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Communication #17

Dear Friends of F3,

The Arizona Daily Sun published a F3 editorial on March 9, 2021 entitled: “Coconino Voices: Smarter building: the key to solving housing problem.” Below is the editorial:

A recent editorial, published March 4, 2021, unfortunately confounded the relationship between the City’s efforts to address affordable housing and its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). Friends of Flagstaff’s Future supports both of these efforts. Affordable housing and the goals of reducing carbon emissions and adapting to climate change as outlined in Flagstaff’s CAAP are mutually compatible with each other. This is clearly a case where two important community goals can be solved by thoughtfully designed policies.

Simply increasing the supply of homes alone, in the same manner in which we have over the last 20 years, will not solve Flagstaff’s home affordability crisis. There is no evidence that building more housing units automatically means more affordable housing. Flagstaff has seen tremendous growth in second homes, a purchase that requires an income equal to 2.6 times larger than the income of a person buying a primary home, according to national statistics.  

Addressing the demand for affordable housing is made difficult due to state preemptive laws and the fact that median to higher end homes are more profitable to build. We need to work for changes at the state level that allow communities to work creatively with developers to build a stock of housing that is affordable for our workforce. 

While we work for statewide changes, we can also support the City’s proposals for Neighborhood Community Commercial (NCC) zoning and appropriate in-fill projects.The NCC zoning is one example of increasing the density of housing units in identified specific areas while preserving neighborhoods. This zoning proposes to limit the heights of some buildings to 45 feet (four stories) rather than 60 feet (six stories) in these identified areas of the city where zoning “activity centers” overlap with established neighborhoods. This is a reasonable proposal that avoids the kind of controversy that arose when the Hub was built in a downtown neighborhood. If additional housing units in these NCC areas can be built with a focus on affordability, they will not result in a conflict between density and affordability. Further, if these units are built using energy efficient building methods, they will not result in a conflict between the CAAP and affordability. 

Affordable housing and the goals of reducing carbon emissions and adapting to climate change as outlined in Flagstaff’s CAAP are mutually compatible with each other. The CAAP pushes Flagstaff to adapt to climate change by implementing a broad array of actions that reduce our carbon footprint and reliability on fossil fuels. Climate change is known to disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income neighborhoods and our ability to adapt now will help reduce some of those impacts. Simply reducing the cost of heating through increased energy efficiency, as outlined in the CAAP, results in ongoing savings.
Flagstaff can grow, be resilient to climate change, meet affordable housing challenges, and maintain our beloved city character. Sometimes this will mean taller buildings in specific areas. We believe affordable housing and adaptation to climate change are compatible. We hope that the community will recognize the need to prioritize these issues and address them together in a way that preserves the character of our community. 

Michele James is Executive Director of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future. She is a member of the informal working group exploring the connection between affordable housing and sustainability, convened by the Housing Commission to develop Flagstaff’s 2021-2031 Housing Plan in response to the affordable housing emergency declaration. 

Flagstaff’s Draft Carbon Neutrality Plan
City Council reviewed Flagstaff’s Sustainability Program’s Draft Carbon Neutrality Plan and discussed its content on March 9. The Draft Plan outlines two “scenarios.” Both scenarios achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and use similar strategies and approaches.  Scenario A, which Council asked to be moved forward to the final plan, reduces emissions by 44% and requires 56% carbon sequestration. Scenario B reduces emissions by 34% and requires 66% carbon sequestration. Both Scenarios will require what the Draft Plan calls a “big shift” in how we use transportation. 

The Final Plan will be presented to Council in May (date TBD) for adoption. The Draft Plan is fairly short and is easy to read. I encourage you to take a look at it.

Snowbowl Update
Snowbowl’s recently released Master Development Plan proposes a year-long recreational season within the special use permit area. The Indigenous  Circle of Flagstaff (ICF) met with Congressman O’Halleran on March 8 to express their concerns with past development and to request Congressional field hearings to examine compliance with federal laws and regulations on the part of the Arizona Snowbowl and the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, the ICF requested an assessment and repair of damages that currently exist, as well as protections for the future. Tribal co-management with the Forest Service of this Traditional Cultural Property is the ICF’s preferred model. F3 continues to support the ICF in their efforts to hold Snowbowl and the U.S. Forest Service accountable to indigenous communities and the Flagstaff community as a whole.

Michele James
Executive Director, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future

Local Efforts: Good Information to Have and to Share:

Winter Snow Play Clean Up Day: Thursday, March 18, 1-3:00 pm at JW Powell/Lonetree 1-2:00 & Hwy 180/Peak View pullout 2-3:00 pm. Also, you can drop off broken plastic sleds anytime at AZ Custom Plastics, 2113 N. Main St. in Flagstaff. Broken sleds will be recycled into new plastic products! Contact to borrow reusable 35-gallon plastic bags to use in collection.
Irreplaceable: Grand Canyon series: Four webinars and podcasts to spread awareness about threats to the Grand Canyon region. Topics include uranium mining, proposed dams on the Little Colorado River, development at Tusayan, and an expanding ski resort on the San Fransisco Peaks. Register for free to receive the link. Organized by the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Sign Up for a Community Garden Plot Today: Now is the time to sign up for a community garden plot. If interested, email Terra BIRDS at
• The City of Flagstaff has teamed up with Solar United Neighbors to bring the Northern Arizona Solar Co-op. By joining, you’ll learn how solar works and have the opportunity to go solar at a group rate! The co-op is free to join. Join an info session on March 24 to find out more.

General Contact Information:
• To attend City Council meetings virtually:
• To attend Coconino County Board of Supervisor’s meetings virtually: or call 928-679-7144.
• To access City Commissions including Open Space, Sustainability, Planning and Zoning, and others:

F3 2021 Member Campaign
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