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Flagstaff Climate Action Plan Meeting Notes And Commentary

June 13, 2017 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Last night the Flagstaff Sustainability Department sent out an email to interested parties asking for applications to serve on the City’s proposed Climate Action Plan Steering Committee. This committee will help put together the goals and objectives for the CAP, working alongside a third party consultant that the City is in the process of hiring.

Those interested in joining the Climate Action Plan Steering Committee can find more information at the surveymonkey link here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8MBJVWD

Last week I posted on Twitter my concern that the public and local business community was being brought into the process a bit late. This was met with a critical response from the City, who said I was not adequately representing the public participation opportunities in the plan.

My concern stemmed from the fact that a private stakeholder meeting and two private scoping committee meetings had already been held. The scope of the plan, centered around “social justice”, has already been outlined.  I have been told by City staff that the scope of the plan can change with public input, but I would have liked to see that public input happen before the scope had been put in place.

Since the details of this plan will impact every resident and business within the City limits, I encourage my readers to pay close attention and make your voice heard at every opportunity.

For now, here are the meeting notes from the stakeholder and scoping committee meetings. This is an opportunity for you to read for yourself what has already been discussed and come to your own conclusions:

March 27th Stakeholder Meeting notes: stakeholder meeting

April 17th Scoping Committee notes: Meeting One

April 19th Scoping Committee notes: Meeting Two

I talked about this in a little more detail last week on the Jeff Oravits Show. You can listen to that entire show here:

https://jefforavits.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/wednesdays-show-is-up-drones-sleepy-politicians-is-a-local-paris-accord-coming/

DISCLAIMER: I currently serve on the Flagstaff Sustainability Commission but all of my opinions here are mine and mine alone.

commission

The Flagstaff Sustainability Commission discusses Flagstaff’s proposed Climate Action Plan at their May meeting.

Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030 A Small Step In The Right Direction

April 24, 2014 4 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

As information pamphlets and mail in ballots for the City of Flagstaff May 20, 2014 Special Election arrive in mailboxes this week, I have had several people ask for my thoughts on the one item on the ballot: the Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030.

Longtime readers will remember that I was strongly opposed to the original draft released by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) months ago. The document threatened private property rights, encouraged a stronger police presence in every neighborhood, and focused on the wants of special interest groups rather than the needs of our City. I was extremely disappointed when the Coconino County Board of Supervisors approved that version (spelling errors intact) unanimously without any debate or discussion.

I have gone through the proposed Regional Plan plan with a fine tooth comb many times during each of its revisions, both officially (as a member of the Flagstaff Sustainability Commission) and unofficially (as a concerned member of the public). I made countless recommendations for changes and have been very pleased to see many of those changes included in the final draft.

I am especially impressed with the Flagstaff City Council and their line by line examination of the draft and the many revisions and corrections they made to the document to make it a balanced plan. There was compromise on both sides and when the final version came back to council for a vote, it was approved unanimously.

The plan now has a disclaimer attached explaining that it is a guiding document rather than an ordinance or law. Language has been included to explicitly protect private property rights. The section calling for a property maintenance ordinance has been removed.  The recommendation for a police substation in each neighborhood has been eliminated. The list of positive changes goes on and on.

Many people don’t realize that Arizona law requires cities of a certain size (including Flagstaff) to pass a regional plan every 10 years or so. If this plan was not mandated by state law, I would be opposed to it out of principle because top down central planning tramples liberty and never works the way people expect it to.

The truth is, the new plan is a vast improvement over what we are currently living with and if it passes we will have more safeguards protecting liberty and private property. It is a good small step in the right direction. Rather than fighting this improved plan on principle, those of us against central planning should take that fight to the state legislature and push to get the mandate removed.

So, if you have not figured it out by now, I will be voting YES on the Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030 on May 20th. I encourage others to do the same.

 

Coconino County Board Set To Vote On Regional Plan

November 22, 2013 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

On Tuesday, December 3rd the Coconino County Board of Supervisors will vote on the County version of the Flagstaff Regional Plan. With only minimal public input from County residents, every indication points to the County Board approving the plan as written with no changes or corrections.

This is very bad news for all of us in the County, especially residents of Doney Park, Kachina, Mountainaire, Bellmont, Timberline, Fort Valley, etc. who will be directly impacted by the plan but will not have the opportunity to vote on it like Flagstaff residents will.

While there is talk about changing the law at the State level to ensure that County voters will get to vote on these issues in the future, these changes will not be completed in time for the December 3rd County Board vote. If County residents have concerns about the plan it’s going to come down to contacting the County Board and asking for changes. If they hear from enough people they may listen.

Read The Plan

Yes, the plan is long and it will take time to go through but it could potentially impact every part of your life. Everything from how long you wait in traffic during your commute to work to what you are allowed do with your own private property.

This plan was written by a very one sided committee who has a vision for the region that could drastically change everything we love and care about in our community. Be informed and aware of what they have planned for you.

You can read the entire Regional Plan here:

http://www.flagstaffmatters.com/

Contact The County Board

Speaking at the County board meeting on December 3rd is key but I know many County residents are working or busy at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday. If you cannot attend and speak in person, please consider contacting the County Board and expressing your concerns.

You can find contact info for the County Board here:

http://www.coconino.az.gov/index.aspx?NID=104

Attend The Meeting

There will be a public comment period at the December 3rd County Board meeting. The meeting starts at 3:00 PM and will be held in the County public meeting room at 219 E. Cherry St.

Attending in person will have the biggest impact. If you are able, please make your voice heard.

Pages from Flagstaff-Regional-Plan-2-S

The Flagstaff Regional Plan Is NOT My Plan

September 7, 2013 13 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

“It (the regional plan) is guiding not only government agencies but everyone else.”
 — Eva Putzova (Friends of Flagstaff’s Future Board Member. Regional Plan Advisory Committee Member)

The Flagstaff Regional Plan is being touted as a plan created by the people of Flagstaff for the people of Flagstaff. What we’re not being told is that this document was created by a one sided Citizen Advisory Committee of only 15 people along with City and County staff.

Public input was taken and community outreach was done but it was done in a way that only put a very positive spin on the plan and discouraged people from sitting down and actually reading the whole thing.

A simple way to test people’s knowledge about the regional plan is to ask them what they think of it. About 99% of the time they will look at you with a question mark on their face and ask what the regional plan is. When someone does recognize the name of the plan ask them how they like it. They will tell you that they have not read it and don’t know much about it. This has been my experience over and over and over again.

Still, we are being told that this is “our plan” and that it’s what everyone wants for Flagstaff. Manufactured consensus created the illusion that this plan is the vision of Flagstaff Residents and the community as a whole. Did you help write the plan? Did you have a say? Did you voice your opinion on the plan? If you’re an average Flagstaff resident, the answer is no.

At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting certain council members and Eva Putzova of the Citizen Advisory Committee and Friends of Flagstaff’s Future said that enough public input has already been compiled and the current draft should be the final draft. Any future changes and amendments were strongly discouraged.

Reading through the document I was shocked to see in the Open Spaces section of the plan (page 4 of that section) where it says Friends of Flagstaff’s Future will be a non-profit partner with the City. Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the advisory committee and be able to write my organization into the plan and tell Flagstaff Residents that it’s what they want.

partner

Many Flagstaff residents consider Friends of Flagstaff’s Future to be a bit on the extreme side of things, politically or otherwise. Are they sure this is our plan? Could it possibly be that this is Friends of Flagstaff’s Future’s plan and they think we’re too stupid to realize that?

We are also being told that people with concerns are reading too much into the Regional Plan and that it is simply a guide or vision for the City to casually consult. We are being told that if it is passed it won’t be equivalent to laws or rules that we have to follow.

While they tell us this, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future is already looking at how they can use this plan to change laws they don’t like and force things like a stricter energy code. The following is from one of their recent newsletters:

“The City Council unanimously voted to update the Energy Code to 2009 standards with some amendments. This happened after weeks of opposition from Mayor Nabours and Councilmembers Oravitz and Brewster. F3, along with other citizens concerned about energy conservation and costs in our community, supported updating to the 2012 standards, but due to the opposition supporters of the 2012 code were forced to compromise. The proposed Regional Plan, however, has strong Energy Conservation language. If this section passes intact after council review and voter approval, we may be able to revisit this issue next summer.”

Oh, I guess the regional plan DOES have the force of law. I’m so surprised.

The Devil Is In Appendix B

Guess what you won’t find on the Regional Plan website? You won’t find a direct link to Appendix B which has the strategies for implementing the plan. In order to find Appendix B you will need to download the whole plan and go to page 278. This is where the really good stuff is. We’re told that this list is unedited but Eva Putzova (Friends of Flagstaff’s Future) and a couple council members prefer that it remains unedited. They have opposed any changes to the Regional Plan document and that includes Appendix B.

police

There are 242 strategies to implement the plan listed in Appendix B. Above is a screen capture of 6 of them. (click to enlarge)

I have picked out a handful strategies in Appendix B that really throw up red flags for me:

“Continue to educate the public on issues of personal safety and crime prevention by emphasizing that all citizens need to play a part in crime prevention, in partnership with their police, in order for it to be effective.”

Don’t you just love the police state? Don’t you love spying on your neighbor? I know you’re anxious to turn in that little neighbor kid who rides his bike without a helmet and breaks the bike helmet ordinance that was passed a few years ago. Cops couldn’t bust that kid without your help!

“Emphasize the role of law abiding community members, governmental agencies and the private sector in the development of successful crime prevention efforts.”  

You’re a cop, I’m a cop, we’re all cops!

“Allow and use neighborhood police substations.”

Sweet, we all want a police substation right down the street from us. It will make life super easy for cops who want to fly their spy drones around the neighborhood making sure that our weeds are cut and not violating the property maintenance ordinance (which is also in the plan) and we’re not washing our car on a day we’re not allowed to.

police-drone-e1345223814206

Police departments across the country are anxious to get their hands on drones to patrol neighborhoods.

“Create area plans and neighborhood plans; support these plans with regulatory techniques.”

Get with the “plan” or pay a fine or go to jail!

“Implement a general public education campaign for basic preservation achievement and appropriate remodeling techniques for the average homeowner.”

What exactly does it mean to do an appropriate remodel? My friends at the City and County and Friends of Flagstaff’s Future…I’m so happy you want to spend my tax dollars on programs to teach me how to do my remodel appropriately.

“Direct walkway and bikeway routes to schools, parks and community facilities shall be provided.”

Shall? Do you know what shall means? Shall means SHALL! What if the City can’t afford it? What if it’s not practical. What if whatever. This kind of language does not work for me.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. This is not the kind of stuff I would put in MY plan.

While some kind of “plan” is mandated by law, I think I can say with confidence that this plan as it is currently written, is not a plan that accurately represents the majority of the people of Flagstaff and it must be changed. I encourage you to read the plan and contact the Flagstaff City Council and County Board of Supervisors with your suggestions and concerns.

You can read the proposed plan here (be sure to check out Appendix B):

http://www.flagstaffmatters.com/

Pages from Flagstaff-Regional-Plan-2-S

Below is my letter to the Flagstaff City Council about the public input process:

Good afternoon Mayor and Council,
 
I watched the live stream of last night’s council meeting with great interest as the process for reviewing the Regional Plan was discussed. I was very discouraged to see so much resistance to public input by some council members and the Citizen Advisory Committee. I was especially frustrated to see Eva Putzova of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future stand up and say that the public had their chance for input and allowing public input now is disrespecting the process. 
 
Yes, there was a process for public input. Yes, many members of the public submitted comments through that process. I personally filled out the survey for the plan and submitted several comments for suggested changes as the process required.
 
My biggest concern was the fact that the plan included a Property Maintenance Ordinance (PMO) as a possible solution to many of Flagstaff’s problems. As you may remember, you chose to stop pursuing a PMO at your January 8, 2013 meeting.
 
During the Regional Plan review process, many meetings were held across the City to explain the plan and take questions and suggestions from the public. I talked with Roger Eastman and Kim Sharp at one of these meetings and asked them why a PMO was included in the plan. They said that including a PMO was an oversight and that it would be removed when the next draft came out.

I currently serve on the Sustainability Commission and during a Commission meeting I once again asked Roger Eastman to confirm that the PMO language would be removed when the next draft was released. He told the whole Commission that it would not be there. Just to be safe, I suggested that the Commission include a note along with our other recommendations to remind Eastman and others to remove the PMO language. The rest of the Commission agreed. That reminder was formally submitted through the required process.
 
When the most recent Regional Plan draft was released, I skimmed it over and to my surprise the PMO language was still there but it had been moved to a different part of the plan. Previously it had been in Appendix B and now it is on page 191. I made a big deal about this on my blog and on social media and was contacted by Kim Sharp who said the PMO language was supposed to be removed and they forgot. Honest mistake or not, it’s still in the plan and it needs to go.
 
I have been told that the newest draft of the Regional Plan is called the “Public Hearing Draft”. If this is true I find it quite ironic that public input is being discouraged at this point and that people are saying that allowing public input disrespects the process.
 
As someone who worked within the process and was ignored, I think it’s safe to say that the process is disrespecting me and other members of the public who were not listened to. If this is really the people’s plan and something we will want to vote for on election day you need to listen to and respect what the residents of Flagstaff have to say. Otherwise it’s the plan for special interest groups and the plan for people with an agenda and it is NOT “our plan”.
 

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Elisha Dorfsmith
Flagstaff Resident

spy_on_your_neighbor2copy

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

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