Paul's Note: Friday, December 13th, 2019

Paul’s Note: Friday, December 13th, 2019
Paul’s Note
Pet of the Week                   
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ward 3 Events
City Wide Events
Did You Know?
Paul’s Note
Sabino Canyon Electric Shuttle
I had the pleasure this week of taking an emission free shuttle ride along the 7.4 mile round trip Sabino Canyon tram tour. You have likely heard about this effort—it’s received excellent coverage and Tucsonans seem to be very supportive of the move to invest in cleaner transportation options.
In partnership with the Regional Planning Center, TEP donated $1.5 million and provided an additional $1 million interest-free loan to support the purchase of shuttles for the service. These zero-emissions trams at the Sabino Canyon Recreational Area provide an opportunity to test out how well these open-air electric vehicles will perform in the Sonoran Desert and provide an early opportunity for TEP to test out new EV charging infrastructure at an important regional site.
The shuttles hold up to 62 passengers and are wheelchair accessible. Just like the old tour, these new vehicles will play an audio tour of the Canyon to accompany the ride.
Climate Strike
On Friday, December 6th, Arizona Youth Climate Strike took to the streets in conjunction with the UN COP25 Climate Summit in Madrid and to call on local jurisdictions to develop and implement a Climate Action Plan and Declare a Climate Emergency.
I was honored to join with area youth and want to thank the Tucson branch of Arizona Youth Climate Strike for inviting me to participate and share a few words about the work my colleagues and I are doing to move the City of Tucson to reach netzero by 2030 (another goal of the nationwide Youth Climate Strike). I’ll share some of those comments below, but first want to share more about why it’s so important that our youth are mobilizing.
I enjoyed this sign held by Ward 3 constituent Lois Martin for accurately expressing the generational dynamics around climate change.
The youth mobilizing across the globe have very clearly stated that climate mitigation is the number one priority and the lack of action by their elders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition off of a carbon-dependent economy has already placed an unbelievable burden on their generation. Thankfully more and more elders are starting to get it and, importantly, are listening to the cries for urgent action coming from our youth.

In addition to the request of our Tucson chapter that the City of Tucson develop and implement a Climate Action Plan and declare a climate emergency, the City is moving forward on a number of policies that should feed into our Climate Action Plan. I spoke to some of these in my comments last week, which I’ve provided an excerpt of below.

I’m proud to say that since I took office, we’ve increased the solar power on city facilities by 254%. I take pride when I hear my constituents explain that they know me to be an advocate for pushing the city government to reach netzero by 2030. That’s true. I believe government, corporations and civil society must act swiftly to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels.

This is no easy task, but as a City we must lead by example.

In the last two years I believe I’ve made progress with the support of my colleagues on Mayor & Council. I’ve increased the renewable energy consumption of the City of Tucson’s operations away from fossil fuels through increased solar energy production. I successfully created a revolving Energy Fund for the City of Tucson, into which energy savings will be reinvested into future energy efficiency and green energy funds. And have guided energy retrofits of city facilities forward as well as the electrification of the City fleet. I’m very excited to say that in January 2020 we will see the first battery electric bus providing service to Sun Tran riders, and I found the FTA grant that will pay for approximately four additional electric buses at the beginning of 2021.

I’m going to keep working to move the City of Tucson toward netzero and I invite you to join me. More must done and each of you, here today, have a role to play. Leadership of our young people and the broadening of participants in a growing climate coalition is critical in guiding us forward. I want you to know that as an elected official, I welcome your energy and vision.

I share this with you here because I really believe that we all have a role to play and that Ward 3 constituents support these young advocates. I signed off at the Climate Strike with another statement that I truly believe. “There is no other time for us to act. We Must Act Now!” I hope you’ll join me.

U of A Economic Outlook
Every year, the Eller economist George Hammond speaks at a lunch to discuss the state of Tucson’s economy and what the future may hold for us. Professor Hammond is frequently quoted on the news or in print, so you may have read a quote or two from him in the Star about jobs reports in the past.
This year’s message was fairly upbeat: Arizona and Tucson are growing, incomes are rising, new jobs are coming and the immediate future looks stable. That’s not the whole story though. Income growth per capita is still slow, we’re lagging behind peer cities in the percentage of residents with a college degree and jobs (especially jobs that pay a living wage) are not being created fast enough.
You can see from the chart above that Tucson’s job growth was significantly weaker than the U.S. as a whole in the last several years, but that the gap is closing. We’re projected to about match national job growth this year and beat it in future years and that’s a great sign. I’ll continue to work with our economic development partners to do what we can to help local businesses grown and attract new ones to our region. We still have challenges, but the future looks bright for Tucson.
Rio Nuevo Audit
The Arizona Auditor General audits the books and operations of Rio Nuevo to ensure that tax dollars are being used wisely and in accordance with Rio Nuevo’s mandate. The latest report was released recently and the current direction of the board received stellar remarks:
“There has been continued improvement in the performance of the Rio Nuevo District through Fiscal Year 2019. In fact, the accomplishments of the District in the latest performance audit period are truly exceptional as a number of actions taken by the District have allowed for major projects to advance in the District and have also improved the long term outlook for the Tucson Convention Center.”
The independent report found that for every dollar that Rio Nuevo invested, the private sector spent $6, which is quite a return on investment. You can see the exciting growth happening downtown, especially on the streetcar line. This year Rio Nuevo also moved forward with new improvements to the TCC which will start in 2020.
I met recently with a musician who plays in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra who complained that the Music Hall is woefully behind the times- he’s right and I was happy to tell him that the Music Hall will get new seating, restrooms, lobby production equipment and even a new outdoor patio.
We still need to build more housing, create more jobs that pay well and make our city more livable. But I’m glad the Rio Nuevo is a partner working with us.
Tucson Holiday Ice!
Speaking of Rio Nuevo, they were partners in a new attraction coming to downtown this Holiday Season. Through January 5th, there will be an outdoor ice rink downtown at the MLK/Depot Garage Lot behind Hotel Congress. Rio Nuevo paid for the upfront cost of the rink and capital needs, which are projected to last more than a decade of Christmas’s to come. And it’s portable, so it can be moved if a future site is identified. The contractor who oversees operations at the Tucson Convention Center, SMG, will run the day to day operations.
It’s a great amenity to bring folks downtown and enjoy some lovely time outside this holiday. You can find hours and pricing online at
70th Annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights
The 70th Annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights starts this Saturday, December 14th! It runs every day through December 29th from 6 to 10pm. This is an amazing Ward 3 tradition and couldn’t be possible without the incredible residents of Winterhaven and the sponsors of the event, including TEP, who is this year’s Title Sponsor.
There are some things to remember if you go: please be a good neighbor! Every year, our office receives complaints about littering, jay-walking and illegal parking near the lights. If you and your family go, please be sure to be considerate to neighbors by parking legally, picking up after yourself and most importantly staying safe!
Finally, please bring a donation for the Community Food Bank. The festival is free, but in return they ask for a food or monetary donation to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Last year, over $27,000 and 56,000 pounds of food were donated. This year’s biggest needs are peanut butter, oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, canned tomato products, canned tuna & chicken, canned soup, canned vegetables, canned fruit, rice and pasta.
- Paul D.
Pet of the Week
Sam is a male black and tan Mastiff and German Shepherd Dog. Like a lot of us around the holidays, Sam’s been eating too much recently and needs a forever home with lots of walks!
He’s about 7 years old, 107 pounds and his foster family says he’s a “sweet loving boy that needs a great home!” He’s great with cats, young children and house-trained. Contact the Pima Animal Care Center to schedule a visit to meet this handsome man.
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Keeling Desert Park Cleanup
December 14th
8-10 am
Keeling Desert Park
245 E Glenn St
December 17th
6:30-8 pm
Salpointe High School
1545 E Copper St
THRIVE in the 05 Public Meeting
December 18th
6:00 - 7:30 pm
Pima Community College Downtown Campus
1255 N Stone Ave
Amethyst Room (CC 180)
Flowing Wells
December 19th
6-8 pm
Ellie Town Center
Flowing Wells Estates Neighborhood Watch
December 21st
4-5 pm
Old Times Kafe
1485 W Prince Rd
Ward 3 Events
Cookies With Santa
December 19th
5:30-7:30 pm
Marty Birdman Center
2536 N Castro
City Wide Events
Zoo Lights
It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Zoo Lights: Holiday Magic, presented by Tucson Electric Power! Sip hot chocolate as you stroll through the twinkling lights of Tucson’s favorite holiday tradition. Over one million twinkling lights illuminate the beautiful Zoo grounds with sounds of the season flowing throughout the Zoo. Zoo Lights opens to the public from December 5-23 with Encore Nights December 26-30. Every night the event runs from 6 to 8 p.m.
Throughout the evening, you’ll enjoy:
  • Falling snow in the winter wonderland
  • Pictures with Santa December 5-23
  • Live music
  • S’mores, sweet treats, and hot chocolate (with or without spirits!)
  • Over one million twinkling lights and lighted animals displays
  • The great feeling of knowing your ticket purchase helps save wild animals and wild places
Learn more and plan your trip at:
Did You Know...?
Roger Rd Public Art Project
The Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona has 2 positions available on a new public art artist selection panel.  This public art project will be the first public art associated with Prop 407 and will be a part of the Roger Road Pedestrian Safety and Walkability Project.
For more information about the Call to Artists you can go to the Arts Foundation website and click on the link for artists and organizations or contact the Ward 3 office at
E-Scooter Survey
As the City of Tucson continues the E-Scooter Pilot Program it has launched a survey to help better evaluate the impact of scooters on the community.  Whether you are one of over 30,000 riders who have tried an e-scooter or not, the City is encouraging everyone to take the survey and would like your input to evaluate the pilot program.
To take the survey you can go to this link: through the end of February 2020.
For full details about Tucson’s e-scooter share pilot program, information on how to report a scooter issue, and safety tips to know before you ride, visit:
Council Member Paul Durham is on Social Media!
Ward 3 has Facebook and Twitter pages so you can keep up with our Council Member and stay in touch with what's happening in Tucson and around the Ward.
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham
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