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Public Services and Facilities Element

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Vision Statement

Scottsdale will continue to be a community that provides high quality community services to its residents, businesses, and visitors. We will pursue new ways to deliver services in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Scottsdale citizens and visitors will be secure in the knowledge that the public officials and employees of the community are dedicated to maintaining and, wherever possible, enhancing levels of service in all program areas and in addressing the variable needs of a population that is widely diverse in both demographics and geographic distribution.

We will grow and change in ways that minimize public exposure to safety hazards like flooding and fire and, additionally, will focus on crime prevention. Furthermore, citizens and visitors will be safe from conditions, circumstances and influences that would threaten, disrupt or diminish the quality of their lifestyle.

Scottsdale will be a community with public buildings and facilities that represent the special qualities of the city. We acknowledge the vital role that public facilities play in the shaping of community life. Libraries, parks, schools, and cultural centers are treasured and will be enhanced to provide high quality of life for current and future generations.

Scottsdale will continue its efficient and high quality customer service to all Scottsdale citizens by planning, managing, and operating a safe, reliable, and affordable water supply and wastewater reclamation system. We will meet today's needs without compromising our resources for future generations, being guided by the City's Water and Wastewater Master Plans, as well as our golf course and annexation policies. As a desert community, our long-term prosperity is dependent upon the efficient use and reuse of limited water resources. Scottsdale will work in concert with other communities in the region to protect aquifers, steadily reducing our dependence on well water, and using reclaimed wastewater to meet the golf course recreational needs of our resort industry. Our water and wastewater distribution and recovery systems should compliment a logical and efficient growth management plan.



Public services and facilities represent the public's investment in the design, development and delivery of the complex package of service systems and programs, and the physical facilities required to satisfy the needs of a growing community. These systems are necessary to support and maintain the high quality and standards of social, physical and economic health, safety, comfort, and general well being expected by Scottsdale's citizens and guests. Public services and facilities are the most visible of the city's functions, and is where the city's operations "touch" the most people. Citizens and visitors can expect:

  • police and fire protection
  • a water and wastewater system
  • solid waste collection and disposal system
  • justice courts
  • circulation, traffic control and street lighting
  • surface drainage and flood control
  • schools, parks and playgrounds, athletic fields, and community centers
  • libraries, youth and senior centers
  • human and social service centers
  • citizen and visitor centers
  • power utilities and communications systems
  • buildings and facilities for civic governance
  • buildings and facilities for administrative, regulatory and maintenance services.

The Shared Vision defined four Dominant Themes and twenty-four VisionTasks that characterize the community's special qualities and opportunities. Fully half of the VisionTasks addressed the development and delivery of public services and supporting facilities to assure the protection of Scottsdale's residents and the preservation and enhancement of their neighborhoods. The enhancement of Scottsdale's neighborhoods, both residential and commercial, is one of CityShape 2020's Six Guiding Principles that define the city's priorities in the decision-making process. The Public Services and Facilities Element is an essential component in determining neighborhood strength and quality. All six of the city's Guiding Principles are interrelated and are equally important in influencing the effectiveness of the public-private partnerships that build, improve, maintain and sustain all the neighborhoods that make up our city.

Scottsdale has always sought to meet and exceed the needs and expectations of its citizens and visitors in all of the interfaces between the public and private sectors. This quest has enjoyed repeated success through the years, a testimony to the ongoing interest and participation of the people of the community in assuring the quality, attractiveness, and livability of their neighborhoods. Scottsdale achieves its goal of sustained and increasing quality with remarkable efficiency and cost-effectiveness, facts that are witnessed by the community having one of the lowest combined tax rates in the metropolitan area and the highest attainable bond rating in the nation for a city of its size. The satisfaction of Scottsdale's customers - citizens, businesses, and visitors - is highly valued and reflected in the character and quality of our neighborhoods.

Scottsdale's physical size, configuration, and the development patterns of the community present a continuing challenge in meeting both the short and long-term demands of its citizens, visitors, and commuting workers. The cost effectiveness of extending municipal infrastructure to and through low-density developments is questionable and must require maximum participation by their developers to avoid negative net balances in the city's operational and capital expenditure accounts. Decentralization of public service delivery systems is required to provide appropriate and equitable levels of service for citizens and visitors in all areas of the community. Demographic and geographic variances in the public's expectations and demands concerning the design, quality, location, level, and delivery of public services and facilities must be identified, planned for, and satisfied.

There are five components of the Public Services and Facilities Element. They are: public services, human services, safety, public buildings and facilities, and water resources.

Demand for public and human services like child and senior care, education, and police and fire services continue to grow and change. Technology has changed the way services are provided and has added new complexities. At the same time, the way services are provided has changed. Other public entities, nonprofit agencies, or private companies often now provide services that were provided only by city government in the past. There is a growing emphasis on partnership and coordination and avoiding duplication of efforts.

When examining the changing demographics of the community and the nation, an interesting challenge is presented. While it is important for the city to address the public service and human service needs of all ages, we must recognize that the senior population/baby boomers present unique needs and challenges simply because of the size of the age cohort.

The public buildings and facilities section discusses the municipal utilities, public structures, and properties required to meet the public infrastructure needs of the community. Scottsdale's investments in public buildings and facilities are designed to respond to the identified needs of both the existing population and the people who are expected to be here in the future. The location, size, timing, and financing of public buildings and facilities must be planned well in advance of their construction as a means of minimizing their cost, optimizing their usefulness, and maximizing their public benefits and private sector support. In September 2000, Scottsdale voters passed a series of Bond questions for public buildings and facilities that will be built over several years.

Scottsdale's Civic Center has long been a source of pride and a central gathering place for all members and guests of our community for a diverse variety of social, cultural, artistic, and entertainment events. City Hall, the Civic Center Library, the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, and, most recently, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art are enhanced by a beautifully landscaped setting of shady walks, lush lawns, seating areas, fountains, sculptures and other art works that provide a quiet respite from the busy rhythm and noise of the retail, office, medical, hotel, entertainment, sports, and government activities of the surrounding Downtown.

Schools are vital as public institutions and centers of our neighborhoods. Scottsdale schools are owned and operated by the Scottsdale Unified, Cave Creek Unified, Paradise Valley Unified, Fountain Hills, and Phoenix Union/Balsz Elementary School Districts. Partnerships between the School Districts and the city serve to better provide facilities and services for the community. Sharing and joint use of facilities with the city are encouraged through planning and cooperation.

The city owns and operates the many city parks and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Public Services and Facilities Element briefly discusses them. Parks and the recreational opportunities they provide are discussed more fully in the Open Space and Recreation Element. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is discussed in the Preservation and Environmental Planning Element.

Scottsdale's water resources systems include water supplies, water treatment, water transmission and delivery, and wastewater collection and treatment systems. Scottsdale has made water supply and quality a priority, so it has undergone a Superfund clean up and invested in a state-of-the art Water Campus to ensure top quality water supplies for Scottsdale citizens. Our water supplies are a valuable resource that must rely on renewable sources such as surface water and reclaimed wastewater. The planning and acquisition of these supplies must include conservation and planning. Current sources of water, in addition to groundwater, include Salt River Project, Central Arizona Project, and reclaimed wastewater. Water and wastewater treatment use the latest technologies to provide safe and sufficient water for our customers in a changing regulatory environment. All water resources systems are monitored and operated in such a way as to insure a safe, affordable and reliable service to our customers.

Scottsdale requires participation by developers to avoid negative impacts on the city's operational and capital expenditure accounts in the cost of extending water and wastewater systems to new developments. The total cost of providing new water and wastewater services and the cost of providing the legal rights to new water supplies are reflected in the water, water resources, and sewer development fees. In the past, exactions from developers for park land, school sites, and public easements was the main way these public facilities were acquired. In the future, fewer large master planned communities are expected, so the city will need to creatively find ways to provide these facilities and services, looking to other methods, and working with the private sector and advocates of specific facilities and services.

The Public Services and Facilities Element provides broad guidance about the provision of community services and physical facilities for the city of Scottsdale in keeping with governmental roles of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the community. It is an important guide in determining the strength and quality of the community's neighborhoods.


Scottdale Values ...

  • High quality, responsive customer/public service.
  • Effective and efficient delivery of community/human services.
  • Public safety, crime prevention, hazard prevention and safety response.
  • Planning for and awareness of human service needs.
  • Public buildings and facilities that provide a sense of pride in the community.
  • A community in which residents can live, work, and play in close proximity and where neighborhoods have easy connections to other neighborhoods and public facilities.
  • Partnerships with other jurisdictions, especially School Districts, to provide joint use of facilities.
  • Buildings and facilities that are designed for aesthetics, economy, energy-efficiency, and in concert with the character of neighborhoods.
  • Water resources systems that meet the short- and long-term needs of its customers.
  • Water and wastewater systems that are planned, designed, constructed, and operated to provide safe and reliable levels of service for citizens and visitors in all areas of the community.
  • Enforcement of design and construction standards to insure that our customers receive the highest quality infrastructure possible and to minimize future costs in repair and replacement.

Goals and Approaches

Public Services:

1.    Establish and maintain an innovative, sustainable solid waste collection, recycling, and disposal delivery system for present and future generations.

  • Seek new, cost effective methods of solid waste collection and disposal.
  • Promote the curbside recycling program to divert residential refuse from the landfills.
  • Seek new recyclables like glass and building materials to enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the curbside recycling program.
  • Promote household composting to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to the landfill.
  • Encourage the use of reusable and recyclable goods through future incentive programs, educational displays and activities, and city purchasing policies and practices.
  • Minimize the use of toxic and hazardous materials within the city and encourage the use of alternative materials and practices that are environmentally benign.
  • Support the continuation of household hazardous waste collection days or events for citizens of the community.
  • Continue working with appropriate agencies to clean up hazardous waste sites.

2.    Protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public from the impacts of flooding.

  • Promote sound floodplain and stormwater management.
  • Develop and maintain a cost effective and efficient citywide drainage system in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Identify the city's drainage system management needs and improvements.
  • Improve inadequate or undersized drainage facilities to solve both small neighborhood and large regional drainage and flood control problems.
  • Avoid, to the extent possible, development in floodplain and flood prone areas.
  • Retain washes in their natural condition unless storm water management facilities have been designated. Consider smaller scale drainage improvements like detention areas and raised building pads instead of disturbing natural washes.
  • Minimize street crossings of major washes.
  • Use washes for open space, trails, and recreational facilities as long as the natural drainage properties of the wash are retained.
  • Consider a variety of drainage solutions for different portions of the community, such as mixed-use areas, higher intensity areas, and areas of different topography.
  • Flood protect buildings and limit walls in areas subject to sheet flow.

3.    Encourage provision of power and communication systems that match the character of Scottsdale and provide reliable, efficient service for Scottsdale citizens, visitors, and businesses.

  • Cooperate with all power and communications utility companies (electrical, gas, telephone, cable, microwave, satellite and future utilities) in the provision of services throughout the community and the installation and maintenance of facilities in their respective franchise areas.
  • Minimize the visual impact of existing and proposed utility facilities.
  • Underground all new electrical distribution lines carrying less than 69kV.
  • Encourage the undergrounding of all existing 69kV and lower voltage electrical lines. One method for financing the undergrounding is through special improvement districts.
  • Encourage open space along transmission line corridors for general recreation and trails.
  • Encourage utility companies to provide consistent, clean power, especially for technology and communications.
  • Manage the visual impact in rights-of-way of power and communication system hardware such as transformers, towers, etc.
  • Encourage utilities to be located outside of washes and drainage easements.

4.    Develop strategies to place the library in a position to respond to future challenges brought on by the information age, social and economic forces and people's lifestyles.

  • Adapt to accommodate technology needs of the community and locate accessible technology in the libraries.
  • Adapt to the changing needs of the community with advanced service methods like on-line renewal or checkout, information retrieval, etc.
  • Focus on youth as future users of library services through special recreational and educational programs.
  • Use state of the art, interconnected library facilities throughout the community.
  • Network the city's library services with other libraries and sources of information outside of the city.
  • Use libraries as community resources for education and public meetings.

5.    Partner with other jurisdictions and agencies to achieve maximum efficiency in city service delivery.

  • Encourage partnerships to seek effective solutions to shared problems and community service needs.
  • Cooperate with neighboring communities in providing municipal services such as police and fire protection, libraries, and recreation.
  • Maintain a close collaborative relationship with all the school districts that serve the Scottsdale area to maximize the use of school services and facilities for public benefit, particularly for young people, families, and seniors.
  • Continue to coordinate joint use of school facilities for city services such as libraries, Citizen Service Centers, community meeting space, education, and computer resources.
  • Actively work with private, nonprofit, and public community service organizations to avoid duplication and to coordinate the delivery of services like child care, senior services, and recreation; and promote a brokerage system for other human service needs. Brokering human services currently means providing free space in public facilities to non-profit agencies that provide services to Scottsdale citizens needing assistance.
  • Encourage active participation of local businesses in the provision of community services.

Human Services:

6.    Provide an integrated system of services, resources, and opportunities to help Scottsdale residents of all ages improve their lives, the lives of others, neighborhoods, and the total community.

  • Direct financial resources where human services are needed.
  • Coordinate services locally and regionally with other public agencies, non-profits, and the private sector to reduce overlap and maximize resources.
  • Maximize community resources by brokering services in city facilities and community centers.
  • Address the needs of the growing senior population by providing:
    °    opportunities for older citizens to interact with the community;
    °    choices in residential settings, including elder care facilities; and,
    °    by supporting and promoting the provision of elder care services by public and private providers, including employers.
  • Create measures that mitigate potential conflicts between elder care facilities and surrounding uses.
  • Improve housing conditions in neighborhoods by fostering home maintenance and upgrade programs.
  • Enhance housing affordability by preserving, rehabilitating, upgrading or replacing existing houses and developing new ones.
  • Provide immediate service to Scottsdale citizens in need of economic and emotional emergency services.
  • Promote social responsibility and development of personal capabilities in meeting the needs of Scottsdale's youth and family members.
  • Ensure that Scottsdale citizens with disabilities have the same opportunity as all others in our community in terms of access to facilities, services, transportation, education, training, and employment.
  • Recognize diversity in Scottsdale and cultivate a community where differences are valued, respected and embraced.
  • Address Scottsdale's human service needs for families, youth, senior citizens, victims of domestic violence, homeless and persons with disabilities as identified in the current Human Services Five Year Plan* and in future human services plans.
  • Identify existing or potential locations for care centers to provide for human service needs (for families, youth, senior citizens, victims of domestic violence, homeless and persons with disabilities) in public facilities.
  • Consider human service needs in future plans for city services and facilities such as transportation, parks, libraries, and water resources.
  • Improve the transportation system so that it contributes to a balance of the economic and social needs of the community.
  • Enable people who live and work in the city to obtain quality and safe housing through sound land use planning.
  • Provide human services throughout the city in facilities that are appropriate to the type of service provided and that conform to the Character Area Plan and Neighborhood Plan in which they are located.

*    The city of Scottsdale implements many of the policies of the Human Services section of the Public Services and Facilities Element through the Human Services Five Year Plan. The Five Year Plan outlines specific activities to achieve the goals and approaches of the Element. Copies are available through the Human Services Office of the city.

Public Safety:
7.    Provide a safe environment for all Scottsdale citizens, visitors, and private interests by alleviating physical risks that may be encountered in the normal operation and development of the community.

  • Encourage, supplement and support the care that the general public must exercise continually while at home, work, and play.
  • Manage the Scottsdale Airport, which is vital to the economic health of the community, to assure the safety of pilots, passengers, nearby residents and businesses.
  • Keep aircraft sound levels at a minimum consistent with safe aircraft operations.
  • Identify and properly manage hazardous materials to minimize their potential harm to people and the environment.
  • Design, develop, and manage Scottsdale's transportation projects and traffic control systems with public safety as an overriding concern when providing for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods to, within, and through the community.
  • Provide Police and Fire deployment stations, support facilities, and public safety information and training programs to minimize response times and maximize effectiveness in protecting the public from potential natural and man-made hazards.
  • Develop public safety facilities, providing both police and fire services, to serve rural areas of the city.
  • Encourage the use of crime prevention strategies in the design and redevelopment of all areas of the city.
  • Support and comply with all regional and national laws, regulations, and programs, (such as the National Flood Insurance Program, National Weather Service, and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) designed to protect the public from potential natural and man-made hazards and disasters.

Public Buildings and Facilities:

8.    Provide city service facilities to meet the governmental, administrative, public safety, emergency, social, human, cultural, informational, and maintenance needs of the community.

  • Focus community activities, city government, and administrative services in the Civic Center complex, the "heart" of Scottsdale.
  • Group city facilities, especially those that citizens need to visit on a regular basis, whenever possible, and locate facilities to serve the needs of growing portions of the community.
  • Enhance the delivery of services to the community's citizens, businesses, and visitors by establishing satellite city maintenance facilities for city-owned vehicle maintenance and repair.
  • Apply the same methods for determining basic park, library and school needs to all areas of the city.
  • Strategically locate public facilities and parks to serve all neighborhoods in the city.
  • Make access to parks and community facilities possible by a variety of types of transportation.
  • Provide fully accessible public facilities to all residents and visitors.
  • Work with hospital administrators within city boundaries in planning for and developing facilities of the most suitable size, location, quality, and type appropriate for the delivery of all kinds health services (such as: emergency, critical care, inpatient, out-patient, treatment, and wellness) for the community's citizens and visitors.
  • Incorporate water and energy conservation measures in the design of city facilities.
  • Plan buildings that provide access to global information resources through the use of technology with the appropriate technological infrastructure.
  • Meet or exceed municipal facility industry standards for space/staff ratios with public buildings.
  • Require five, ten, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five year specific planning for future municipal facilities. Tie public facility needs to the city's Capital Improvement Program.

9.    Design public buildings and improve aesthetics of public buildings and facilities to increase appeal as community gathering spaces.

  • Design and construct city buildings and facilities that demonstrate excellence in architectural design, and showcase the city's leadership in design.
  • Design and construct new community facilities to have flexible functions to ensure adaptability to the changing needs of the community.
  • Explore ways to expand the space available in the community for arts exhibits, classes, and other cultural activities.
  • Reinvest in aging facilities to improve their usefulness and appearance.
  • Develop improvement plans for the maintenance, restoration, and enhancement of community facilities, and keep these facilities viable community assets by investing the necessary resources.
  • Conduct comprehensive analyses of long-term infrastructure replacement requirements and costs.
  • Make infrastructure improvements on public open space that are consistent with the goals of protecting and working with the natural environment.

10.    Provide recreational opportunities to meet the needs of all areas of the community through public facilities.

  • Make school site recreation facilities (basketball courts, playgrounds, tennis courts, fields, etc.) available, wherever possible, and encourage joint use of park, school, and library sites by the city and School Districts.
  • Provide neighborhood parks that are easily accessible to local residents and provide basic recreational opportunities.
  • Locate community parks where they are accessible from relatively long distances. Community parks concentrate a broad range of recreational activities for major portions of the city. Some community parks also include human service facilities.
  • Provide unique recreational opportunities through specialty parks. These activities may range from riding the railroad at McCormick Railroad Park, to rock climbing and horseback riding, to simply enjoying the beauty of the natural desert.
  • Locate parks to enhance unique landmarks and environmentally significant areas.
  • Provide desert appreciation roadside parks along scenic corridors.
  • Provide trailhead facilities that provide parking and trail access for users where needed and appropriate.
  • Maintain and enhance existing park and recreational facilities.
  • Seek opportunities to develop new parks and recreation facilities to meet the growing needs of citizens.
  • Develop parks, paths, and trails with the participation of private development through required fees, dedication of land, and construction of facilities.
  • Provide tourist destination attractions of a recreational nature.

11.    Coordinate with the School Districts that serve Scottsdale to plan for and secure school sites and facilities for the delivery of the best elementary and secondary educational programs achievable for the school-age children of the community.

  • Work with the School Districts, and in conjunction with the plans of the School Districts, to plan for and secure school sites and facilities of the most suitable size, location, quantity and type required.
  • Locate elementary schools along minor collector streets so that they are accessible, but exposed to low volumes of traffic. They should be within walking distance of as many students as possible, and should be sited in conjunction with neighborhood parks whenever feasible.
  • Locate middle schools along collector streets where they are accessible from relatively long distances.
  • Locate high schools close to arterial streets, in areas that can accommodate the activities generated. Facilities that will create a great deal of traffic, noise, or light should be located away from homes. Lights for sports facilities should be shielded to reduce neighborhood impacts and to maintain a dark night sky.
  • Design schools to be used for other functions when they may no longer be used for schools in the future.
  • Allow the flexibility for present and future alternative education facilities such as charter schools, parochial schools, and private schools.

Water Resources

12.    Ensure renewable, long-term water supplies for the community.

  • Eliminate use of mined groundwater before 2025 to comply with the 1980 Groundwater Management Act.
  • Replace mined groundwater and supply increased demand created by growth with renewable sources. Renewable sources include Central Arizona Project water rights, reclaimed wastewater, and Plan Six water, and may include others in the future.
  • Acquire additional Central Arizona Project water rights as they become available.
  • Maximize the use of reclaimed water for irrigation and groundwater recharge.
  • Aggressively pursue new sources of water.
  • Update the city's 100-year Assured Water Supply certification as new sources of water supply are acquired.
  • Recognize the value of water and wastewater as resources to be managed in order to contribute to a sustainable community.
  • Make sure that new service delivery costs are borne by those desiring the service without costing or adversely impacting existing customers.
  • Use water, water resources, and sewer development fees to ensure that new growth pays for itself when extending the water and wastewater systems to serve new growth.
  • Encourage the use of alternative sewer systems instead of private septic systems.

13.    Encourage the conservation of water and the reuse of wastewater.

  • Do not extend water distribution into undeveloped areas unless wastewater collection facilities are also extended to recapture effluent.
  • Irrigate new golf courses, landscaping, and park turf areas with non-drinkable water to the greatest extent possible. Use the city's Golf Course Policy for guidance in the development of golf courses.
  • Use treated wastewater for irrigation. The excess will be recharged and recovered through the city's existing well system.
  • Treat wastewater to drinkable levels, using state-of-the-art technology before recharging into our groundwater aquifer. (This surpasses the State requirements, but protects the quality of our water supply.)
  • Provide information and education to Scottsdale citizens on all aspects of water conservation. The Water Conservation Department currently fulfills this function.

14.    Meet or surpass all applicable water quality standards for domestic, commercial, and industrial uses.

  • Maintain a safe and healthy environment for our citizens and visitors through the use of the water treatment and distribution system and the wastewater collection system.
  • Provide a water and wastewater system which achieves the highest level of customer satisfaction possible focusing on the reliability of the system in the planning, construction, and operation of the system.
  • Identify potential sources of contamination and ultimately preserves water for the use of future generations through the wellhead protection program. The program identifies land uses around each water source, and if the land uses have the potential to pollute the water source, the owners will be identified, surveyed and educated in pollution prevention efforts.
  • Ensure that Scottsdale drinking water always complies with Safe Drinking Water Act standards. (As of 1/16/01 the drinking water standard for arsenic was changed from 50 to 10 parts per billion (ppb). The rule is currently under review with the proposed standard to be between 3 and 20 ppb. Compliance to the final standard is required by 2006. Arsenic levels exceed 10 ppb in 30 out of 34 Scottsdale drinking water wells.)
  • Maintain an Industrial Pretreatment Program to ensure compliance with city, state, and federal regulations to protect publicly owned wastewater collection and treatment systems.

Related Plans and Policies:

  • Human Services Five Year Plan, 2000
  • Emergency Services Master Plan
  • Water Resources Master Plan
  • Wastewater Master Plan
  • Golf Course Policy