What will be needed to meet the needs of our residents in the future? We must always resist the temptation to gauge our success simply by the number or value of building permits issued. Far more important is the long-term health of businesses and neighborhoods, the quality of schools and the overall quality of life.
For instance, the recent report that Scottsdale's violent crime rate is today the lowest it has been in 23 years is wonderful news. It confirms the great work of our Police Department, as well as our social and neighborhood services. Since being a member of the City Council, I have continued to push to increase the number of sworn officers in Scottsdale. Today we have 33 percent more officers than we did in 2000 and we are safer because of it. The creation of a new Downtown police district is another example of Scottsdale staying ahead of the curve.
Public Safety will continue to be my Number One priority in this city!
I am especially proud that Scottsdale was honored for the third consecutive year as one of the nation's 100 Best Communities for Young People by General Colin Powell's America's Promise -- The Alliance for Youth. This is what quality of life is all about.
We must also remain committed to the continued expansion of our after school programs. It is a key element in keeping young people safe, focused on positive activities, and free from harm.
If we look most closely at the southern area, where we have concentrated our revitalization efforts, we see more evidence that our efforts are paying off in many ways. For example:
- The demographics of the area are changing. Population is up by about 7.2 percent since 2000, median incomes are up more than 20 percent and the median age is lower than the median for the city as a whole.
- We are also seeing improvements in quality of life categories, such as a lower crime rate, and a rise in educational test scores. Consistent with citywide results, the police district in this area saw a reduction in property crime of 28 percent and violent crime has decreased as well. The Scottsdale School District has invested millions in remodeling schools in the area, and the district has more "excelling" schools than any other district in the state.
This is a great start, but there is much more to do.
Last month, the City Council received a report on the southern area from the respected economists Claude and Nina Gruen. They took a look at the amount of land currently zoned for commercial uses in the area, analyzed the market and concluded that the city needs to take a serious look at more flexible uses of older parcels of land. The market may support what is there now. But it would be far more sustainable with additional residential development to help support neighborhood businesses.