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Communication #20

Dear Friends of F3,

The Aura development and rezoning project was a complicated but important process for F3 to engage with over the past several months. The project is located at 151 W. High Country Trail (just off of Lake Mary Road) and consists of an 11-acre parcel of land that was rezoned from Estate Residential to Medium Density Residential by City Council on July 6, 2021. The Aura development will consist of 160 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 32 of which will be provided as affordable housing to those earning both 80% and 70% Area Median Income (AMI).

F3 reviewed all the Aura project documents, conducted a site visit, and met with many of the people involved with this project including City Council members, staff, affordable housing advocates, and a member of the adjacent Ponderosa Trails Homeowners Association. F3 offered comments to Council in June that outlined our concerns that the project did not meet the intent of our Regional Plan and zoning laws. 

The Aura project was controversial because: 1) two acres of the parcel were used for the density calculations of the apartment complex (thus increasing the allowable density of units for the parcel as a whole), despite the fact that this acreage is set aside for the sole use of the occupant of an adjacent single family house, rather than for the residents of Aura, and 2) the rezoning sought to approve what is, in actuality, a high density development on property that would be rezoned as medium density residential. This is not in line with what our Regional Plan states should occur in designated Existing Suburban classification outside of an activity center. 

The Aura project is a case study in competing values. Council was faced with measuring the values of affordability, housing density, neighborhood character, and commitment to the Regional Plan against each other. We recognize that the project will assist Flagstaff in meeting the great need for additional one- and two-bedroom apartments in Flagstaff and assist our community in addressing our Affordable Housing Emergency (32 affordable units were included in the final project proposal). However, the project is not strictly in compliance with our Regional Plan.

Going forward, we urge the City and community to closely examine the impact of density bonuses and the conflict they may pose to our Regional Plan. F3 believes that the Regional Plan is an important public document that should not be modified easily or often. Any decision that requires a modification of the Regional Plan must be carefully and thoroughly vetted with the public and a strong case must be made for any modifications in the plan.

A full summary of the Aura project and recommendations for future considerations are given in the F3 white paper which can be found on our website here.


Michele James

Executive Director, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future

Local Efforts: Good Information to Have and to Share:

  • Positions are open on the City’s Sustainability Commission! Support sustainability in Flagstaff by providing feedback to City Council, advising Sustainability office staff, and awarding Neighborhood Sustainability Grants to community projects. Apply here.
  • Native Perspectives Teach-in: Tribal Consultation and Co-Management. Sponsored by The Grand Canyon Trust. Webinar Series. August 4, 11, 18, 25, and Sept. 1. 6:00 pm. Register here.
  • First Friday Art Walk, August 6, 6:00-9:00 pm. Downtown Flagstaff.
  • Flagstaff Shelter Services Volunteer Saturdays, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Accepting up to 10 volunteers (larger groups also accepted with prior notice). Email
  • Rumble on the Mountain 7, August 7th, 6:00 pm, The Orpheum Theater, 15 W. Aspen Ave. Vaccinated only program. Purpose is to address areas of concern in including indigenous water rights and current and future development of the San Francisco Peaks. Speakers and performers from the Hopi Nation and music from Ed Kabotie & Tha ‘Yoties. More information here.
  • Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival Virtual Summer Showcase, August 18th, 6:30-9:30 pm, online event. More information here.
  • Flagstaff’s Finest Vegetable Tour. Coconino Master Gardeners Association, Sat., August 21st, 10 am-4 pm. Eight vegetable gardens featured in a self-guided tour. Maps provided with ticket purchase at Warner’s Nursery. More information here.
  • Regional Plan Amendment Open House/Neighborhood Meeting. August 25th, 5:00-7:00 pm. Murdoch Community Center, 203 E. Brannen Ave. Proposed major plan amendment on climate change and climate action. More information here.
  • Mountain Line is updating the region’s community transit plan and is seeking your input to help inform the plan. Visit to learn more and provide your input. Ongoing.
  • In preparation for upcoming City staff and Council discussions later this year about the use of reclaimed water for aquifer recharge and/or drinking, F3 encourages you to read Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink by Seth Siegel. Please contact F3 board member Marilyn Weissman about receiving a complimentary copy.
  • City Council is on summer break; the next Council Meeting is scheduled for August 24th.

F3 Annual Meeting & 25th Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, September 18, 4:00-6:00 pm, outside at Riordan Mansion 

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
The strength of F3 is its members and we depend upon your participation. By joining you can help strengthen our voice in the community. Are you a member of F3 yet? Have you renewed your membership? JOIN F3 for as little as $25. It’s easy! Just click below.