Old Town Character Plan and Zoning Updates
Background Process Status FAQ Reference Documents Contact
Legislative Drafts Now Available for Review:
The city is seeking input on draft amendments to the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan and downtown sections of the Zoning Ordinance. The links below comprise a seven-part, Self-Guided Video Series that outlines draft amendments by topic, allowing for your review and feedback. If you would prefer to review and provide comment on the Full Draft Plan and Ordinance in their entirety, please see the links and comment input drop-down at the bottom of this blue box.
Self-Guided Video Series
- Development Types & Building Height
- Development Flexibility & Bonus Provisions
- Other Proposed Amendments
Full Draft Plan & Ordinance
- January 2023 Legislative Draft - Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan
- January 2023 Legislative Draft - Downtown Sections of the Zoning Ordinance
Provide Input on the Proposed Amendments
On August 24th, 2021, City Council initiated:
- A non-major General Plan amendment to update the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan (Case 5-GP-2021)
- A text amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance for the Downtown (D), Downtown Overlay (DO), and Planned Block Development (PBD) zoning districts – and other affected sections of the ordinance – as well as the
Downtown Infill Incentive District (Cases 1-TA-2021 and 1-II-2010#3)
Scottsdale City Council adopted the existing Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan (OTSCAP) in 2018. It serves as the long-range plan that guides growth and development in downtown Scottsdale, and incorporates community goals, policies, and an implementation program specific to this area of the community.
Downtown development is regulated by the Downtown (D), Downtown Overlay (DO), and Planned Block Development (PBD) sections of the Scottsdale Zoning Ordinance, the Downtown Infill Incentive District, in conjunction with the Old Town Scottsdale Urban Design & Architectural Guidelines.
Phase 1 – Update Preparation (Complete)
The initial stage of the update process includes the review of existing Old Town Scottsdale policy, regulatory, and design guidelines documents and obtaining additional direction from City Council to help inform the update process. Completion of this phase will inform Phase 2 – Public Outreach.
Phase 2 – Public Outreach & Creation of Draft Updates (Complete)
During this phase, the project team will provide several opportunities for the public to engage in providing input on Old Town policy, regulatory and design guidelines per City Council direction. Public input received will be summarized, publicly posted, and will inform the creation of draft update amendments to the plan and downtown ordinances.
Open House Reports:
Per City Council direction, city staff has had ongoing discussions with the community to garner input related to the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan and Downtown sections of the Zoning Ordinance. In Fall of 2021, staff held live open house sessions concerning Downtown Development Types and Development Flexibility. Then again in Spring of 2022, staff hosted several more in-person open house sessions – this time concerning topics such as mixed-use development, building height, bonus provisions, and open space. Further, staff collected input virtually from October 2021 to October 2022 via a series of ongoing Self-Guided Virtual Open House events. The following public outreach reports include presentation materials, discussion questions, and summaries of the responses collected from all open house sessions conducted, both in-person and virtually.
Fall 2021 In-Person Open House Report
Spring 2022 In-Person Open House Report
Phase 3 – Public Hearings/Possible Adoption (January to March 2023)
This phase of the update process will include a series of public, work study session meetings with Planning Commission and City Council to review and provide feedback to staff regarding the draft updates and amendments to the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan and Downtown sections of the Zoning Ordinance. Phase 3 will conclude with a recommendation by Planning Commission and adoption consideration by City Council. Depending on the plan and ordinance updates adopted by Council, modifications may need to be made to the Old Town Urban Design + Architectural Guidelines, which will be completed through a future public outreach and public hearing process with the Development Review Board.
Old Town - Frequently Asked Questions
The following are frequently asked questions related to the Old Town Scottsdale Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and Guidelines update process:
Originally adopted by the City Council in 1984, updated in 2009, and again most recently in 2018, the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan (formerly Downtown Plan) serves as the comprehensive policy document that guides growth and development decisions for Downtown Scottsdale. The plan contains goals, policies illustrative graphics and suggested projects to articulate and achieve the community’s vision for Old Town Scottsdale.
What is the difference between the Character Area Plan and the Downtown sections of the Zoning Ordinance?
The Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan is a goal and policy document that helps guide growth and development decisions for downtown. The Downtown sections (Downtown, Downtown Overlay, and Planned Block Development Districts) of the Zoning Ordinance are regulations that provide specific land use and development standards for each property in downtown. These regulatory standards help implement the community’s vision and goals for downtown, as described in the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan.
The original Old Town Character Area Plan (then Downtown Plan) was adopted in 1984. After 20+ years, the Downtown Plan went through an extensive update in 2009 largely due to the fact that the implementation items under the 1984 Plan had been accomplished. In 2018, the Plan was again updated because the vast majority of implementation items incorporated into the 2009 Plan were achieved. At the same time, a tourism rebranding/renaming of Downtown to Old Town occurred, thus the change from Downtown Plan to Old Town Character Area Plan. The public outreach for updating the Plan in 2018 occurred over a period of nine months, and the updated plan was unanimously adopted by the City Council in July 2018.
What has City Council directed staff to examine during the process to update the Old Town Plan, Ordinances, and Guidelines?
On June 22, 2021 City Council requested future public outreach to consider the following (with no priority in the listing):
- The provision of quality new development and redevelopment;
- Development Type designations, locations, and transitions to one another found in the Plan;
- The consideration of development flexibility in the Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and Guidelines;
- Re-examination of the use of downtown land use designations, districts, and development types in the Plan and Ordinance;
- The provision of more interconnected, public open space areas in Old Town;
- Providing stronger development requirements in the Zoning Ordinance and the Old Town Scottsdale Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines;
- Maintaining, adding, restricting, reducing, or removing Zoning Ordinance base development standards and bonus provisions; and
- Ensuring that bonus provisions within the Zoning Ordinance, if maintained, provide greater and better-defined public benefits, and re-examining bonus payment calculations.
To promote best practices with public outreach, the Public Participation Plan includes opportunities for community involvement such as open houses, focus groups, presentations to community groups, and online engagement that began in Fall of 2021, concluding with Planning Commission and City Council public hearings in the Spring of 2023.
You can register and participate in public participation opportunities as they are made available and/or provide input by submitting your comments online, above. Furthermore, you may participate in the Planning Commission and City Council public meetings by submitting written comments or speaking in-person at these meetings.
Where can I get a copy of the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan, Zoning Ordinance Sections, and Guidelines?
The Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan, Zoning Ordinance Sections, and Guidelines are available for review on the City's website.
Principal Planner, Long Range Planning
Brad Carr, AICP
Planning Area Manager, Current Planning