Facts Matter In Run Up to Scottsdale General Plan 2035 Vote

By Don Henninger | The SCOTT Perspective

In just a few days, Scottsdale residents will be getting their ballots in the mail asking them to vote on the city’s new General Plan.

It’s the culmination of many months of planning, following years of struggling to update its plan, which is required by state law to be done every 10 years.

After all that hard work, along with a unanimous vote of approval from the City Council this summer, it looked like there was a pretty clear path to victory.

Not so fast.

In a recent poll of likely Scottsdale voters conducted by American Strategies on behalf of the Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®, show the plan will fail to win approval with it losing by a 48 percent no to 42 percent yes margin.

It’s not all bad news, though.

After they learn details and become educated about the plan, the poll shows voters in favor of it, by a 67 to 30 percent tally.

Voter Education

When voters hear more details about the Scottsdale General Plan 2035, they like what they hear. Half or more say each of the four details about the Plan make them more likely to support the measure. Voters have the strongest positive response to information about the citizen and business community involvement in developing the plan:

American Strategies Survey Results - Scottsdale General Plan 2035

And that’s how life seems to be going in Scottsdale – and perhaps elsewhere – these days.

In Scottsdale today, the culture is to lead with “no.” To get to “yes” on projects, the facts have to overcome the emotional debates and uninformed assumptions that stand in the way.

The General Plan 2035 is an example of that. It outlines the city’s long-term expectations for growth and development, acting as a blueprint for the next 20 years. It’s not a zoning document. It’s a vision statement.

To get a gauge on its early prospects, a poll of city residents was conducted by American Strategies on behalf of the Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®. Findings were based on feedback from 650 registered voters. And what it found hit the nail on the head: “Voters are pleased with life in Scottsdale and are inclined to protect the status quo rather than embrace a comprehensive plan that they know very little about (only 28 percent have heard anything about it).”

That’s the challenge overall in Scottsdale. Residents love living here. Thus they don’t feel the need to be informed on issues. Many overreact to the snippets of misinformation they receive, lots of it on social media. So their reaction is simple: just don’t change anything. Complacency piled on top of misinformation is a formula for stagnation.

Facts matter, and when residents embrace them, they are much more inclined to favor decisions that move the city forward.

That was seen in the poll, too.

The pollsters reported: “Indeed, once voters are educated about the General Plan, including information on how it will influence city decision making and how it was developed, majorities say they are more likely to support the plan.”

Here are the four educational points, the poll said, that made the most impact in turning negative votes positive:

  • It was created with extensive citizen involvement, made available for comment at public hearings and was discussed at over a dozen town-hall meetings
  • It has been years in the making. Local business organizations, non-profit groups and neighborhood committees were all consulted in its development
  • It is a general planning document. It creates long-term growth objectives for planning purposes and does not create new zoning regulations
  • It was unanimously approved by the City Council.

Facts matter. Education is important.

With no major campaigns or organized efforts to promote the plan apparently in the works, a lot of this rests on the willingness of those of us who care about moving the city forward to do all we can to convince our friends and neighbors to vote in favor of it.

Such is life in Scottsdale today.

Don Henninger, executive director of SCOTT, can be reached at donh@scottsdale.com.

Related: Nov. 2, 2021 Special Election Information