By Elisha Dorfsmith
On February 16, 2016 the Flagstaff City Council voted unanimously to approve ordinance 2016-07 which contained sweeping changes to the Flagstaff Zoning Code. Among those changes were new restrictions on RV, boat and trailer parking which put major limitations on where you could park on your own property.
Much like Flagstaff’s recently passed Party Ordinance and rejected Property Maintenance Ordinance, residents were told that citations would only be issued on a complaint driven basis and only gross offenders would be targeted. What the City conveniently left out is the busybody element that always goes along with these types of laws.
“We have one guy going around our neighborhood complaining about everyone.” Writes Susan McCullough, founder of the facebook group Flagstaff RV/Boat/Trailer Code Breakers & Friends, a group dedicated to making changes to the ordinance.
“You can park in your backyard or interior side yard (between houses, but not on the street side of your house). The front of the rig must be behind the front of your house. Even if you have a paved driveway specifically for your rig, you are not allowed to park it there.”
McCullough joined with concerned neighbors and other Flagstaff residents and was successful in getting a FAIR (Future Agenda Item Request) on the October 4th City Council agenda. At the October 4th meeting, at least four council members will need to support moving this request forward in order for the City to revisit the RV/Boat parking part of the City Code.
If you have an opinion on this ordinance, you can contact the entire Flagstaff City Council at email@example.com
An illegally parked RV in Flagstaff.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Many election cycles voters are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils or write in “None of the Above”. I am happy to say that this election year Coconino County residents will have some real liberty choices on the ballot that we can be proud to support. More liberty candidates may be announcing in the coming weeks but for now, in no particular order, here are some of the great choices you should see on your ballot in November:
Jonathan Apirion For Coconino County Attorney
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance member Jonathan Apirion has announced a run for Coconino County Attorney as a Libertarian. Today’s edition of the AZ Daily Sun has a great article covering his campaign HERE.
Apirion’s website has a long list of issues with well thought out perspective in the context of libertarian minded policy. Check it out and support his campaign. His website address is: apirion.org
Josh Collier For Coconino County Supervisor District 4
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance treasurer Josh Collier has announced a run as a Republican for Coconino County Supervisor District 4 which will be vacated by Mandy Metzger at the end of the year. Collier is a true liberty candidate with a focus on transparency and fiscal responsibility. Getting more citizen involvement in County issues is a priority:
“I am running for Coconino County Board of Supervisors District 4. One of the main issues I see is lack of transparency within government, and I don’t feel as though the county has made any effort to increase transparency through video and audio recording of meetings. As County session meetings are often held midday on Tuesdays, many citizens are not able to attend. For this reason, I believe increasing access to that information may increase citizen participation. The Flagstaff City Council meetings, as well as the city commission meetings, are all video recorded and I see no reason why the county should not do the same.”
Collier’s facebook page can be found HERE. Check it out and support his campaign.
Christine Gannon For Coconino County Supervisor District 3
Former Flagstaff Liberty Alliance President Christine Gannon has announced a run as a Republican for Coconino County Supervisor District 3. She will be running against four term Democrat Matt Ryan. Gannon’s campaign is also focusing on transparency as well as getting back to the basic functions of government:
“I believe that it’s time for new faces and new ideas on the County Board of Supervisors. The County needs to refocus its efforts and get back to the roots of government – road maintenance, utilities & services improvement, and creating an atmosphere that allows for sustainable economic growth.”
Gannon’s website can be found HERE. Check it out and support her campaign.
Re-elect Jeff Oravits For Flagstaff City Council
Since he was elected to the Flagstaff City Council four years ago, Councilman Jeff Oravits has worked tirelessly to ensure that issues and concerns relating to liberty are addressed. His lone vote against Flagstaff’s overreaching party ordinance is just one example of the many times he has been the single liberty voice on council.
Regarding other issues that you have read about in my blog, Oravits was the driving force at the council level for changes to the Animal Keeping ordinance that encourage and legalize urban farming in Flagstaff. He also advocated for streaming and posting all public city meetings including budget and commission meetings.
Oravits is a strong proponent for government transparency and publishes all of his council votes on his blog so the public can see how he and other council members voted. You can find his blog HERE. Check it out and support his re-election campaign.
Meet The Candidates
The candidates mentioned above, along with other candidates for local and statewide races, will be in attendance at a legislative update event hosted by Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits.
When: Monday, May 16th from 5:30 PM -7:00 PM
Where: 2501 N. 4th Street in Flagstaff
Legislative RECAP from Speaker of the House David Gowan. City update from Mayor Jerry Nabours.
FREE event, includes pizza and soft drinks.
Legislative Recap: Speaker of the House David Gowan
City Update: Mayor Jerry Nabours
Brief introduction of City Council & County Board of Supervisors Candidates by Jeff Oravits.
Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits (second from left) takes time for a picture with Flagstaff Liberty Alliance at the Coconino County Fair.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Last night the Flagstaff City Council put up the final roadblock to nearly a year’s worth of work on a citizen driven effort to make changes to Flagstaff’s recently passed party ordinance. The Council work session was the last in a long line of hearings and meetings and council chose to keep the ordinance “as is” as the police department asked.
Councilman Jeff Oravits was the only member of council even interested in making any changes to the law and I want to thank him for being willing to look for a compromise that could make everyone happy. There were very reasonable changes that could have been made.
Even though we didn’t get our desired outcome, I am very impressed with the effort and work that went into this by so many people on so many levels. The fight is not over yet. We will be looking at other ways to push back against this ordinance and protect people’s right to assemble.
In the video below you can find my comments to council yesterday evening. I explain to them that they need to realize that this ordinance will impact the nuisance parties they throw.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
During last year’s City Charter campaign I strongly argued against the option to have the Flagstaff City Council election on the same date as the state and national general election. While the alternative was not perfect (spring of odd-numbered years) I felt it was better than having City Council races on the same ballot as the President of the United States.
My biggest fear at the time was that having the City election on the same cycle and same day as other high profile races would turn the local non-partisan contests into partisan battles. Local candidates would be competing against congressional and state races for air time and press with some advertising going to the highest bidder. The cost of campaigning would be much higher for Council candidates than in past years.
This would lead to local candidates being forced to raise more money and piggyback on volunteers who are working on large scale campaigns for Democrats and Republicans. There would be a big incentive to turn what used to be local independent races that focused on local problems, into large scale campaigns that distract from the issues locals really care about. Additionally, political parties and outside dark money groups would certainly have a bigger influence in the City as they started pouring cash and resources into the local elections.
Unfortunately, the charter change to move the election date to November won by a landslide and it appears that my biggest concerns are now starting to come true. Last week former “independently minded” candidate Jim McCarthy announced he was running for City Council as a Democrat. His campaign signs even say “Democrat for Flagstaff Council”.
The days of local issues oriented, non-partisan Council races are no more and we are all worse off because of it. At a time when more and more voters are running away from the party system and shedding (R) and (D) labels, Flagstaff seems to be running in the opposite direction.
The above post by McCarthy was posted on Facebook a couple days ago.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
I have purposely avoided discussing the Hub student housing project and other projects like it on my blog because these projects do not really fit the focus of what my blog is all about. People can support or oppose different developments in the City and still be on the side of liberty. There are a lot of good pro/ con arguments out there on the Hub but I think it is finally time for me to step out of the sidelines and share my perspective.
The Hub is just the most recent in a long series of highly emotional and polarizing issues before the Flagstaff City Council. It is also one of the most misrepresented issues (intentionally or not) by local media, certain council members and activist groups voicing their opposition to the project.
Those yelling loudest would have people believe that voting against this project’s rezone will stop the development. I have been arguing with a lot of people on social media trying to explain to them that this is simply not the case. If a project is being built in a location it is already zoned for, the Flagstaff City Council has no say. City Staff look at criteria set in the Zoning Code and Regional Plan and if it meets that criteria, the development is a go. If people don’t like that, my argument has been to work to change the code and Regional Plan.
Last night Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours issued a statement explaining the facts as they stand in very simple terms that everyone should be able to understand. Being able to cut through the emotions and focus strictly on the reality of a situation shows a clear head and is one of the things I really respect about Nabours.
Governing based on emotions makes for poor governance. Nabours has proven to be a rational thinker that considers much more than just feelings when he makes a decision. The Mayor’s stark contrast to his campaign rival Councilmember Coral Evans earns him my vote for a second term.
You can read the Mayor’s full statement on the Hub below:
“I had promised to post current issues and explain my point of view and votes. I want to share my insights into the background of last night’s Hub Vote:
Yesterday’s city council meeting ended with a vote that may have been confusing to anyone who may not have the full background.
I want to give some background: At the council meeting last night the city council was faced with two options:
(A) Option A would be for The Hub to build a 65 foot high apartment complex. They already have the zoning for that. They do not need city council approval;
(B) Option B would be for the Hub to get a partial zoning change that would allow them to build a much more attractive project. Option B was developed after months of meetings between Core and Flagstaff residents and city staff.
When the council met last evening to address the zoning request, there were only those two choices. We listened carefully to the hours of public comment and it became clear that the most of the public wanted council to deny ANY project. Not building anything was not a council option. This was explained several times by the city staff and the city attorney.
There was some argument that Core did not have the required zoning. The city attorney said they do. Bottom line is, Core can build on that property with or without a zoning change.
The regional plan was approved by the voters of Flagstaff in 2013. That plan specifically identifies this location as an urban activity center with high density housing and walk-able shopping and restaurants. The planning and Zoning commission voted 6-1 to recommend approval to the city council.
A zoning change would allow them to make the project more appealing (by everyone’s standards). It has allowed the city staff to sit down with them and ask for concessions . The project with the zone change will be less tall, have a bottom floor of retail shops and have more attractive facing and windows. Plus, the city is getting over $1 million in utility repairs and parking contributions from Core.
The vote of the four (Nabours, Oravits, Overton and Brewster) was a vote for the city to get the best possible product, given the circumstance that the city cannot outright disallow the project.
Evans, Barotz and Putzova’s vote was not a vote to stop the project, it was a vote to allow a less desirable project. Their “no” vote (to deny the rezoning) is to tell Core to go ahead and build the project under their current zoning, without any concessions.”
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Frequent readers of my blog know that I have long advocated for changes to existing City laws that discourage urban farming and keeping animals for food in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance and other groups I work with have put forward ordinances and resolutions and creative solutions but we have always faced a lot of opposition from various groups in town and from some council members.
This year things were different and supporters of urban farming finally succeeded with the Flagstaff City Council approving very positive changes to the animal keeping part of the City Code by a 7-0 vote.
These changes go above and beyond anything we ever hoped for and even include the legalization of small animal slaughter and beekeeping.
Today these changes are highlighted in an excellent article in the Daily Sun which is linked below.
Thanks to everyone who got involved to make this happen and special thanks to Councilmember Jeff Oravits for being the driving force on council to get these changes approved!
You can read the Daily Sun article here:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
This morning I stumbled across the video below that was put out by an Independent journalist covering pushback against Flagstaff’s overreaching party ordinance. It is very well done and has some good footage of the public forum that Flagstaff PD held for concerned students and residents a few months ago.
The party ordinance saga is far from over. In the coming weeks, the Flagstaff Police Department will be holding another public forum and working on possible changes to the ordinance that will hopefully be presented to Council. I will keep you updated as things develop and meetings are scheduled.
In the meantime, check out the video posted below.
Be sure to visit the original source for this video at: https://vimeo.com/149236433