We have griped quite a bit about the Council of No in Scottsdale and the sacrifice of reasonable growth for the holy grail of perfect developments; letting perfect be the enemy of good, in essence. So imagine our very deep surprise when a mixed-use development passed through the Council recently!
What looks to be an intriguing mixed-use project near Marshall Ave. and E. First Avenue got the official green light from the Scottsdale City Council with a 5-2 vote. The project is a mixed use development ranging between four and five stories and will have 83 apartments as well as 5,000 square feet of commercial space. The No votes were from surprising new besties on Council: Mayor Ortega and Kathy Littlefield, the two votes who are increasingly the most likely to find issues with projects.
Ortega’s concern was too little commercial space, and Littlefield’s gripe was regarding traffic to the existing businesses that might be impacted, not an entirely unreasonable concern. Also notable was that the only vote against the project at its vote with the Planning Commission was Barney Gonzalez, a noted Ortega ally; we find it difficult to believe that that was a coincidence.
However, the most surprising aspect of this was the fact that there actually was a significant mobilization against this project, as recognized by Littlefield. There was significant outcry, and yet it passed. Both the Planning Commission and the City Council rejected the corporate NIMBYs and moved forward. Is this a new leaf that’s been turned?
Well, there does not seem to be evidence of organization from neighborhoods, the kind that organize on Nextdoor and in Facebook groups, who will send hundreds of emails and letters and make it clear that they vote. It would seem that in the eyes of Council, unlike the Supreme Court, corporations are in fact NOT people so their voices don’t carry as far. We don’t believe that this indicates that both voting bodies are ready to reject the normal factions of NIMBYs, which would be the strongest wind of change.
So while this probably isn’t a real sign of wholesale change as much as less grassroots organization, we do find the alignments interesting. Ortega and Littlefield being on the same side so often after Ortega vanquished Bob Littlefield during the Mayoral race is one of the more interesting developments in this iteration of Council. Politics continues to make interesting bedfellows.