Mayor David Ortega offers insights into accomplishments, goals for the future
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
It’s good to be the mayor of Scottsdale.
“Living in Scottsdale for over 45 years, I can honestly say that every year — every day — I find more to love in Scottsdale,” said Mayor David Ortega during the opening remarks of the Jan. 25 ‘State of the City’ address.
“Today, once again, we are soaring into high season – with many logistical and public safety challenges which are managed by our outstanding Police and Fire department in cooperation with Valley-wide law enforcement agencies. Hundreds of thousands of residents, guests and visitors rely on their vigilance and professionalism. Every day – everywhere in Scottsdale.”
Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega addressed the hundreds of local mover-and-shakers who came to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess to hear about the current state of municipal affairs at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.
The keystone community event — which is sponsored by HonorHealth — is hosted by the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce whereas Mark Stanton, president and CEO of the chamber, served as master of ceremonies for the sold-out event.
This time last year, the community of Scottsdale was gearing up for ‘Super Season’ as the NFL brought its live-sports spectacle, the Super Bowl, to Glendale but hosted myriad events and television broadcasts from, “The West’s Most Western Town.”
“Today, three new outdoor stage venues at the Civic Center draw entertainment performers and casual crowds to Old Town. And families gather at the playground — rocking on bench gliders and frolicking at the splash pads next to Civic Center Library. Once again, we are soaring into high season – with many logistical and public safety challenges which are managed by our outstanding Police and Fire Department in cooperation with Valley-wide law enforcement agencies.”
During his address, Mayor Ortega announced a new bicycle public safety campaign.
“Many times, we hear of a tragic fatality involving a bicyclist, and a beautiful day in Scottsdale instead is etched in sorrow,” he said. “At my request, a team of traffic engineers, Scottsdale Police and the Parks department are working in partnership with Scottsdale Unified School District to launch a bicycle public safety campaign aimed at preventing injuries and fatalities of bicyclists in Scottsdale. You will hear more about this initiative which is highlighted by the return of the Tour de Scottsdale in April.”
Mayor Ortega says the goal of the bicycle public safety plan has an ambitious goal to reduce bike fatalities to zero.
“Scottsdale has long been a Gold-level bike friendly community,” he said. “Our goal is to bring fatalities in Scottsdale to zero. Scottsdale has an amazing network of pathways, trails and known routes.”
Mayor Ortega reminded those in attendance yesterday the positive attributes of life in Scottsdale did not happen by chance.
“Scottsdale is beautiful. Scottsdale is safe. Scottsdale is clean. Scottsdale is health driven. And we are financially robust and strong. These are hallmarks of our great city,” he said.
“The stellar attributes of Scottsdale did not evolve by chance. Rather, they are intentional, foundational, based on decades of community dialogue, conservative financial decisions, careful planning and as steadfast stewards of our land and water resources. We shaped our Scottsdale reputation — our vibrant business environment, our Western spirited hospitality, high property valuations, which together, build upon and guide our destiny.”
A key ingredient of that vibrant business? The Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 77 years serving the business community and helping to enhance the quality of life for our area,” Mr. Stanton told the crowd during his remarks. “The chamber has one vision: building a vibrant and prosperous community through business leadership. The chamber is fully committed to supporting economic growth throughout the Scottsdale Area economy.”
While Mr. Stanton pointed out the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce is a separate, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, officials there work hand-in-hand with economic development and city leaders to help cultivate positive relationships between the public and private sectors.
“We do that through membership services, education, programing and events for Chamber members and for the general public,” he said. “We work very closely with the city of Scottsdale’s Economic Development and Tourism departments, as well as may other entities. And, the chamber has a great working relationship and respect for the mayor’s office and City Council.”
Read the entire transcript HERE.
Scottsdale continues to define Arizona municipal pursuits
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve remains a key piece of community pride, Mayor Ortega explains.
“The city of Scottsdale — residents and stakeholders have invested billions of dollars in open space at the Greenbelt and 44 parks and for the Preserve. And we have spent billions on water facility infrastructure. Indeed, stewardship of land and water are critical — especially during a mega drought.”
Scottsdale officials report elected leaders are beginning to develop its ‘Community Sustainability Plan,’ which is a commitment outlined in the city’s 2021 and 2022 organizational strategic plans — and an integral part of the city’s 2035 General Plan.
“Scottsdale Water has a diverse portfolio of water resources from SRP, CAP and ground water and the newest source — recovering return water for purification — making it clean enough to drink,” Mayor Ortega said.
“Since 2019, Scottsdale Water has operated ultrafiltration, ozone, reverse osmosis, and sanitizing ultraviolet rays at our water-treatment facilities. Our Scottsdale Water facilities can recapture recycled water, eliminate solids and purify that water for domestic use. We have the proven technology and extensive testing which has been reviewed by the State of Arizona and Federal agencies.”
Mayor Ortega points out recycled drinking water is coming to the community of Scottsdale.
“And we are expecting agency approvals in 2024 for direct potable use. For years we have purified up to a maximum of 20 million gallons of reclaimed water per day but then injected it — this safe drinkable water — underground — or give it to beer brewers and distillers,” he said. “The state of Arizona and many other Arizona cities are rushing to follow our lead.”
As headlines continue to be published around those who are experiencing homelessness, Mayor Ortega says efforts are being taken to address those in need within municipal bounds.
“Our council has worked to find solutions. Hundreds of Scottsdale residents, especially seniors, veterans and single-parent families have been guided off the streets over the last three years with the help of our human service specialists and nonprofit partners,” he said. “Scottsdale provided temporary lodging to unsheltered people, generally for 30 days, until they could find a place to live. By providing emergency bridge housing, in the last year alone, 109 children and adults have had successful exits from the program and have been spared the trauma of homelessness.”
Mayor Ortega explains rigorous criteria has been created for those who enter the bridge housing program through Scottsdale social services.
“Persons experiencing homelessness who go through our bridge housing program must agree to 14 rules and sign a contract to be admitted,” he said. “Yes, the bridge housing program accepts their pets, too. So far, the Scottsdale bridge housing program has an 84 percent success rate.”
In tune with preservation efforts across the community, Mayor Ortega points out the newly established Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force is alive and well at City Hall.
“In 2022 the City Council appointed nine residents to the Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force,” he said. “After dozens of community meetings, the Task Force will report to the Council recommendations to maintain, refurbish and to improve safety in the Greenbelt, in 44 city parks and in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We look forward to hearing their report in February.”
A look to the future of Scottsdale in 2024
Mayor Ortega contends the future is bright for Scottsdale in calendar year 2024 with new economic development opportunities emerging, 2019 bond projects coming online and the annual return of spring training at Scottsdale Stadium — courtesy of the Scottsdale Charros and San Francisco Giants.
“Scottsdale is gaining momentum with best-in-class companies and projects such as AXON-Taser World Headquarters and the Crowd Strike flagship campus and the proposed ASM North America Headquarters — all located at the 101 Corporate Corridor,” he said. “There also Is the 16th Fire Station under construction right now. At Scottsdale Airport construction of several corporate and charter jet hangers is underway. Truly, Scottsdale is the touchpoint for corporate executive decisions and leisure charter travel.”
There is also new technical education opportunities emerging at Scottsdale Community College.
“I have initiated dialogue with school district partners and Scottsdale Community College and major private sector technology leaders to grow student tech labs here in Scottsdale. More than 2,000 technology related companies base here, and we will see more young students thrive in world-class tech labs,” he said noting private-public partnership are also blooming in Old Town.
“In Old Town two new hotels will open in 2024 just in time for peak season. Our public investments co-generate private participation with the 12-million-dollar expansion at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and planned expansion of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — both made possible thanks to the support of individual donors.”
Mayor Ortega spoke to efforts to address short-term rental concerns in local Scottsdale neighborhoods.
“We have experienced five years of negative consequences due to short-term rentals. Scottsdale was instrumental in advocating for the passage of Senate Bill 1168, which became law in 2022. This granted cities the authority to require that STRs have a business license and incur penalties for violations,” he said.
“As of last week, several legislators representing Scottsdale including Senators Marsh and Kavanaugh and Rep. Terech entered bills restoring our rights as a city. Measures include restoring local authority to establish a cap on the total number of short-term rentals in each community, provisions to limit the density of short-term rentals in specified areas and a measure to establish separation requirements between short-term rentals.”