Flagstaff Property Maintenance Ordinance Returns From The Dead

By Elisha Dorfsmith

On January 8, 2013 the Flagstaff City Council decided not to move forward with a proposed Property Maintenance Ordinance.  The previous council had unanimously supported a PMO but with new members and new information available, it was decided a PMO was no longer needed.  The public, who overwhelmingly opposed the PMO, believed the issue had been put to rest for good.

Jump forward to March 28, 2013 and the release of the Flagstaff Regional Plan. At 338 pages the plan is intimidating to the average Flagstaff Resident. Very few people will read the whole thing before the public comment period ends on May 31, 2013. Flagstaff residents would be wise to take some time to scan through the plan and pay special attention to Appendix B which shows the strategies for implementing the goals and policies. Mentioned among these strategies several times is implementation of a “Property Maintenance Ordinance”.

The concept behind a PMO seems to be reinforced again (page 329) in a reference to CPTED in the Police strategies section. CPTED stands for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Part of the CPTED philosophy says that broken windows, peeling paint or a nuisance, if not taken care of, will lead to crime and will eventually destroy an entire neighborhood.

When concerned Flagstaff residents joined together last year to oppose a PMO, one major concern was City officials being allowed to go on private property and inspect it for PMO violations without a warrant. Now I’m sensing that the line between your average City official and a police officer is being blurred. CPTED says that police have in interest in well maintained properties. Will police be enforcing the PMO?

Increased police presence is a very big part of the regional plan and reading through that section (pages 328 and 329) throws up a red flag for those of us concerned about the growing police state in America. Neighborhood police substations are encouraged, an effective, visible police presence in the community is called for and the plan also asks for law abiding citizens to step up and help the police with crime prevention. I read this and see an Orwellian vision where neighbors turn in neighbors for the slightest infractions and are rewarded.

The City of Flagstaff legal department has explained to Council that existing laws already apply to health hazards and the worst unmaintained properties. The City can take action in these situations without a PMO in place. Flagstaff does NOT need a PMO.

One other major concern for people in the region:

On page 7 the plan says who it is for. In addition to Flagstaff it mentions Bellemont, Winona, Kachina Village and Mountainaire as well as the San Francisco peaks. It also says the plan is for County departments. Only Flagstaff residents will be allowed to vote on this plan in 2014. The plan does not explain why County residents don’t get to vote on the plan even though the plan will impact them. In fact, the plan doesn’t even let County residents know they won’t get to vote.

Growing Smarter Statutes adopted by Arizona in 1998 and 2000 require that a plan of some kind be adopted and updated every 10 years. It’s important that all who will be impacted by this plan provide feedback during the public comment period.

The text of the Regional plan can be found here:



The previous version of the PMO actually called for “weather tight” window screens.



  1. April 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

    enforcement of the PMO will keep the way too highly paid dept of community development project managers busy forever, a great job security plan and power grab all rolled into one, All while the city council snoozes while keeping their seats warm. it is why they want higher resolution $100,000 aerial photos so they can plot their strategy. city staff runs the city and the council is a rubber stamp

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