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Karin's Note: Thursday, January 17, 2013

 

-Urban Neighborhoods Symposium Set for January 26

-Tucson Police Department Hosting Community Crime Fair

-Future Neighborhood Meetings

-Final Open House Event to Discuss Draft of General Plan

-Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Festival Celebration

- Did you know....?

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Dear Tucsonans,

Happy New Year! The chill (ok, hard freeze) in the air hasn’t slowed the pace of work in our community to tackle key challenges. In fact before I turn to City items, I want to be sure you know how to help homeless people and others in poverty beyond the holiday season. Operation Deep Freeze has been in effect for the past week to offer anyone without shelter a warm bed and meals. You can learn more about the program, which will run through the winter, at  http://tpch.info/operation-deep-freeze   Many organizations also provide coats, blankets, and other survival essentials year-round, including The Primavera Foundation’s Relief and Referral Center, at http://primavera.org/html/survival/shelter.html and Casa Maria (to volunteer and for donations): http://www.casamariatucson.org/donate--volunteer.html.

For those folks with homes that have broken water pipes from the freeze, the Community Home Repair Projects (www.chrpaz.org or 520-745-2055) can provide assistance and referrals. While the cold can be an inconvenience and even added expense for all of us, I appreciate that our community never forgets that the cold poses a threat to the health and safety of some of our neighbors. Thanks for reaching out and doing what you can.

Several issues are at the forefront of Mayor and Council and regional consideration at this time. Here are some highlights:

Gun Safety

I attended Councilmember Kozachik’s voluntary gun buyback last week to show my support for his continued leadership on this issue, and I will continue to find every opportunity I can for Tucson to take a strong stand against gun violence.

In April, 2011, I issued a call to action with Mayors Against Illegal Guns (www.demandaplan.org) for Congress to fix our broken background check system, to prevent guns from falling into dangerous hands. At a rally I emceed in downtown Tucson, the community heard from local and regional law enforcement officials, faith community leaders, former Arizona attorneys general, and survivors of the January 8, 2011, shooting and other incidents of gun violence in our community. Together, we helped build national momentum to close the gun-show loophole and fix the background check system. But Congress failed to act.

In August, 2012, I sponsored a resolution put forward by survivors and family members of the January 8th tragedy, calling for federal and state action on gun safety and background checks to help prevent future mass shootings. I am pleased that the Mayor and Council passed the resolution unanimously and, importantly, offered a pledge of further action locally as well.

More recently I have partnered with Councilmember Kozachik to call for a return of local control on matters as simple as regulating the carrying of firearms on City property (parks, etc.) and requiring background checks for all sales at gun shows held at our own Tucson Convention Center (or stopping the shows there altogether).  These are common sense measures, and things the City can do even without Congressional action.

Thankfully, President Obama has now put into motion the strongest set of reforms we’ve seen in a generation. He is keeping a promise he made after the Newtown tragedy, that as a nation we can no longer sit by and do nothing; that even if one life can be saved, we must try; that he will use the full force and power of his office to promote sensible reforms to prevent gun violence. The president was able to achieve twenty-three consequential actions administratively, from encouraging more research on the causes of gun violence to removing barriers to NICS reporting by federal agencies and states, to beefing up the tracking of all guns taken into federal custody.

The president’s major legislative proposals will require all of us to get through Congress. They are: universal background checks for all gun buyers, a crackdown on gun trafficking, a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

Many of President Obama’s proposals mirror our efforts at the City level and have begun to gain traction at the state level, too. State Senator Linda Lopez has introduced a state bill that would restrict the sale of extended ammunition clips in Arizona. Also at the state level a number of recommendations have been made to strengthen the state’s reporting to the background check database. And  I applaud Governor Brewer for including in her State of the State Address a commitment to fund School Resource Officers to better protect children in our schools (most cities and schools had to eliminate these positions during the economic crisis; this step has also been advocated by State House Democratic Leader Chad Campbell). Fortunately the need for better access to behavioral health services has been included in recommendations for action at all levels (Pima County just launched the new resource web site www.pima.gov/behavioralhealth).

Clearly 2013 holds the extraordinary potential of enacting meaningful measures to reduce gun violence. Leaders from our community, most notably the January 8th survivors and family members, have offered their courage and conviction to be sure this historic opportunity transcends talk and culminates in meaningful action. Let’s be clear that Tucson continues to stand with them.

Transportation Planning

Our region has clearly turned the corner in recognizing the many benefits of shifting to multi-modal transportation planning and investment. The Pima Association of Governments has awarded a $200,000 grant to Imagine Greater Tucson based on the IGT vision: “We will redefine our roadways from being largely oriented towards automobiles to embracing forms that enable a variety of transportation choices we want.” According to IGT their plan will have an emphasis on mass transportation and a multimodal lens.

Given the enormous cost of constructing roads and then maintaining an ever-expanding network of roads for cars, funds can be strategically invested to move people along existing infrastructure at less cost to taxpayers, air quality, and our environment. I am pleased that this week the RTA and City agreed to invest $500,000 in the Copper Avenue Bike Boulevard and $500,000 in the Treat Avenue Bike Boulevard. Studies show that creating such boulevards can help reach up to 65% of potential bike commuters (vs. 7% when bike lanes remain only along major auto arterials). Investments in mass transit similarly leverage far better functioning out of the streets we already have, moving more people at lower cost and reducing asphalt wear and tear and congestion all at the same time.

ParkWise

Months ago my office got a wave of complaints because ParkWise seemed suddenly to be issuing very high cost tickets in central neighborhoods for “nuisance” (vs. safety) parking violations. At the time my staff and I worked with ParkWise to address individual concerns and gain assurance of the issuance of warnings before the issuance of tickets in the future. I also promised to engage the ParkWise Commission and the Mayor and Council in a review of standing policies and procedures to prevent the troubling (and costly) pattern that had occurred (not at the fault of ParkWise personnel; they were acting based on the rules on the books).

This week the Mayor and Council unanimously concurred with the changes I brought forward in partnership with ParkWise. The adjustments mean that proactive parking enforcement will continue in those areas that have specifically opted into the residential permit program, as well as the major commercial corridors – and that safety violations will take precedence over nuisance violations. In addition, the “primary enforcement area” has been eliminated so ParkWise can evenly and more promptly respond to priority violations citywide, as called in by Tucson Police or individual citizens. That means, for example, that a car blocking a fire hydrant or causing another safety concern will now be likely to be ticketed whether it happens on the far east side or in midtown, not just in midtown.

Another key change addresses the definition for an “unimproved pedestrian area” (the easement between curb and property line, where there is no finished sidewalk) as distinct from a finished sidewalk, and clarifies prohibited parking.  It remains illegal to park on a finished sidewalk anywhere, but there is now more flexibility in the Code regarding parking on unimproved pedestrian areas – so long as pedestrians are given at least 4 feet for refuge or passage – and along very narrow streets. This compromise position reflects the results of a vigorous public input process, and the stated values of various stakeholders.

Thanks to ParkWise administrator Donovan Durban and our citizen volunteers on the ParkWise Commission for working through the concerns and providing sound recommendations. They also forwarded requested short-term adjustments to certain parking rates (at the Pennington Garage, Toole Surface Lot, and non-residential permit program) to encourage better use of our parking facilities and meet demand. Those adjustments were approved (through June 30, 2013). All ParkWise rates will be reviewed and set (including proposed new rates for meters as well) during the upcoming budget process to take effect starting July 1st.

Golf

My position with regard to the Golf Enterprise remains the same. As with all other enterprises, we must assure the program balance its expenses with the revenues it generates. When we learned earlier this fiscal year that Golf had been drawing millions from the General Fund (running deficits that were filled by yearend bookkeeping transfers from the General Fund), Mayor and Council directed that: 1) golf devise a plan to annually balance its expenses/revenues and 2) golf devise a plan to repay the general fund dollars advanced in past years to cover its deficits. The bottom line for me is that we have to prioritize General Fund money to parks and recreation activities that reach the broadest segments and highest-need segments of our community. In recent years we have had to reduce the hours of operation at our neighborhood centers (serving families and seniors), close and then raise private funding for our swimming pools, and raise the fees charged for the KIDCO afterschool program and all parks and rec class offerings. I appreciate Council member Romero’s leadership on this issue and I remain open to a range of scenarios that may emerge to bring the Golf enterprise back into balance. City staff, our Greens Committee, and professional firms will likely all play a role in helping us achieve that directive.

I hope you will join me in attending some of the Martin Luther King activities next Monday January 21st (details below). 

Karin   

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Ward 3 Events:

-Urban Neighborhoods Symposium – Saturday, January 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Registration at 8:30am). International School of Tucson, 1701 E. Seneca Street (north of UA Medical Center).This free symposium is open to all, with an emphasis on neighborhood leaders. Join in to get an update on existing services and support for your neighborhood from community leaders who have learned from experience. Mini-workshops on Neighborhood Support Network Resources, Neighborhood Infill Issues, Coalitions for Neighborhoods and Creating Neighborhood Protection Zones and Working with Developers. Continental breakfast and lunch provided. Your participation and input is needed—reserve your space at http://tinyurl.com/chvn49t or call Judith Anderson at the Ward 3 office for more information.

-Tucson Police Department Hosting Community Crime Fair – Saturday, February 9 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Donna Liggins Neighborhood Center, 2160 N. 6th Avenue. Join in to receive information and resources on keeping your neighborhood/community safe. More info: Officers Golden or Jones (Westside Operations) at 791-4467.

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Future Neighborhood Meetings:

Dodge Flower NA – Tuesday, January 22 at 6:30 p.m. Emerge! 2425 N. Haskell

Jefferson Park NA – Wednesday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m. Ward 3 Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road.

Limberlost NA – Wednesday, January 23 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Casita at Las Candelas, 401 E. Limberlost Road.

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City Wide Events:

-Final Open House Event to Discuss Draft of General Plan – The draft of Plan Tucson, the City’s proposed new General Plan, is now ready for public comment. The Plan will be on the November 5, 2013 ballot for voters to consider ratifying. Plan Tucson will be the guiding document for the growth and development of Tucson over the next decade. Issues covered include economic development, parks and recreation, arts and culture, public infrastructure, natural environment, revitalization and redevelopment, land use and transportation. The City is holding one more Open Houses in January:

Thursday, January 31 from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Ward 2 Council Office, 7575 E. Speedway Blvd.

-Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Festival – Monday, January 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Join in the annual march at 9:00 a.m. in front of the MLK Center at 2nd and Mountain Avenue on the University of Arizona campus. March will end on the east side of Old Main. Speeches and entertainment, food booths, vendors begin at 10:00 a.m. Parking is free on campus for this event.

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 -Did you know….?

…that the Community Food Bank is offering to pick surplus citrus from homes and businesses? This service is known as “gleaning” or the harvesting of food that would otherwise go unused. The Food Bank is currently accepting and picking up already picked fruit. The “gleaning” program will begin on January 22 and end on April 30th. For more information and to arrange cleaning, contact Lou Medran, Food Drive Coordinator at the Food Bank: 520-449-8340 or lmedran@communityfoodbank.org

 …that the Ironwood Tree Experience has a new “Get Outside Club?” Every Thursday, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm children, adults, teens and families are invited to join Ironwood Tree Experience’s expert staff, mentors and volunteers for a free 1-hour urban naturalist discovery walk along the Rillito River. Be prepared to spot wild animals, tracks, scat and native plants. Meet at the south bank of the Rillito Walkway att the Campbell Avenue Bridge. North end of Trader’s Joe’s parking lot—look for the “Get Outside Club” sign. Please bring water, hat, sunscreen and lots of enthusiasm! Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Well behaved dogs also welcome. More info: http://www.ironwoodtreeexperience.org/event/new-get-outside-club/

..that there is a process, through City Court, to request additional time to pay your ticket after receiving a vehicular citation from TPD? A written request to the Court Magistrate may be mailed to City Court, PO Box 27210, Tucson, AZ 85701 explaining your situation and asking for additional time. You may also fax your request to 520-791-5488. Make sure you include your Citation number and date the request before your next court date. Not all requests will be granted, but this is an avenue that, under some circumstances, may prove to be beneficial to those needing assistance.  For further information, call City Court: 791-4216 Monday-Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.