month. Typically such addresses, like you’ve often seen at the Presidential level, are both a celebration of successes (both touted and actual) as well as a declaration of future initiatives. With it being Ortega’s first, after a not-uninteresting first year in office, we are deeply interested in what he has to say.

Clearly he will tout the successful passing of Proposition 463, the Scottsdale General Plan. Considering that his predecessor had failed to do the same a decade ago, this would be both earned and unsurprising. He will likely mention booming tourism and a strong economy, much of it likely a result of a “post”-Covid boom rather than his policies but are fair game for SotC addresses. He will very likely not mention the semi-public spats with fellow city councilmembers, some of which are leading some city leaders to question his leadership ability.

We have seen a mixed bag of outcomes but plenty of potential in the Ortega administration. So in that vein of cautious positivity and in the spirit of “trust but verify”, here are some things we would like to see out of the address:

– Housing and development: is Mayor Ortega fine with the increase in housing costs and the fact that many everyday, upstanding citizens are priced out of the city, or does he desire to overturn that? Would he be willing to increase the housing supply and sacrifice some standards related to density and height in order to make it a more affordable place to live? Elite building standards and cost of living are often antagonistic in nature. These are not easy decisions, but clarity as to his viewpoint to this end could be a guiding light for many in Scottsdale.

– Old Town: what does he want Old Town to be 5 or 10 years from now? What changes (or lack thereof) does he want? He helped design several buildings in Old Town, we would love to see his specific vision, more specific than a General Plan. It’s time for him to get wonky with us, to trust the people and to feel free to get technical and spell out his vision.

– Relationships with the rest of council: Mayor Ortega has found a few strong allies, but has made some enemies as well, and those anti-relationships have spilled out in the public sphere. This could be a very good moment for a public kumbaya with some of the members he’s battled with. While we hate to think of non-partisan governance as being “our side vs your side”, it feels like battle lines have been drawn, and all of Scottsdale would be better served by less bickering, even if it is not obvious to your typical voter.

We believe that Mayor Dave Ortega has had a good first year as Mayor, and we expect him to tout it appropriately. There is much work to do though, and we would love to see Ortega taking the next step in his administration. Between clarity on his views on growth and Old Town, as well as better relationships with other members of council, this administration could turn into something special over the next few years, and we would love to see it.