Protect Our Preserve: Scottsdale remains steadfast in the protection of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

A view of a Scottsdale signature gathering event held at Windgate Ranch that ultimately has resulted in a local ballot measure titled: Proposition 420. (Submitted photo)

The Protect Our Preserve Political Action Committee turned in over 37,000 signatures from Scottsdale voters to put a city Charter change on the November ballot.

The county has verified that over 30,000 of those signatures are valid which exceeds the 23,908 required to put this change on the ballot.

If passed by voters, the change will require a public vote on any new construction in the Preserve and require a public vote for use of Preserve funds for anything other than land acquisition and completing trails. In November, Scottsdale voters will get a opportunity to put themselves in control over development in their Preserve.

After the Scottsdale City Council denied citizens a vote on a $68 million dollar event center the council majority wanted to build in the Preserve, right at the most popular trail head, two citizen groups got together to form POP PAC.

They began a citizen ballot initiative to change to the city Charter. Citizens formed the Preserve, citizens voted to tax themselves to pay for the Preserve, and citizens openly opposed putting this project in their Preserve and using Preserve funds to build it. The project was never mentioned in any of the official documents that governed the Preserve or any of the ballots that involved the Preserve.

After the Scottsdale City Council was advised by its legal staff that just four city council members had free rein to build anything they desired in the Preserve, this Charter change was undertaken by concerned citizens in an attempt to force the city council to get public approval for any new construction in the Preserve.

Existing trails and trailheads were excluded.

The proposed project may be good or bad, that is not the issue. Scottsdale voters should have control over construction in “The People’s Preserve” and funding for that construction. That is what this proposition is about — giving citizens a voice and vote when it comes to their Preserve.

Proposition 420 is not a decision on the project itself, it is a means to give the Scottsdale voters control of any proposed projects in their Preserve. If voters approve this charter change, it will protect the Preserve, both now and in the future, by giving Scottsdale voters, not four members of city council, control over Preserve projects and costs.

Who would want to deny the public a voice, especially when it comes to their Preserve?
Kudos to Scottsdale citizens who took action to give themselves what the council would not, a voice and vote when it comes to any development in their Preserve.

This is truly one of the biggest and most successful grass roots efforts ever seen in Scottsdale’s history. This demonstration of overwhelming community support and resolve was accomplished in just six months and it has unified our community.

Way to go Scottsdale.

Editor’s note: This commentary was written by Scottsdale residents and community advocates Howard Myers and Betty Janik

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