Scottsdale city planners are at an unprecedented crossroads brought on by the debate over increasing the density of population and business throughout the city. Whether it is in the central part of the city or the far northern hamlets, the issue is the same. The business community wants greater density; others want the status quo or even less. Witness the heated debates over the Preserve, the Marquee project, Fiesta Ranch, Southbridge II, on and on. While all of this is percolating through the populace Covid-19 has emerged on the scene. What has this pandemic taught us? What has it warned us against? Overcrowding. Scientists have determined that densely populated areas are more prone to the spread of this disease, and for that matter all infectious diseases. Just look at the numbers from Wuhan, Milan, Paris, New York, and Chicago. Just consider the cruise ships. This is not conjecture this is fact. Scottsdale has been known for open spaces. That’s why people want to move to Scottsdale. It’s not the steel and glass of Manhattan and it’s not the elbow to elbow crowding of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. It’s the openness and the freedom of the West that they seek. Covid-19 is teaching us that there is a medical value to appropriately spacing humans in the work place and in their living conditions. All of the epidemics of the past, cholera, influenza, and now Covid-19, have struck hardest at the large population centers. San Francisco and Los Angeles are fearful of a typhus outbreak in their homeless communities. Who knows what will happen if Covid-19 strikes there? Yes sanitation, chlorination, and vaccination are necessary components to controlling pandemics, but so is appropriate population density. That is what we enjoy in Scottsdale. That is what we must strive to continue. Call it social distancing, call it anti-development. I call it judicious thoughtful planning of the human environment for health, success, and enjoyment. Just because you can build it, just because it looks magnificent on a computer generated rendering, just because it is being built by “a good person”, is not enough to crowd humans into smaller and tighter spaces. Good luck City Council.
Joseph S Janik, MD