AZ Senate Bill 1117 - A Message from Mayor Brigette Peterson

The East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance (EVCCA) and the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce have signed on in opposition to this bill. The EVCCA’s legislative priorities call for creative and appropriate solutions to attainable housing while maintaining local control over zoning and land use decisions. Municipal and state economic development plans, through local planning and zoning processes, respect the private property rights of owners and ensure that General Plans are implemented as adopted.

Submitted By Mayor Brigette Peterson:

It is important that community members are aware of a senate bill that recently passed out of committee and is headed to the senate floor for stakeholder engagement. I firmly believe this bill will change the landscape of Gilbert and Arizona when it comes to planned development and my hope is that you will read this email, research the bill on your own and then consider connecting with your state senators and representatives.

Senate Bill 1117, sponsored by LD2 Senator Steve Kaiser (R) is touted as an “affordable housing” initiative but provides zero obligation to make housing units affordable. It mandates the approval of multi-family projects without honoring the public input process municipalities rely on which allows residents to work with the developer to provide affordable units or ensure the development aligns with the surrounding community. This is counter to the legislation’s stated goals and only incentivizes the development of market-rate and luxury housing while not providing housing options to those who need it most. This legislation also circumvents public processes and general plans that the residents develop, and places ALL the power in developers’ hands. This bill presents several problems for the planning and developing of our cities and towns and their residents.

For example, multi-family developments would be allowed “by right” to be built within any existing commercial, mixed-use, and multi-family zoning districts. This could include multi-family buildings up to 60 feet or the highest allowable height within one mile. It also applies to all areas designated in the general plan as “supporting” mixed uses, commercial or multi-family. This is significant because often these areas include single-family zoning districts and lots. “By right” also allows developers to ignore zoning districts, zoning codes, design standards, and parking requirements, among other conditions. Under this bill, as it currently stands, multi-family projects would be approved administratively with no public process. Residents would be provided ZERO notice and no opportunity to learn about the project nor provide feedback or comments with no rezoning or general plan amendment required. The bill would also remove planning commissions from the process and strip local councils of their zoning authority.

The bill also brings about safety concerns as the bill requires that ALL cities and towns must approve “at risk” permits, even for a developer with a history of noncompliance. The safety and financial implications that can and will certainly arise from this pass through do not address affordable and safe housing concerns.

Last week, I testified at the State Capitol during the Arizona Senate Commerce Committee meeting in opposition of this bill. My years serving on the Town Planning Commission provided me countless examples of where the public process and staff input provided the necessary refinements resulting in a much better finished development project going forth to council and into the community. I recognize and appreciate that local governments and their residents know their neighborhoods, local businesses and streets and their input on the potential effect a development has, is crucial.

The last thirty years of public input in Gilbert’s planning process has paved the way for the Gilbert of today, a thriving and well-planned community that is the gem of the East Valley. With the knowledge of this bill and its effect on the planning process and potentially devastating impact in our community, my sincere hope is that you will consider researching the bill and contacting your legislative district senator and/or representatives to weigh in.