By Vincent Manfredi, Maricopa City Councilmember

I have heard a quote by Ronald Reagan from 1964 (six years before I was born) that still rings true.

“This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government, or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves,” Reagan said five decades ago.

Reagan at the time was talking about the presidential election coming up in 1964 and he was talking about Washington, D.C., but today we have the same issue at the State Capital in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Arizona Senate Committee witnessed a heated debate as Dist. 2 Sen. Steve Kaiser introduced Senate Bill 1117, aimed at addressing the state’s affordable-housing shortage. The bill proposes several changes to the powers of local municipalities in controlling the type of housing allowed and its location within their jurisdiction. The bill proposes allowing by-right multifamily development, removing the city’s design-standard authority and requiring cities to allow zoning for small lots for duplexes and similar housing types.

Vincent Manfredi

However, the bill has been met with opposition from Mayor Nancy Smith and the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, who argue it would hinder the ability of Maricopa to zone effectively while doing little to address the affordable-housing shortage.

Frank Cassidy, an attorney representing the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, stated the bill was “basically a nuclear option to allow a whole bunch of housing, but not saying it has to be affordable housing.”

On the other hand, supporters of the bill argue that it would address the backlog of housing demand and that exclusionary zoning is a root cause of the lack of affordable housing.

Jake Hinman, a lobbyist for the Arizona Multihousing Association, stated that “you can’t go a week without reading about the local stories and the projects that are failing because of NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) mentality.”

Who pays for the AMA to exist? This link explains why they want to push for more multifamily housing — and housing in general. They are funded by people who make money from building as quickly as possible regardless of the consequences. They make money when they can bypass local control and force their way into cities, which are attempting smart growth.

Any skeptical person could likely be safe to assume that some of the individuals who fund AMA also donate to a few, if not all, of the senators who are voting to push this bill forward.

The bill passed the Senate committee with a 5-2 vote, with Democrat Sens. Catherine Miranda and Anna Hernandez joining Republicans Kaiser, Anthony Kern and J.D. Mesnard.

Sen. Mesnard expressed his support for the bill despite reservations about limiting the cities’ zoning power, stating, “There does come a point where … a crisis occurs, and it rises to the level of statewide concern.”

However, other legislators expressed cautious support for the bill, with Miranda stating that she would vote against the bill in its current form due to concerns about affordable housing. Sens. Theresa Hatathlie and Frank Carroll voted against the proposal.

The introduction of SB 1117 has sparked a heated debate about the role of the state in addressing the affordable-housing shortage. While some see it as a step in the right direction, others believe it would do more harm than good. The bill will now go to the floor for a vote, and the outcome will have significant consequences for the future of housing in Arizona.

It is my opinion that our elected officials need to do some soul searching.

I believe this is an overreach by people who do not understand local control and how important it is to the people. Imagine this being a federal bill dictating how they should govern in Arizona. They would be hooting and hollering about “local control,” but sadly many in power in Phoenix can’t see the irony.

Editor’s note: Vincent Manfredi is co-owner of InMaricopa.