Blog Archives

Phoenix neighborhood coalition urges City support of existing special planning districts

[Source: Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix] — Maintaining a favorable quality of life in established neighborhoods is challenging.  Citizen developed and approved area plans are one of the tools used in the struggle to preserve established neighborhoods and define their desired character.  The City of Phoenix Special Planning District Plan (“SPD”) originally known as a Special Conservation District (“SCD”) is one form of such an area plan.  At present, there are 12 SPDs:

  • Roosevelt SPD – Central City Village
  • Story SPD – Central City Village
  • Coronado SPD – Encanto Village
  • Encanto Vista SPD – Encanto Village
  • Willo SPD – Encanto Village
  • Arcadia Camelback SPD – Camelback East Village
  • North Central Avenue SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Squaw Peak Heights SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Windsor Square SPD – Camelback East Village
  • Royal Palm SPD – Alhambra Village
  • Saguaro SPD – Paradise Valley Village
  • Mountain Park SPD – South Mountain Village

Shortly after the Squaw Peak Heights SPD had been approved (July of 2006), a dissident property owner subject to the terms of the plan, filed a suit in Superior Court challenging the way the final votes for the SPD were tabulated.  In August of 2008, the court issued a Minute Entry favoring the claimant.  If the City of Phoenix fails to appeal the Squaw Peak Heights SPD Court decision within 30 days after the formal decision is handed down (could be sometime soon after the first of the year), it will cause this particular SPD to be voided.  A replacement SPD is estopped from being a possibility because of the passage in the fall of 2006 of Proposition 207.  A failure to appeal could jeopardize the validity of all of the other SPDs because they tabulated their final votes according to the same procedures as were followed in the case of the Squaw Peak Heights SPD.

The Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix believes that the loss of the existing SPDs under such circumstances will be detrimental to all neighborhoods whether or not they fall under an SPD.  This is due to the fact that an unwillingness on the part of the City of Phoenix to at least appeal the Superior Court’s decision in this instance will be interpreted by developers as a softness on the City’s part to support other existing citizen authorized/passed area plans such as the existing Specific Planning District Plans.  Such an interpretation will embolden developers to propose projects that will not be in keeping with these plans.  The same holds true for adhering to rezoning for sites throughout the city that was passed subject to approved site plans and stipulations.

Individuals and organizations in agreement with the Coalition’s position on this matter are encouraged to send a letter or e-mail by the middle of January 2009 urging Mayor Phil Gordon and Members of Council to oppose the Superior Court decision in the matter of Madison Positive Alliance of Neighbors v. Phoenix City (case on Squaw Peak Heights SPD).  The cost of such an appeal does not come from the City’s operating funds.   It is an insurance matter.   All such letters should be addressed to the party intended at 200 W. Washington Street, 11th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85003-1611.

For more information, contact Paul Barnes, Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, at 602-840-1579 or e-mail.

Downtown Voices statement on Arts, Culture, & Small Business Overlay

Chairman Keuth and Planning Commission Members:

The Artists Issues Task Force has been working on the Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay for over two years now, and we think we have come up with a reasonable and balanced plan that will make it easier for the arts and small business uses to prosper and grow in downtown Phoenix.  The Task Force is comprised of artists, residents, developers, small business owners, the non-profit sector, and representatives from many city departments.  There have been numerous public meetings throughout this lengthy process and the overlay language has been continually altered to address issues raised by both community members and city staff.

The model we have developed has been influenced by successful districts around the country: vibrant downtown with a concentration of interesting small business, art, and cultural activities that contribute to the economic development and overall health of a city’s artistic and cultural life.  These districts attract residents and visitors alike, and are times key in a company or corporation’s decision to locate to a particular city.  Portland, Austin, Minneapolis, Seattle, New York, and other great cities have multiple character districts that define and make those cities truly unique and major destinations — and competitive on a global scale.

As Phoenix grows and becomes increasingly dense, we will continue to face the challenges that growth brings.  However, one of our biggest challenges will be retaining our creative and small business community and remaining competitive with not only other peer cities around the world, but with other rapidly growing cities around the Valley.  We feel this overlay will be a key component in helping downtown Phoenix maintain a competitive edge with other vibrant creative sectors, and will prove vital in promoting the “small wonders” that will ultimately bring a balance to the successful large projects that have been completed or are currently underway downtown.

We respectfully request that you support the February 11, 2008 recommendation of the Central City Village Planning Committee approving the proposed Arts, Culture, and Small Business District overlay.  On behalf of the Artist’s Issues Task Force, we are

Sincerely yours,

Sloane Burwell, Artlink, Inc.
Reid Butler, Butler Housing Company
Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row CDC
Steven Helffrich, Studio Architecture
Dana Johnson, Garfield Organization
Kim Moody, Alwun House
Beatrice Moore, La Melgosa, L.L.C.
Steve Weiss, Downtown Voices Coalition

Public invited to comment on Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay

For the past two years, an Artist’s Issues Task Force (under the auspices of the city’s Downtown Development Office) has worked to develop an Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay in and around downtown Phoenix.  The current proposal has gone through an extensive public review process and citizen comments and ideas have been incorporated. 

Additional public comment is welcome at upcoming meetings of the Central City Village Planning Committee, Planning Commission, and City Council.  For meeting days and times or if you have questions about the proposal, contact Michelle Dodds with the City of Phoenix at 602-256-5618.

Representing Downtown Voices Coalition on the task force have been Steve Weiss (Chair) and Beatrice Moore (Treasurer).  We’ve made available the following background materials: (1) staff report, (2) proposed boundaries, and (3) proposal language.  Click here to review and download.