The 2050 General Plan
Good for Developers — Bad for Tempe Residents
Wouldn’t it be comforting to believe that our City’s elected leaders—the governing body closest to the people—take public opinion into account when faced with important decisions that impact residents? Alas, this fantasy was put to rest when the City Council unanimously backed and then lobbied for the ill-conceived Coyotes arena and entertainment district. Tempe voters can be congratulated on seeing through all the hype and misleading advertising to grasp the reality of the costs and congestion of a project that was wrong for Tempe.
Alert: Here they come again. This time it’s the 2050 General Plan that residents will be voting up or down in the next few weeks, which is yet one more of City Hall’s pro-developer proposals that residents should reject. Be aware that the 2050 Plan, if approved by the voters, will almost immediately shape development in Tempe.
The high-rise burden
It’s hard to miss the large number of 15 to 20+ story buildings cropping up in Tempe, with more being approved regularly. These profit centers for developers create congestion and require additional city services like police, fire, and infrastructure. City Hall seems to have lost sight of the true goal of economic development, which should be to improve our collective standard of living.
Tempe residents can push back by voting NO on the 2050 General Plan. Your vote is important because the proposed plan will set the standards for commercial, residential, and industrial development for the next 10 years. Rejecting the 2050 Plan will leave the current 2040 Plan in effect until an improved version, one that is responsive to resident input, can be created.
PROBLEMS WITH THE 2050 PLAN
This 2050 plan will encourage overdevelopment with high-rise luxury apartments and office buildings (not affordable housing for working families as proponents suggest). A new land-use category in the Plan allows unlimited density in the urban core. Tall buildings are highly profitable to developers but bring traffic congestion and overcrowding to residential neighborhoods. A better alternative would be multistory residential units placed in areas where they fit in with surrounding structures, such as along Apache where light rail provides students and residents with easy access to public transit.
Who will pay?
Due to a new law passed by the AZ Legislature, Tempe will no longer be able to collect the rental tax that amounts to 9% of its yearly sales tax collections. New high-rise projects will no longer generate the income for the city to fund municipal services like police and fire adequately. The added burden of those services will fall upon all of Tempe’s residents.
The 2050 Plan puts existing parks, water resources, and street safety at risk. It does nothing to protect Tempe’s few remaining parcels of open space. To reduce heat and conserve water, the Plan should mandate the Green Building Code, which it doesn’t. Who wants a city covered in asphalt, concrete, and high-rise, heat-retaining buildings when we could have shady trees, benches, recreational areas, and room to breathe? Future generations of Tempe residents deserve a livable community.
First, it was the Coyotes’ Arena proposal — now it’s the 2050 General Plan.
In short, the 2050 Plan fails to promote well-paced, balanced, and thoughtful growth that would strengthen the community. It opens the door to sweeping height and overdevelopment without consideration for our neighborhoods. Remember how undisciplined planning affected Mill Avenue? Entire large neighborhoods of residential homes were razed by the City to make way for projects filled with corporate chain businesses, most of which have pulled out, leaving our downtown in a sad state. Let’s discourage that kind of thoughtless development.
Developers are infusing HUGE amounts of campaign money to ensure the passage of the plan. The 2050 General Plan is for the developers, not the people who live here.
Some developers in the past have proved untrustworthy, like those the City engaged to develop Tempe Town Lake several decades ago. They promised wide swaths of open green space, broke their promises, and the City let them slide. Now the proposed 2050 General Plan green lights the path for developers to build high-rise and high density complexes adjacent to neighborhoods, packing them in cheek to jowl as they did around Tempe Town Lake.
This time we’re on to them
Through our votes, we can foster a more hospitable, livable approach to growth. The 2050 General Plan will be Prop 478 on the ballot (mailed to all voters on February 14th) for the March 12th election, alongside the Mayor and Council candidates.
We will be voting NO on Prop 478 and hope you’ll join us in sending the 2050 General Plan back to the drawing board.