Filsinger: vote-initiated forms of Scottsdale governance contain inherent problems

I served two terms as a McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commissioner and two terms as a Planning Commissioner for the city.

Erik Filsinger

I also am active Preserve user and representative of a specific user group. Proposition 420 bothers me.

However, I do not wish to comment on the merits of the “DDC.” Indeed, the actual ballot language in its black and white for Prop. 420 is not about the DDC. My comments are on the text of the amendment to the Scottsdale City Charter, the equivalent of our constitution. Here are some questions that bother me.

Vote-initiative forms of governance had some inherent problems. Often they are based on seemingly heartfelt issues, but the nature of changing the underlying constitution means that any proposition that turns out to be wrong or have unintended consequences cannot be simply amended.

It would have to be voted out in a subsequent election. It may preclude proper planning and adjustment with the advice of our existing citizen review process and professional staff to a lawfully elected City Council.
So once set in concrete, what will Prop. 420 do in addition to prohibiting some version of the Desert Discovery Center?

I have concerns that if Prop. 420 passes it may preclude any new improvements in the Preserve ever without a new vote by citizens as a whole in a new election — if they are not already planned.

Does it limit potential improvements consistent with changed management planning some time in the future that would refine the current reality on the ground? It is hard to anticipate the future, but to put the issue in context, what about future drainage items that would otherwise be deemed necessary? And, as questioned herein, are there unintended consequences for users?

For example, what if the management philosophy would change from the current “mega-trailhead” approach to inclusion of some smaller trailheads to serve other needs? What if some small current dirt public parking lots were to be reconstructed and paved, would that or not be grandfathered?

To me it isn’t clear.

We need the capability to plan for future needs and Prop. 420 would preclude a thoughtful planning and adjustment. Read for yourself and see if perhaps the well-intentioned mandate of Prop. 420 might not have some unintended consequences.

Is it akin to a sledge hammer being used to hammer a nail? Is it the right tool to achieve otherwise noble ends or are some other solutions preferable?

Check it out: scottsdaleaz.gov/Assets/ScottsdaleAZ/Elections/Proposition420Text.pdf

Editor’s note: Mr. Filsinger is a resident of Scottsdale

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