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Scottsdale City Council candidates discuss density, traffic congestion and development decisions

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Scottsdale City Council candidates talk density and traffic concerns

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

This summer local voters in ‘The West’s Most Western Town’ will decide from a field of nine candidates who will fill three seats at Scottsdale City Council during the July primary election.

The city of Scottsdale is hosting a primary election Tuesday, July 30, to elect a mayor and three members of Scottsdale City Council whereas for a candidate to win outright in the July primary election they would have to receive the majority of ballots cast, election officials tell the Digital Free Press.

For races still in contention, a November general election will be held to decide those races, election officials say.

Candidates for Scottsdale City Council are:

The Digital Free Press reached out to each Scottsdale City Council candidate to better understand how they think the municipality is handling increasing traffic congestion amid a population boom in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.

Furthermore, how will these candidates weigh these factors amid density concerns as new development cases will undoubtedly come before them as a member of Scottsdale City Council?

This is what they had to say:

Scottsdale City Council Candidate: Mason Gates

*As the Phoenix metropolitan area continues to see significant growth in population, how do you see Scottsdale handling commuter traffic?

First and foremost, we need to focus on growing our city as sustainable rather than significantly. According to the city’s five-year financial forecast, we expect to have more than $1 million in additional transportation funds available in FY 2024-25 as compared to the current FY thanks to increases in sales taxes and highway user taxes. This means we will not need to cut funding for any transportation projects and will be able to continue increasing the number of traffic lanes in Scottsdale. Additionally, the ongoing Loop 101 project should help alleviate the congestion that commuters and residents alike have to endure on a daily basis.

*What can Scottsdale do today to position itself to best handle the continued flow of local and visiting motorists?

To adequately address this, I would recommend that we begin efforts to improve traffic light timing, continue to maintain and service roads, reduce bike lanes that lack utility, widen roads and increase traffic lanes, and oppose all future “road-diet” proposals that genuflect to federal grants rooted in ideological agendas (more on that below).

Scottsdale needs a councilmember like myself who will be more thoughtful about the use of your tax dollars, particularly when it comes to maintaining our incredible infrastructure. This reckless spending can be seen on full display with the roundabout located at Osborn and Miller, which exceeded its respective budget by approximately 500 percent.

Scottsdale Progress reporter Tom Scanlon recently quipped that Scottsdale could well be considered the “roundabout city.”

Current city policy calls for roundabouts to be “the first consideration for all intersections of one of two lanes per direction streets that require all-way stop control. Traffic signals should only be installed or remain if a traffic or budget analysis justifies their advantage.”

I will bring a skeptical view of roundabouts to future decisions I make about roundabout proposals unless I see adequate evidence suggesting that roundabouts in a given intersection are cheaper to construct, better for traffic flow, and easier to navigate than four-way intersections governed by traffic lights.

*What role does a member of Scottsdale City Council play in mitigating traffic and population density?

As your councilman, I have the right to disapprove of up-zoning requests that attempt to bypass thoughtful city planning. I will use that right directly in line with the desires and needs of the constituency. Additionally, I will halt any and all road-diet propositions that utilize federal grants with “strings attached.” These federal grants are pushed by organizations like the World Economic Forum (WEF) to contrive a dependency on public transport, and further restrict one’s freedom of transport. We need a councilman who will stand firm against these propositions and not cave to the WEF’s agenda.

*How would you shape your decisions if elected regarding density and development with traffic congestion in mind?

I would shape my decisions around the will of the majority of Scottsdale voters. I will examine public polling data, conduct stakeholder meetings, solicit constituent feedback, and pursue all available avenues to understand the general will of the Scottsdale electorate.


I am not beholden to any special interest contractors with a stake in the outcome of road development or road maintenance proposals.

Scottsdale City Council Candidate: Adam Kwasman

*As the Phoenix metropolitan area continues to see significant growth in population, how do you see Scottsdale handling commuter traffic?

As the Phoenix metropolitan area experiences rapid population growth, managing commuter traffic in Scottsdale becomes increasingly critical. I believe that stopping the idea of road diets and prioritizing efficient road infrastructure/ transportation systems is paramount to addressing this challenge effectively.

First, I believe investing in road expansions and improvements is essential to accommodate the influx of commuters. This includes widening key thoroughfares, optimizing traffic flow through smart technology and signals, and addressing bottlenecks to reduce congestion.

Lastly, collaborative efforts with neighboring cities and regional transportation authorities are crucial to develop integrated solutions that address commuter traffic holistically. By working together and leveraging resources effectively, we can create a transportation system that meets the needs of our growing population while preserving Scottsdale’s quality of life and ensuring a smooth commute for residents.

*What can Scottsdale do today to position itself to best handle the continued flow of local and visiting motorists?

Scottsdale can effectively manage the flow of local and visiting motorists by prioritizing key strategies. Recognizing the city’s reliance on motorists and mitigating the negative impacts of anti-car policies, it’s crucial to invest in road infrastructure maintenance and expansions. Collaborating with stakeholders for funding and exploring alternative commute options can alleviate congestion without resorting to road diets that may disrupt traffic flow. Integrating smart traffic solutions, promoting multi-modal transportation, and improving communication on traffic updates will enhance the overall experience for residents and visitors.

Additionally, championing reforms to cut down on anti-car regulations will allow citizens to choose their commute routes more freely, maintaining the city’s focus on efficient traffic management.

*What role does a member of Scottsdale City Council play in mitigating traffic and population density?

A member of the Scottsdale City Council plays a crucial role in mitigating traffic congestion and managing population density by advocating for responsible growth policies. This includes promoting transit-oriented development around public transit hubs and advocating for mixed-use zoning to create compact, walkable communities. I believe in prioritizing the needs of motorists while addressing concerns about anti-car policies that could lead to increased congestion and dissatisfaction among residents.

By championing reforms that balance development needs with efficient traffic flow, I aim to ensure that residents have the freedom to choose their commute routes while avoiding harmful policies like road diets.

Additionally, working collaboratively with stakeholders and engaging with the community will be key to developing and implementing strategies that support economic growth while mitigating traffic impacts and preserving Scottsdale’s quality of life. Through strategic investments in alternative transportation infrastructure and smart growth initiatives, we can achieve a sustainable balance that benefits both residents and visitors.

*How would you shape your decisions if elected regarding density and development with traffic congestion in mind?

At the end of the day, longer commutes mean less time families have to spend with one another. I am a husband and a father. I am a father of four young children, and I know the pain of missing a sit-down dinner with the family or being stuck in traffic and missing kissing my little ones goodnight. As a city council member, my approach to density and development will prioritize families. Responsible growth while addressing traffic congestion. I understand that Scottsdale is a city of motorists, and my focus will be on championing reforms that balance development needs with the efficient flow of traffic. This includes promoting transit-oriented development around public transit hubs and advocating for mixed-use zoning to create compact, walkable communities.

While ensuring that residents have the freedom to choose their commute routes, I will work to avoid harmful policies like road diets that can lead to increased congestion and dissatisfaction among residents. Investments in alternative transportation infrastructure will be strategically planned to complement our city’s needs without compromising on the convenience and accessibility of car travel. By engaging with the community and adopting smart growth policies, we can achieve a sustainable balance that supports economic growth while mitigating traffic impacts and preserving Scottsdale’s quality of life.

Scottsdale City Council Candidate: Justin Laos

*As the Phoenix metropolitan area continues to see significant growth in population how do you see Scottsdale handling commuter traffic?

Scottsdale’s traffic is undoubtedly impacted by the Phoenix metro area growth. Scottsdale for many is a large destination for work and play which highly contributes to our traffic congestion. Per city of Scottsdale, everyday we import 170,000 workers into the city and export 70,000 out of the city. This paired with large inbound leisure and entertainment commuting are clearly the largest impacts on traffic.

*What can Scottsdale do today to position itself to best handle the continued flow of local and visiting motorists?

First, Scottsdale must continue to invest into its road infrastructure, keeping roads in high quality conditions and well planned for future usage. We also should invest into emerging traffic technology to achieve the highest efficiency in our traffic light system. Another would be more planning and investment for ride sharing and self-driving car usage as this will likely grow in the future. The most impactful move we can make is allowing more housing options near industry hubs to lower the very high number of imported workers. By investing in technology and smart zoning practices, Scottsdale can mitigate the negative effects of population growth in the Valley.

*What role does a member of Scottsdale City Council play in mitigating traffic and population density?

As a member of Scottsdale City Council, I will strongly advocate for research and investment into traffic causes and solutions to ensure we are using facts and data to address the issue. Furthermore, regarding population density, I will ensure additional traffic and parking impacts are minimized by promoting smart zoning practices.

*How would you shape your decisions if elected regarding density and development with traffic congestion in mind?

If the large majority of our traffic comes from those visiting Scottsdale for work or play, then just restricting development and density is just not a real solution for the people of Scottsdale. When addressing this issue we must invest in our infrastructure and ensure new projects are mindful of their impact, planned accordingly and held accountable. While traffic has a large impact on quality of life, we have to keep in mind that it is a byproduct. Minimizing or removing what attracts people to come here in the first place is not a solution that makes Scottsdale better off.

Scottsdale City Council Candidate: Bob Lettieri

*As the Phoenix metropolitan area continues to see significant growth in population how do you see Scottsdale handling commuter traffic?

Scottsdale, like many growing cities, will likely need to implement a multi-faceted approach to handle commuter traffic effectively. Here are some potential strategies they might consider:

  • Improvement of Road Infrastructure: Expanding and improving roadways, including adding lanes, constructing bypasses, and optimizing traffic signal timing, can help accommodate the increased volume of vehicles.
  • Promotion of Alternative Transportation: Encouraging walking, biking, carpooling, and telecommuting through infrastructure improvements and incentives can reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road.
  • Employer-Based Solutions: Partnering with employers to implement flexible work hours, telecommuting policies, and shuttle services can help spread out commuter traffic throughout the day and reduce the strain during peak hours.
  • Smart City Initiatives: Leveraging technology such as smart traffic lights, traffic monitoring systems, and real-time traffic data can help optimize traffic flow and provide commuters with information to make informed decisions about their routes.
  • Zoning and Urban Planning: Encouraging development of condos and townhouses instead of high rise apartments and creating walkable neighborhoods alleviate traffic congestion.
  • Community Engagement and Education: Engaging with residents and businesses to raise awareness about the impact of traffic congestion and the importance of sustainable transportation options can foster a culture of responsible commuting.

*What can Scottsdale do today to position itself to best handle the continued flow of local and visiting motorists?

To position itself for handling the continued flow of local and visiting motorists effectively, Scottsdale can take several proactive steps:

  • Invest in Traffic Management Technology: Implementing advanced traffic management systems, including smart traffic lights, real-time traffic monitoring, and intelligent transportation systems, can help optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion.
  • Prioritize Active Transportation: Invest in infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, including sidewalks, bike boulevards, and multi-use paths, to promote walking and biking as safe and convenient modes of transportation.
  • Implement Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Strategies: Develop TDM programs that incentivize carpooling, vanpooling, telecommuting, and flexible work hours to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road during peak hours.
  • Encourage Mixed-Use Development: Foster mixed-use development that integrates residential, commercial, and recreational spaces to reduce the need for long-distance travel and encourages walking or biking for daily activities.
  • Promote Smart Growth Policies: Implement zoning and land-use policies that support compact, transit-oriented development and discourage urban sprawl, which can exacerbate traffic congestion.
  • Invest in Alternative Mobility Solutions: Explore innovative transportation solutions such as ridesharing, micro-mobility services (e.g., scooters, e-bikes), and autonomous vehicles (they avoid having to park) to provide additional options for getting around the city.
  • Educate and Engage the Community: Raise awareness among residents and visitors about sustainable transportation options, traffic safety, and the importance of reducing reliance on single-occupancy vehicles through public outreach campaigns and community events.

By taking proactive measures to improve transportation infrastructure, promote sustainable mobility options, and engage stakeholders in the planning process, Scottsdale can better manage the flow of both local and visiting motorists while enhancing the overall quality of life in the city.

*What role does a member of Scottsdale City Council play in mitigating traffic and population density?

A member of the Scottsdale City Council plays a crucial role in mitigating traffic and population density through several avenues:

  • Policy Making: City council members have the authority to enact policies and regulations related to transportation, land use, and urban development. They can introduce and advocate for measures aimed at reducing traffic congestion, such as promoting alternative transportation modes, implementing smart growth policies, and supporting transit-oriented development.
  • Budget Allocation: Council members participate in the allocation of the city budget, including funding for transportation infrastructure projects, public transit services, and initiatives aimed at managing population density. They can prioritize investments in transportation improvements and urban planning initiatives that address traffic congestion and promote sustainable growth.
  • Planning and Zoning Decisions: Council members review and approve zoning ordinances, development plans, and land use proposals that directly impact population density and transportation patterns. They can influence the layout and design of new developments to encourage condos and townhouses over high rise apartment buildings, walkability, transit accessibility, and the efficient use of land, which can help mitigate traffic congestion and accommodate population growth.
  • Community Engagement: Council members serve as liaisons between the city government and the community, representing the interests of residents, businesses, and other stakeholders. They can engage with constituents to gather input on transportation issues, advocate for transportation improvements, and educate the public about strategies for reducing traffic congestion and managing population density.
  • Collaboration with Regional Partners: Traffic and population density are often regional issues that require collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions and regional transportation agencies. Council members can participate in regional planning efforts, transportation partnerships, and advocacy coalitions to address shared challenges and coordinate solutions across municipal boundaries.

*How would you shape your decisions if elected regarding density and development with traffic congestion in mind?

If elected to the Scottsdale City Council with traffic congestion and development density in mind, I would prioritize the following approaches:

Smart Growth Principles: I would advocate for the implementation of smart growth principles that promote compact, mixed-use development in areas well-served by transportation infrastructure. By encouraging alternatives to higher-density development locating them by near accessible roads and highways, we can reduce the need for long-distance travel and mitigate traffic congestion.

Complete Streets Design: I would promote the adoption of complete streets design standards that prioritize the safety and accessibility of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit riders. By designing streets that accommodate multiple modes of transportation, we can create more efficient and equitable transportation networks that reduce congestion.

Investment in Transportation Infrastructure: I would prioritize investments in transportation infrastructure improvements aimed at enhancing the efficiency and capacity of our roadways. This may include expanding public transit services, adding dedicated bus lanes, constructing bike boulevards and sidewalks, and implementing traffic management technologies to optimize traffic flow.

Incentives for Sustainable Development: I would explore the use of incentives, to encourage developers to incorporate sustainable transportation features into their projects. This could include providing ample bicycle parking, offering discounted transit passes to residents, or incorporating car-share programs into new developments.

Community Engagement and Collaboration: I would actively engage with residents, businesses, and stakeholders to solicit input and build consensus around transportation and development decisions. By involving the community in the planning process and collaborating with regional partners, we can develop holistic solutions that address traffic congestion while meeting the needs of our growing city.

Data-Driven Decision Making: I would advocate for data-driven decision-making processes that utilize traffic studies, demographic analysis, and transportation modeling to inform land use and development decisions. By basing our policies and investments on empirical evidence, we can ensure that our efforts to manage traffic congestion and development density are effective and equitable.

Overall, my approach would prioritize sustainable, equitable, and data-driven solutions to address traffic congestion while accommodating responsible development and growth in Scottsdale. By taking a comprehensive and proactive approach to transportation and land use planning, we can create a vibrant and livable community for current and future generations.

Scottsdale City Council Candidate: Tammy Caputi

*As the Phoenix metropolitan area continues to see significant growth in population how do you see Scottsdale handling commuter traffic?

Phoenix Metro has seen significant growth in population over the last several years, but in contrast Scottsdale has not; we have grown less than 1% per year over the last decade. Scottsdale has only 5% of the population of Maricopa County. In addition, Maricopa County is starting to experience a domestic migration decline, with negative numbers for the first time in decades, where Pinal County is seeing an increase. Continued years of future significant growth may not be continuing.

Scottsdale’s surface streets traffic volume has been mostly flat since the Loop 101 was built. When temporary freeway closures occur as part of the Loop 101 widening project, the surface street traffic illustrates how much traffic was removed from our streets after the freeway was built.

The biggest cause of our traffic is 150,000 commuters driving in and out of our city every day. We have 18,000 businesses, but a lack of affordable housing and starter homes for young families in Scottsdale. Importing almost 80% of our workforce is the traffic problem we need to solve.  Our city streets still receive some of the highest traffic ratings in the Valley.

Per our Transportation Action Plan, we will continue to make sure our transportation network maximizes travel route choices, travel mode choices, and access and mobility for all ages and abilities. The overwhelming amount of transportation projects planned and in progress are ADDING capacity to the network in various ways. Here are some examples:

  • Pima Road will be expanded to a four lanes cross-section from Indian Bend to McDowell Road.
  • Dual left turn lanes are being constructed at Indian Bend and Hayden for additional turning capacity.
  • A pedestrian/bicycle underpass will be constructed at Hayden/Chaparral that will provide safety for all users and additional green time for the traffic traveling to Loop 101.

*What can Scottsdale do today to position itself to best handle the continued flow of local and visiting motorists?

We are always looking ahead, and plan at least 10 years into the future with our General Plan 2035 and our 2022 Transportation Action Plan. In the last 20 years, the city of Scottsdale has seen a net increase of almost 28 lane miles. Within the next few years, we are expanding the lane miles even more for a net increase of over 62 miles.

By the end of all long-term planned improvements since 2006, over 146 new lane miles will be added to our network. I supported the restriping of just 1 mile of roadway in my four years on council, greatly improving flow and safety on that street. We are continually positioning ourselves to best handle our projected traffic flows. We do not implement any policies to reduce road width or take away cars.

*What role does a member of Scottsdale City Council play in mitigating traffic and population density?

It’s up to City Council to collaborate with staff, residents, businesses, city boards and commissions, other cities, and other government entities to keep our city moving forward in a positive direction, keep our economy strong and our budget in the black. We have approved only a handful of the highest quality development projects over the last few years, all with meaningful public benefits, plentiful parking, and easy access to freeways which spares our city streets. Every development project includes professional traffic and infrastructure analysis, and we monitor data continuously, comparing it to past decades to make good future decisions. City Council negotiates with developers to pay for needed infrastructure as we grow and redevelop, so everyone wins.

*How would you shape your decisions if elected regarding density and development with traffic congestion in mind? 

All my decisions as a councilwoman are based on an understanding of our history and our existing and future plans and policies. We are moving carefully and thoughtfully towards buildout, always considering infrastructure needs such as water, public safety, housing, and transportation. It’s a balance, and it involves resident input. The 2022 TAP received a year of public input and built upon the 2016 and 2008 plans, which also received years of community input during design and implementing individual projects.

Continuously reinvesting in our city is what keeps our quality of life high, our property values strong and our property taxes low; it’s how we remain the Gold Standard of the Valley. A strong, healthy economy keeps Scottsdale working successfully for our residents – 70% of our revenue is from sales taxes, only 10% from property taxes. We have successfully shrunk the pipeline of projects and are seeing a drastic slowing in project submittals brought to the city’s planning department. We have seen almost nothing this calendar year, and not much new coming on the horizon. Our most recent statistics show that we are no longer in a growth cycle. Thoughtful, slow, planned growth is what shapes my decisions on council.

Scottsdale City Council Candidate: Steve Casares

*As the Phoenix metropolitan area continues to see significant growth in population how do you see Scottsdale handling commuter traffic?

We’re managing as best we can. The three most crowded corridors appear to be Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) and Scottsdale Road; FLW and 101; and northbound on Scottsdale Road north of the 101. My neighbors in each corridor of the city have identified these as the most troublesome.

*What can Scottsdale do today to position itself to best handle the continued flow of local and visiting motorists?

As of May 1, 2024, there needs to be open discussion with state representatives and city board/commission members about forecasting through the summer, and projected population growth (which I assume is occurring). Population growth and traffic congestion are directly correlated. In terms of our-of-town motorists, have our awesome Scottsdale Police Department rigorously enforce speeding in our residential and commercial zones, particularly during the high tourist season.

*What role does a member of Scottsdale City Council play in mitigating traffic and population density?

Zoning. Contract approval. Budget approval for Law Enforcement. Most importantly, listening to what our citizens have to say.

*How would you shape your decisions if elected regarding density and development with traffic congestion in mind?

Again, there is a correlation between development and traffic density. Not just new neighbors moving into town, not just visitors, but the number of contractors coming in to supply the demand of housing. I’d shape my decision on mitigating traffic density with a comprehensive economic analysis focusing on:

  1. Forecasted population growth through 2030.
  2. Forecasted budget of public services through 2030, measured against population growth. The Street Maintenance section of Scottsdale can be reached at TrafficOpWork@ScottsdaleAZ.gov or 480-312-5620.
  3. Sound judgment. Example, at what cost would expanding a road measure up against the budget, and cause more congestion in the short term? Vice-versa, does Scottsdale need more multi unit housing?

I need to see the details, and I need the help and feedback of my neighbors.

Scottsdale City Council Candidate: Jan Dubauskas

As the Phoenix metropolitan area continues to see significant growth in population how do you see Scottsdale handling commuter traffic?

Traffic data analysis and trending will show which areas need attention —- with solutions such as widening or improving lane configurations. Scottsdale is constantly monitoring traffic and making adjustments. 

*What can Scottsdale do today to position itself to best handle the continued flow of local and visiting motorists?

Anticipating future needs and acting on them is paramount. We need to coordinate with the state and county to ensure we are prepared for anticipated growth. 

*What role does a member of Scottsdale City Council play in mitigating traffic and population density?

The city of Scottsdale has zoning ordinances that impose height restrictions, which is a component of density. When considering zoning requests, Council must consider the impact on density the request may have. And if it’s not a desirable result, council may decline the request. 

*How would you shape your decisions if elected regarding density and development with traffic congestion in mind? 

By looking at the whole picture. Traffic data, anticipated growth in the area, character of surrounding neighborhoods, resident feedback, and the general plan should all be taken into consideration. 

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