By Elisha Dorfsmith
Is Coral Evans misleading when it comes to property taxes? Check out the latest video by Stephen Pelligrini and let me know what you think:
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
Flagstaff social media is buzzing with concern and disappointment that council voted 4-3 on Tuesday to change the number of council members it takes to move an item to the second stage from 3 to 4. Critics are saying that this change undermines democracy and will shut out public participation in the city process.
While I have been and remain neutral on this issue (if anything I lean toward one vote to move something to the next phase), I feel it is important to separate the facts from the fear.
The truth is, this rule change doesn’t really do much at all. Here is how things will work moving forward:
A council member or citizens with a petition will submit a request for a future agenda item. A few weeks later, that item will be put on an agenda as a FAIR (Future Agenda Item Request). At that point, the public has the opportunity to show up and speak for or against the item. After public participation, council will vote to see if they have enough interest to move the item forward. It will now take four votes instead of three if council wants to get staff involved and move the item to a regular agenda.
The key thing to remember here is that public participation is still intact. The democratic process is still intact. The only thing this rule change really changes is the staff time involved on items that ultimately don’t move forward.
Interestingly, there was a time not long ago when council required four votes to move something forward and also did NOT allow public participation on Future Agenda Item Requests.
Council recently, under the direction of Jeff Meilbeck, changed the rules to allow public participation on the FAIR section of the agenda. I was the ONLY member of the public who showed up to support allowing public comment on these items. The vote was unanimous. Unfortunately, council never received credit from the local paper or left leaning political groups for that positive change to improve the democratic process.
Critics of Tuesday’s rule change also mention that they are opposed to the new City Charter change that now requires 25 signatures on a citizen petition before council considers it. They said that this change was another blow to democracy.
What these people don’t seem to understand is that Flagstaff voters voted for that amendment. The majority of voters wanted to change the requirement from 1 to 25 signatures. I strongly opposed that change and voted against it but I was in the minority. This is democracy. On election night we saw the democratic process work.
Back to Tuesday’s meeting, in a final epic hypocritical move, Evans, Barotz, and Putzova joined the rest of council in voting to reject considering a citizen petition regarding parking. They voted against it even though the petition had over 100 signatures on it.
Councilmember Barotz said that these citizens and their petition got in the way of the City process. Evans and Putzova agreed. So, after complaining all night about rule changes that they felt hurt democracy, these three council members ended the session with the biggest slap in the face to the democratic process of the evening.
You really can’t make this stuff up.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Flagstaff City Councilperson Coral Evans joined the chorus of politicians and media politicizing last night’s NAU shooting by asking on Facebook:
“How is it possible for an 18 year old freshman to legally have a gun on campus?”
If Evans had listened to the police press conference this morning, she would have known that unless a firearm is locked away in a vehicle, guns are not allowed on the Northern Arizona University campus.
You can ban guns anywhere you want but that won’t stop criminals from bringing them in.
Statement by Flagstaff Councilmember Coral Evans. (Click photo to enlarge)
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Vice Mayor Coral Evans put the final nail in the coffin of Flagstaff Liberty Alliance’s food freedom resolution last night when she announced that she was no longer interested in crafting a new resolution with Councilmember Jeff Oravits. The Vice Mayor said she was willing to move forward and find a compromise until she read my blog after the October 8th Council meeting. In that post I called her an “obstructionist” for fighting the FLA resolution every step of the way and helping spread misinformation about the intent of the resolution.
Trying to prove that she’s not an obstructionist by being an obstructionist seems a bit silly to me but that’s her prerogative.
Evans also printed copies of my blog for Council and stated that my article was written by the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance. I want to clear up any confusion she and others may have about the Flag Liberty Blog. The Flag Liberty Blog is the Elisha Dorfsmith blog and only the Elisha Dorfsmith blog. Readers can click on the “about” tab to understand that. The views presented on my blog should never be considered the official word from Flagstaff Liberty Alliance.
I am very disappointed that Vice Mayor Evans, Councilmember Celia Barotz and their friends at F3 fought so hard against a resolution supporting local gardens and food. The failure of this resolution means that Flagstaff residents will have to be extra vigilant when local food issues come before council to make sure that our rights and healthy food options are protected.
March Against Monsanto Protestors pose for a photo at a recent rally at Flagstaff City Hall. The freedom to grow healthy food, save seeds, and eat what we choose is being threatened by giant corporate interests and their friends in government. This is an issue many people in Flagstaff are very concerned about.