February 23, 2006
2006 STATE OF CITY ADDRESS
The Honorable Mary Manross, Mayor
Soaring into the Future
February 23, 2006
|Thank you. Members of the City Council, honored guests, and fellow citizens:||
One year ago, I introduced the State of the City with the words of management guru Peter Drucker. He stated, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." In other words, don't wait for the future to come to you. Go to work and make it happen. As you well know, that is exactly what we have been doing here in Scottsdale over the last several years.
Tonight I would like to share with you the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, a world-renowned architect and visionary, whose spirit has helped to shape Scottsdale. He had a profound understanding about what it takes to succeed when he said,
"I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen."
In other words: be focused, stand up for what you believe in, be willing to get your hands dirty, and be totally committed to implementing your vision.
If you look across the Nation you will see city after city with downtowns that are struggling, uncontrolled growth in newer areas, and the need for revitalization in older areas. While Scottsdale has faced some of those same challenges we have not been willing to accept those circumstances as inevitable or tolerable. We have taken the approach of boldly creating our own future and the results have been outstanding. This is not just wishful thinking. This is reality. This is due to the excellent teamwork among elected officials, city staff, residents, community leaders, a collective vision, willingness to take appropriate risks, insistence on quality, and sheer determination and hard work. Our focus remains on revitalization, transportation, public safety, the economy, and preservation.
The State of the City is Strong and the future is bright!
Scottsdale has an unmatched reputation for quality, a balanced, diversified and growing economy and more new investment taking place in our city than at any time in our history. And, like every other community we still have challenges; we still have a journey ahead of us. I commit to you that we will tackle each of these challenges as thoughtfully, aggressively, and successfully as we have tackled those of the past.
Tonight we are here to put things in perspective, something that unfortunately often gets lost in the middle of a heated political campaign. We are here to take a candid assessment of the progress that has been made in our city and to discuss future initiatives, which will keep us moving forward.
Let's begin by celebrating some truly monumental breakthroughs in the history of our city. These successes resolve many of the most complex, challenging and long-standing issues that our community has dealt with over the years. As you well know, by their very nature such breakthroughs do not come easily. They will have a positive impact on our city far into the future. To accomplish a SkySong, a Waterfront, a renewed and expanded Scottsdale Stadium and twenty-year contract with the Giants, a major upgrade and investment in WestWorld, or a new Fire Department in a given year would be a huge accomplishment for any city. This past year, in Scottsdale, we have been successful with each of these issues, and many more as well!
SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center
On January 20th of this year we held the ceremonial groundbreaking for SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center. The Center will open next year and promises to be a hub for innovation, technology and business to stimulate and attract new forms of global commerce. In the words of Senator John McCain,
"By building vital networks between university innovations, regional progress and the global technology industry, this project will establish Arizona as a leader in the global knowledge economy."
And I would like to recognize some of those who have supported us as we brought this project forward. First, I want to thank Senators John McCain and John Kyl, and Governor Janet Napolitano for their strong support of this vision. SkySong is one of the keys to the revitalization that is taking part in southern Scottsdale. As the signature sail at SkySong rises, we should view it as a symbol of a new era for this part of our city. While the project's scope will be international, it will also connect with the surrounding neighborhoods and become an integral part of our community. That vision has brought a new excitement to this area and to the entire city. Homeowners and businesses are revitalizing and investing. They, too, see a bright future for Scottsdale. We had to get it right and we weren't willing to settle for just anything. We were determined that the corner of McDowell and Scottsdale Roads would become a vibrant center, reflect the high quality that Scottsdale is known for, and really contribute to the long-term revitalization of Southern Scottsdale. It was well worth the wait, and as far as I'm concerned, it was well worth the fight.
I would like to thank Dr. Michael Crow, the President of ASU, Steve Evans of the ASU Foundation, as well as Sharon Harper and Tom Samuels of the Higgins/Plaza development team and the architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed, for their wonderful partnership in working with us to develop this innovative concept. I also want to thank our residents, especially those who served on the Citizens Ad Hoc Task Force, the Planning Commission and the Design Review Board. Their input played a key part in the design of this project.
Lets thank them all for helping to move this wonderful vision from concept to implementation.
While SkySong is one of the cornerstones to revitalization in Southern Scottsdale there are many other strong initiatives we have undertaken to support this area.
A. The grand opening of the Senior Center on the former Smitty's site is planned for June along with adjacent retail, slated to open later this spring. It will, once again, become a gathering place for all of us!
B. As part of our plan to further boost the speed of revitalization in southern Scottsdale, the city invested $10 million in the McDowell Road corridor for streetscape beautification and pedestrian and bikeway improvements. We also supported a private sector initiated marketing strategy to grow tax revenues in the area and stabilize the McDowell corridor.
C. And there is additional good news! The Kmart site at McDowell will soon transform into a beautiful new Lowe's Home Improvement store, opening this November. Lowe's stated that our success with SkySong demonstrated the city's commitment to the area and encouraged them to move forward. Other properties will be undergoing similar upgrades and transformation. We are no longer talking about what might happen, but what is occurring and what is about to come.
D. During the past three years, excluding the downtown area, southern Scottsdale has seen over $900 million dollars in new investment planned, under construction, or built!
Now that's an impressive sum! And even more capital has been committed just a little further up Scottsdale Road.
Through thoughtful planning and hard work, we took action to reinvigorate our downtown. For nearly two decades our community has sought to develop the Waterfront at the corner of Scottsdale and Camelback Roads. In recent years this key location has been best known as a great Christmas tree lot across from Fashion Square. But we finally had an opportunity to work with a group of outstanding individuals from Golub, Starwood, Opus West, and Geoff Edmunds to bring forth our collective vision for the Waterfront.
This project is another example of moving from concept to implementation.
We have already welcomed P F Changs, Borders Books, and several other retailers and restaurants to the neighborhood. The Fiesta Bowl headquarters and museum, and several more businesses, will soon join them. The residential development will also bring 1000 new residents to the Waterfront. Downtown is becoming a successful regional draw and its rebirth has been due, not only to strategic moves by the city, but partnerships with the private sector and nearly $2 billion in new private and public investment. The Robb Report's March 2006 issue says our "Downtown Sizzles." And it really does!
Additional Downtown initiatives:
The excitement carries to the south side of the Waterfront, where the Canal Bank Improvement Project is rising up. The new bridge and linear park will provide an important linkage between the Waterfront and our historic Fifth Avenue. It will give the entire area south of the Waterfront well-deserved recognition and even greater success. The Stetson Plaza project is also blossoming on the south side of the canal and will be comprised of office, retail and restaurants. The Rose Garden project, another residential project with complimentary retail and restaurants is under development as well.
These new developments at the Waterfront are only part of the change occurring downtown. We invested $10 million and created 640 additional off-street parking spaces in 2 downtown parking structures. And we did it "Scottsdale style" by including handicapped accessible restrooms, a covered area for public gathering, a new livery where visitors can watch horses being groomed, and an antique carriage display. Now that's a quality investment! We also have greatly increased the Downtown Trolley service and are creating safe, pedestrian-friendly walkways and bridges to unite Old Town Scottsdale, the Arts District and the Waterfront. You may also have noticed our new, wonderful signage program, all to create a great destination city.
Scottsdale Stadium and the San Francisco Giants
And while I'm at it, I'd like to put in a pitch for another anchor of the southern end of downtown: our newly renovated, expanded and revitalized Scottsdale Stadium, springtime home of the San Francisco Giants. Working with the Charros, our long-time partners at the stadium, the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, and the Giants organization, we took charge of our future. We negotiated a long-term agreement with the Giants so they will continue playing in Scottsdale for at least 20 more years, and longer with extensions. In addition, the City invested $3 million to leverage $20 million from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority to upgrade the stadium, and provide additional practice fields and improved facilities at Indian School Park. We had a grand re-opening of the stadium just last week and it is a hit with both the fans and the team. I would like to thank each of our partners for teaming up with Scottsdale.
Another major part of Scottsdale's success has been in the area of Public Safety. I would have to say, without hesitation, that the wonderfully successful creation of our new Fire Department this past year has been especially gratifying. No municipality in the country has had the opportunity to do that after they have been around for 54 years. And to do it so smoothly and professionally is something we can all be proud of. Chief McDonald, on behalf of all of the men and women who are serving in the Scottsdale Fire Department, please accept the gratitude of a grateful community.
We also took steps to support our police department, a wonderful organization that continues to be innovative and keep Scottsdale one of the safest cities in the nation. We have hired 246 new officers over the past 5 years and they are making a difference. Tonight, I am pleased to announce that our Part I Crime Rate is down 13.4% versus last year! Just this past week the department initiated another new innovative service known as the First Responder Smart Card Program. The primary goal of Smart Card is to enhance the first responder's ability to provide the safest and most efficient service to individuals with special needs. Thank you to Chief Rodbell, and all the men and women who serve our community in the Scottsdale Police Department. Due to your efforts, we are safe and secure.
Our public safety departments are second to none!
WestWorld & Tourism
We have worked hard to make Scottsdale a premier destination. For example, let's look at the commitment we made to our future in sports and tourism by investing in WestWorld to make it a top-notch facility for major events. Investment in new facilities and the acquisition of adjacent land has insured the long-term viability of WestWorld as a host to premiere events like the Arabian Horse Show, currently going on, the Sun Country Quarter Horse Show and of course, the Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction. Last month I know that many of you in the audience attended the Auction, because we had an all-time record breaking event. Not only was it a great financial success, but also the many improvements to WestWorld, made by the city, were most noticeable. I am pleased to say that in the same spirit that we pursued a long-term agreement with the Giants, we are currently working to reach final language for a long-term agreement with Barrett Jackson. Together we have made wonderful progress and we look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship well into the future.
This week the Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld boasts a record number of horse entries and vendors. People come from across the country and around the world. I encourage you to attend. Whether you are an equestrian or not, these beautiful shows appeal to people of all ages. We are proud to host these great equestrian events, which are so much a part of our history. In fact, we have added several equestrian events, including the new Scottsdale Classic Horse Show, increasing equestrian use days by 15% over the past two years.
I would like to thank Craig Jackson, Jan Bruner from the Sun Country Quarter Horse Show, Barbara Dietz organizer of the Scottsdale Classic Horse Show, Taryl Pearson organizer of the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and all of our partners at WestWorld.
Last month Scottsdale had another "tourism first." The 536,767 week long attendance at Scottsdale's FBR Open set the all-time PGA record, pumped $200 million into the local economy and raised over $6 million for local charities. I want to thank and acknowledge the dedication of both our city staff and the Thunderbirds for yet another outstanding event for tourists and residents alike.
Horse shows, baseball, art and culture events, car auctions, golf, spas, resorts, hiking, and shopping! We certainly keep our visitors busy. And the great thing is that all of this is happening right in our own "back yard." We all get to benefit from these world-class events, facilities and activities, and that is one of the main reasons why we work so hard to keep them here.
The heart and soul of our city, though, is our neighborhoods. Great neighborhoods make for a healthy city and this is a Top Priority for everyone in the city organization.
Together, we will continue to preserve and improve our neighborhoods through the city's many revitalization programs, code enforcement efforts, historic designations, and supporting volunteer efforts through organizations like Neighborhood Watch, our Scottsdale Pride Committee and Neighborhood Enhancement Commission.
In addition, over the past 2 years we have added 7 code enforcement officers, thus doubling the number of officers assigned to this important function. Our Code Enforcement Department, along with active participation and assistance from our Police Department, will continue to ensure the safety and attractiveness of our neighborhoods by enforcing the city's codes. Keep in mind, however, that you and I are the "first line of defense" in protecting our neighborhoods from deterioration and crime. We provide the eyes and ears to support both the Police and the Code Enforcement staff.
In 1994 New York City adopted the "Broken Window" policy based on the concept that ignoring the small problems encourages others to do the same, leading to deterioration of property and increase in crime. Our Code Enforcement staff and Police Department defend our neighborhoods against blight and health hazards. In the process, they also help keep our neighborhoods safe. I want to take this opportunity to thank our Code Enforcement staff and Police Department for their excellent work in keeping Scottsdale a great place to live.
And we will also continue our mission to improve our Community by meeting you at your front door during one of our neighborhood canvases, like the one earlier this month in the Papago neighborhood. These canvases give us the opportunity to listen to your concerns and hear your ideas about making your neighborhood better, so that the city's actions are truly helpful and specific to your needs. We bring government to you! And we do this because we are a community that nurtures neighborhoods and families.
Parks, Recreation & Youth
Another way we do that is by building new recreation and park facilities. For example, McDowell Mountain Ranch Park, which opens in July. This year we will also introduce the large new CAP Basin Park near the TPC. And this comes on the heels of the wonderful upgrade and renovations to Chaparral and Eldorado Parks. In addition we are expanding the Yavapai neighborhood ball fields.
We hope to also improve the quality of life for our youth with the opening of the new Knowasis Thunderbirds Charities Teen Learning Center at the Civic Center Library. It officially opens tomorrow at 4pm and you are invited to come and visit. And the youth of Scottsdale are also contributing through programs like Scottsdale Teens On a Mission for Progress, or "STOMP", where our young people have already provided over 3,300 hours of service to help senior citizens with home improvements, repairs, and landscaping. I want to thank the Thunderbirds for their strong support of the Teen Center, and our STOMP'ers.
Scottsdale is very committed to providing a safe and wholesome environment for our young people. I was able to travel to Washington D.C., earlier this year, to receive from General Colin Powell, on behalf of the City, an award recognizing Scottsdale as one of the 100 Best Communities for Youth. The award was sponsored by America's Promise, an organization founded by General Powell.
We also celebrate another major element in serving our youth: Scottsdale's high-quality educational system. Thank you to those students, and their leader Michelle Irvin, who performed here tonight from Desert Mountain High School. We will continue to partner with our schools in Scottsdale. On a personal note, I am very pleased that our residents supported the renovation and rebuilding of two of our older high schools, Coronado and Arcadia. The new facilities will ensure a first class educational experience for our young residents. Did you know that the Scottsdale Unified School District has more "excelling" schools than any district in the state? Quality education must always remain a priority in Scottsdale and our state. Our future, and the future of our country, depends on a well-educated populace.
And there are other issues that go beyond our borders, yet deeply affect our lives in Scottsdale.
Working on Regional Issues
In my role as Mayor I serve on several regional and national executive boards dealing with transportation, water, domestic violence and regional planning. This has given me a great appreciation of just how important it is for us to work closely with other communities to address opportunities as well as problems.
I believe that our city's health and continued success is tied to that vision. We cannot be myopic in addressing regional issues. As your Mayor I will ensure that Scottsdale continues to take a leadership role in the Valley and the state and continues to work in partnership with our neighboring cities and Native American communities.
The Preserve & the Environment
Another way Scottsdale has exhibited leadership is by creating our nationally recognized Green Building Program. To demonstrate our commitment to the environment, we also became the first city in the nation to require Gold LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for all new and renovated city facilities. And many Scottsdale builders are following our example. The buildings will be more energy efficient and built to be more in tune with our Sonoran Desert environment. Additionally, we have ensured our long-term water quality by constructing a new water treatment facility at Hayden and McDonald, due to start production this spring.
Over a decade ago, we all made a courageous decision to preserve one-third of our city, the McDowell Mountains, the precious Sonoran Desert, and our quality of life. Since then, we have acquired 13,485 acres of preserve land and continue to move forward. We have also thoughtfully planned for access to the preserve, protecting the flora and fauna and still allowing us to experience the beauty and peace of the desert close to home, right here where we live! This past year we initiated a new program known as Preserve Connections, to make the Preserve more available to residents throughout the city. Preserve Connections has been a big hit! Hundreds of residents have enjoyed their first-time experience in the preserve.
This past year we opened the Hidden Hills and Sunrise trails and trailheads. In 2006 we will open the Lost Dog Wash trailhead access. We will continue toward our goal of creating 3 new points of access to the preserve over the next 3 years. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is to Scottsdale, what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona. We all know that natural open space is a hallmark of livability and quality for a community.
The beauty of the desert is one of the reasons people come to Scottsdale for renewal and inspiration. And yet, Scottsdale has even more to offer those in search of uplifting experiences. Our arts and cultural programs offer their own inspiration and we are working hard to ensure their ongoing quality and growth.
Arts & Culture
We demonstrated our commitment to arts and culture by providing funding for the renovation and improvement of the Scottsdale Center for the Arts to ensure that it remains a vital resource for our community well into the future.
In addition to our current attractions, our residents and visitors will find access to more special and unique entertainment venues… venues like our 4301 Theater, to be an added plus. I believe that more live theatre and other cultural attractions are needed in the downtown to add to our wonderful reputation as an arts community. In addition, soon we will see the results from the feasibility study, which will help us determine if a Western Museum can come to fruition in downtown, as well.
This past year we also saw more public art on the ground and on the drawing board. We need to continue to expand our accessible public art program.
We also continue to maintain our reputation as a fiscally responsible city. Scottsdale has again received a Triple A rating from all three major bond-rating agencies, an honor granted to only a handful of cities across the country. City sales tax collections are up 12.4% above the same period last year and Bed Tax revenue is up 16%.
Our hard-earned reputation has enabled us to continue the ongoing work of moving Scottsdale forward with new projects, as well as re-energizing older areas of our city.
Revitalization & Future Development
Revitalization is an ongoing process throughout the community that will never be completed. As one area goes through a renaissance, other areas will begin to age. Typically, an area reaches a crossroads within 30-40 years of age, at which time it either sees major reinvestment or it starts to see signs of decline.
Scottsdale's initial revitalization efforts were focused primarily on downtown Scottsdale, but in recent years have expanded to include the major nodes and key commercial cores in southern Scottsdale. These efforts are now paying off, with an estimated $2.4 billion in new investment planned, under construction, or built since the start of 2003. Of this amount, about $1.5 billion is invested in downtown Scottsdale, and about $900 million is in the balance of southern Scottsdale. Clearly, these areas are seeing positive trends that should continue well into the coming years. It is time to broaden the focus to include other key areas. Two areas that have been identified as high priorities for revitalization efforts are:
- First, the strip commercial corridors in southern Scottsdale, especially Scottsdale Rd. and the McDowell Rd corridor. These corridors in the southern part of the city are about 40 years old and tend to have very small parcels with fractured ownership.
- Second, the Scottsdale Airpark While the Airpark is still seeing new development taking place on the remaining vacant lands. Some areas are starting to age. The first major Airpark revitalization project, "Kierland II," was approved by the City Council in 2005.
In order to move these areas forward, Economic Vitality has taken the lead on these projects by working first on a market analysis of these areas. Our goal is to have these plans completed as quickly as feasible so we can strike while the market is hot and continue attracting top businesses to Scottsdale. Since taking office as Mayor in 2000, we have attracted over 600 new businesses and over 16,000 new employees to the Airpark alone. That's a great accomplishment by our city! In addition, I have been appointed as a member of the Arizona BioSciences Roadmap Steering Committee, partly in recognition of how successful Scottsdale has been in attracting companies in the biomedical, and research fields. In June of 2005 the Mayo Clinic Collaborative Research Building opened with 100,000 square feet of lab space. It already has attracted: T-Gen, ASU, the Cancer Drug Development Lab, InNexus, and the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. And, just a few weeks ago the city rezoned the Mayo Clinic Campus, on Shea, from its obsolete designation as a hospital campus to a Biosciences Collaborative Research Community where personalized medicine will be advanced and cures for diseases like Cancer will be discovered. And just down the street at Scottsdale Healthcare North is the impressive Virginia Piper Cancer Center where phase I, II and III cancer drug research is occurring. And there is more to come! Additional promising centers of employment, residential, high-end retail, and significant new tax revenues are moving forward. What was referred to as the "Stacked 40's", now formally named "One Scottsdale", will be an important part of Scottsdale's future, as will the new "Kierland II", located near the Airpark on Scottsdale Road.
In pursuing economic development and revitalization, we must continue to place a high value on retaining the things that make Scottsdale so unique. We will move forward in a manner which protects our heritage as well as our future and respects the value we place on sustainability, thoughtful design and quality.
The people of Scottsdale have helped to create these values, and no one is more important than our citizens in helping to shape our future. They do this by attending meetings, voicing concerns, serving on boards and commissions and volunteering thousands and thousands of hours to various city projects and departments. In our Community Services Department alone, more than 133,000 hours of service were provided to Scottsdale. That's the equivalent of nearly 64 full time employees! There also are 125 volunteer stewards and Pathfinders, all who love the Sonoran Desert and enjoy guiding and teaching others about its wonder. Together, they volunteer approximately 15,000 hours each year to this endeavor, and the number of volunteers and the hours they give to our city is growing every year! Tonight I see some of our preserve guides in blue shirts with us in the audience as well as many other wonderful community volunteers. On behalf of the city, I want to thank all of those who serve this community as a volunteer.
On a personal note, I have appreciated the support and teamwork that I have received from my colleagues on the city council. And I encourage them to continue in that same spirit as we address the new initiatives for 2006. All seven of us may not always agree, and we may have spirited debates, but we have learned to work well together and our city is flourishing.
And I know we will continue to work together in Scottsdale's best interest as we tackle the new challenges ahead.
In the words of William Jennings Bryan, "Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice."
Let's take a serious look at my initiatives for 2006. .
1. Our number one priority and initiative for 2006 will be to address traffic and transportation. One of the obvious byproducts of Scottsdale's great success is more traffic. New businesses, more tourists, and new residents all contribute to increased traffic. We are fully committed to addressing the future of transportation in a comprehensive manner. We recognize the need to work toward alleviating traffic congestion and providing a more connected, seamless system with a variety of transportation options.
Several major roads and intersections have been completed over the past few years. Just a few examples: Scottsdale Road was widened, improved and beautified from Indian Bend to Gold Dust. Four brand new lanes on Hayden Road have been extended from the Tournament Players Club to Thompson Peak. New turn lanes have been added at many major intersections. The city has installed more than 40 new bus shelters along our transit routes. However, we need to provide more shelters, and more quickly, if we want to see transit ridership continue to rise. We have seen trolley ridership in our downtown area grow 57% in a single year and our Cab Connection program is providing a new transportation option for 2500 residents.
A new factor that will allow further improvement to our transportation network was the passage of Proposition 400 in November 2004. Funding from this program will soon be flowing into our community in a variety of ways: ADOT is now designing high occupancy lanes on the Pima Freeway from Loop 202 north to Princess Drive which will begin construction in 2007; a new frontage road on the north side of the Pima Freeway near Scottsdale Road will be initiated by the city later this year; additional travel lanes on Pima Road between Thompson Peak and Pinnacle Peak are in design; and over $2 million in regional transit funding will allow us to significantly expand our bus and trolley services beginning this summer.
We recognize that there is no "magic bullet" to fix traffic in the Valley of the Sun and Scottsdale. And short-term, quick fixes could create unforeseen negative consequences. But we know we must find better ways to manage traffic. In collaboration with you, our residents, we are taking charge of our future as we begin developing a first ever, citywide Transportation Master Plan. This will be an active strategic plan for the city well into the future. It will determine ways to optimize our current transit system, address our system gaps, provide a series of choices for consistent, connected, and accessible travel and will propose funding options. While participating as part of a network of connected regional systems, our local solution must also preserve the quality and character of Scottsdale, which considers people as its priority. Imagine a future Scottsdale where you can decide to bike, walk, ride or drive from your home to any part of the Valley in a dependable, continuous system of pathways and transit options. That must be our goal.
There are many things to be considered including: widening roadways, neighborhood circulation, more bicycle paths, enhanced bus service, incentives to reduce automobile use, possibly light rail or other technology and many others. The plan must value the character and diversity of the community and its neighborhoods: from the more densely populated southern area to the more rural north.
And so I call on you, to participate in what will be one of the most important planning processes we have ever embarked upon. We need your help in a real and constructive community dialogue and debate about which solutions will best serve us in the future. I am very pleased that the Scottsdale Area Chamber is committed to working with us on this process. We value their partnership.
This will be a very high priority for the city and a highly visible activity. It needs and deserves strong and constructive participation from Scottsdale's citizens. Together, we will take charge of our own future with a solution that is "uniquely Scottsdale." I know we will succeed because that's what we do in Scottsdale. We take on challenges. And we work to make it happen.
For example, Scottsdale has, over the past years, been lobbying and speaking out at the State Legislature to encourage the addition of more DPS officers to patrol the state's highways. Due to a lack of state resources and in response to citizens' concerns, the City Council took action to try to improve traffic safety on the Loop 101 Freeway with the Photo Speed Enforcement pilot program. Early indications are that this test program is changing driving behavior and slowing us down. I want to thank the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety, and the Governor for assisting us in the start up of this, first in the nation, life-saving demonstration project.
The work isn't over here, either. We will continue to pressure the Legislature to fund more DPS officers and to keep our technology options open. Some of our Legislators see this as an "either-or" choice. You either use new technology -- like photo enforcement -- or get more DPS officers. Our experience in Scottsdale says you should have both, and they are complimentary. We have photo enforcement cameras and more officers. We have safer streets. We would like a safer freeway! We think we've found a good way to reduce speeding on the freeway, and we're sticking to our….cameras.
2. Our second initiative for 2006 is to continue strategic investments in the revitalization of southern Scottsdale, which remains a top priority. We will keep the ball rolling. We will continue to pursue opportunities and encourage businesses to invest in our city and will provide additional focus on the strip commercial corridors on Scottsdale and McDowell Roads.
3. The third initiative will help to protect our financial future, and our quality of life. I urge all Scottsdale residents to turn out in support of Proposition 402 in the May 16th election. It does not raise taxes. It only allows us to utilize the revenues that have been generated to provide the services, including public safety, which our residents have asked for. It still requires the adoption of a balanced budget, and annual public review. It is critical to our quality of life that Proposition 402 passes. Leaders throughout the city support it and we are counting on your support as well.
4. The fourth initiative for 2006 is to bring more live theatre to downtown. Today, more than at any time in our history, we have a great deal of momentum downtown. I say "Carpe Diem", seize the day. I look forward to working with the Cultural Council, interested citizens, and businesses to explore all viable opportunities to bring more cultural assets to our downtown.
5. Our fifth initiative revolves around state legislative action. We need to look at our economic development tool kit and explore concepts such as state legislation for business improvement taxing districts and to find ways to support the future needs of businesses in our community.
6. The sixth initiative is to move ahead with a strategic plan for the Airpark, the third largest generator of jobs in the Valley. The Airpark has been a great success in attracting new companies to Scottsdale, and the strategic plan will ensure that it remains a vibrant job center.
7. The seventh initiative is to support the implementation of a Strategic Plan for Tourism. I look forward to receiving the 5-year strategic plan from the Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Tourism Development Commission. With that blueprint the Council must work together to help craft the future for tourism in Scottsdale.
8. Part of that future of tourism should be the proposed Desert Discovery Center. For my eighth initiative I call for a public/ private partnership to bring the Desert Discovery Center to reality at the gateway to our preserve.
9. The ninth initiative will be an opportunity to protect and improve on the legacy of our Preserve. Our work is not finished! I strongly encourage you to support "Conserving Arizona's Future," a state land reform initiative, which will be on this year's November ballot. It will preserve open spaces throughout Arizona for current and future generations and will improve the operation and efficiency of the State Land Department. We, the citizens of Scottsdale, need to support this in order to assure completion of our preservation vision for Scottsdale and to enhance our long-term quality of life. Many of you have played a critical role in developing our preserve. I encourage you to get involved.
10. I also ask that you get involved this September, when the community will have the opportunity to ratify the newly updated Sexually Oriented Business ordinance, passed unanimously by the City Council, by voting no on the referendum sponsored by the strip clubs. Due to changing legal decisions across the nation regarding sex businesses, we had to update and improve our municipal ordinance, just as cities across the nation have done. We take great pride in our community. Your City Council is working hard to protect our residential and business neighborhoods.
11. The eleventh initiative is the upgrading of outdated residential zoning standards. For our residential property owners, especially in southern Scottsdale, we need to change residential zoning regulations to permit expansion and improvement to meet the needs of homeowners in today's Scottsdale. An update of the R1-7 district will come forward for City Council review by summer. I strongly urge the Council to support this initiative. This would change the zoning code for single family residential properties primarily located south of Indian Bend Road and with minimum lot sizes of 7,000 square feet. It would provide added flexibility for side yard set backs, carport conversions, use of alleys and other items to facilitate resident's ability to reinvest and revitalize their homes. We also need to provide additional support, incentives and flexibility within the administrative review process.
12. For additional support of our neighborhoods and the protection of their individual character, I urge the expansion of our residential historic districts. Just last week we had a ceremony marking the official designation of Village Grove and Town & Country as historic neighborhoods. The neighbors were very pleased. The city will help any neighborhood, which meets the criteria, to explore and achieve Historic District designation.
13. I also urge the Council to enact appropriate standards this year to address the impacts associated with condominium conversions, a growing phenomenon in the Valley. We must insure quality building standards are met and apartment residents are treated fairly.
14. And finally, I ask the Council to seek and support ways to further enhance and invest in public art initiatives citywide. It is critical that we sustain our reputation as a premier art and cultural center.
All of these initiatives will keep us moving forward as a quality community!
For 34 years, my husband and I have been proud to call Scottsdale home. I want to thank the residents of Scottsdale for your longstanding commitment to our city. We have created a community with no equal.
Together, we are building a very vibrant and sustainable Scottsdale!
A Scottsdale which nurtures neighborhoods and families and safeguards our community values.
A Scottsdale which protects our citizens, and preserves our natural environment, and is dedicated to sustaining a healthy economy.
A Scottsdale which is one of the most desirable places to live in America.