Topics in this issue...
- Be Kind
- Asylum Seeking Guests
- Water Security
- Glitter, Dazzle, and Sparkle
- Speed Reductions
- Local First
- Prop 101
- A Mountain Public Dialogue
- Maynards to the Moon
- Events & Entertainment
This little guy is living over at the Downtown Motor Apartments, which is the relatively new apartment complex that’s serving a largely low/mod income veteran clientele. Each time I have been to the place, the residents are grateful for the new start, and for the caring staff. So why the caterpillar? Well, they also have a vegetable and flower garden that houses a Monarch Way Station. It is the Lodge’s way of doing their part to support the return of the endangered butterflies. They now have three of these little guys, with more likely to come, and all of the clients are pitching in to make it happen.
The Arison Group is a philanthropic family foundation that back in 2007 started Good Deeds Day. It began with 7,000 people in Israel taking part. They have grown it every year since, and last year had over 3.5 million people in cities all over the world involved. It’s very simply groups of people teaming up to commit to doing projects for neighbors, or simply reaching out to others and doing a good deed – being kind – on a given day set aside for that. This year Good Deeds Day is Sunday, April 7th. Mark your calendar, and think about getting one of your social or neighborhood groups involved. To learn how, check their site at www.good-deeds-day.org.
Below I am going to have a bit more to say about what is happening at the Benedictine, but for the Be Kind I have to give thumbs up to the volunteers who are working over there once again. In my visits to the site last week I saw people working in the kitchen, serving food, doing medical assessments, helping guests with travel arrangements, supervising an art room for the kids, managing the clothing donations, working to translate key phrases into indigenous languages, filling travel bags, helping with transportation to the bus station, and plenty more. The needs are not diminishing. Training for volunteers takes place weekly. To get involved, sign up here: https://goo.gl/forms/cYPqtnKEf2OL7pQu1
I have several items related to the monastery from last week. First, as the rezoning process begins, I have started reaching out to potential partners for transitioning the asylum seeker project to a new location. More on that to come, but all of the great work you read about that is taking place at the Benedictine will need to find a new home. Look at the list of functions people are helping out with and you can tell moving it will not be a simple task of finding a place with a couple of office areas. Some of the transition meetings I attended were very positive. We are likely looking at an end-of-summer time frame for moving. Stay tuned. Waiting until August to start these plans would be foolish.
The rezoning process is now in full force. The first Planned Area Development (PAD) submittal from the development/design team is now under review by city staff. Here is a link to it in case you would like to browse through it. It is a 148-page document, with graphics, so give it a little time to load. For those of you who would prefer a synopsis, I will give you that below. https://www.tucsonaz.gov/pro/pdsd/permitdetail/RZ19-001/12513068A.
Here is one of the graphics that is included in the PAD document. It shows a 1940 image of when they laid the cornerstone on the building. The street in the foreground is Country Club. I am going through a bunch of old photos as I make my way through my mom’s stuff – these early shots are fun to look back at, and in this case it gives a context explaining the sensitivity to what happens on the site.
Of course, here is the view today.
We have started the Historic Landmark zoning process on the building. Based on commitments made during the Plan Amendment phase, both the city and the development team (Ross and Corky) fully align with respect to preserving the building. This map is included in the PAD submittal. It shows the outline of the preservation proposal.
We did not just arrive at this point in the negotiations overnight. The PAD doc also contains a comprehensive timeline showing the public engagement. I would add though that there were multiple late night and weekend meetings/phone calls that do not appear on this list. Many people have offered lots of input on what happens to this historically important site. This record of meetings is contained in the PAD doc:
Rezoning documents are very comprehensive. This is the point in the process where the actual design elements are decided. Large ticket items such as massing and scale, but also smaller items such as the actual aesthetic appearance of the exterior are included during this phase. The PAD doc starts with the background on the site, giving the history, project overviews and then works towards details such as pedestrian access, parking, and location of trash pick-up. I am pushing to have the Plan Amendment and Rezoning process joined at the hip – at least allow for that as an option – on future large projects since the details are what people are most interested in when being asked to change language in their neighborhood plans. I think we will get there, but for now, the Benedictine is moving through the regular rezoning, somewhat linear process.
So what all is included in the document? To save you the time of downloading it and paging through, here are some of the items you would find browsing in the Table of Contents.
Part 1 is the background and project overview. It also covers the rationale for using a PAD approach and a discussion of bringing the project into conformance with the city land-use policies.
How the project fits in with the surrounding area is another important piece of this. The PAD doc looks at proximity to hospitals, police and fire, schools and parks. I know TUSD has issued a letter that suggests the closest elementary school in Sam Hughes is at capacity with students. While the development project is not required to address school enrollment, the letter has started a sidebar conversation about how the District might reframe some of their own enrollment policies to help multiple schools balance enrollment.
The PAD doc begins to develop some of the site design elements. In the Development Standards section, they go through parking, building height, loading zones, building setbacks, water conservation standards, hydrology, and historic preservation. It is a thorough look at all considered components for the site, and the many factors that need to be considered when contemplating such a significant change of use. To set a benchmark, there is a ton of ‘existing conditions’ graphics included in the PAD. Here is just a one-page example of what you would find by reading through the doc:
As a reminder, this is the existing zoning on the property.
Now here is a massing diagram that is included in the PAD showing the proposed site plan.
I have skipped a lot. If you are interested in seeing the full document, you can access it through this link. With very few exceptions, I am hearing strong support from the community about the process this has taken, and the direction the public outreach is taking. Remember to mark your calendar for 6pm on Wednesday, April 17th to come and see the public presentation first hand. Enter through the front doors of the chapel, right off from Country Club. Based on our earlier meetings of this nature, I expect to see a full house of interested community members.
Unfortunately, the excellent humanitarian work we are doing over in the Benedictine right now in partnership with Catholic Community Services, and literally hundreds of volunteers, had a temporary interruption last week. A small group of fringe attention seekers, most of who were outfitted in this sort of clothing decided to show up and harass the operation.
It is a sad little group who does a disservice to the great work the vast majority of the community is supporting at the monastery.
I am grateful to the leadership within TPD who recognizes the importance of what we are doing at the Benedictine on behalf of the migrant families. Their involvement is allowing the operation to return to its normal humanitarian focus.
We continue to accept donations at the Ward 6 office – most needed are dry foods, kids’ toys for bus trips, and personal sized hygiene products.
Thank you for continuing to help, despite the failed attempts from the right to interrupt things.
Our Tucson Water staff advises me that we continue to work well with the leadership out at Davis Monthan (DM) on gathering data related to the PFC’s found just north of their runway. It is good to see local cooperation, especially in light of the efforts at the national level to reduce exposure standards for these chemicals. Given the EPA’s work to roll back environmental standards in multiple areas, I guess we should not be overly surprised. It makes our product liability litigation even more critically important.
In the March 14th edition of the NY Times, this headline appeared:
Pentagon Pushes for Weaker Standards on Chemicals Contaminating Drinking Water
It is important to be clear that our current product liability lawsuit does not involve the military. We know factually that DM dumped products containing the contaminants both into the soil, and into the sewer system. However, our current legal focus is on 3M and other product manufacturers. I support that, since trying to get the feds to admit their own culpability will take longer than I want to see. We are in a position to implement long-term solutions sooner through a product liability lawsuit. Our current position does not however presume we will not ever engage the DOD in being a part of solving the issues they helped to create.
The DOD began using the firefighting foam (AFFF) that contains PFAS and PFOS back in the 1970’s. In 2017, the Pentagon finally confirmed that they had 401 known military facilities at which AFFF was used. At 126 of those, drinking water or groundwater was contaminated. This map was produced by the GAO showing which sites were involved at that time:
The number has now grown to over 200. DM is one of those. Facing billions of dollars in cleanup costs at those sites, the direction the DOD is now taking is to weaken exposure standards, not to step up and be a part of solving the contamination problems that have come from their own actions.
This is a photo from the Flint Journal. Taken last year – you can see the caption. I have written before about being in Oscoda as a kid and seeing hundreds of dead fish washed up onto the shore of Lake Huron. Sadly, it has taken until now to see people protesting in the streets about it. To their credit, back in the 1960’s when I saw what was happening, industrial pollution was not considered a big deal. Major rivers catching on fire were a media photo op, not cause for federal involvement. The EPA was not even formed until the 1970’s.
Until now, the EPA has been moving towards creating one standard that sets guidelines for when clean ups will be required at federally controlled sites, and another standard that would set a legally binding, maximum allowable drinking water level for PFOS and PFOA. However, the DOD is objecting to the new, higher standards, and thus you see the resulting headline.
Our case continues. Right now DM appears to be a source for good data collection, so the relationship is at least productive. Yet, as our case evolves, we have reserved the right to expand our litigation as we deem it appropriate.
Groundwater contamination is found not only north of the DM runway. I have joined many of you in being concerned about it in relation to the proposed Rosemont Mine. Last week, the same EPA we are hoping will work with us on the PFC issue, has reversed course and is now supporting the Rosemont mine. Not only does the project face litigation for its impact on cultural artifacts and sensitivities, impacts to groundwater are another huge concern.
The cultural piece is the fact that Hudbay (Rosemont) will necessarily disrupt over 50 sensitive archeological sites and over 200 burial grounds when they dig their mine. In addition there remain concerns over the impact the tailings runoff, and other mine operations, will have on both groundwater at the site and downstream. It is that piece the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the EPA are now saying is inconsequential.
Many people read about this issue, but have not seen first-hand what is described in print. This photo is from the Sierrita Mine, close to where Rosemont would be located. It shows the tailings ponds formed in the processing of the ore excavated in the course of hard rock mining. They are sulfuric acid and leaching ponds. That product must not be allowed to leach into the groundwater. While ponds are lined, everyone in the industry knows of ‘accidental’ leaks.
There is also the issue of diverting existing river flow, thereby drying up what are now downstream flowing rivers. That means ending existing wildlife habitat. The Hudbay mitigation efforts cannot wholly prevent those impacts. The Corps and EPA know that.
Hudbay is a Canadian company that will open up shop, create jobs that will last for 20 years, send their profits out of the area, and close up shop when the ore body is depleted. Plenty of other copper mines operate in the area, and internationally. Everyone understands the need for the commodity. That is not in question. The question is the location for this particular mine.
Even if every water and archeological issue could be addressed, there’s no way the company can ignore the fact that they’re proposing to open a huge hole in the middle of the Santa Rita mountains. If it came down to simply aesthetics, one side saying ‘we need the jobs,’ and the other side saying ‘not at the expense of tearing up these mountains and natural habitat,’ I would easily fall on the side of preservation. However, it is more than that, as you can see from the image above.
Litigation will likely continue, but with the EPA under this administration easing regulations for groundwater contaminants related to PFC’s, and opening up public lands for all sorts of mining operations in other parts of the country, it sadly appears the fight to preserve the Santa Ritas is compromised – unless the fight can be continued until 2020 and there’s a change in the White House. That is what is behind the headlines you are seeing related to Rosemont.
You might think that is a description of one of our Mayor and Council meetings. If you did, you would be wrong. It is these little gals!
These tiny squirrel monkeys will soon be back in Tucson. I say ‘back’ because they used to have a home here at the zoo, but after a 50+ year hiatus, the zoo folks will have their new habitat finished next month.
Jonathan and I joined Shane Burgess, Dean of the new Veterinary School at the UA, with this ceremonial vine cutting that formally opened the new habitat to visitors. In this case, it was a behind the scenes tour of what will be the monkeys’ home once it is completed in April. Once the monkeys are calling it home, we will not be allowed back inside any more. Many people who came to the event last Friday had hoped to see some Dazzle and Sparkle, but they got Jonathan and me instead, plus the tour.
We are grateful to all of the donors who continue to support the important work the zoological society engages in. That is the combination of public education, international wildlife conservation, working as our partners in carrying out the voter approved zoo master plan, and operating this important regional asset. There will be plenty of news coverage next month when the monkeys are finally at home in their new quarters. If you would prefer to keep track on your own, and to keep up generally with what’s happening out at the zoo, you can find them at www.reidparkzoo.org.
This is an image of a 3D crosswalk that I shared in a newsletter last year. It was in an effort to generate a wider conversation about traffic controls, slowing down cars in our residential areas, and getting out ahead of our Complete Streets Policy that will be adopted later this year.
When Mayor & Council agreed to reduce speed limits on our Bike Boulevards by 5 mph, it was a step forward. I’d like to see us more broadly reduce residential speed limits, but that decision is controlled by the state, so we’re stuck only doing it when we can show special conditions such as induced bicycle travel to justify to the folks up in Phoenix that slowing cars down is ok.
Another step forward is a new policy we are adopting related to speed humps. In the past, the city charged neighborhoods around $5K to install speed humps around their homes. I thought that was too expensive – so did many of you – so I went out and got some competitive quotes to check. Indeed, the $5K was not justified by the market. Using that as a nudge, credit the City Manager for taking the issue one-step further. We are now implementing a policy by which neighbors will be charged $500 per speed hump. That covers most of the materials, but not our labor. For that reason, there is a limit on how many of these we are able to budget each fiscal year.
Right now, each Ward is allotted five speed humps at that cost. TDOT has a list of requests already in a queue – Ward 6 has thee already spoken for. There is a process – you cannot just call and order up your speed hump. It affects your surrounding neighbors, so they get a voice.
The first thing to do is to go on-line to the TDOT website and fill out the request form. TDOT will provide you with a highlighted petition form – you will need to get 60% of the neighbors on the adjacent streets to sign in agreement. That is not always so easy, so I would suggest raising the issue with your neighborhood association board first to get their sense of possibly the history of the issue in your area. Once you get the signatures, you turn those into TDOT and they will put it into the Ward list.
I am grateful to the City Manager and his staff for taking the cost issue seriously and moving beyond what I was able to do with the competitive quotes. I believe this will make us a safer city as these roll out in our residential areas. Moreover, understand, you are not getting the snazzy 3D ones, but something more like this:
Oops, I meant this:
When this funding runs out at the end of this fiscal year, we will be reassessing the program to see what is doable according to our budget constraints.
With these new speed humps and reduced speeds on bike boulevards in place, even Cyclovia will be a more ‘user friendly’ event. It is coming up again on Sunday, April 7th, and once again it’ll traverse through Ward 6. Here is the map.
The event runs from 9am until 3pm. It is three miles of car-free city streets. You can walk, jog, bike – anything but drive. It is open to all ages, and it is not a race. Sign up and just plan on taking in all of the activities they will have scattered along the route. To get involved, go to their link at www.cycloviatucson.org.
This week’s local Tucson item is the 2019 Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission awards program. Nominations are now open – they close at 5pm on Tuesday, April 16th.
There is a variety of award categories. They include people who have shown a long-term commitment to historic preservation, people who have had a significant impact on art at the community level, and the Heritage Award that is given to people who have volunteered time on local history or preservation. You can find the ‘Call for Nominations’ posted on this link: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/historic-preservation
The awards ceremony will be held at the Lander Auditorium in the Dunbar Center (corner of N. Main and 2nd Avenue) on Saturday morning, May 25th. Those details are also available on their website. I know there will be plenty of nominations so take your time and do your nominee justice when filling out the form.
In May 2017, the voters overwhelmingly approved the roads/public safety Proposition 101. It’s the ½ cent sales tax that’s going to more road repair, and to purchasing public safety equipment. Last week the city unveiled four new paramedic trucks over at Station 9 on the east side. Those trucks are a part of what you approved, and the rebuild of Station 9 is a part of the package as well.
I join all of our public safety professionals in thanking the Tucson voters for showing the confidence in us to give the thumbs up to the tax increase. It is temporary, and it is all for making us a better community.
Most people who have lived in Tucson for any length of time have taken the short trip up to the top of A Mountain at least a couple of times. If that is you, you will recognize this great view:
Sentinel Peak is a regional asset. It needs to be safe for everybody, regardless of how you make the ascent. I have run, biked and driven the road. Come to the Ward 6 office at 5:30 on Thursday this week and share your own thoughts on what we need to do in order to restore safety to the site.
The intent of the meeting on Thursday is not to be a staff-driven presentation. It is an open dialogue, the intent of which is to hear your thoughts. Do you want some times for limited auto access, some sorts of speed controls, what about hours of operation? Everything is on the table for input. Come and share your thoughts.
Ok, so my St. Patrick’s Day prediction of hitting the 238,000-mile goal is not happening. We were at 215,036 last week. We will get there well ahead of the original goal, and might even beat the Meet Me at Maynards 10 year anniversary – April 15th. I have been promoting new entrants since last summer. Well, you had your chance. Now those of us who have been on the ascent all along will coast to the lunar surface and toast our arrival.
Here is this week’s total:
For those of you who never joined, you will have to go see Apollo 11 at The Loft if you want to see Earth Rise.
Council Member, Ward 6
COMEDY NIGHT AT THE SCREENING ROOM
March 23 @ 9:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Comedy Night at The Screening Room is a monthly showcase bringing some of the best and brightest stand up comedians in Arizona to you.
When: Saturday March 23rd at 9:30
Where: The Screening Room
How much: $10
Hosted by: Marcus Raymond Gallegos
ESPERANZA DANCE PROJECT PERFORMS AT WOMANKRAFT ART CENTER
March 24 @ 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Two local non-profit arts organizations, The Esperanza Dance Project and the WomanKraft Art Center, are holding a multi-dimensional performance fundraiser on March 23rd and 24th at the WomanKraft Art Center!
Special performance will be held at the WomanKraft Art Center ‘Castle’,
Where: WomanKraft Art Center, 388 S. Stone Ave. Tucson, AZ 85701
When: Saturday, March 23rd and Sunday, March 24th. Performances 2-4 PM, Reception 4-6 PM.
Please join us for a very special performance and reception on Saturday, March 23rd and Sunday, March 24th. from 2 to 6pm. Esperanza company members will present and perform brand new choreography specific to WomanKraft’s unique performance spaces. Audience members will be taken on a guided tour to view 5 mini performances by the dancers, as well as a featured section from Esperanza’s multimedia performance, “House of Hope”.
Performances will begin at 2pm, and an evening reception in the gallery from 4-6pm for a chance to open conversations on topics pertaining to both organizations.
Find out more about this event by contacting WomanKraft directly at (520) 629-9976 X1 and learn more about the Esperanza Dance Project at www.esperanzadanceproject.org.
4TH ANNUAL CITY OF GASTRONOMY DOWNTOWN CHEF’S TABLE
March 27 @ 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
The 4th Annual City of Gastronomy Downtown Chef’s Table will take place on Wednesday, March 27th beginning at 5:30pm at the Carriage House.
The Downtown Chef’s Table event is a great opportunity to meet the creative culinary and mixology talents behind some of downtown Tucson’s most successful restaurants, while also supporting two outstanding non–profit organizations Tu Nidito and Fox Tucson Theatre. Over the past three years, this event has generated thousands of dollars for both organizations.
The Chefs Table connection to the Tucson City of Gastronomy is notable. Since the designation in 2016, Tucson’s culinary culture has been shared by Tucson Chefs throughout the world in other “sister” Cities of Gastronomy. The culinary community of Tucson is unique in that local chefs are very willing to work together, share ideas with each other to continue to grow their expertise in incorporating indigenous seasonal ingredients into their menus. The Downtown Chef’s Table events is truly a showcase Tucson’s unique flavors and ingredients.
Participants include: Chef Brian Smith, Maynards, Chef Carlotta Flores and Chef Gary Hickey, Charro Steak, Patricia Schwabe and Bryan Eichorst, Penca Restaurante, Chef Tyler Fenton, Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink, Chef Alex O’Neill and Chef Mahmoud ‘Moody” Elbarasi, Agustin Kitchen and The Coronet, Chef Janos Wilder and Chef Devon Sanner, DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails and the Carriage House, and Chef Ivor Cryderman from 1055 Brewing & Sausage House
The Chefs Table event will kick off with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception from 5:30 -6:30 followed by a multi course, wine-paired, sit down dinner beginning at 7pm.. Prior to each course, chefs/mixologists will discuss their inspiration for their particular dish and/or cocktail with the guests. The cost per person is $150 (includes tax and gratuity).
The event is limited to 100 guests and is expected to sell out.
Tickets can be purchased at http://carriagehousetucson.com
Carriage House is located at 125 S. Arizona Avenue, with the entrance on Arizona Avenue just east of DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails.
Arizona State Museum, 1013 E University Blvd | www.statemuseum.arizona.edu
Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave | www.arizonatheatre.org
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childrensmuseumtucson.org
Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St | www.FoxTucsonTheatre.org
Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St | hotelcongress.com
Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave | www.jewishhistorymuseum.org
Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd | www.loftcinema.com
Meet Me at Maynards, 311 E Congress St | www.MeetMeatMaynards.com
A social walk/run through the Downtown area. Every Monday, rain or shine, holidays too! Check-in begins at 5:15 pm.
Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Ln | www.missiongarden.org
A living agricultural museum and ethnobotanical garden at the site of Tucson's Birthplace (the foot of "A-Mountain"). For guided tours call 520-955-5200
Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St | www.rialtotheatre.com
The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd | www.theroguetheatre.org
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave | www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way | www.tucsonbotanical.org
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.com
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave | tucsonmuseumofart.org
UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd | www.uamineralmuseum.org
Watershed Management Group, Living Lab 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. | www.watershedmg.org
Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, 2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org