Since serving on the Scottsdale City Council from 2012 to present, I am proud to have accomplished so much, with the help of residents, staff and community leaders,
as well as fellow council members and the mayor.
One of the first things I accomplished on council was to work with the Planning Department to streamline the permit and review process from 30 days down to seven. Some even in 24 hours! It took over a year to implement but now we are able to get out permits as fast as Phoenix.
Recently, I also worked with Planning and IT Departments to develop an app which allows builders to set up inspections and track where they are in the queue so they aren’t wasting time sitting at the job all day waiting for an inspector to show up.
When a developer purchased a mobile home park in 2015, many residents, indigents and/or veterans, were displaced with nowhere to go. While many came to help, I thought we needed a plan to better help displaced residents when this type of rezoning occurs. I initiated a bill in the AZ House, the Mobile Home Relocation Fund (HB2200), which increases the amount individuals receive when they are displaced. This bill was finally signed into law March 2017.
2016- Got with then City Manager Fritz Behring and suggested we bring back the Christmas celebration with a new tree. Staff was not as enthused as I was so it wasn’t until we got the new city manager Jim Thompson that I went back and pled my case. Thompson agreed to start a new tradition called Scottsdazzle which Karen Churchard of TAFT took over and I’m happy to say it has grown each year.
When the city was remodeling the airport there was a nonprofit group called Tbird2 who wanted to donate a real Stearman PT-17 Biplane to commemorate the Scottsdale Airport’s former use as a training field in WW2. I thought this was a great idea and took it to the city. Some on the council didn’t want to spend the $470K needed to build the enclosure, so I started a media blitz and by the next council meeting I got it approved 6-1. It is now The signature attraction at the airport. If you haven’t seen it yet, please go!
The Scottsdale Arts Organization, who runs our arts in Scottsdale, needed updated technology in the SMOCA building and some on council didn’t want to appropriate the money, $300K. I realized the importance of staying up-to-date with technology and digital systems and was the swing vote in getting it approved. Later, when Scottsdale Arts came to council asking for $270K for Canal Convergence, I spoke up as a proponent and was again the swing vote. Now it is one of Scottsdale’s biggest attractions every year.
With parking downtown always a problem, I worked with the City Manager and our Economic Development Department to create an app for locating parking spaces in downtown. This app was implemented this year (2019) and has rave reviews from users. Try it next time your downtown.
In 2018, there was council talk of having a bond. There was also a project known as the Desert Edge which was to be built on the Preserve. This was a highly contested project and I feared the bond wouldn’t pass under those circumstances. At the same time, Scottsdale was in jeopardy of losing Prop. 400 funding (county funding provided by a sales tax paid for by all cities) from the county for transportation funding. I proposed to council that we forego the bond until the Desert Edge controversy was over (residents voted against it and it failed) but instead ask residents to vote for a temporary .1% sales tax increase to leverage those Prop. 400 funds. The voters approved the temporary tax and projects are already in the queue. Thank you Councilmember Klapp for taking over the reins on this measure and seeing it through to victory!
In 2017, I was approached by Dave Alford who runs the Parada bull riding at Westworld. Dave wanted to have a Parada Musuem downtown to commemorate Scottsdale’s storied past. I was thrilled to help out and although it took 2 years and a lot of political arm twisting, I’m happy to say the Parada Museum is alive and well on the corner of Brown and 2nd Street in Old Town. This is one museum you have to see!
Most recently, I was moved by all the veteran services we hold in Scottsdale and the various veteran groups here. My thought was if they had a place to gather and share ideas it could only be good for everyone, so I initiated a Veterans Commission as part of Scottsdale’s boards and commissions. I’m happy to say the Council was in full support and hopefully by the end of 2019 you will see a new commission in Scottsdale!
Another endeavor I’m currently working to see through is a splashpad near the Southbridge in Old Town to bring more family friendly activities to the area.
I am also in favor of the bond election in 2019. I have been working with staff on the renovation of the Indian Bend Wash, south of Thomas, and am excited to see it through to fruition!
I believe that a city councilmember should be the advocate for residents. I have tried to help as many individuals and groups as I can. Here are some examples:
There was an area up north where neighbors had a sidewalk that had buckled. The city removed the cement portion and put in temporary asphalt which stayed in place for over a year. I asked staff if they could go there and fix it and was met with a reply of they are too busy, thank you very much. I sent back a reply that stated that’s fine, I will go there with a bag of cement and fix it myself. The next day the resident called me and said “I don’t know what you said but they came and fixed the sidewalk!”
Then there was a business that put their dumpster and grease trap against a resident’s back wall and the unsightly garbage and grease smell was a hindrance to selling their home. I contacted staff and after looking at the original restaurant plans saw that the dumpster and grease trap were supposed to go elsewhere. We worked with the restaurant owner to relocate their dumpster and trap to the proper location.
While chairing the DRB (Design and Review Board), there was a case of a businessman who had purchased a strip mall in south Scottsdale. He then proceeded to beautify the property by painting the buildings and installing landscaping. The city then fined him and wanted him to repaint because he didn’t get a permit and the white color wasn’t on the city’s color scheme. I argued that he was trying to uplift the area and the color was hardly noticeable. The rest of the DRB board agreed and we dropped the charges. Had we not overruled, the citation for repainting would have cost him $60,000. Why punish those who are trying to uplift the neighborhood?
Another time on DRB the city fined ED Marshall Jewelers for painting his building a color not on the approved city palette. He repainted after fixing part of his wall that was hit by a car. I got staff to drop the charges by taking pictures of nearby businesses, pointing out all the color changes in the area and asked to review the city color palette that was outdated.
One neighbor’s yard kept getting flooded because a developer nearby was putting dirt into the alley which blocked the flow of water. I went to the city and asked them to get the developer to clean it up. The developer never did and it flooded the neighbor’s back yard again. I went to our zoning administrator and asked him to stop giving out CO’s (certificate of occupancy) until they cleaned up the alley. The alley was cleaned up within the week.
Up north, a resident needed a permit to add an extension to his primary house but the city refused because his guest house was inside the 15’ boundary, even though it was like that when he purchased the home. This guy got the runaround from staff for months before contacting me. I got with planning and convinced them to forego the deviation on the property line since the new addition had nothing to do with the guest house and city had passed it back when the guest house was built. Staff allowed the permit.
There are many more cases where I intervened on behalf of residents but it’s not about patting myself on the back, it’s about doing the job you elected me to do. I have and will always advocate on behalf of our residents.
Unfortunately its true sometimes that you need someone on your side with some clout to get past the red tape of bureaucracy and I am more than happy to be that person, since I know what it’s like to be ignored by government.