The 2024 Scottsdale State of the City Address: What You Should Expect

This Wednesday, Scottsdale Mayor Dave Ortega will be leading the 2024 iteration of the Scottsdale State of the City address. Like most State of the Union or State of the State addresses, they often follow the same general template: they are designed to tout the administration’s successes of the past year and tip the administration’s hand for the future, a way to peer into what the priorities for the upcoming year will be.

This particular address may be the most important of Mayor Ortega’s tenure, as his bid for re-election will be coming later this year, and he will likely be setting the stage for his priorities for not just his campaign but for the next four years if re-elected. So what can we expect from this speech?

First, we can definitely expect him to speak to the biggest hot-button issue of the last year, one which regular readers have seen us cover quite a bit: water, and more specifically the Rio Verde Foothills water crisis. He approached the issue with a corporate responsibility, protectionist manner, one that irked peripheral politicians outside of city council as well as the Rio Verde Foothills residents but was almost certain to appeal to Scottsdalians. That is likely something that the mayor will remind voters about.

One interesting thing to watch will be to see if any of those elected officials that he publicly sparred with will be in attendance. Mayor Ortega has not been one to back down from a battle but appears to have learned the importance of being more selective about his battles throughout his tenure.

One issue that is likely to play a part in this speech and to his campaign as a whole is land; more specifically, responsibilities of the city and state. Much of the land that Scottsdalians currently work and play on is a result of sales from the Arizona state land trust; the mayor sees the use of that land being under the jurisdiction of the arrangements made with the state as far as zoning and usage is concerned. Instead of taking a more activist role in attempts at rezoning, he is indicating that he is more willing to stay in his lane and let the process play out before weighing in.

Lastly, another major issue that he is all but certain to bring up is short-term rentals (STRs). Mayor Ortega got a small win and fulfillment of campaign promises in tightening up regulations for STRs in the city, but while the legislature loosened the reins and gave some local control back, it is nowhere near where most municipalities would prefer. Mayor Ortega has submitted a bill allowing for more robust and defined regulations with the strong backing of the Arizona League of Towns and Cities, it reportedly is on Sen. John Kavanagh’s desk and has his tacit support. While they haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, moving the needle on this issue could be a major win-win for both parties (and for the citizens of Scottsdale).

The issues are relatively cut-and-dry, but the tone may not be. Collaborative or combative? Loving or fighting? Making friends or enemies? We will have to wait and see.