Scottsdale City Council Unanimously Ends Condemnation Threat, Repeals “Downtown Redevelopment Area”

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · September 10, 2002

Phoenix, Ariz.—As dozens of property owners and merchants held their breath, the Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously to repeal the Downtown Redevelopment Area, thus ending the threat of condemnation for hundreds of local businesses.

The vote came after a Citizens’ Petition was filed with the council by more than 100 business and property owners asking the council to repeal both the Downtown and Waterfront Redevelopment Areas. For nearly a decade, businesses in those two areas have languished under the cloud of condemnation. Afraid to invest additional capital and unable to sign long-term leases, the downtown area has suffered economically while surrounding areas have prospered.

“The actions of the Scottsdale City Council should send a message to all of Arizona’s municipalities that grand government-dictated redevelopment schemes do not work,” said Tom Liddy, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter. “For too long developers have sought lucrative city subsidies rather than allowing market forces to guide growth and development.”

Property owners had previously petitioned the city council twice only to be denied by a 4-3 vote. The election of two new council members in the recent election gave property owners renewed hope. Given that three of the council members had previously voted against repealing the redevelopment area, the unanimity came as quite a surprise.

“There is no doubt that the backing of the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter and the training provided by the Castle Coalition made all the difference this time around,” declared Judy Peters, a property owner and member of the Castle Coalition, a nationwide grassroots group of activists founded by the Institute for Justice to fight against eminent domain abuse.

The vote decided the fate of only one of the two districts that filed the petition with the council. However, by another unanimous vote the City Council placed on its upcoming agenda the issue of repealing the Waterfront Redevelopment Area.

“Having declared government-forced redevelopment a failure in the downtown area, the Scottsdale City Council should repeal the Waterfront Redevelopment district,” declared Tim Keller, a staff attorney with the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter. “We are confident that the Council will do the right thing.”