Karin's Note: Friday, January 23, 2015

Karin's Note: Friday, January 23, 2015
-Ward 3 Events
- Neighborhood/Coalition Meetings
-Citywide Events
-Did You Know?
Dear Tucsonans,
At the Mayor and Council meeting this week we addressed some items that may be of interest to you.
Graffiti Abatement
The City Manager and staff outlined a more comprehensive approach to abating graffiti citywide, including expanded use of the City app. Materials related to the discussion are available https://www.tucsonaz.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1352&doctype=AGENDA and you can download the City app at https://www.tucsonaz.gov/info/phone-apps.
Anyone can report graffiti via this technology and employees will be more active in documenting sites in need of cleanup as well. Code enforcement will be sending out postcards in advance of actual visits to private properties in the hope that more people will abate graffiti on their property and avert the costs of inspections and potential fines. I also asked that we re-craft our spending plan (which we’ve sustained at $900,000/year through the economic downturn) to test the approach of Avondale and other cities. By “frontloading” their dollars to aggressively abate tags on public and private property, they have seen the volume of their call load and abatement square footage drop by almost 50% over three years. Both Councilmember Romero and I stressed that we want to find ways of engaging private property owners through our existing contract and hotline. It seems better to us to ask folks to partner with us and contribute toward abatement than to go after private property owners with inspections and fines. We’re hopeful that a program can be proposed to accomplishment that.
Several years have been invested now in coming up with a detailed proposal for an Infill Incentive District (IID) that can both inspire and improve development in and around downtown. Mayor and Council allowed for an additional 30 days for staff and the community to address some final questions. Our hope is to adopt a policy that in essence offers incentives for developers to “trade in” their existing density and zoning for the balance of incentives and guidelines outlined in the IID. The goal is to improve the massing/heights and design of projects in exchange for reduced requirements (e.g. less on-site parking, tighter setbacks, etc.). I’m grateful to the City Planning Commission, Corky Poster and his team, and the many individuals who have spent hundreds of hours working through the proposal. We’re close to a final product that will offer mutual benefit to current downtown residents and businesses as well as those looking to invest there.
We also reviewed the audited year-end financials for Fiscal Year 2014. While we have clearly made progress on structural imbalances (on our self-insurance fund and City pension) some long term liabilities will challenge us over the years ahead. That has to continue to be a top priority for us in the FY2016 cycle. The fact that we sustained reserves through the downturn and did successfully address several key structural imbalances proves to me we can effectively take on additional long-term issues as the economy improves.
Speaking of the Long Term
In the near future our Charter Commission will provide an update on their suggested ballot questions, offering voters the chance to consider changes to how our local government is structured and operating. You can find out more about the Commission’s meeting and dialogue at this link: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/clerks/boards?board=120. 
Happy New Year
Last night we held our Ward 3 Open House. Thanks to the many community members and City employees who stopped in and to Pastiche for providing scrumptious refreshments. If you missed it, I think you’d have been heartened by the room full of people, diverse and all devoted to the betterment of Tucson. There’s no doubt we have a lot to look forward to together in 2015, thanks to those in attendance and the scores more who likewise contribute to making our home City the best it can be.
Have a great weekend,
Ward 3 Events:
- Blue Moon Community Garden Work Day – Saturday, January 24th 9:00 – 11:00 am at 1375 N. 13th Avenue. Join your neighbors at Barrio Blue Moon to help maintain the beautiful community garden!
- WMG GreenStreets Workshop – Sunday, January 25th 8:00 am – 1:00 pm. Help create lush streets in Jefferson Park - a central Tucson neighborhood! Neighbors will be installing rain gardens in the right of way to benefit an adjacent urban wash through a Conserve to Enhance grant. You'll learn best practices for designing and implementing stormwater-harvesting rain gardens. Kieran Sikdar will be facilitating the fun, learning, and work. This workshop is limited to 15 participants and advanced registration is required. Please register here: https://watershedmg.org/civicrm/event/info?id=432&reset=1
Neighborhood/Coalition Meetings:
- Rillito – Monday, January 26 6:00 – 7:00 pm at Lighthouse YMCA 2900 N. Columbus Blvd
- Hedrick Acres NA – Tuesday, January 27 6:30 – 8:00 pm Church of Christ 2842 N. Mountain
- Jefferson Park NA Annual Meeting – Wednesday, January 28 6:00 – 8:00 pm Ward III City Council Office 1510 E. Grant Rd
Citywide Events:
- What is Bus Rapid Transit? – Friday, January 23rd 6:00 – 7:30 pm at TEP Headquarters 88 E. Broadway. Learn how the 2014 Outstanding Public Transit System decided to use BRT, why they chose it for three separate routes in 2007, 2013, and 2017, and what the results have been.
Join us for a presentation and Q&A with Tom Schwetz, Planning and Development Manager for Lane Transit District (LTD) in Eugene, Oregon. During his more than 30 years in regional transportation planning and project management, Tom has worked to facilitate fruitful regional policy decisions for regional change. This includes the direct planning and development.
- Street Count 2015 Volunteer Training – Monday, January 26th 5:30 – 7:30 pm at Trinity Presbyterian Church 400 E. University Blvd. Street Count 2015 is coming up on January 29th and Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness is seeking your help! Volunteers are needed to make sure that every person is counted to help secure service and resources for those experiencing homelessness in our community. All volunteers must attend a training to meet their team and prepare for the Street Count. For more info or to donate, contact streetcount2015@gmail.com.
- Neighborhood Leadership Institute - Saturday, January 31st 9:00 – 11:00 am at Pima County Housing Center 801 W. Congress. Start the new year by sharing your neighborhood's challenges, accomplishments, ideas and concerns at a  Neighborhood Leadership Institute Roundtable & Coffee. Reserve your place today at 243-6769 or Leslie.Nixon@pima.gov
- Refugee 101 Info Night - Thursday February 12th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm in Room E23 at Catalina United Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway Blvd. Learn more about refugees and their journey to resettlement on a global, national and local level. This is a great informational event with no necessary volunteer commitment. RSVP to Emily Oshinskie at volunteer@iskashitaa.org. Join this interactive workshop the 2nd Thursday of the month at the same time and place!
Did You Know...?
…that Primavera is seeking to hire temporary workers for the Gem Show? Primavera Works is looking for low-income and homeless members of the community to help the city look its best in preparation of the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase which is just a week away.  Those hired will be paid above minimum wage and are asked to work eight hours a day between February 1st through 17th, to clean up the area along the I-10 corridor and also perform janitorial duties at the Tucson Convention Center. The deadline to register for orientation is Monday, January 26th. Those interested in this type of temporary work can call Primavera Works at (520) 882-9668. Check out recent coverage of this program at http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/27911939/primavera-works-to-hire-temporary-workers-for-gem-show
that volunteers are needed to help remove buffelgrass this weekend? Volunteers are needed for Beat Back Buffelgrass Day this Saturday to help slow the spread of the non-native weed, which poses a severe fire hazard and a deadly threat to native vegetation. Organizers of the event, hosted by the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, will guide volunteers in removing buffelgrass at 20 sites around Tucson. Volunteers are asked to register online at the website linked below.
From the Arizona Daily Star: http://tucson.com/news/local/volunteers-needed-saturday-to-clear-buffelgrass/article_4e22cea0-4773-56e7-8526-ce07e9c38624.html
Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center (registration): http://buffelgrass.org/
that the City of Tucson recently won the 2014 State Planning Award for Plan Tucson, the City’s General and Sustainability Plan? Plan Tucson was approved by more than 65 percent of voters in the November 2013 election. The award application required addressing seven criteria, including originality/innovation, transferability, quality, comprehensiveness, public outreach, role of planners, and effectiveness/results. Plan Tucson was the culmination of a three-year process conducted by an in-house team of City planners, in collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders to prepare a new General Plan that would serve as a comprehensive framework for a sustainable future over the next decade. Most participants found it a rewarding community-building process. Plan Tucson: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/pdsd/plan-tucson