Archive for November, 2014

Aspen Heights Student Housing Project Located In Urban Activity Center

November 23, 2014 1 comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Today’s edition of the Arizona Daily Sun has a large collection of letters and editorials opposing the proposed Aspen Heights Student Housing Project. Among the arguments made are concerns that this project is not right for Flagstaff and that it does not fit the area where it is proposed.

What you won’t find in the Daily Sun is the fact that the Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030, which was unanimously approved by the Flagstaff City Council and overwhelmingly supported by Flagstaff voters, has the area where Aspen Heights is proposed listed as an Urban Activity Center.  For those who don’t know, the Regional Plan is a guiding document for the council to use when they make decisions, including re-zoning decisions.

What is an Urban Activity Center according to the Regional Plan? Here’s what the Plan has to say:

“An urban activity center holds the greatest densities of housing and intensities of commercial and retail space, yet it is still appropriately designed for the region, contextual in scale and form, and architecturally compliments the environment and views. Even the most urban areas of Flagstaff have amazing views of the mountains, and respecting those viewsmaintains our unique sense of place. Higher densities and maintaining views may seem like a contradiction, but it is a matter of thoughtful and sensitive design. Urban activity centers have the densities that make transit work while providing the creative places and where the social interactions desired by today’s and tomorrow’s workforce can occur.”

The Coconino County discussion goes even further and addresses Student Housing in the context of Urban Activity Centers. They point out Regional Plan policy LU.18.4 which says:

“Encourage developers to provide activity centers and corridors with housing of various types and price points, especially attached and multi‐family housing.”

This is exactly what the proposed Aspen Heights project provides. Those who say this project is not in line with the Regional Plan 2030 are either ignorant or intentionally being deceptive.

Bottom line, The Flagstaff City Council said, and voters agreed, that this type of student housing project is right for the area it is being proposed in.


The Aspen Heights project is proposed in the U7 section of this map which is an Urban Activity Center.  A link to this map, which is part of the Regional Plan 2030, can be found HERE.



Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition Won’t Let Facts Get In The Way Of Their Propaganda

November 21, 2014 5 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

In March I volunteered my time helping set up for Flagstaff’s Dark Sky event in Heritage Square. It was a big success and a fun event. I appreciate and value Flagstaff’s Dark Skies and the astronomy opportunities that Flagstaff provides. In short, I support Flagstaff’s Dark Skies programs.

What I don’t support, however, are lies and misrepresentation of facts to accomplish a goal. Unfortunately, that is exactly what I found when I visited the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition Facebook page yesterday. On that page there were claims that the City of Flagstaff was making an exception to the dark skies rules by voting to allow the Aspen Heights student housing project.

This was a false accusation and I explained that under current zoning, there was a potential for this property to use over 900,000 lumens. The Aspen Heights Development has agreed to be capped at 205,000 lumens. Well under the maximum allowed by the dark skies ordinances.

I also posted the following screen shot from a City Staff report showing how much light could be used without the re-zone and told them that council would never even get the opportunity to have a say in any rural residential project.


City slide showing maximum lumens currently allowed (click photo to enlarge).

They responded by saying hypothetical or potential light is not light and that I was crazy for suggesting that something over 205,000 lumens would ever be built on that property. I replied that they were naive to think the property would never be developed and on a scale of 0-920,000 lumens, 205,000 lumens was on the lower end of the spectrum.

They replied by quietly blocking me from posting on their page and deleting my comments. Seems my facts were getting in the way of their propaganda.

Government Bullies vs. The Grove and Cheba Hut

November 19, 2014 9 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Last month when the Daily Sun published an article about a party at the Grove Student Housing Complex that was “totally out of control” I knew that there had to be an ulterior motive behind it. After all, the moment police showed up the party dispersed and only a handful of drunk in public arrests were made. No force was used to break up the party. Hardly sounds uncontrollable to me.

Adding to the misinformation was a report released by Flagstaff PD that said 750-1,000 students were at the party. My sources (students who were at the party who asked not to be named) tell me that in reality there were only 200-300 people there. The extent that Flag PD and the Daily Sun were going all out to villainize The Grove had me scratching my head for a reason.

I believe I found the motive when I attended last night’s Flagstaff City Council meeting. One of the items on the agenda was a discussion for another student housing complex. During the presentation from City Staff it was disclosed that The Grove has been approached multiple times and asked to participate in the Flagstaff Police Department’s Crime-Free Multi-Housing program. Each time they have declined. I am convinced that the villainization of The Grove by Flag PD is an attempt to bully them into participating in a program that they don’t want to participate in.

At the meeting it was also brought up that Cheba Hut had been singled out for harassment by City code enforcement for having a vehicle at their business with their logo on it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why the City is singling out Cheba Hut for their vehicle. They have to protect what you see and what you think. Who cares if Cheba Hut is in compliance with the law. They’re going to make life miserable for them because they don’t like the message that the business is sending.

Control control control.


Cheba Hut’s marijuana themed logo makes them a target for government nannies (click photo to enlarge).

Letter on Proposed Changes to the City Sign Code

November 16, 2014 Leave a comment
Dear Mayor and Council,

I am writing to express my support for the proposed amendments to the Flagstaff Sign Code. These common sense amendments have been vetted through a rigorous public comment process allowing input from both residents and businesses alike. City staff has worked hard to create recommendations that fit the community while simplifying the process and making it easier to do business in Flagstaff. These changes passed unanimously during the first reading and should be kept as is for the second reading.

I have seen comments on social media by a member of council saying they plan to propose last minute changes to the amendments. I feel that adding changes in at the last minute disrespects the public and the process and would be a very unfortunate development. Business owners who are not aware of these last minute changes will not be able to explain to council how their businesses could be impacted. That doesn’t seem right to me.

Thanks for your time.

Elisha Dorfsmith
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