Home > Elected Officials, Flagstaff, Flagstaff Liberty Alliance, Food, Libertarian, Nanny State, New Media, Northern Arizona, Politics > Flagstaff Local Food Resolution Moves Forward Despite Fierce Opposition From Barotz

Flagstaff Local Food Resolution Moves Forward Despite Fierce Opposition From Barotz

By Elisha Dorfsmith

A food freedom resolution created by Flagstaff Liberty Alliance cleared a major hurdle last night when the Flagstaff City Council voted to officially place it on a future agenda. Councilmember Oravits, Councilmember Brewster and Mayor Nabours provided the three required votes needed to move it forward.

Next, City staff will review the resolution and it will be placed on a work session agenda in October. Since the resolution is now officially an agenda item, members of the public will be able to speak in support at the October meeting. I will update my blog when I confirm the exact date.

One of the biggest challenges to the food resolution is the abundance of misinformation surrounding it. Councilmember Overton said he was contacted by Flagstaff residents who told him they believe this resolution is an attempt to legalize the cultivation of marijuana. I’m not sure what would give people that impression but rumors do get started and this seems to be a rumor that is circulating around town.

As one of the writers of the resolution, I can speak to its clear purpose and intent. It is a non-binding resolution saying that the City of Flagstaff supports local gardens and the rights of people to raise food for “themselves and their families”. It does not apply to retail or the sale or preparation of food. It will not impact or conflict with any current laws (see paragraph 4). It is simply a statement and a confirmation that Flagstaff supports and encourages people to grow their own food.

Councilmember Barotz (who surprised a lot of people by fiercely opposing the resolution) contributed her own misinformation to the council, arguing at one point that the 300+ signatures presented to council supporting the resolution were actually in support of an ordinance and should not be considered.

Barotz is right that when we started circulating the petitions we were pushing a draft ordinance but what she failed to explain is that the petition we circulated NEVER mentioned the words “ordinance” or “resolution”. We made sure to make it broad enough to cover either. The petition was signed by people who wanted action by local government to protect and support local food freedom. Nobody cared if it was by ordinance or by resolution.

When Barotz realized that there was enough support to move the proposed resolution forward, she asked City Manager Kevin Burke if she could submit a document for council to review. Councilmember Evans alluded to this document earlier in the meeting saying that her understanding was that there are several resolutions out there and the best one should be picked.

What Barotz was attempting to do was submit her own resolution (more on this below) but thankfully Burke shut her down and explained that the only resolution that should be considered is the one Flagstaff Liberty Alliance presented to the Council.

A Little History

Months ago Flagstaff Liberty Alliance put together a draft ordinance that would have had teeth to back it up and would have covered everything from protecting home gardens to easing restrictions on the sale of local food. The group’s Food Freedom Committee reached out to Councilmember Barotz thinking that she would be the perfect councilmember to successfully introduce and rally support for the ordinance.

I did not attend the first meeting Flagstaff Liberty Alliance had with Barotz but she convinced the committee that a resolution making a non-binding strong statement would be much easier to get approved than an ordinance (which is very true). She explained that an ordinance would take a massive amount of staff time and would have to be checked and double checked to make sure it was in compliance with City, State and Federal laws.

After meeting with Councilmember Barotz a draft resolution was written (much of it was borrowed from resolutions that have been successfully passed around the country) by myself with the help of several others.  Flagstaff Liberty Alliance had a booth at the annual Earth Day event at City Hall and Barotz stopped by and told us that she was looking forward to working with us on our resolution. Everything seemed to be going as planned.  By this time Councilman Oravits had also shown an interest in the resolution and there was talk about Oravits and Barotz introducing the resolution together.

FLA Chair Cindy Dorfsmith had another meeting with Barotz shortly after Earth Day and Barotz once again confirmed that she was in support of the resolution but had a few suggested changes (which she forgot to bring to the meeting). That evening she sent a completely different resolution to us saying:

“Hi Cindy, I’m sorry I forgot to bring this to the meeting this afternoon. My mistake. Here it is for your consideration. Revise as you see fit. Celia”

The Flagstaff Liberty Alliance board was willing to go with Celia’s completely re-written and extremely watered down version with a couple minor changes. Cindy replied:

“Hi Celia, the FLA board members suggested a couple minor changes to the revision you sent. Please take a look and let me know if you are ok with the changes. We would like to present the resolution to the Sustainability Commission on Wednesday if possible. Thanks! Cindy”

Barotz responded:

“Hi Cindy, Thanks for the track changes to the document. My feeling is that the added language doesn’t add anything meaningful so I would prefer it be taken out. But it’s your resolution so if you want to keep it in and see if Jeff will bring it forward, then please do that. I just don’t think that the added language is necessary.  Just let me know what you want to do. Celia”

Cindy asked if Barotz would still support the resolution if Oravits introduced it. Barotz said:

“I’m not sure. Let me think about it. I just think the language sets up an adversarial tone. I will get back to you in a day or so. Celia”

A few days later Barotz wrote:

“Hi Cindy, I gave this some thought last night and I am not sure I will support the resolution with the language your board added back in. I’m not comfortable bringing it forward as it is currently written, so you might want to tell Jeff that he can bring it forward and try to get it on the agenda without me.

I am disappointed since I have put work into re-writing your original draft and overall support the general values statement the resolution is attempting to make. Also, Jeff and I had hoped to bring this forward together.

Please know that if the draft you are now proposing does make it onto the agenda, during the discussion before the vote I might ask the council to take the language you added back out.

Please let me know what you want to do. Thanks, Celia”

By now we were all very frustrated and Cindy replied:

“Celia, I really wish you felt differently. I feel that we have tried to work with you and even accepted 99 percent of the resolution you wrote. You asked me to revise as we felt necessary, yet when we bring a slight change you refuse it. It seems to me that you will only accept your version of this resolution. We had already compromised much of our original resolution in an attempt to gain your support. Honestly I’m not sure what is so bad about the added language. I don’t see it as being adversarial as you said. Cindy”

The discussion concluded with Barotz saying:

“Hi Cindy, If you feel the way you described below, please ask Jeff to bring forward your original resolution rather than what I wrote. In fact, that is probably a better way to go now.  Celia”

Of course, Barotz fully expected our resolution to fail and when three Council members supported it at last night’s meeting she went into panic mode and desperately tried to introduce her “my way or the highway” resolution.  City Manager Burke wouldn’t let that happen so for now, our resolution stands.

You can read the full resolution Flagstaff Liberty Alliance proposed here:


If you support this resolution, please contact the Flagstaff City Council and let them know. We have to win over at least one more Council member before a final vote is taken. You can contact the Flagstaff City Council here:


We will also be asking people to speak in support of the resolution at the October Flagstaff City Council worksession (I’ll write more about this once a date is confirmed).



  1. August 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I feel really confused about this now. Seemed like a no-brainer mostly, but now I don’t understand why there is such opposition. What specifically is the wording that Celia wanted to change? Can you give us even a ball park picture of what she wanted to change? How involved were Flagstaff Foodlink and the CSA in the wording of this resolution?

    • August 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      The line Celia did not like was:

      WHEREAS, no local, state or federal law bars any person from raising their own food for use by themselves and their families; and

      As for CSA and Flagstaff Foodlink, they didn’t work on the actual wording of the resolution.

      • August 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm

        Thanks for getting back to me! I’ve got a lot to think about here.

    • August 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      For the record, the Flagstaff Sustainability Commission unanimously supported the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance resolution.

  2. Pearlimentarian
    August 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    If Celia Barotz, Esquire doesn’t like the watered-down resolution (which only applies to home gardens), then maybe we could get her head to explode by collecting all the necessary signatures for the ordinance. The much-loved ordinance would allow people to run businesses such as minifarms, catering, and food processing from their own residential property. There is no good reason to prevent this to begin with. Like we’re all gonna catch salmonella because a spinach was grown in a back yard that was not inspected by the CIA first.

    • August 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      I like the way you think. I completely support collecting signatures for full scale food freedom ordinance. I bet it would pass in Flagstaff.

  3. David A. Skopec
    August 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Sorry I cut out a little early- but I had to get home. was anything else passed of any importance????? Good job by the way!!! Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2013 17:11:03 +0000 To: davidskopec@live.com

    • August 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks David! I think you were there for the Animal Feeding Ordinance and the Energy Code vote. Besides those two things and the food resolution everything else was pretty routine. There was discussion on a $20,000 survey being mailed to random Flagstaff residents. Council was not impressed with the questions. That will be an interesting one to follow.

  4. Joanna Estes
    August 28, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I am trying to collect all the facts I can right now to really create an argument for the resolution. Even if we do not move forward with that I will use it for the resolution. It is quite frustrating navigating through the main stream media BS though. If anyone has any links to conclusive cases it would be greatly appreciated!

  5. August 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm
  6. August 29, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Nice work Elisha! Thanks for keeping us informed. Too bad it seems to have gotten personal with one council member for no apparent reason.

    • August 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks Tom! If it passes the City Council we’ll introduce it at the County for those who live outside the City limits.

  1. October 9, 2013 at 10:12 am

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