By Jim Byron | Point of View
A recent piece by members of the 68th St. Sidewalk Association congratulated the mayor and certain city councilmembers who voted in favor of the 68th Street road diet last month.
The authors commended councilmembers offering “they did what was demanded of them.” This is simply untrue and promotes a false narrative that a majority of neighbors in the affected area were in favor of the road diet.
In the days leading up to March 21, and at the council meeting itself, it was increasingly apparent a large contingency of businesses and residents in the affected area were not adequately notified of this pending vote. What should have been “demanded” of the mayor and city council on March 21 was to exercise prudence and restraint by voting “no” on the road diet.
While I applaud the initiative of the 68th St. Sidewalk Association in their pursuit of greater sidewalk access, they do not speak for a large number of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods who are strongly opposed to the road diet.
The op-ed piece and certain council people who voted for the road diet like to claim a higher ground, citing “they made the right decision based on facts and data.” Facts and data are funny things. They can be manipulated in any number of ways to support a given agenda. For every study that supports a road diet, there is an alternative reality that refutes the effectiveness of these.
Here are a few facts you will not hear from city councilmembers or the special interest group that favored the 68th Street road diet:
- Fact: According to a map provided by the city, depicting neighborhoods where advanced notification mailers regarding the road diet were sent to affected residents, the Arcadia-Scottsdale neighborhood was never notified. This neighborhood, located immediately to the northwest of Indian School and 68th Street is comprised of hundreds of homeowners who use 68th St. as their primary exit artery from the neighborhood.
- Fact: Twenty-three (23) businesses located in the immediate area presented a petition to the city stating they were opposed to the road diet and were not given advance notification of this initiative.
- Fact: On most weekdays, southbound traffic on 68th St. (single lane) at the Indian School canal bridge traffic light is backed-up nearly a quarter mile during morning and afternoon peak traffic time.
- Fact: The city received hundreds of emails opposing the road diet. Councilmembers who voted for the road diet fail to acknowledge this, instead repeatedly highlighting the endorsement of the Southwest Village Neighborhood Association as reflecting the majority opinion of impacted neighbors. It does not.
The mayor and councilmembers Durham, Caputi and Whitehead heard from a large, frustrated contingent on March 21.
Scottsdale residents and businesses beware: There are at least 15 more road diet initiatives under consideration.
The takeaway from the 68th Street experience is that a majority of your councilmembers (Caputi, Whitehead, Durham, Ortega) are not interested in hearing from you or representing your interests — particularly if it conflicts with their agenda to reduce traffic lanes in south Scottsdale.
Editor’s note: Mr. Byron is a resident of Scottsdale.