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Karin's Note: Thursday, December 6, 2012

 Karin's Note:  Thursday, December 6, 2012

-Toy Train Museum Open House

-Third Saturday Art Fair

-Winterhaven Opens 63rd Annual Festival of Lights

-Future Neighborhood Meetings

-Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair

-31st Annual Toy Parade

-18th Annual Parade of Lights & Tree Lighting Ceremony

- Did you know....?

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Dear Tucsonans,

Building on Tucson’s Strengths

Our best economic development initiatives focus on leveraging the unique assets of Tucson. A key aspect of the Mayor and Council’s economic development work has therefore centered on cross-border trade and tourism from Mexico. We have formed a Global Development District along the I-19/I-10 corridors, lobbied at the federal level for shorter lines and delays at customs and border crossing stations, and actively reached out to colleagues in Mexico to strengthen relationships and opportunities.

This Sunday the New York Times noted the importance of our work:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/us/effort-to-secure-border-crimps-commerce-along-it.html?ref=mexico&_r=0

The opening of a new bus service linking Tucson to destinations in Mexico offers just one indication that we’re making progress:

http://azstarnet.com/business/local/posh-bus-links-tucson-mexico/article_6d25a841-87c1-5a59-b497-cdfbc5af652b.html

The Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau (soon to be renamed Visit Tucson!) deserves kudos for reinforcing our work on Mexican trade and tourism through their own marketing efforts. Combined with new initiatives in the private sector, we now have every reason to expect that cross-border commerce will be a key driver in Tucson’s economic recovery.

Local First Arizona is another community asset that aims to power our economy.  As a nonprofit statewide coalition with more than 350 members in Tucson, Local First Arizona focuses its educational and advocacy efforts on the positive impact of local shopping.   In 2008, I asked the founder Kimber Lanning to consider expanding their work beyond Phoenix, and was thrilled to find a core group of local businesses that partnered with her to make that happen.   Both the article in BizTucson Magazine, Fall 2012 Issue, pg. 72 (www.biztucson.com) and a holiday shopping guide in Zocalo Magazine, December 2012 edition (www.zocalomagazine.com) highlight the power and the partnerships of Local First Arizona.

Responding to Parking Concerns

In June I responded to a wave of neighborhood complaints regarding ParkWise ticketing sweeps in the neighborhoods. In addition to directing my staff to work through specific concerns with various neighborhoods, I moved and my colleagues on Mayor and Council adopted a motion directing the ParkWise administration (through a process involving the citizens’ ParkWise Commission and multiple public hearings) to review ordinances and policies for parking enforcement citywide to ensure that they meet the core vision for parking enforcement in the City: enhancing public safety, preserving and enhancing the livability of Tucson’s neighborhoods, and providing accessibility to convenient parking.

I am pleased that based on this direction, a series of recommendations will be coming to the Mayor and Council in January for consideration.  Among other recommendations, the ParkWise staff and Commission will suggest that we consider these core recommendations:

  • Dissolve the current “Primary Enforcement Area” (Grant/Glenn, Country Club, 22nd Street, Grande/Fairview) and make enforcement citywide on a call-for-service basis. Non-permit, non-commercial areas within the current Primary Enforcement Area would no longer be actively patrolled, but areas both inside and outside this boundary would be subject to citations when complaints or requests for enforcement are received by ParkWise.
  • Maintain proactive enforcement focus (patrolling) in the central city areas where on-street parking demand is such that it needs to be actively managed.  Daily patrols would continue in permit areas, Downtown, 4th Avenue, and the UA periphery/Main Gate areas.
  • Renew patrol strategy so the enforcement of safety-related violations would be given greater priority than the enforcement of nuisance-related violations (other than permit violations); and other changes to patrol strategy that would make it more transparent, predictable, and equitable.
  • Revise City Code to define “Sidewalk” and “Unimproved Pedestrian Area” as distinct with each other (i.e. the presence or lack of an actual finished sidewalk) and to delineate the rules for parking/not parking in each. 

We will share the agenda materials with you in January and welcome your further input as we act to improve parking enforcement rules and enforcement citywide.

Water Conservation and Better Building Codes

I am pleased that the Mayor and Council have moved toward adoption of a more standardized Building Code. Tuesday we directed staff to prepare necessary ordinances for Tucson to adopt the International Building Code which will makes our guidelines compatible with most jurisdictions in the state (and country).

We also zeroed in on a key element of the code that sets us apart—our gray water systems requirements. Rather than scrapping those rules, we will work with staff and the community to be sure we retain reasonable and meaningful water conservation codes. Tucson can take pride as a national leader in water conservation. Our water stewardship matters when it comes to both economic development and environmental protection. We’ll find out more about how we can best integrate that ethic into our building code early next year.

Financial Management

As part of the Mayor and Council’s multi-year push for better accountability and transparency, we adopted Comprehensive Financial Policies and Procedures for city government in January 2011. Recently we reviewed that document and considered some modifications.

While I have full confidence in our current Manager and his team, some of the modifications concerned me. Most notably there was a recommendation for the Manager to be able to spend a portion of year-end fund balances without the explicit, advance permission of Mayor and Council. I asked Mr. Miranda and Assistant Manager Gottschalk to take a longer view, and to work with the City attorney on tighter language that would guard our City coffers from potential mismanagement in the future (including, for example, unauthorized spending).  During this conversation I also advocated that some City money be deposited in local banks and credit unions so that the funds can be reinvested into the community.  I have requested an upcoming Study session for Mayor and Council on this item to discuss the item further and to confirm that we are accomplishing the goal.  I appreciate staff responsiveness to my concerns.

Overall, the establishment of clear and formalized financial policies and procedures will make City government more accountable to the public, regardless of who serves in elected and management positions. It’s a step long overdue which required collaboration at the Mayor and Council table and cooperation from top City staff. I am pleased to be serving in an era where this kind of milestone can be achieved by working together. 

Trading Blight for Beauty

Once again Ward 3 residents, organizations and businesses joined with me, my staff and other colleagues to tackle a problem head on. Blight at a property on Fort Lowell caught our attention and our collective action. You can now see the result of our efforts at the new Casa Presidio Apartments (used to be Vista Sierra) just east of Campbell Avenue. The Arizona Daily Star has taken note as well:

http://azstarnet.com/business/local/one-time-ft-lowell-rd-eyesore-is-blight-no-longer/image_abaab301-4fe4-50fa-93b8-65021b54a10b.html

Thanks to local developers Town West and the many individuals and groups contributing to the success of this transformation, including: The Tucson Community School, the Richland Heights East Neighborhood Association, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her staff (including her successor Ron Barber and  former Aide Gabe Zimmerman), the Northminster Presbyterian Church, and many adjacent residents and businesses. My former Aide George Pettit organized weekly meetings for us at the site during the transition and HUD auction process. I think of George (“Jorge”) often, and most certainly will whenever I appreciate this new gem in Ward 3.

Karin

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Ward 3 Events:

-Toy Train Museum Open House – Saturday and Sunday, December 8 and 9 from 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. Gadsden Pacific Toy Train Museum, 3975 N. Miller Avenue. More trains than ever and layouts have been rebuilt, exhibits added. Free, donations appreciated.

-Third Saturday Art Sale – Saturday, December 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Many Hands Courtyard, 3054 N. First Avenue. Craft classes, Mata Ortiz pottery sale, holiday gifts and live music. Shop Local! More info: 628-1490.

-Winterhaven’s 63rd Annual Festival of Lights – Opens Saturday, December 15 at 5:30 p.m. and runs nightly until 10:00 p.m. through Saturday, December 29. This year’s sponsors are the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and Jim Click Automotive Team. Each year more than 60,000 people walk through this neighborhood’s spectacular holiday lights display. No entrance fee, but visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Community Food Bank or leave a monetary donation. More info: www.winterhavenfestival.org/festival.html

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-Future Neighborhood Meetings:

 CCRCTuesday, December 11 at 6:00 p.m. University of Arizona’s Student Union.

AGI/TNBC – Tuesday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m. Emerge! 2425 Haskell.

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City Wide Events:

-Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair – Friday – Sunday, December 7-9 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 400 artists, food vendors, entertainment. Streetcar construction is done, fencing is down! Free metered street parking on Saturday and Sunday, and free shuttles from Pennington Street Garage. For more info on event and parking: www.fourthavenue.org/fairs/general-information/

-31st Annual Toy Parade – Sunday, December 9 beginning at noon at Freedom Park, 5000 E. 29th Street. This year’s Parade is sponsored by Tucson Electric Power and will benefit Aviva Children’s Services, a Tucson-based non-profit agency that provides services for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Hundreds of motorcyclists on wheels hold the toy drive to collect toys for the children. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. at Freedom Park with parade at noon from Freedom Park to Morgan McDermott American Legion Post 7, 330 W. Franklin Road. Fee to participate is $20/rider and an unwrapped toy. To register online: www.tep.com/toyparade. More info: 327-6779

-18th Annual Downtown Parade of Lights and Tree Lighting Ceremony – Saturday, December 15. Mayor Rothschild will light the tree in front of the Joel Valdez Main Library at 5:45 p.m. Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m.at Franklin Street and Grenada Avenue, proceed to Alameda Street, Stone Avenue and back to Franklin (at 9th Avenue) to finish. Free, family oriented event.  

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Did You Know…?

that the City of Tucson is holding UDC (Unified Development Code) training sessions for anyone interested in learning more about regulatory changes and the transition from the LUC (Land Use Code)? Two sessions are scheduled next week: Wednesday, December 12 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the Murphy-Wilmot Library (530 N. Wilmot) and Thursday, December 13 from 10:00-11:30 a.m. at Housing and Community Development Department (320 N. Commerce Park Loop, Sentinel Building).

…that the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department West District is having a “Winter Break Schoolzout Program” for children ages 5-11 and middle school students ages 11-14? December 21 – January 4, 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. In Ward 3, both the Marty Birdman Center (2536 N. Castro, phone: 791-5950) and the Donna Liggins Recreation Center (2160 N. 6th Avenue, phone: 791-3247) will be hosting fun activities for your children while you work (or shop). The Program is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Registration starts Monday, December 10 on a first come, first served basis. Fee is $2/day/child. For more info please call the Center of your choice.

 ..ZOOlights at the Reid Park Zoo will put you in the holiday spirit with jingle bells, twinkling lights, falling snow and animal-themed sculptures? Make this one of your Tucson holiday traditions and come to the zoo Thursdays through Sundays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. December 1 to 9, every night from December 13-23. Admission is $6/adults, $4 for children. More info: www.tucsonzoo.org   or 881-4753.