It is the position of the undersigned citizens of Scottsdale that the mayor and city council are currently in violation of The Scottsdale City Charter by misappropriating the $1.76 million of tax money to investigate the development of a facility that cannot be constructed without the consent of two-thirds of the city council and a majority of the voters.
The Scottsdale City Charter, as amended by Article VIII on July 12, 1999 Sec. 8 “Preserve Land Designation” gives the city “… power to cause land to be left in its natural condition.”
The city council, alone, may not alter the natural condition without consent of the voters except as provided in Sec. 11, which limits the removal of the designation to less than 1 acre no more than six times a year. It is likely that contiguous parcels would violate the intent & spirit of the Charter.
Presumably, the city council complied with this provision in the construction of the trailhead facilities; however, it is unclear if the parking lot areas were constructed in compliance.
The Desert Discovery Center, currently contemplated, could not be constructed without an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Council and “submitted by the council to the electors and approved by vote of the majority of votes cast as the election”. Sec. 11. supra.
Despite the express language of the Charter, on January 11, 2016 the council authorized the DDCS to spend $1.76 million to develop a plan for the DDC to be presented to the council next year. The council authorized that action while simultaneously accepting the statements of City Attorney Washburn, who misrepresented the required approval process to council by ignoring the Charter requirement that voters must approve any project greater than 1 acre.
It is the opinion of the undersigned that these funds were misappropriated to investigate the feasibility of a facility on the Preserve that would violate the Scottsdale City Charter. We request that the contract be suspended immediately pursuant to its 30-day termination clause.
We also request that the city council recognize the requirement that voters must approve any future discussion of a DDC type project granted to us by the City Charter and declared unequivocally in the Ballot Language of 1998. 1999 Preserve Ballot Language:
“Proposition 410 City Charter amendment relating to designation, removal of designation and disposition of Preserve lands A ‘YES’ vote shall have the effect of providing for the designation of preserve lands, prohibiting disposition of preserve lands and limiting the removal of the preserve designation without a vote of the qualified electors. A ‘NO’ vote shall have the effect of making preserve lands subject to existing legal provisions relating to real property, including those relating to sale or transfer of interests in real property.”
Editor’s note: Ms. Shaler is a retired Judge Pro Tem and Mr. Norton is formerly of Norton, Gesas, Taylor & Metos