City Council Meeting - FINAL


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  11.A.       
Meeting Date: 09/20/2022  
From: Martin Ince, Multi-Modal Planner

Information
TITLE:
Consideration and Adoption of Ordinance No. 2022-26: An ordinance of the Flagstaff City Council authorizing the acquisition of real property for open space and the Flagstaff Urban Trail System purposes; providing for delegation of authority, severability, repeal of conflicting ordinances, authority for clerical corrections, and establishing an effective date
STAFF RECOMMENDED ACTION:
At the September 20, 2022 Council Meeting:
1) Read Ordinance No. 2022-26 by title only for the first time
2) City Clerk reads Ordinance No. 2022-26 by title only (if approved above)
At the October 4, 2022 Council Meeting:
3) Read Ordinance No. 2022-26 by title only for the final time
4) City Clerk reads Ordinance No. 2022-26 by title only (if approved above)
5) Adopt Ordinance No. 2022-26
Executive Summary:
This ordinance will authorize acquisition of easements and parcels using $2 million in remaining funds from the 2004 Neighborhood Open Space and FUTS Land Acquisition bond. These acquisitions will support expansion of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS), preservation of natural areas within the community, and connectivity with regional trails and open space. The ordinance also establishes priorities for acquisition.
Financial Impact:
The 2004 bond funds have been allocated and budgeted. The City will use the approximate remainder of $2M to complete the project.
Policy Impact:
  • Contributes to the implementation of the Open Space and Greenways Plan
  • Supports the FUTS Master Plan implementation
  • Supports the Active Transportation Master Plan
Connection to PBB Priorities/Objectives, Carbon Neutrality Plan & Regional Plan:
 Related Priority Based Budget Key Community Priorities and Objectives:
  • High Performance Governance:
    • Encourage public trust through transparency, accessibility & use of the City’s public participation policy.
  • Safe and Healthy Community:
    • Promote physical health through providing recreation opportunities, parks, open space, and multiple transportation options.
  • Inclusive and Engaged Community:
    • Promote environmental justice and the fair distribution of environmental benefits.
  • Sustainable, Innovative Infrastructure:
    • Utilize existing long-range plans that identify the community’s future infrastructure needs and all associated costs.
  • Robust Resilient Economy:
    • Embrace and invest in responsible tourism opportunities to promote economic development.
  • Livable Community:
    • Provide amenities and activities that support a healthy lifestyle.
  • Environmental Stewardship:
    • Promote, protect, and enhance a healthy, sustainable environment and its natural resources.
Related Carbon Neutrality Plan Goals and Strategies:

This funding supports CNP implementation, especially Goal One: Achieve carbon neutrality by 2030; and Goal Two: Prepare Flagstaff's communities, systems, and resources to be more resilient to climate change impacts. The most aligned CNP carbon neutrality plan numbers are DD-3, DD-2, and ES-2. 
  • Carbon Neutrality Plan Strategy 1 DD-3: Encourage Flagstaff residents and visitors to walk, bike, roll and take the bus.
  • Carbon Neutrality Plan Strategy 2 DD-2: Create inclusive networks for walking and biking that are continuous, attractive, safe, comprehensive, and convenient for people of all ages.
  • Carbon Neutrality Plan Strategy 3 ES-2: Proactively engage community members on an ongoing basis.
 Related Regional Plan Items:
  • Goal OS.1. The region has a system of open lands, such as undeveloped natural areas, wildlife corridors and habitat areas, trails, access to public lands, and greenways to support the natural environment that sustains our quality of life, cultural heritage, and ecosystem health.
  • Goal ED.7. Continue to promote and enhance Flagstaff’s unique sense of place as an economic driver.
  • Goal REC.1. Maintain and grow the region’s healthy system of convenient and accessible parks, recreation facilities, and trails.
  • Goal T.5. Increase the availability and use of pedestrian infrastructure, including FUTS, as a critical element of a safe and livable community.
  • Goal T.6. Provide for bicycling as a safe and efficient means of transportation and recreation.
  • Policy OS.1.2. While observing private property rights, preserve natural resources and priority open lands, under the general guidance of the Flagstaff Area Open Space and Greenways Plan and the Natural Environment maps. 
  • Policy OS.1.4. Use open space as opportunities for non-motorized connectivity, to interact with nature, and to enjoy the views and quiet. 
  • Policy LU.13.1. Prioritize connectivity for walking, biking, and driving within and between surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Policy LU.13.9. Use open space and FUTS trails to provide walking and biking links from residential uses to employment, shopping, schools, parks, and neighborwoods.
  • Policy LU.18.5. Plan for and support multi-modal activity centers and corridors with an emphasis on pedestrian and transit friendly design.
  • Policy T.2.3. Provide safety programs and infrastructure to protect the most vulnerable travelers, including the young, elderly, mobility impaired, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Has There Been Previous Council Decision on This:
In December of 2009, the City Council approved Ordinance 2009-41, an ordinance of the City of Flagstaff Authorizing the acquisition of neighborhood open space and those urban trail easements necessary for the extension of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System. This action initially authorized the acquisition of property for the extension of the Flagstaff Urban Trail System and Open Space acquisition.

On September 13, 2022, the Council reviewed the updated acquisition plan for FUTS and open space during a Council work session.
Options and Alternatives:
  • Option A – Approve and adopt Ordinance No. 2022-26 as submitted authorizing the acquisition of neighborhood open space and those urban trail easements necessary for the extension of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System.
    • Generally, City staff will seek to acquire first-priority property interests by mutual agreement with property owners, but if no agreement is reached, City staff will seek to acquire second- or third-priority property interests.  The City Council may authorize condemnation of property interests if no agreement can be reached.
  • Option B - Approve and adopt Ordinance No. 2022-26, but amend Exhibit 1 to clarify or revise acquisition priorities due to funding limitations or for other reasons.
    • City Council may require complete acquisition of all first-priority property interests, before acquiring second- or third-priority property interests.
    • City Council may re-prioritize any property interest.
  • Option C – Do not read and adopt Ordinance No. 2022-26. This would result in leaving the 2009 Ordinance in place as the direction for property acquisitions for open space and urban trail easements necessary for the extension of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System
Background/History:
The Neighborhood Open Space and FUTS Land Acquisition bond was approved by Flagstaff voters in 2004 as Proposition 302. The bond provides a total of $7.6 million for acquisition of neighborhood open space and FUTS corridors.
 
Since the bond was approved, proceeds have been used to acquire easements and parcels for a number of FUTS trails, including portions of the Arizona Trail, Fourth Street Trail, Karen Cooper Trail, Sheep Crossing Trail, and Switzer Canyon Trail, among others. Bond funds have also been used, in combination with other sources, to acquire several significant open space parcels, including the Picture Canyon Preserve and Observatory Mesa Natural Area.
 
Staff has been working to update the acquisition plan for the remainder of the bond funds, which is slightly more than $2 million. The updated acquisition plan includes:
  • Easements and parcels for FUTS trails that are shown on the FUTS master plan and identified as first-priority segments. The acquisition plan generally covers FUTS trails that are anticipated over the next 20 years.
  • Property rights for other trails and facilities that support the FUTS, regional recreational trails, and open space, such as singletrack connecting trails, trailheads, and forest access points. These facilities are included in the draft Active Transportation Master Plan.
  • Larger open space tracts identified and prioritized by the Open Spaces Commission.
The last category includes six tracts that were identified as open space opportunities, and subsequently reviewed and ranked by the Open Spaces Commission. All of these parcels would help implement the Commission’s strategy for a comprehensive and cohesive open space system. Of the six parcels, Hoffman Tank was ranked as the top priority for acquisition by the Commission. This area has several open space qualities, including connecting the Bow and Arrow and Rio de Flag greenways with the National Forest, allowing FUTS connectivity, providing a buffer for the Arizona National Scenic Trail, and maintaining an important wildlife corridor.
 
Staff has worked with the City’s real estate manager to develop cost estimates for acquisitions on the list solely for planning purposes. The cost estimates are not based upon appraisals, and therefore are not a determination of fair market value or the amount the City will offer for purchase of the listed property interests.  

Council authority is required for acquisition of land, easements, or other property rights. Previously, authority for acquisition with bond proceeds was granted via Ordinance 2009-41: An Ordinance of the Mayor and Council of the City of Flagstaff Authorizing the acquisition of neighborhood open space and those urban trail easements necessary for the extension of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System. The draft ordinance replaces Ordinance No. 2009-41 and authorizes acquisitions per the updated plan.
 
The Flagstaff Urban Trails System is a city-wide network of non-motorized, shared-use pathways that are used by bicyclists, walkers, hikers, runners, and other users for both recreation and transportation. FUTS trails vary from trails that are located along busy streets to traversing canyons, riparian areas, meadows, and forests – all within the urban area of Flagstaff. The system connects neighborhoods, shopping, places of employment, schools, parks, open space, and the surrounding National Forest, and allows users to combine transportation and recreation.
 
The Flagstaff Open Space System is a city-wide dispersed grouping of natural areas preserved by the City for the purpose of ensuring the quality of life will continue for generations to come. Qualities of the open space system include undeveloped or minimally developed lands designated to protect natural resources that serve as a buffer from development, add to Flagstaff’s character and attraction, protect biodiversity, improve environmental quality, protect historic and cultural resources, provide for non-motorized transportation, enhance education, and provide opportunities for recreation. The open space system’s goal is to provide a network of connected natural areas dispersed throughout the city to provide all Flagstaff residents with a 10-minute walking access time.
Key Considerations:
Since voter approval of the 2004 bond fund, City staff have been working to complete the direction provided by Ordinance No. 2009-41 necessary for the extension of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System and Open Space System. Approval of the updated ordinance is sought to update the list of property interests to be acquired and is intended to help complete the project approved by the voters.
Expanded Financial Considerations:
Funding for Open Space and FUTS acquisitions is provided by the Neighborhood Open Space and FUTS Land Acquisition bond. There is approximately $2 million remaining in this bond fund.
Community Benefits and Considerations:
Community Growth
  • An integrated FUTS and open space system will reduce traffic congestion, noise, pollution, infrastructure deterioration, and changes in community character.
  • Reducing transportation emissions is a priority in the CNP.
Community Health
  • People living in walkable neighborhoods get about 35-45 more minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week and are substantially less likely to be overweight.
  • Obesity rates have risen dramatically. Being physically active is more than a personal decision; community design and the availability of FUTS and Open Space strongly influence how active people are.
Economic Benefit
  • Access to trails and nature is one of the key reasons people visit our community.
  • Maintaining our communities’ character with FUTS and Open Space dispersed throughout the city will promote Flagstaff as a highly desirable place to live and visit.
Equity
  • Research shows trails and open space have a positive impact on low-income urban communities, by filling gaps in health inequalities.
Resilience
  • Open Space captures precipitation, reduces stormwater management costs, reduces air pollution control costs, act as carbon sinks, and protects habitats that allow for stabilizing biodiversity.
  • Trails and Open Space satisfy resilient framework strategies or green infrastructure, an interconnected network support environmental health and provide a wide array of benefits to people—including trail recreation– and wildlife.
Community Involvement:
Citizens first initiated the concept of open space and an urban trail system and have been involved in various committees throughout the evolution of the trail system and open space acquisition. They provide input in the Open Spaces Commission, Beautification and Public Art Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, the Bicycle Advisory Committee, and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
 
Flagstaff Urban Trails System and Open Space were approved by voters in 2004 identifying these as desirable benefits to citizens city-wide.
Attachments
Ord. 2022-26
Acquisition summary
Acquisition parcel list
Acquisition maps
Prop 302 language
Council staff summary - Ordinance 2009-41


    

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