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Creating the World We Want

Hello, Northern Arizona! Welcome to the new year and the new decade! As everyone heads back to school and work, I want to take a minute to talk about our goals. I like to think we mostly agree on what we want our communities to look like. We want kids to have happy and healthy childhoods, we want clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. We want families to have shelter and food on the table. We want good schools and parks to play in, forests to explore and festivals to attend. The big disagreements are on how we get there.

I think it’s important to consider how we approach that question. How do we create the best possible world? The city is getting ready to begin work on our budget, the state legislature will be doing the same. These budgets have a lot to do with creating those best possible communities. A budget reflects the institutions’ priorities, and as governing institutions, it should reflect the priorities of the constituents. How we go about crafting the budget is similar to this question of how we build our communities. I believe that this process should be open and accountable. As such, I invite you to email me, cevans@flagstaffaz.gov, or the entire council at council@flagstaffaz.gov and let us know your thoughts. What are your priorities?

For the past few years, the Flagstaff City Council goals – the world we want to create – have included a variety of things, including managing our natural resources, water conservation and community outreach. There is only so much we can do: NAU is accountable to the Board of Regents, not the city of Flagstaff; state law limits what we can do with the zoning laws and development. The best thing we can do is have a plan. Arizona is the fourth fastest growing state in the country and the deserts are just getting warmer. This is going to put more strain on our resources, our open space, our aquifer.

Flagstaff has a series of plans, including a regional plan, a climate action and adaptation plan and council goals. These, like the budget, are developed in consultation with community members and stakeholders. They tell us how we are going to go about creating our communities. There is only so much that the city can control. State law preempts us from making certain changes to the zoning code, or requiring development to have a certain number of affordable housing units. Cities and towns should have the most flexibility possible to create plans for how they want to look in five, 10 or 20 years. Without that ability, our futures are being determined by outside interests and Phoenix legislators. FBN

By Coral Evans

Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.

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