PAC loses appeal

By Bob Hembree
Posted 7/10/24

On July 2, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed Superior Court Judge Cathleen Brown Nichols’ May 24 ruling against the Page Action Committee (PAC). “We find no error in the superior …

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PAC loses appeal


On July 2, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed Superior Court Judge Cathleen Brown Nichols’ May 24 ruling against the Page Action Committee (PAC). “We find no error in the superior court’s judgment denying the Committee’s request for declaratory, injunctive, mandamus, and other relief.” Judge Maria Elena Cruz delivered the decision, joined by Presiding Judge Paul J. McMurdie and Judge Cynthia J. Bailey.

“I am pleased the Court of Appeals affirmed the Superior Court's decision that the Committee's initiative petition did not constitute a legislative act,” said Councilor Kenna Hettinger. “While the petition request does not constitute a legislative act, I recognize that the citizens involved in the Page Action Committee have concerns with the current revitalization plan. I am committed to listening to their questions, concerns and thoughts about how we can improve our uptown. I am optimistic that we can come together and find a solution that improves the look, safety and walkability of Lake Powell Boulevard and our uptown.”

Judge Cruz’s Memorandum Decision states, “Debra Roundtree, Steven Kidman, and Page Action Committee (collectively “the Committee”) appeal the superior court’s judgment denying their request for declaratory, injunctive, mandamus, and other relief after the City of Page and its employees (collectively “the City”) rejected the Committee’s initiative petition, I-2023-03 (“the Initiative”) because its subject matter did not constitute a legislative act.”

“It's not legislative; it's administrative,” said Mayor Bill Diak. “It's something that is normal work for the manager. You know, we're not going to tell him what color to paint the city garage.”

“I think that the responsibility of City Council is to give direction to the experts,” said Hettinger. “Have the experts come back with their recommendation so that we can understand the pros and cons of each path forward and then make the best decision.”

The court outlines the history of the Streetscape Project (‘Streetscape’ is the term used by PAC in court filings). It began with the loss of the community’s largest employer, the Navajo Generating Station. The Page City Council and community members decided uptown revitalization would help Page meet its economic development goals.

“Before deciding to proceed with the Streetscape Project, the Council worked with the American Planning Association advisory group, visited other streetscapes in Arizona, and held public meetings,” stated Judge Cruz. “The City worked on the Streetscape Project for approximately six years. During that time, the City appropriated funds and hired an engineering firm to complete a design concept for the Streetscape Project. Multiple renderings of the Streetscape Project were presented at multiple public meetings. Eventually, the Council determined that the continued development and implementation of the Streetscape Project was its number one priority and stated so in its adopted policy document entitled ‘Strategic City Council Priorities.’ The Council then approved a budget including an appropriation for the Streetscape Project and began approving and entering into contracts with engineering and construction firms.”

In October 2023, PAC applied for a serial number for the initiative and began collecting signatures. Judge Cruz quoted from the PAC document (including PAC misspellings).

“Chapter 74 to Title VII of the general ordinances of [the City] reelating [sic] to maintaining the size and lanes of Lake Powell Boulevard,” and stated, in relevant part:

“The citizens of Page, Arizona do hereby find and determine that it is in the best interest of the citizens to maintain the size and number of traffic lanes at Laek [sic] Powell Boulevard from Rim View Drive to Aspen Street as presently existed on October 1, 2023. And further, that making changes that degrade the usefulness of this portion of road is wasteful of the public fisc [sic] and harmful to the general welfare.

“Neither public resources of the City nor outside funds from any source shall be used in anyway [sic] to facilitate, encourage, support, or actualize a reduction in the number of lanes or size of Lake Powell Boulevard between Rim View Drive and Aspen Street from the current size and number of lanes.”

While PAC gathered enough signatures to get an initiative on the ballot, they failed to meet Arizona constitutional requirements. Their goal was not legislative but administrative. This is why the city clerk correctly rejected the petition. The Superior Court and Appeals Court, four judges in all, agreed with the Page City Clerk’s decision.