2020-2021 General Plan Update
On Dec. 7, the Citizen Review Committee (CRC) will consider public comments and make a recommendation on a final draft General Plan 2035. To review the draft plan and submit your written comments, see Phase 3 below.
Written comments will be accepted through noon, Friday, Dec. 4, 2020.
The current Scottsdale General Plan was adopted in 2001 and ratified by the voters in 2002. The Plan defines the community’s goals for growth, development, character, mobility and a variety of other community aspects. Per State Statute, the city is required to update and ratify the General Plan every ten (10) years.
Under the direction of the City Manager, and as approved by City Council, a thirteen (13) member General Plan Update Citizen Review Committee (CRC) was formed to update the Scottsdale General Plan. The CRC is a group made up of representatives from each of the city boards and commissions that has related content in the General Plan. Throughout most of 2020, the CRC has been reviewing and updating General Plan. This update effort uses the 2014 Task Force recommended draft 2035 General Plan as the baseline plan to be reviewed and updated.
Currently the draft plan is in Phase 3 of the update process.
Phase 1 - Data Collection & Analysis (Completed)
The initial stage of the plan update process included reviewing related studies, plans, policies, and existing conditions. This phase was completed in November 2019.
Phase 2 - City Staff Technical Advisory Committee Review (Completed)
During this phase, an interdepartmental city staff team reviewed the draft 2035 Plan. This team of city staff who have expertise in subjects specific to General Plan content, made recommendations to add new or update plan content since the draft 2035 Plan is 5+ years old. Staff suggestions for the plan will be considered for inclusion by the Citizen Review Committee.
Phase 3 - Citizen Review Committee (April - December 2020)
A General Plan citizen group made up of representatives from each of the city boards and commissions that has related content in the General Plan. The CRC is has reviewed the full draft 2035 General Plan. On December 7, the CRC will consider public comments and make a recommendation on a final draft 2035 General Plan that will then be sent on for the community, city boards and commission, Planning Commission and City Council to consider.
The December 7, 2020 CRC meeting is the first of many opportunities for the public to provide input on the draft plan. By clicking on the drop-down sections of the plan below, you can review the various draft Elements and sections of the plan and submit your written comments.
Provide Written Comment
If you’d like to provide written comment on the Plan for the CRC to consider at Dec. 7 CRC meeting, please do so by submitting comments no later than 12:00pm (noon) on Friday, December 4, 2020.
Reviewing the Draft Plan
The Citizen Review Committee (CRC) draft 2035 General Plan, as divided in the drop-down sections below, updates the 2014 Task Force Recommended Plan with tracked edits, as discussed and approved by the CRC. The following color-coded legend describes the tracked edits found in the plan:
- Black font – Text that has been unaltered, and is from the General Plan Task Force process (2014)
- (NEW) – This signifies General Plan Task Force content that is new to the General Plan, in comparison to the 2001 General Plan content
- Red font – Suggested edits from public comments that have been collected since the Task Force recommended their plan in 2014
- Green font – Suggested edits from a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) comprised of city staff that reviewed and provided input on the plan in 2020
- Light Blue font – Edits from the CRC, made during their public meetings held in 2020
Please also note the following regarding legislative edits by the CRC:
- Maintaining the Red or Green text in the CRC draft plan indicates that the CRC accepted the respective suggested edits from the public/TAC for inclusion in the plan.
- If the Red or Green text has Light Blue strike through lines this indicates that the CRC has recommended striking the public/TAC edits.
The goals and policies of the Character & Design Element focus on the important aspects, connections, transitions, and blending of character that ensure our community evolves as an integrated mosaic. Topics covered in this element include development appropriateness, character types, Character Area Planning, design, public spaces, landscaping, light and noise pollution, and western and equestrian lifestyle.
The goals and policies of the Land Use Element reflect careful consideration for the types and locations of defined land uses and delineate the criteria that are carefully considered when contemplating a change in Land Use Category (General Plan Amendment Criteria). Topics covered in this element include land use transitions, land use balance, resource conservation, land use and transportation, airport compatibility, the Future Land Use Map, and General Plan Amendment Criteria.
Arizona Revised Statutes require each city to establish General Plan Amendment Criteria to determine if a proposed change to the General Plan Land Use Element qualifies as a ‘Major’ Amendment. Per State Statute, a ‘Major’ Amendment is defined as a “substantial alteration of the municipality’s land use mixture or balance, as established in the municipality’s existing General Plan Land Use Element.”
The goals and policies of the Arts, Culture & Creative Community Element speak to the important role that arts, culture and the creativity will continue to play in the city’s future. Scottsdale will build on its authentic cultural experiences, innovative programs, and competitive regional standing in arts and culture. Topics covered in this element include regional cultural standing, arts and culture programming, historic preservation, and the creative community.
As stewards of parks and open spaces, the city is dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles and a higher-level of livability by providing safe, accessible, and attractive outdoor space. Scottsdale will respect and sustainably manage its open space resources. The Open Space Element covers topics such as open space types, the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve, and open space management.
The city’s natural environment includes both the ecological systems that sustain Sonoran Desert vegetation and wildlife, as well as other elements that provide clean air and water, protect the community from hazards, and create a beautiful and enjoyable setting. The Environmental Planning Element provides goals and policies for protecting and enhancing the quality of Scottsdale’s natural and human habitats for future generations. Topics covered in this element include Sonoran Desert habitat protection, air quality, recycling, green building, and water quality.
Scottsdale is active in, and continually improves efforts to safeguard its natural and man-made resources—from wildlife habitat to watersheds. The Conservation Element guides Scottsdale’s resource conservation efforts to provide a healthy and diverse environment for current and future generations. Topics covered in this element include natural resource management, water conservation, stormwater management, and biodiversity.
Conservation of our most precious asset, water, occurs through decreasing use, reducing waste, and maximizing its efficient use on a daily basis. The Water Resources Element ensures that Scottsdale continues to provide safe, reliable, and quality drinking water to the community. Topics covered in this element include long-term water supply and drought preparation.
The goals and policies of the Energy Element seek to balance the energy needs of consumers with the sustainability of the community’s renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Topics covered in this element include energy efficiency, city facilities, and renewable energy sources.
The Community Involvement Element underscores the importance of community involvement to capture new ways to promote citizen involvement and engage diverse perspectives in decision-making. This element serves as a building-block to strengthen ways to effectively inform and involve the community in discussions and decision-making processes. Topics covered in this element include seeking broad public input, collaborative solutions, and engagement techniques under the umbrella of civil dialogue.
The Healthy Community Element seeks to maintain Scottsdale’s leadership role in health and human services, respond to the needs of families, take care of our neighbors and our elders, promote lifelong learning, and provide opportunities for youth to grow and become leaders in the future. Topics covered in this element include healthy food, health and wellness, life-long learning, supporting senior citizens, and diversity and inclusion.
Scottsdale is committed to the provision and preservation of housing opportunities to meet the needs of current and future residents. The Housing Element will ensure that future housing options include a wide-range of opportunities for people living and working in Scottsdale, as well as people at different life stages, income levels, and social and physical abilities. Topics covered in this element include housing context and character, fair housing, and housing choices for a variety of needs.
Recreation is a part of Scottsdale’s image, provides social interaction, and promotes community well-being. Through the Recreation Element, the city’s recreational facilities and programs will provide for the leisure and fitness needs of Scottsdale’s current and future generations. Topics covered in this element include quality recreation facilities and programming.
Scottsdale is committed to protecting citizens and visitors from conditions, circumstances, and influences that would threaten, disrupt or diminish the quality of their lifestyles. The goals and policies of the Safety Element will ensure that the community is prepared and resilient when faced with disaster, and that our community is safe and enjoyable for all. Topics covered in this element include emergency management, transportation safety, crime prevention, and hazardous materials.
The automobile historically has been the predominant mode of transportation in Scottsdale. However, to match the character and lifestyle of different areas and residents in the community, it is important to diversify the city’s transportation choices. The Circulation Element concentrates on accessibility, connectivity, mobility choices, and the interrelatedness of transportation and land use. Topics covered in this element include safety, multimodal choices, neighborhood needs, and school circulation.
Scottsdale is recognized as a bicycle-friendly community that actively supports bicycling and encourages residents to use bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation and as part of a healthy lifestyle. The goals and policies of the Bicycling Element provide a guide for safe, connected, and convenient on-street and off-street bicycle networks. Topics covered in this element include bicycle networks, use, and safety.
As Scottsdale nears build-out, the city needs to preserve and enhance the qualities that make neighborhoods safe, special, and vibrant. The goals and policies of the Neighborhood Preservation & Revitalization Element recognize that the preservation and revitalization of Scottsdale’s mature neighborhoods is critical to maintaining and strengthening the health, safety, prosperity, and enjoyment of the community. Topics covered in this element include neighborhood identity, homeownership, neighborhood safety, and neighborhood planning.
As a maturing city, it is increasingly important for Scottsdale to focus on the conservation and rehabilitation of mature properties, seek creative infill development strategies, and support context-sensitive redevelopment in areas showing signs of decline. The Conservation, Rehabilitation & Redevelopment Element addresses both “informal” and “formal” redevelopment, recognizing that any “formal” redevelopment must be approved by the City ouncil and conform to Arizona State Statute requirements. Topics covered in this element include context-appropriate redevelopment, economic well-being, and use of redevelopment authority.
The Growth Areas Element identifies specific locations that are most appropriate for development focus, can accommodate future growth, or need reinvestment. Scottsdale’s Growth and Activity Areas are intended to direct high-intensity growth and development in certain locations to preserve lower-intensity and open space areas throughout the community. Topics covered in this element include development intensity, multimodal connections, and growth and activity area character.
The purpose of the Cost of Development Element is to establish goals and policies that guide the fiscal impacts created by new development or redevelopment with regard to infrastructure and public services, and determine how such impacts will be addressed. Topics covered in this element include development’s contributions to infrastructure and economic sustainability.
Scottsdale provides high-quality community services to its residents, businesses, and visitors. The Public Services and Facilities Element provides guidance about the provision of programs, services and physical facilities that serve to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community. Topics covered in this element include solid waste, utilities, libraries, and community services.
Scottsdale acknowledges the vital role that public buildings play in the shaping of community life and seeks to design facilities that represent the community’s special qualities. Libraries, community centers and cultural facilities are investments that contribute to a high quality of life for current and future generations. Topics covered in the Public Buildings Element include public building design and locations.
The city is committed to supporting and expanding its existing economic strengths through continued enhancement and adaptation of Scottsdale’s tourism industry and diversification of the economic base to provide for the future fiscal health of the city, all while protecting the city’s unique southwestern character and quality of life. The goals and policies of the Economic Vitality Element emphasize compatibility, diversity, growth, and flexibility and acknowledge the economic factors that strongly influence Scottsdale’s future well-being. Topics covered in this element include economic resiliency and fiscal sustainability.
Tourism is an integral part of Scottsdale’s identity and economy, and it serves as one of the community’s leading economic engines. The Tourism Element provides goals and policies to further validate Scottsdale as the premier Southwest tourism and special events destination.
Establishing the goals and policies of General Plan 2035 is just the first step. The second part of the General Plan is taking action. Initial steps within the Implementation Chapter will include a variety of initiatives, such as the creation of Character Area Plans, to achieve specific goals for particular areas of the community; updates to the Zoning Ordinance to oversee the physical development of the city; Capital Improvement projects for the delivery of public services; and a multitude of other short- mid- and long-term programs.
Phase 4 - State Statute Required Public Hearing Process (1st & 2nd Quarter 2021)
The draft 2035 General Plan as modified by the Technical Advisory Committee, the Citizen Review Committee, and public input, will be available for public review and comment. The final 2035 Draft Plan will then make its way through a six-month state required public hearing process that includes extensive public involvement, input from city boards and commission, along with multiple Planning Commission and City Council hearings. The General Plan is anticipated to go before the City Council for adoption in the June or July of 2021.
Phase 5 - Voter Ratification (November 2021)
Per State Statute, once the Council adopts the Plan, it must place the General Plan on the next regular ballot to be ratified by the voters. Should City Council adopt the Plan in June or July 2021, the next regular ballot for voter consideration would be November 2021.
2035 General Plan – FAQ
The following are frequently asked questions related to the General Plan and update process.
A General Plan is a community’s vision for the future. The Plan is a broad expression of how the community wants to evolve over the next 10 years . It provides the basis for how the city will continue to develop, and the foundation for investing in public amenities and buildings. City Council, boards and commissions use the General Plan to evaluate policy changes and make funding and budget decisions – while, city staff uses the General Plan to assess programs and projects.
Arizona law requires that communities adopt a General Plan and outlines the content the plan must contain. The most current Scottsdale General Plan was adopted in 2001 and ratified by the voters in 2002.
The General Plan is Scottsdale’s roadmap to the future. It serves as a broad foundation for more specific plans.
There is often confusion between the General Plan and more specific plans. For example, the General Plan can set broad community goals related to the city providing a mix of land uses (residential, commercial, office, resorts, etc.), as well as broad definitions of what those land uses include (single family homes, multi-family homes, large or small office, resort communities, etc.). Whereas, the Zoning Ordinance – a document that implements the broader goals and policies of the General Plan – will give very specific development details, such as density (how many housing units per acre), maximum height, building setbacks, etc., that a particular property can build to.
Another example is the General Plan can contain broad goals related to providing transit options throughout Scottsdale. Whereas, the specific Transportation Master Plan, will provide the explicit details about the intended transit, such as type (bus, trolley, etc.), specific routes, and areas of the city those routes will serve.
No. Though the General Plan contains maps, land use is only one part of the story. The plan contains the city’s policies on many issues including character and design, open spaces, the natural environment, business and economics, community services, neighborhood vitality, transportation, and growth.
Periodically, the General Plan is validated to ensure it continues to express the community’s expectations. A General Plan must be reviewed every 10 years, per state law. Scottsdale last adopted and ratified the General Plan in 2001, and has attempted to update the plan since 2009, to remain in compliance with state requirements. Additionally, changes in the community indicate that a plan review and update, again would be valuable.
The community must develop an effective General Plan. Because the Plan reflects the community vision, important issues and opportunities facing the community must be discussed and debated. To ensure a fully-vetted plan that meets the needs and expectations of the community at-large, Scottsdale’s General Plan is updated with citizen, city board and commission and City Council input.
The General Plan Update Citizen Review Committee (CRC) consists predominantly of either the chair or vice chair from each of the city boards and commissions that have related content within the General Plan. The purpose of the committee is to review the content of the draft 2035 General Plan in a public meeting format to make suggestions regarding proposed adjustments to the plan. The Citizen Review Committee will ultimately recommend a final draft General Plan for review by the community, Scottsdale Planning Commission, and Scottsdale City Council so as to adopt an updated General Plan that can then be sent to the targeted November 2021 ballot for voter ratification consideration, per state law requirements.
The draft 2035 General Plan was created by a 25-member, council-appointed, citizen Task Force over the course of two years (2012-2014) – including 32 public meetings. The draft plan retains a large amount of content from the 2001 General Plan. The 2035 draft General Plan process included extensive citywide public outreach (2014-2016), such as community workshops, open house events, online engagement, and meetings with individuals and community groups. The 2035 draft plan was vetted throughout the community and through city boards and commissions. It has yet to be presented for recommendation by the Planning Commission or adoption by City Council at public hearings. Consequently, the draft plan is now being reviewed by the Citizen Review Committee to ensure the plan content is still relevant today, before being released to the community for final consideration by citizens, city boards and commissions, and City Council.
Yes. It is impossible to anticipate and plan for all circumstances that will affect the community in the coming decade. Consequently, a process has been established to amend the General Plan as per Arizona State Law. Requests to amend land uses occur most often by private property owners and are subject to amendment criteria found in the plan. Other maps or written policies in the General Plan can also be amended, and most often these amendments are initiated by city staff, the Planning Commission or City Council.
Schools, school districts and cities are separate political subdivisions of the state – divided in all areas of operation. To the extent possible, the city supports education through partnerships and programming,—however, the city is afforded little in terms of regulatory control or political influence over public, private or charter schools and school districts. Consequently, over‐emphasizing education, or just focusing goals and policies on formal school education in the General Plan, could be misleading to the community.
With regard to the General Plan, Arizona Law requires the General Plan to include a Public Buildings Element that shows the locations of public schools. The draft 2035 Plan includes a map that depicts public school locations (elementary, middle and high schools) and district boundaries (five separate districts) that serve Scottsdale, in keeping with these state law requirements.
The draft 2035 General Plan also goes beyond state law requirements, with a much broader definition of education, so as to represent all the different types of education that occur in the community. Beyond just a focus on formal school education, the draft 2035 General Plan contains goals and policies throughout that support education in numerous ways - an educated workforce, lifelong learning, health and wellness education, bicycle education and safety, city government education, leisure, cultural and arts education, and educating the community on environmental, preservation, and conservation efforts. Consequently, all types of education found in our community are represented in the draft General Plan.
Scottsdale is the major tourism and resort center of the metropolitan area. Although not all local major resorts are located in the city, Scottsdale is the core of specialty shopping, art galleries, recreational facilities, and cultural and sporting events that attract and sustain the local tourism industry. The city’s high-quality built and natural environments are important to maintaining tourism. Previous General Plan processes – including the 2001 General Plan – placed high importance on tourism within the community. The draft 2035 General Plan continues this effort with tourism-supporting goals and policies throughout the plan and its elements that support such. The Citizen Review Committee is currently discussing the tourism-supporting goals and policies that are sprinkled throughout the draft plan and contemplating housing them in a standalone Tourism Element.
State law requires City Council adopt, and the voters ratify, the city’s General Plan. The current, timeline for this process includes a review and update of the draft 2035 General Plan by the Citizen Review Committee (through December 2020), city-wide public outreach (January – July 2021), State required public hearings, including Planning Commission recommendation and City Council adoption consideration (March – July 2021) and possible voter ratification of the plan at a targeted November 2021 election.
Although state required, the General Plan update is a community-driven process. You can participate by following the Citizen Review Committee public hearing process and submitting your ideas on the draft plan content through December 2020. After the CRC completes its process and releases a final draft plan to the community, a series of community meetings beginning in January of 2021 and continuing through the public hearing process for the plan (July 2021) will be offered. Finally, when the plan is reviewed by Planning Commission and City Council in the spring of 2021, the public may attend those public meetings and submit comments for consideration.