Pauls Note: Friday, February 26, 2021

Paul's Ward 3 News and Updates
 
Friday, February 26, 2021
 
News and Updates
Pet of the Week                 
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ward 3 Events
City Wide Events
Did You Know?
 
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This week is about change. Ward 3 is in transition. Council Member Paul Durham will end his term and the Ward will soon welcome its new representative. In today’s newsletter we have an interview with him as he looks back at his tenure on the City Council. Please wish him well and thanks for his dedicated service.
 
We also have information about small cell poles and the response of the Mayor and Council to the increasing number of complaints from residents, and we highlight the action that the Mayor and Council are taking to improve standards in City regulations to ensure cooling during the long, hot summers. Lastly, we celebrate the City’s new recreational vans which made their debut yesterday at City parks.
 
Council Member Durham says good bye
 
Dear Ward 3 friends: This will be my last newsletter. As many of you know, I have resigned my seat effective Monday, March 1, at the end of the business day. This action, which is necessary, was not in my plans when you elected me to represent you, your families and your neighbors. I am stepping down for personal reasons.
 
Last Sunday the Arizona Daily Star published my essay on my accomplishments. In part it said, “While my tenure was shorter than expected, I believe I have accomplished many priorities I committed to while running for office in 2017.” You can read it in its entirety here.
 
However, I want to share with you more personal thoughts and reflections. My Ward 3 aide, Ernesto Portillo, asked to interview me on this occasion. Of course, how could I refuse. Mind you, this is not my final story. I will continue to live in Ward 3 and remain interested in the welfare and improvements that will come to the Ward, in part, because of some of the initiatives I championed and persuaded my City Council colleagues to approve.
 
-Paul Durham
 
Paul with members of the Tucson Climate Coalition.
 
At Council Member Paul Durham’s final council meeting Tuesday, his colleagues lauded him for his service and dedication. He remained pensive and he thanked them for their words. But inside he was filled with thoughts and feelings.
 
“I was thinking I had left a lot of great tracks during my time on the City Council,” Paul said during a virtual interview, alongside Philippe. Paul thought about trees, air and water. He thought about sustainability. He thought about climate change and electrification of city vehicles. These are the some of the issues that he promoted, that he pushed, all with an eye toward making a cleaner and more eco-friendly city.
 
Paul ran on an environmental platform. At his first City Council meeting in December 2017, a month after being elected, he began to nudge then Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and fellow council members to  aggressively develop solar photovoltaic systems at city facilities. More actions would follow.
 
As Paul began working on his agenda, however, he had other matters to attend to. Not long after joining the City Council, Paul and Philippe married. Like Paul, Philippe was grounded in sustainable living and doing his part to make our community better. Philippe had founded in 2004 the Tucson CSA, Community Supported Agriculture. It connects local small organic food growers with customers.
 
Paul and Philippe on their wedding day.
 
On the City Council, the work was demanding. There were long City Council meetings. And even before final Council action on many critical matters, Paul attended numerous meetings with constituents, stake holders, city staff and others to find solutions and consensus on difficult issues. Yet throughout the long, tedious process, Paul remained even keel, unperturbed by the endless hours and countless pages to read.
 
Philippe said Paul put in the hours needed to be an effective representative. “He never complained. I was in awe of his capacity to work,” he said.
 
Paul’s endurance and capacity for long hours and hard work can also be seen in his bike riding. He’s an avid cyclist for pleasure but also supported ways to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians, and to encourage alternative modes of transportation.
 
Paul participating in El Tour de Tucson in 2018.
 
Even before joining the City Council, Paul clocked the hours during his election campaign. He knew what it took. His father was an educator and elementary school principal. Paul graduated from law school. He practiced business law. And before his election, he had volunteered on political campaigns and served as the campaign coordinator for former Ward 3 Council Member, Nina Trasoff. Paul worked as her chief of staff while she served on the City Council.
 
So in the summer of 2017 seeking to follow her on the City Council, Paul hit the streets of Ward 3, introducing himself to you, residents and business owners. He answered your hard questions. “Why do you want to be on the Council?” “What are your qualifications?” “Will you work hard for us?” Paul told them what he would do. On days when the Tucson thermometer hit a typical 110 degrees, Paul was knocking on doors.
 
“Paul, it’s 110 degrees! Go home,” Philippe remembered telling him. Paul, of course, went on to the next door and the next ones after that. But when it reached 115 degrees, Paul went home – to make phone calls, Philippe said.
 
But there was a payoff to knocking on door after door after door.
 
“One time I knocked on the door of an elderly Black woman,” Paul recalled. She had lived in her house for years, he said. And just as Paul finished making his pitch for her vote, the woman told Paul, “You’re the second candidate to ever come to my door.” Who was the first, he asked her.
 
“Bobby Kennedy,” she said.
 
Paul in his swearing-in ceremony in 2017.
 
Paul dived into the myriad and often complex city issues. All with an eye of endorsing stronger environmental policies.
 
“I saw the fruits of my efforts pay off when the city of Tucson received its first electric bus,” said the Daily Star op-ed. “Transit has long been a priority for Ward 3 residents, and I continued this advocacy while looking to transition our fleet away from fossil fuels. I am proud to share that another 10 electric buses will join the Sun Tran fleet soon.”
 
He equally worked to protect people when the pandemic erupted a year ago. He advocated for eviction relief for Tucson’s vulnerable residents. He saw through a partnership with the City of Tucson and the Pima County constables to keep people from being tossed out.
 
Finally, last year, he joined Mayor Regina Romero to support the City’s adoption of a Climate Energy Declaration, a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality and 50% waste reduction by 2030. This will lead to a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which lays out a road map for the City to realign municipal functions for a sustainable future.
 
“I have always been dedicated to a sustainable life style,” Paul said.
 
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Paul received the thanks and warm wishes from his colleagues.
 
“He was the first to show up and the last to leave,” said Ward 1 Council Member Lane Santa Cruz. “I admired that he didn’t shy away from putting in the hard work,” she said, adding that Paul showed up with “ganas,” using the Spanish word for moxie.
 
“I take your work ethic with me,” she said to Paul.
 
While all the work was hard, Paul said it was worthwhile. He enjoyed meeting and talking to people. He looked forward to attending events, cutting ribbons. He loved being part of the community, sharing their dreams. He relished being a Ward 3 neighbor, attending the various community events in our Ward 3 parks.
 
Paul at the annual Eggstravaganza spring celebration at Mansfield Park in 2018.
 
Paul said his advice to the person who follows him as the Ward representative is simple: “Think of what your core beliefs are and follow through with them.”
 
That’s what he did. He focused on leading the City to a healthier environment and he stood up for people who needed help.
 
“It’s my core being,” he said. “I was determined to make a difference.”
 
Rodeo Days at Jacobs Park
 
Tucson Parks and Recreation Department launched its new mobile rec program Thursday at parks around the city including Jacobs Park in Ward 3. Ready, Set, Rec! is a program to engage the community and bring recreation to residents using federal CARES Act dollars. What a great way to have fun while the kiddos are out of school for Rodeo Days. 
 
 
This program brought games for all ages to the park including corn hole, board games, hula hoops, giant chess, giant checkers, giant connect 4, cards, music, dominoes, giant ring toss, walking sticks and more.
 
The tour of the recreation vans continues and the next stop in Ward 3 will be at La Madera park on Saturday, Feb. 27 from noon until 2. The fun continues for the next few weeks and you can find many other opportunities to play on the Parks and Recreation website.
 
 
Small Cell Poles
 
You have probably heard and read quite a bit recently on the topic of small cell poles. These small cell poles, around the size of a street light or power pole, are being erected all over town by the three large wireless telecommunications providers, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, to create and expand their 5G networks.
 
 
To provide a bit of background and context, in 2018 the Arizona State Legislature passed a law that removed the ability of local jurisdictions to regulate and compel the location of placement of these small cell poles. Essentially the new state law allows the wireless companies to place these poles in any public Right of Way (ROW) they see fit. Under the law, local jurisdictions are required to approve any application for a cell pole in the ROW unless it creates a traffic hazard. In addition, the same law prohibited local jurisdictions from making other changes to permitting programs, such as increased fees for cell poles, in any effort to influence placement.
 
The state law has led to situations where cells poles are being placed in front of people’s homes without their consent. The installation of these cells poles affects residents, their homes and neighborhoods.
 
In an effort to bring some order to the situation, at Tuesday’s Mayor and Council meeting, regulations were approved that stipulate the wireless provider must furnish documentation that all other potentiall locations for a new cell pole, if it is to be placed in front of a home, were exhausted. In addition, the Mayor and Council asked that collocation with other poles, such as TEP power poles or traffic signs be explored.
 
In Ward 3 we have been working with Verizon, the only company thus far that has made itself available, on siting locations in an effort to reduce impacts. Verizon has stated that they are able to work with neighborhoods on exterior aesthetics of the poles themselves. Ward 3 has been in and will continue to have conversations with TEP about collocation of 5G technology on power poles.
 
We are hopeful that some progress can be made with these avenues. While the City of Tucson may not have the power to compel these companies to locate at specified sites, we are exhausting all avenues available to reduce negative impacts on Ward 3 residents.
 
Cooling Standards for Renters
 
The Ward 3 and Ward 4 Council offices have been collaborating to put our residents on better footing this coming summer. Based on these joint efforts, Mayor and Council provided guidance on Tuesday to the City Attorney to revise the ordinance related to cooling standards and to bring proposed ordinance language back on March 9.
 
The critical element here is that the City of Tucson needs clear, measurable cooling standards spelled out in the ordinance. Doing so will ensure landlords are providing a safe living environment to their renters by having appropriate cooling in all habitable rooms.
 
Since the summer of 2020 both the Ward 3 and Ward 4 Council offices have been working with the Environmental and General Services Department and the City Attorney’s office comparing other Arizona City Ordinances. Specifically, we are recommending to add language to TC Ch. 16, Sec. 16-11(c) stating:
 
  1. Air conditioners shall be capable of producing ambient temperatures at or below eighty-two (82º) degrees. Measurement shall be taken at a distance three (3) feet above the floor in center of the room.
  2. Evaporative coolers shall be capable of producing ambient temperatures below eighty-six (86º) degrees. Measurement shall be taken at a distance three (3) feet above the floor in center of the room.
 
We believe these requirements are reasonable and will go a long way toward protecting the health of Tucson residents in our rapidly warming climate.
 
Climate Survey
 
While we are on the subject of climate adaptation strategies, the Ward 3 Council office encourages you to take part in the Climate Action Community Survey. To date, over 2500 individuals have responded with valuable feedback on how the City of Tucson should facilitate community-wide climate and environmental sustainability actions.
 
 
This survey along with listening sessions will bolster the behind-the-scenes work that is already underway at the city and will form the basis of the larger Climate Action Plan.
 
So far more than 73% of survey respondents have strongly supported energy efficiency in existing and new residential, multifamily and commercial buildings; accessibility to rooftop solar opportunities; and the creation of locally sourced, renewable electricity throughout the city. Further down in the priority rankings are transit and built environment policy interventions.
 
The survey will remain open until May. Please don’t wait to provide your feedback.
 
Pet of the Week
 
 
 
Nutmeg Jr. is a 4 month old Silkie rooster who is up for adoption at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Silkies are an ancient breed of chickens that are known for their fluffy appearance and they have black skin and bones.
 
Unfortunately, roosters are not allowed in Tucson without consent of your neighbors, but if you or someone you know is a poultry farmer living outside of city limits then Nutmeg Jr. is just the guy for you.
 
To adopt Nutmeg Jr., just email adoptions@hssaz.org or fill out this form.
 
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Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
 
Sugar Hill Planting
Saturday
February 27
9-11:30 am
Mansfield Park
2000 N 4th Ave
 
 
Alvernon Grant Initiative
Tuesday
March 9
6 pm
Zoom
If you would like to attend the January Zoom AGI meeting, send an email to paloverdena@gmail.com
by Tuesday, February 9, at noon.
 
Cabrini
Thursday
March 4
6-7 pm
Zoom
Contact the Ward office for details.
 
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Ward 3 Events
 
Neighborhood Engagement Series
Thursday
March 4
5:30 pm
 
For next week’s session we have developed content that will help engage and inform neighbors on best practices to widen inclusivity.
 
Here is the link to view the all prior sessions on the Ward 3 YouTube page.
 
VITA at Ward 3 Council Office
 
 
Did you know that if you made $66,000 or less last year, you do not have to pay to file your taxes? The United Way of Tucson's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program can help you file for free. Mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way is teaming up with www.GetYourRefund.org to provide free, online, one-on-one tax assistance from real, live IRS-certified tax preparers. VITA tax preparation saves taxpayers an average of $250 per return. The program helps taxpayers access all tax credits for which they are eligible – including the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
There are three ways you can get your taxes done for free:
 
-GetYourRefund.org – taxpayers can connect with VITA volunteers online
-In-Person Assistance – limited in-person assistance is available at select sites
-DIY Self-Prep Software – online services for those who feel confident in filing on their own Click here for more information.
 
If you do not have access to the internet you can call 520-837-4231 to talk to VITA volunteers by phone. Be sure to leave your name and a good contact number so that they can reach out to assist you.
 
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City Wide Events
 
Volunteer To De-Litter the Santa Cruz River #notinmyriver
Sunday
March 7
9-11 am
Santa Cruz River Heritage Project
Between 22nd St/29th St
 
 
Join the trash cleanup and buffelgrass pulling event for Sunday, March 7th. Focus will be on the area around the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project's outfall, working to make space for native plants that will be seeded later in the month.
 
ReGeneration: The Tucson Story
Friday
February 26
6:30 pm
 
Watch the premiere of this fun film about a diverse group of teens who bring their communities together to save Tucson as climate change progresses.
 
Synopsis: In Tucson’s not-so-distant future where climate change takes a turn for the worst, where even native Sonoran plants can’t stand the desert heat, a blackout causes a disruption in the already diminished water and food supply. It’s up to the youth to find a way to escape their scorching hot fate. Can Rogelio, a barrio teen grappling with family issues, alongside of Ha:san, a Tohono O’odham teen struggling to balance traditional ways with city life, and Alex, a runaway non-binary science whiz, bring their communities together to fix this mess before it's too late?
 
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Did You Know?
 
TUCSON WATER STILL ACCEPTING PAYMENT PLANS AS SHUT-OFF MORATORIUM ENDS
 
 
 
The Mayor and Tucson City Council recently directed Tucson Water to resume shutting off water accounts for nonpayment, beginning March 15. The utility is notifying affected customers of this impending change. It's also making them aware of the more than $1 million that is still available to help people pay utility bills if they have a COVID-related financial hardship. Tucson Water is urging customers with delinquent accounts to check their mail for bills, and any notices about delinquencies, and call (520) 791-3242 by March 15 to set up a payment plan. Tucson Water has had a suspension on disconnections since last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the news release
Online payments to Tucson Water
Get assistance for utility bills (City of Tucson site)
Get assistance for utility bills (Pima County site)
 
Call to Artists: Large Mural Opportunity Along the Rillito Wash and Bike Path
 
 
Budget: $75,000
Deadline: March 8, 2021
 
Three soil retaining walls have recently been completed on the north bank of the Rillito River near the Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club. These walls will serve as a surface for an expansive unified mural or can be treated with separate themes dependent on the artist’s vision in collaboration with the community feedback from the artist selection panel. Artists whose work involves optical illusions are strongly encouraged to apply, given the substantial dimensions and distance for viewing. There is also a strong interest in artist teams.
 
Help Create a 10-year Climate Action Plan For Tucson
 
 
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero is inviting the community to complete a survey to identify their priorities for both City government and community-wide climate and environmental sustainability actions. As part of a climate emergency declaration on Sept. 9, 2020, the City of Tucson committed to develop and implement a 10-year Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Community Survey will kick-start the process of developing that plan. "I invite all Tucsonans to complete the Climate Action Community Survey and voice your priorities and ideas on climate action and environmental sustainability,” said Mayor Romero. 
Take the Climate Action Survey
Resolution 23222 - Climate Emergency Declaration
 
TRANSIT FARES REMAIN FREE THROUGH JUNE 30
 
Tucson's Mayor and City Council voted recently to extend the suspension of transit fares through the end of this fiscal year, June 30. That means riders won't have to pay to make trips on Sun Tran buses, the Sun Link streetcar, Sun Van, Sun On Demand, and Sun Shuttle. The City received funds for public transit in the latest federal relief package that will help offset the costs of not charging fares during the pandemic.
 
Community Food Bank Has New Hours
 
The Community Food Bank will continue its scheduled food distribution in Tucson three times a week with a slight adjustment in hours.
 
Food will be available from 8:00am – 11:00 am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the Food Bank’s warehouse at 3003 S. Country Club beginning Tuesday, March 2nd.
 
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Council Member Paul Durham is on Social Media!
 
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham
 
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