Myers: Misinformation campaign used to sway voters on Prop. 420

All the back and forth between the people on both sides of Proposition 420 is getting out of hand with a lot of misinformation coming from those who want to develop our Preserve and counter attacks by citizens who want to protect the Preserve against development.

What should have been a very easy decision has been made more difficult with the resulting chaos.

Howard Myers

Most of the anti-420 arguments are not lies, but rather have a sliver of truth behind them that is then distorted to leave a false impression. The problem is they don’t tell you the whole truth. It is like dealing with your kids when they do something wrong, they don’t want to lie so they just don’t tell you the whole truth because then you would be concerned.

A prime example is the statement being made by Derouin, the Bruners, Korte, and others that commercial development is already prohibited and the Preserve is already protected against “commercial” development. This is partially true depending on what you call “commercial” development.

The key is the word “commercial.” For most people, it doesn’t matter what you call it, rather it comes down to what the use is. The truth is the current charter prohibits the city from selling Preserve land and from leasing it, so an outside party couldn’t build something in the Preserve and run it, however nothing prevents they city from building anything four members of the city council want in the Preserve, and that is the problem 420 is addressing.

No matter what you call the proposed Desert Edge, it is a use that will charge admission, pay a full-time staff, sell food and other items, and operate an entertainment center that will have catering, serve liquor, and operate at night and be leased out for events and parties. To most people, this is a “commercial” operation. All of these things involved with the proposed use violate the Preserve ordinance, but the DDC/DE advocates claim because the city owns it, it is not a “commercial” operation and they can do anything they want, including violating the Preserve rules. This also shoots down the argument that the Preserve ordinance protects the Preserve. Even if it did, four members of the city council can change that ordinance if it gets in the way of a DDC or DE.

Most of the other arguments against 420 are similar; they might contain a little bit of truth but then distort it to create an illusion and confusion.

So this is why another charter change is necessary, to prevent the city from building anything they want in the Preserve, no matter what you want to call it, without citizen approval. This change just builds on the first Charter change, that protected Preserve land, in order to close this loophole to protect the Preserve against the city developing the Preserve that was formed specifically to prevent development. It is no more dangerous than the first change, rather it just completes the protection of the Preserve.

The Desert Edge may be good or bad, but if it is to be built in the Preserve, and use Preserve funds (citizen tax dollars) to build it, citizens should have to approve it. All Prop. 420 does is require that citizen approval, nothing more. The city Charter can’t be modified by the council without citizen approval, so it is the perfect place to require a citizen vote because it will protect the Preserve now and into the future and only we can change that.

Obviously there are a number of people, most in the development business, that want to develop the Preserve and they are putting up a lot of money to defeat Prop. 420 at the polls because they don’t want citizens to get in their way. Most of these funds come from outside Scottsdale while Prop. 420 was put on the ballot by Scottsdale citizens who donated both their time and money to give us a chance to have a voice via a vote on what happens to and on our Preserve.

Lost in all the hype, and negative exchanges, is the monumental effort of the citizen volunteers to collect the required number of signatures (slightly less than 24,000 valid signatures are required and over 37,000 were collected), and a similar effort now to fight this negative campaign put up by people who want to develop OUR Preserve and don’t want you to have a vote on it.

The effort to gather the signatures united the city as never before, with citizens from all over the city getting involved. Now the 420 opponents are trying to tear the city apart again for their own benefit, simply because they don’t want citizens to be in the way of the development they want in the Preserve. One positive side affect is that it has clearly shown who will represent you on the city council and who won’t. This is all so sad in so many ways, but welcome to Scottsdale politics at its worst. The voters can change that by showing unity again, YES on proposition 420.

Editor’s note: Howard Myers is a resident of Scottsdale.

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