(Editor’s note: News releases are published as submitted unless there are errors of fact.)
Clandestine email show developers want to deny health care access so they can bulldoze downtown properties.
It really ultimately is Patients vs. Developers. Health Care vs. High-Rises in Scottsdale — and developers are trying to dupe the public and Scottsdale City Council.
A new email shows real estate developers, including out-of-state ones, and some downtown property owners are working covertly to undermine and oppose a needed medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Scottsdale. Developers want to kill health care access for patients suffering from cancer, chronic pain and other conditions so they can purportedly bulldoze properties in the area and build a high-rise, according to local media reports.
Their desire to develop a high-rise project on the site has been detailed in reports by the Arizona Republic, Scottsdale Progress and the Scottsdale Independent. Opponents of the dispensary want the land for developers not health care. If they seize the land developers could build a 90-foot tower with substantial density.
Now, their clandestine efforts to deny patients medical care are being exposed.
According to the internal email, a group called Scottsdale Old Town Alliance LLC is working behind the scenes to stop the upscale and state licensed Sunday Goods dispensary and redevelop the site and nearby properties with high-rise towers.
The state-sanctioned dispensary would be the first and only one of its kind in downtown and southern Scottsdale. The Sunday Goods dispensary would replace a tattoo parlor in a commercial area and be located next to a bar.
The developer group is circulating secret campaign strategies within its financial and consultant circles to try to misguide Scottsdale residents and the City Council about the issues.
“The covert strategies include lying about the dispensary by equating medical marijuana patients to criminals and vagrants. All of this is part of scheme to take control of the properties in the area for a new high-rise apartment development,” said Paula Sturgeon, co-chair of H.I.G.H.H. (Halting Inappropriate Growth, Heights and Hypocrisy), which announced its formation yesterday.
According to the email, Scottsdale Old Town Alliance appears to be led by Daniel Spiro, Janet Wilson of Floyd Investments, Gary Bohall and David Dodge. Those involved with the group are already behind a sketchy legal protest to stop the Sunday Goods dispensary after it gained strong support from the Planning Commission.
The development group has also hired an attorney with a colorful past as part of its high-rise tower efforts. He has represented a woman charged with using allegedly forged documents to oppose a Phoenix dispensary. That is now part of an Arizona Attorney General investigation.
The development group also says it will roll out a misleading media and advertising campaign to try to turn public opinion against the Sunday Goods dispensary, although its proposed expenditures are paltry. Public opinion polls have shown strong support for a having licensed, thoughtfully located dispensary in downtown Scottsdale. They also imply being in cahoots with certain members of the media.
The developer-backed Scottsdale Old Town Alliance is also seeking secret financial backers to run its dishonest campaign. The group wants donors to give $1,000 or more.
“This downtown PAC has mischaracterized the intent of Sunday Goods and is playing on fears of any changes to Old Town. Their combined tactics to keep business as usual or possibly to want to build a high rise is a conflicting issue among their members. They appear to misunderstand medical marijuana, and some appear to want to build in the area for their profit while they are denying a good use for the old tattoo parlor.” said Sandy Schenkat, co-chair of H.I.G.H.H.
“And it is almost laughable they would bring up parking as an issue when Sunday Goods’ needs are minimal compared to any high-rise plan, they may which will require hundreds of spots, but where is not identified,” Schenkat said.
Schenkat and Sturgeon also point out the opposition group’s lead consultant once lobbied for southern Scottsdale strip clubs. They also cite his work as a developer that attempted to put a gondola ride and massive project adjacent to the Grand Canyon that was rejected by the Navajo Nation.
Another downtown property owner involved with the opposition group has opposed efforts to bring more arts to downtown Scottsdale working to block a mural honoring late U.S. Senator John McCain for his service to the state and country.
Here is the full email the Scottsdale Old Town Alliance is circulating and does not want the public to see:
Date: October 29, 2019 at 12:53:14 PM MST
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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Subject: Update Old Town
Friends and Neighbors,
We’re making good progress letting City Hall know that a marijuana dispensary does not belong in OLD TOWN.
*We’ve formed “Scottsdale Old Town Alliance, LLC.
*We built our website: scottsdaleoldtownalliance.org.
*Retained attorney Tim La Sota.
*Met directly with some council members, more this week.
*News Articles coming in Scottsdale Progress
*increased participating property owners
*Identified 6 State and City barriers that were overlooked in the vetting process.
*Prepared and ready to roll out our ad campaign including TV, Social Media, and Print.
IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR PROPERTY VALUES, YOUR COMMUNITY AS WE KNOW IT, AND THE DEGRADATION TO COME AS A POT HANGOUT, NOT TO MENTION THE COMPOUNDING OF PARKING PROBLEMS, CRIME, VAGRANCY, SPOT ZONING, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO CHANGE THE LANDSCAPE FOR GOOD.
PLEASE CONSIDER FUNDING A PART OF THE MESSAGE DISSEMINATION PROCESS. TALK TO YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER AND WRITE A CHECK TO: SCOTTSDALE OLD TOWN ALLIANCE. ANY AMOUNT WILL HELP. SEE OUR BUDGET ATTACHED. 20+ PARTICIPANTS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AT $1000 OR MORE. Others may be unable to help financially, but can motivate actions that get the message to council. Please help where you can make a difference.
Scottsdale Old Town Alliance, LLC
4260 N Brown Ave.
Scottsdale, Az 85251
Daniel Spiro, Architect
Janet Wilson, Floyd Investments
David Dodge, Coda-Kid
Gary Bohall, CPA Keep families in Scottsdale, no pot in Old Town.