Paul’s Note: Friday, March 20th, 2020
Pet of the Week
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
City Wide Events
Did You Know?
I know this week has been challenging for many of you. It has been for me and my staff as well. I want you to know that we continue to be accessible to you if you have concerns or questions. As always, the best way to contact us is by phone at 520-791-4711 or by email at Ward3@tucsonaz.gov.
Because it is critical that we celebrate life beyond COVID-19 mitigation, I’m sharing some neighborhood and organizational highlights and events that my staff and I had the pleasure to attend a couple weeks ago. I’ll plan on doing some pieces like this every week while also giving you the latest on the Corona Virus—and in that order.
This last weekend, before the onslaught of the pandemic, TPD hosted a community meeting La Madera Park. The goal of the meeting was an attempt at reactivation of the neighborhood. Community Service Officer Kara Curtis and Lt. James Brady were on hand to discuss the details of neighborhood watch. I would also like to thank all of the Park Safety Officers and Patrol Officers that were on hand for this event.
I fully support active and engaged neighborhoods. I think active neighborhoods offer important lines of communication. Neighborhoods are also vital in helping our office to identify opportunities for collaboration where positive outcomes can be achieved. I am hoping that the reactivation of La Madera will follow on the heels of the Country Club/Ft. Lowell safety group. For those who may not be familiar, the Country Club/Ft. Lowell safety group is a coalition of neighbors around that intersection that meets monthly (although that has been suspended) to discuss safety concerns. This initiative has proven successful. A big thank you to TPD’s Midtown Division and Lt. James Brady for supporting this multi-neighborhood problem-solving forum.
At the meeting in the park it was clear to our office that there are many residents that care about the park and their neighborhood very much. I know that a good number signed to get information about TPD’s neighborhood watch program. Going forward I hope we are able to harness this energy.
Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church
Last Sunday the stalwart congregation of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Ward 3 and one of the oldest African-American congregations in Tucson and the state held a special service to honor two community leaders -- Debi Chess, executive director of the Dunbar Pavilion, and Tucson Police Lt. Michelle Pickrom.
Debi Chess, Pastor Marvin L. Hugley Sr. and Lt. Michelle Pickrom
During a joyful celebration led by Mt. Calvary Pastor Marvin L. Hugley Sr., the two women received the Community Impact Award for their sincere commitment to strengthen our neighborhoods through their dedication. While I was not able to be present, as I had intended, my Council Aide Ernesto Portillo represented me and the Ward 3 office and delivered congratulatory words on my behalf to the spirit-filled congregation. I elected not to attend the March 15 service out an abundance of respect for those in attendance after having recently returned from a working trip to Washington D.C. on city business. While there was no worry for my personal health I chose to engage in best practices. I look forward when I can join Mt. Calvary in the near future for another celebration.
I know this is a tough time for small businesses in Tucson. Our Economic Initiatives team at the City of Tucson is working hard to help connect local businesses with critical resources. They have an excellent website at https://connecttucson.com/. We will also be hosting an important webinar on Navigating the Impacts of COVID-19 for Small Businesses.
Please join us for this free webinar on Monday, March 23rd, from 3-4 pm. Hosted by the City of Tucson Office of Economic Initiatives, hear from local resource partners that can assist you with access to capital, relief programs, and best practices during this challenging time. These partners include: Danny Knee, Community Investment Corporation; Bob Moskovitz, RAM Consulting & Advisory Group; Lesli Pintor, Growth Partners Arizona; Timothy Medcoff, Farhang & Medcoff Attorneys; Linda Welter, Caliber Group; and Gary Molenda, Business Development Finance Corporation. You can register at this link: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEudeigqDwsqA_qVG8ZI1cAOVaPK0Z-Yg.
Adapting with Style - Ward 3 Businesses Serve it Up!
Monica Suazo was stunned when a customer entered her family’s Mexican food restaurant and told her about Tucson Mayor Regina Romero’s announcement that restaurants, bars and other venues were to close due to the corona virus outbreak.
“I was so devastated,” she said.
Yet by 8 p.m. that evening after the mayor’s announcement on March 17, her family restaurant, Taquería Juanitos at 708 W. Grant Rd., immediately adapted to the new regulations aimed at reducing the spread of the corona virus. Juanitos closed its dining room and added curbside service to its take-out and delivery services.
Juanito and Monica Suazo
“We have to take precautions to take care of our customers,” said her brother Juanito, aka “Tacoman.” Like Juanitos, restaurants in Ward 3 have quickly taken steps to stay open to serve their customers while they maintain best practices to keep their employees and customers as safe as possible and to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Chris Sutter, the manager of Mario’s Pizza on North First Avenue and East Ft. Lowell Road, said only five customers at a time can be inside to wait for their take-out order. “If we have more than five, the others have to wait outside,” he said. “And they have to be six feet apart.”
Walk-in business has dropped, Sutter said, but deliveries have picked up. “Better to lose business than to be sorry,” Sutter said.
Businesses in Ward 3, like their residential neighbors, are doing their best to cope with the rapid-changing landscape created by the corona virus outbreak. They are practicing various forms of social distancing. Employees who handle food wear gloves. Entry to their buildings are limited.
Success of their businesses is critical to Tucson’s economy. They employ a large number of people and pay city sales tax which the city largely depends on for operating expenses.
Local businesses are also a source of pride for the community. Many are long established icons or recent arrivals in Ward 3, like El Chinito Gordo which opened late last year at 2920 N Oracle Rd, the site of the old Club 21 Mexican restaurant, a long-time Ward 3 fixture. Like other restaurants, El Chinito Gordo is promoting its take-out service while its dining room is closed.
But some eateries have chosen to close their doors. El Guero Canelo on North First Avenue posted signs that said it was closed until April 2.
Many businesses use online food delivery services like postmates.com, doordash.com or slice.com or provide their own delivery like Mario’s Pizza.
Helping Ward 3 businesses remain open during this period is critical. You can help. Call your favorite restaurant in Ward 3 and order by phone.If your business is implementing some innovative adaptation strategies, I want to know about them. Please send us an email at Ward3@tucsonaz.gov.
Flattening the COVID-19 Curve
I know we are all experiencing major life disruptions right now. I’m afraid there is just no way around that. For us to avoid the loss of life of Tucsonans to a COVID-19 outbreak, we will be inconvenienced. Our economy is shaky right now and the best way for us to ensure we get through this is to flatten the curve.
The City of Tucson is working closely with our Congressional Delegation and Governor Ducey to ensure that Tucsonans have the resources they need at this time. Recent legislation from Congress provides additional tools. I hope to have a more robust review of those policies in next week’s newsletter.
It is so important that we make sure we are communicating with each other right now, that our families and neighbors have good information and that if we need help, we know where to go for answers or help. A lot has happened in the last week and I know it can feel a little overwhelming. Below you will find the important items that my staff and I want to be sure you know about. Much of this information is on my social media feed in both English and Spanish.
Arizona State COVID-19 Hotline
A COVID-19 hotline has been set up to answer any questions from the public and healthcare providers about testing, symptoms, and any other questions you have about the virus.
Call 1-844-542-8201 (in Arizona) to reach a health care professional or visit https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2020/03/governor-ducey-announces-latest-covid-19-actions for the latest updates for the State of Arizona.
City of Tucson Hotline
The City of Tucson has launched a hotline to answer questions related to City services or cancellation of certain city offerings during this time and you can access it by dialing (520) 791-2540. This hotline is staffed Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. After hours, callers will have the option to send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice message that hotline staff will respond to the next day.
You can also get additional COVID-19 updates as they relate to the City of Tucson here: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/manager/covid-19-updates.
So now let’s get to some of those service changes that you may need to know about.
City Lobbies and Cash Payments
All lobbies within City of Tucson facilities will remain closed through March.
The City of Tucson has closed its cashier locations for in-person payments of utility services statements, business fees/licenses, permits, tax collections, and other items, but you can still pay online. Utility services payments may be dropped off at one of five City of Tucson dropboxes. All other payments should be mailed to City of Tucson, (ATTN: name of department), P.O. Box 27210, Tucson, AZ 85726-7210.
Pay utility services statement options: http://bit.ly/PayBill2.
City of Tucson dropbox locations: http://bit.ly/WaterDropbox.
Parks & Recreation
City recreation centers and aquatics facilities are closed. All aquatics, youth (SchoolzOut Camps) and senior programming are also canceled. All events hosted by the department throughout the next few weeks have been canceled. These events include the EGGstravaganza scheduled for April 4, as well as the Egg Hunt in the Park at Quincie Douglas, and Therapeutic Recreation programs and events.
All senior programming will be suspended at Parks facilities until further notice due to increased risk our senior community members face from COVID-19. The department is committed to ensuring that all Senior Meal Program Participants will continue to receive meals during this time and is working in partnership with Pima Council on Aging (PCOA) to make that happen.
Frozen meals will be provided to seniors enrolled in the congregate meals program. Pickup times will be scheduled at all eight of our meal sites. There will be no change for the program's home delivery participants.
For those individuals who received Sun Van vouchers for transportation to and from the meal sites, home delivery accommodations are being made.
Slow pitch softball leagues have been postponed until April 1.
To make or cancel a ramada reservation call 520-791-4873. Field reservations must contact the Sports Unit at 520-791-4870.
Landfill, Household Hazardous Waste & Trash Service
As part of the City of Tucson’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, the Environmental and General Services Department (EGSD) will no longer be accepting cash payments at the Los Reales Landfill.
Credit cards, debit cards, checks, or rechargeable cash cards will be accepted as payment.
The Los Reales Landfill is open Monday - Saturday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located at 5300 E. Los Reales Road. Anyone with landfill-related questions can call (520) 791-4183.
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection is suspended and will not be available until further notice. This includes:
• The monthly HHW collection event, originally scheduled for April 4, at the Eastside Service Center, 7575 E. Speedway Boulevard
• The main site at 2440 W. Sweetwater Drive
• The Los Reales Landfill site
There will be no interruption in trash, recycling, or Brush and Bulky Plus services.
TPD Officers out in the Community
Our TPD officers are doing more things remotely to protect the public. Low level property crimes (not burglaries), shoplifting, non-immediate threats can be reported over the phone with a TPD officer. In those cases, please call the non-emergency number at 791-4444.
If you are not sure what to do, please call 911 and the dispatcher can always give you direction on how best to proceed.
Finally, TPD Officers in both Divisions West and Midtown will not be attending neighborhood meetings at this time. Please know that if you need to communicate with TPD about neighborhood concerns, my office is prepared to help you make that connection (call us at 520-791-4711).
City Court Efforts to Mitigate Exposure
These operational changes are effective March 20 – 31 and may be extended as circumstances dictate. The court is limiting in-person access to the City Court building until further notice. All courtrooms are closed with the limited exceptions of those listed below. The Court building is only open for the following activities:
1. People seeking injunctions or appearing for related hearings. Otherwise, attendance is limited to counsel, court staff, law enforcement, and interpreters.
2. Domestic Violence Court attendance is limited to the attorneys, law enforcement, and court staff and interpreters.
3. Mental Health Court attendance is limited to the above persons and treatment providers. Attendance of any other individuals is prohibited and will only be permitted with approval of the assigned judge.
Reducing the Potential Spread of COVID-19 in the County Jail
While the City of Tucson does not operate the Pima County Jail, many of the people who are booked into the jail are referred from TPD. Tucson’s Police Department has been working for years to reduce the number of people being booked into our jail, instead seeking to find appropriate diversion programs and behavioral health supports for non-violent offenders.
Currently, all Pima County Law Enforcement Agencies have been encouraged to cite and release non-Domestic Violence misdemeanors to reduce traffic at the jail. Additionally, Superior Court has agreed to prioritize court appearances for those in custody so as to expedite their cases. Finally, the County has implemented additional sanitation practices by staff, screening tools and sanitation/disinfectant practices inside the facility to try and reduce the spread.
I know these approaches are shifting quickly. I would welcome additional feedback from individuals working within the facility or in communication with individuals inside the facility if additional efforts are being taken or are needed at this time.
Sun Tran and Sun Link
We want to keep our transit system safe, comfortable and accessible.
Beginning Saturday, March 21, 2020, the City of Tucson will waive the fares on Sun Tran, Sun Link and Sun Van. These changes are in effect through the end of March, at which point it will be reevaluated.
Transit is an essential service and will remain available during this time. For the safety of our drivers, with the exception of persons using mobility devices, riders will enter and exit the bus from the rear access door. A yellow line and rope have been placed behind the driver to help promote social distancing.
Additionally, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Tucson would ask the public to only use transit for essential services. When utilizing the service, please practice six (6) feet social distancing among passengers. Please keep in mind, loitering on public transit is prohibited.
Sun Link has implemented their summer schedule.
While not a City of Tucson service, the Ward 3 office has hosted a VITA program for many years every Saturday from February 1 through to April 15. Unfortunately, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has suspended services at all of their sites, including here at Ward 3. VITA is encouraging people to go to https://www.getyourrefund.org/ which allows taxpayers to upload all documents from home through a computer or by phone. This service is a national pilot and VITA would like to see as many people locally using it as possible. I should add that the IRS is allowing a three-month extension as well to assist households in figuring how best to move forward with filing their taxes.
Seriously, take good care of yourself and others. It should go without saying that, at this moment, to keep yourself healthy and distanced is to provide care to others.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me and my office if you need help.
Elian, the grandson of one of the Ward 3 team members, shows us how to wash your hands.
- Paul Durham
Pet of the Week
Huckleberry is just a little guy weighing in at less than 7 pounds. Don’t let his size fool you though because he loves to eat. He would be a great pal for someone who lives alone or a family that has a relaxed household because he gets shy when there is too much activity going on. Because Huckleberry is a lucky 7 years old his adoption fees at Pima Animal Care Center are waived. He is currently in foster care but he is more than ready to go to his forever home.
For more information about Huckleberry, email: PACC.Adopt@pima.gov.
For more information about Huckleberry or any other animal at PACC email: PACC.Adopt@pima.gov or better yet, make an appointment to meet this little guy in person and see for yourself how sweet he is.
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
The following neighborhood association and coalition meetings have been cancelled for the month of March:
Grant Road Coalition
Central Segments Safety Coalition
Ft Lowell/Country Club Safety meeting
Campbell Grant NA
Jefferson Park NA
City Wide Events
While many activities have been cancelled, there are still ways to keep the kids occupied. A quick Google search brings up 100’s of indoor and outdoor activities.
NASA wants to help kids all over the country who are out of school and looking for something to do. The agency posted tutorials on different STEM activities you and your children can do at home. The activities range from building a moon habitat, or your own edible spacecraft to different puzzles and even different rockets you can build in your backyard. A bonus is that a lot of the materials are things you probably already have at home--like straws, paper clips, and tape.
Check out the activities by clicking here.
Did You Know?
The public meetings for the Tucson Electric Power Kino to DeMoss-Petrie 138 kV transmission line project have been suspended, but public outreach remains an important part of TEP’s planning process and comments are still being accepted in writing and electronically. TEP invites the public to share their input using one of the methods listed below.
Mailing a letter with comments to:
P.O. Box 711
Mail Stop RC131
Tucson, AZ 85701-0711
Sending comments to KINO2DMP@tep.com
Filling out an online comment form
Calling 1-833-523-0887 and leaving a voicemail message
TEP is committed to supporting public health and ensuring the delivery of reliable power and are ready to help customers with payment extensions or enrollment in short-term assistance and bill discount programs. Because some customers may be facing financial challenges so TEP is suspending service disconnections and late fees until further notice.
There are many local organizations that urgently need volunteer help to continue providing critical services. Two are:
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona
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.
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMPaulDurham/
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham