Some forces in Scottsdale see this city as an "urban anywhere," to be cloned using the model of bland consumerism. Why shouldn't we have multi-story high rises? Other cities do! What the heck! So what if these buildings block views of Camelback Mountain from our downtown. Hey, Camelback is just another mountain, right?
Have you noticed as you travel around the country how one urban area resembles another? Drive down the main streets of most places and you will see the same big-box stores, fast-food places, gas stations and malls that have the same retailers. The phrase "cookie cutter" seems to be the pattern that defines these places. Would you spend your hard-earned money to travel even a few hundred miles to visit a destination with such a bland "urban anywhere" look? Think for a moment of the cost of gas.
Is Scottsdale an "urban anywhere?" In the past Scottsdale has resisted this temptation. We led the world in enacting zoning, master-planned communities such as McCormick and Scottsdale Ranch, passed sign ordinances, did away with billboards and valued our "sense of place." Scottsdale needs to continue to value our "sense of place" and not give in to the forces of consumerism that will destroy the special quality that makes Scottsdale unique.
Why is Santa Fe unique, like Scottsdale? Why do millions of tourists with hard-earned disposable income go to Santa Fe? What attracts them to Santa Fe? High multi-story buildings? Nope! There are none there. Bland anywhere shopping? Nope. Santa Fe has retained its unique historical character and a wonderful mix of architecture, art galleries, eclectic shops and restaurants that give Santa Fe a wonderful, romantic allure.
Like Santa Fe, we must protect Scottsdale's romantic allure. Should we fail to do so, we will lose our hard-won tourism business and all the revenue that this romantic allure brings here. Should this happen, investors will lose all the money they have spent on hotels, restaurants will fail, art galleries will close, and shops that cater to tourists will collapse. The tax revenues that fund the majority of our city services will be lost. Taxpayers in Scottsdale will see our taxes increase substantially to make up the shortfall.
Do you want to see this happen? Get involved in opposing an increase in density and height envisioned in the Scottsdale Downtown Update.
John J. Nichols is a Scottsdale resident.