Steve K's Newsletter 08/05/19

Topics in this issue...

Be Kind

Thirty-two people were murdered and scores others wounded in the past two weekends in just three incidents of gun violence in this country. County fairs, back-to-school shopping and a Saturday night out on the town all ended in heartbreak for hundreds of people.

There is no legitimate civilian use for an AK47’s, AR15’s, or similar weapons. We do not have politicians at either the State of Arizona or Federal level with the ethics and courage to adopt legislation stating as much.

The flag at the Ward 6 office spent the weekend at half-staff in respect of those whose lives were lost over the last two weeks. Entire countries go a year without that level of bloodshed.

The first Be Kind is for the hundreds of people who took time to give blood in support of the shooting victims.

Watch this 30 second youtube that demonstrates our national affliction:

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The move to Casa Alitas Welcome Center is in progress. I have an update below, but this Be Kind is for a very nice handwritten note I received from Supervisor Valadez. In it he thanked me for the work I have been doing on behalf of the refugees, and for my support of the County effort to step in and be a positive part of the issue.

Similarly, the Director of Compass Affordable Housing, Maryann Beerling wrote a very Kind note thanking me, and my staff, for the work on behalf of the refugees. In it, she included a great quote from Charles Dickens – “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of others.” In this case, the statement is true for all of the hundreds of people who have been involved in the monastery work – through directly volunteering, and through donations.

I was walking a UA Art Professor through the Art of Asylum exhibit one evening last week, and in the short 20 minutes he and I were in the community room, two people brought in donations. They are examples of the Kindness that is in this community, and that has been on display across the street at the Benedictine. Another example is the woman who sent Val a $100 check from Toledo to help support the art program. Lots of Kindness is floating around the Art of Asylum program.

Teetertotter Wall

In the midst of all the divisive rancor we are hearing, a couple of U. Cal system professors decided to try to bridge the divide. Ronald Real is an architecture professor at Berkley. Virginia San Fratello is an associate professor of Design at San Jose State. They came up with the idea – and put into effect the idea – of a Border Wall seesaw. 

Thanks to their collaboration, kids are now playing together from across the border. Call the Wall a lemonade stand – making something sweet out of lemons.

Casa Alitas Welcome Center

Diana, Ann, and I took a road trip out to the new County facility last week to see the progress they are making renovating the space. It is simply not true that we cannot change the vibe of the place, and the hard work underway by dozens of County workers and volunteers is bringing that truth home.

There will be a totally separate entryway for the refugee guests. They will not enter through controlled doorways, having to be buzzed through a series of interconnected doors. Instead, a welcoming open space is being created in the rear of the facility. That will add a level of safety to their arrival that is not true of the monastery. That landscaped area is not done – I will get pictures when it is, but for this trip, our focus was on the interior changes.

Two of the living quarters are now carpeted. Doors have been removed from the shower rooms and replaced with curtains, lighting is improved, and the space has been given a paint job. This is one of the two similarly decked-out areas in which the guests will be housed.

In the space that will serve as the main eating area, no carpet will be laid, but over the weekend volunteers were busy painting.

The windows in the doors all have some vinyl film applied that looks like stained glass. As well, though not-yet-mounted, in the works are several tile murals that were provided by Las Artistas.

There is a lot of work left to be completed. Internet connection is the one “must-have” without which the guests will not be moving over to the County center. Cox is working on that piece with Catholic Community Services. On the County side, they are still constructing shade structures in the outdoor exercise areas, doing some electrical and plumbing upgrades on the interior, and completing some wall penetrations so all of the spaces are inter-connected. Volunteers are taking care of art, murals, the tile displays and helping to move ‘stuff’ over from the Benedictine.

The goal for moving families over is August 6th. More important than hitting that hard deadline is making sure the facility is ready and welcoming. If we miss that by a few days, that is ok. I have that deal arranged with Ross. Best case though is that CCS is in a position to move intake and housing over to the Casa Alitas Welcome Center by the 6th, and all we have left temporarily at the monastery are boxes of things that can come over once the move is a little further along.

Volunteers are still going to be the heart and soul of the operation. The County will be taking on laundry, two of the three meals prepared each day, maintenance and custodial for the operation. CCS will continue to manage the people but with the added help from the County, the number of volunteers needed will be given a bit of a rest. If you would like to volunteer in some capacity, please let me know. Once the dust from the move has settled a little and we learn more about how the space will function, CCS will resume taking people through the volunteer training.

Benedictine Rezoning

Last Thursday evening was the Zoning Examiner’s public hearing on the Benedictine rezoning. Things have evolved, in several ways. One is that a year ago when the Planning Commission held its public meetings, the room was full, and there was a lot of resistance. On Thursday, the Miramonte Board submitted a letter in opposition to the proposed height of the east side of the project, but otherwise there were not any speakers who now openly oppose the plans. I believe one reason for that is the reduced scale and massing now being proposed for the project. Here is where we began back in March, 2018:

This was a rendering of the scale now being proposed:

While those are good visuals, this is a frame I snipped from the presentation that really shows the movement in the project. It shows the results of what has been largely a collaborative process:

The existing zoning allows 40’ in height for buildings on all sides of the project. Miramonte’s Board objects to the proposed 45’ height of the east building. They would prefer to see it match the 35’ stepped down height planned for the Country Club side of the project. The rationale for the step down on the west is so people can still see the monastery when driving by it on the arterial. Here is the site map that is now proposed for the entire property:

There’s a 55’ height limitation built into the Miramonte neighborhood plan – something we voted on late last year, and a height that came about as the result of some pretty heated negotiations involving what was at the time purported to be representatives from leadership in both Miramonte and Sam Hughes neighborhoods. There were then, and there still, some who do not want any heights mentioned in the neighborhood plan. At the time, we were faced with either considerable opposition to the direction of the project, or inserting the height limitations. Some say that deal was struck in a less than transparent manner; while at the same time some of those making that claim were having their own direct, one-on-one contacts with the design team. The bottom line is that we have made a lot of progress, and the change in tone at the Zoning Examiner hearing demonstrated that.

This will be coming to M&C sometime in September. I continue to support some sort of process whereby neighborhood plans and rezonings can happen relatively simultaneously. Our current codes do not allow for that. We are working on it. With that concurrency, we would avoid lots of the contentiousness that was a function of a lack of trust on both sides in this, and in other rezoning cases. Nevertheless, kudos to those who have continued to work towards where we are in a productive and respectful manner.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps)

The Trump administration is proposing some eligibility changes to the current SNAP (Food Stamp) program. We are in a public comment period. I thought it important to let you know what is proposed, the impact on families, and give you contact information so you can share your thoughts.

Right now in Arizona, a family of three with an income of $39K annually can get both Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, and SNAP as well. The TANF is temporary cash assistance received by the State through Federal Grants. Under Trump’s proposed changes, that income level drops to $27,000 annually for a family of three. Under the proposed changes, approximately 40,000 people in Arizona alone would be dropped from the Food Stamp program. Since free lunch programs in our schools are often tied to eligibility for SNAP, children of families who are dropped from the program would also lose access to those school meals.

These changes will directly impact low income families, seniors, and the disabled in our community who are simply trying to make ends meet in a dignified manner every month.

I grew up in a ‘family of three’ – single mom, my brother and me. Mom was a nurse. Nurses are not paid King’s wages, but we never qualified for the kinds of benefits we are talking about here. Mom had to invite another nurse into live with us to help make ends meet. That is today’s reality for many families, too. You can comment on the proposed changes.

The public comment period runs until September 23rd. Use this link to register your thoughts:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/07/24/2019-15670/revision-of-categorical-eligibility-in-the-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap.

The details of the changes can be found on the Arizona Food Banks website at www.azfoodbanks.org. The Food Banks association is opposed to kicking those thousands of people off from the SNAP rolls.

Recycling Update

For the recent past, I have been trying to prep the conversation we will have to have soon about our recycling program. It is losing a significant amount of money, and much of what we are taking in is contaminated, thus ending up at a landfill. We will have to address the whole recycling program, not just bits and pieces at a time.

As I have written previously, Tucson is not unique in facing the need to change how we do our recycling program. The issue is international in scope. What we are dealing with is the local impact. I am not here proposing specific solutions, but it is important for us all to understand the magnitude of the international problem so that when we do get around to making changes in Tucson, we know the literal global issues we are really helping to address.

Many of the articles I read focus on the plastics glut in the international recycling system. This is a sad and gross picture of a little bird that was found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands back in 2014. The purpose of the picture is to show the plastics they found in his stomach. Our trash was not recycled. Why? Because there is a glut in the plastics recycling market. We create too much trash, and much of that is plastics.

Sharon Lerner had a lengthy and informative article in The Intercept on July 20th. This quote from her article sums up much of her point:

"The reality of plastics recycling? It’s pretty much already dead. In 2015, the U.S. recycled about 9 percent of its plastic waste, and since then the number has dropped even lower. The vast majority of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic ever produced — 79 percent — has ended up in landfills or scattered all around the world."

Her point is that there is way too much plastic that has nowhere to go but to landfills. We point to China’s decision in 2017 to reduce the level of contamination they would receive, but the reality is that for decades the international market has been repurposing less than 10% of our plastic waste. When China lowered its allowable contamination rate all they were saying was they were no longer willing to be the repository for our trash. This picture shows just some of the well over 900 million kilograms we were sending to them:

We are now burning six times the amount of plastic that we are recycling. From an environmental justice standpoint realize that roughly eight out of ten incinerators in the U.S. are either in poor communities, or in communities with relatively higher minority populations. Placing plastics into our blue bins does not mean it is being turned into some productive, reused asset.

Right about here is where I am supposed to drop in the ‘solution.’ Guess what, I do not have one. However, there are multiple approaches being tried in cities across the country. Beginning on August 20th it will be illegal to sell plastic bottles in the San Francisco International Airport. I mentioned last week the dual-source approach where we limit what can be recycled, and we ask you to separate it curbside. Berkeley has you put paper on one side of the container and everything else on the other side. It keeps the paper from being contaminated. Some Cities do muti-sourcing. We do single-source, and the result is nearly 30% contamination. The problem is not just contamination though. It is the quantity of what we are throwing away, too.

Other approaches include taxing plastics, and bottle-bills where you pay more up front and get a deposit refund when you take back the item. When I was a little kid, we used to cruise along roadsides and collect bottles to take back and collect deposits. Those programs are now being reconsidered. We got lazy. States with bottle bills also have some of the highest recycling rates.

There are eight states that allow bans on plastic bags, straws and cutlery. In Arizona, the State will not allow us to adopt local bans, and they will not do it from Phoenix, either. Industry lobbying has prevented that (just as industry lobbying the County Board of Supervisors is now putting our attempt at increasing the smoking age to 21 on the back burner). Nationwide it is localities who are stepping towards the plastic bans – 330 local plastic bag ordinances have been passed in 24 states. We cannot.

We will also be talking about rate increases. We are already going to bi-weekly collection. We should be talking about reducing the kinds of commodities we will take into the recycle program. Changes we should make at our processing facilities / or with the types of barrels we provide curbside / will cost upfront money. The Closed Loop Fund is a $100M effort by some large companies to provide no-interest loans and investments to Cities who are upgrading their facilities. We should be looking into that, too.

If we are going to make any meaningful local change, it will cost us all more, both in terms of money and effort. I am just trying to prep that conversation so it is framed by the reality of the global problem that we are a part of.

Water Security

Continuing on the ‘contamination’ theme, there is some more movement at the Federal level when it comes to recognizing the PFC pollution problem that has largely been spread by Defense Department activities. A couple of weeks ago I shared some amendments to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that address PFOS/PFAS contaminants.

We know some of our water wells out by DM have tested for significant levels of those substances. We also know that DM was hosing the stuff into the soil or dumping it into the sewer system, and we have shut down the affected wells. You are not being served PFC contaminated water. However, we may need those wells someday, so there must be a strategy for cleaning up the plume that exists around those wells.

The NDAA finally has some provisions that will incrementally help in that effort. At least it is an acknowledgement of some culpability. I am still supporting that our primary effort be towards the product manufacturer’s (3M and others) but the DOD needs to be a part of cleaning up their mess, too.

There are differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. At least both sides agree they have a role to play, though.

In the House version, they are more aggressive than in the Senate. However, even the House continues to give grace periods before forcing any meaningful action. For example, requiring the EPA to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances, but giving them a year before that becomes law, or phasing out the military use of the AFFF firefighting foam that is causing the contamination by 2025.  To their credit, though they are asking for $121M in environmental remediation funding to be used to address PFAS contamination near military bases. We could use some of that now.

In the Senate, they are more about reporting requirements and allowing the continued purchase of the AFFF until 2022. The two sides will be negotiating some final terms of the NDAA and we will see which provisions survive that.

In addition, last week, the Environmental Working Group reported that the DOD is putting together a “new task force” to study the water contamination that is occurring around military bases. The EWG is a non-partisan non-profit that monitors all sorts of environmental issues. While they are ‘applauding’ the formation of the task force, I am more in the camp that includes people who want specific and swift action on containment, remediation and remuneration to our local taxpayers for the contaminants we know without a doubt are already causing us to shut down wells in Tucson. I am hopeful that all this ‘studying’ and task force work will help at the back end of our litigation. With over 200 military sites already identified with drinking, or groundwater contamination, we are at the point of needing to see actual action from the multiple culpable parties.

For their part, our Tucson Water staff is staying ahead of the issue. As you know from this newsletter, we have in place aggressive standards for PFOA+PFOS. Combined, we set a target of 18 parts per trillion, which comes from a Toxicology study that the EPA and Trump tried to keep under wraps last year. The EPA ‘health advisory’ level is 70 ppt.

Now, Tucson Water is adding more PFC-related chemicals to our watch list. Through our testing, we have determined compounds called PFHxS and PFHxA should be included in our operating target protocols. We measure for 14 of the PFAS types of compounds, and now TW has set a voluntary level of 47 ppt for those two new chemicals in the PFC family. Even the Toxicology study from last year suggested monitoring at levels closer to 74 ppt. We are being much more conservative than that.

The new stuff is also found in the firefighting foam, and in other non-stick consumer products. The EPA has not set health advisory levels. We are doing it voluntarily, proactively, and responsibly. Credit to our Tucson Water staff for being ahead of the federal game.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Program

Another water-related item is the upcoming presentation we will have on a new GSI program. There has been a lot of outreach getting it to a Draft form, and we are asking for more public input on it.

The GSI program captures stormwater that would otherwise just wash down the street and puts it to use in a variety of ways. The ultimate goal is replenishing the aquifer, but the GSI program ‘re-green’s’ the City with tree canopies, detention basins – generally adding vegetation in ways that mitigate stormwater flooding. You have seen chicanes, and curb cuts that already achieve these outcomes. The GSI is a fee that is being proposed to increase and expand our ability to fund those sorts of amenities.

In order to keep the program manageable, we set a goal of annual funding at around $5M. There are three different ways that are being proposed to reach that number. One is charging by the amount of water people use – 13 cents per ccf gets us there.

Another idea is to simply charge a flat monthly rate, divided between residential and commercial users.

A third proposal is to base the fee on the size of water meters. That tracks pretty closely with the residential/commercial uses.

Nobody’s going into this anticipating people will immediately jump on board with the notion of adding a new fee to water bills. However, the goals are certainly worth considering in comparison to the level of fees suggested. We want your input.

To see the GSI Draft, and to add your voice to the survey, use these links:

For English, go to www.tucsonaz.gov/survey7707. For Spanish, use www.tucsonaz.gov/survey7707es. The survey will be open through the entire month of August. We will likely have this as a September study session item so please take some time to review what is proposed and let us know your thoughts.

Free Water Conservation Kits

One more water-related item: Tucson Water is offering our customers some free home water conservation material. They have got low-flow shower heads, five minute shower timers (this would have come in handy when my little girl was still living at home!), toilet tank bags and leak detection tablets, and faucet aerators. We do not have unlimited supplies, so if you would like one of those, please let TW know soon. Use this link:  http://bit.ly/2My7XfH. Who comes up with those links?

Rosemont Mine

Final water item: last week a Federal judge overturned the U.S. Forest Service approval of a permit that was needed to begin digging the mine out in the Santa Rita’s. Why is that a ‘water item?’ Because of the well-founded concerns over both contamination and drying up of water sources that would occur if the mine is built.

Hudbay Minerals is the Toronto-based company who has been trying to get the right permits to start production. Not being local, many of us question their long-term commitment to, and concern for the impacts the mine would bring to the area. It would be located about 30 miles southeast of Tucson.

Congratulations to Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and to the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter for hanging in there and continuing to work in support of preservation of that life-sustaining resource. The ruling will be appealed so stay tuned.

Local First

This week’s Local Tucson is our friends and neighbors over at The Loft. I know many of you have seen the theater and seating upgrades they have been able to get done through successful capital campaigns. Now they are restoring the historic marquee.

Stop by on Tuesday for the celebration. They will begin the ceremony at 7pm, and plan to “Light up the Loft” at 7:15. Based on how rather lame the monsoon has been, I would place a small wager on them being able to pull it off.

You know The Loft – great films, and in new comfy digs. Check out their line-up and look at movie trailers by going to this site:

https://loftcinema.org/showtimes/

Monsoon Glitches

Trusting that we will in fact actually get some monsoon action, TDOT has a few ways you can report transportation-related concerns the rain and wind might bring. You can call them directly at 791.3154, or email the location of the issue to TDOTConcerns@tucsonaz.gov. Or just call us at the Ward 6 office and we will help get the word to our transportation folks.

Rio Nuevo

And while I am passing out ‘congratulations’ to groups, one is also due to the Rio Nuevo Board for the work they have been doing on behalf of our downtown economy.

When I took office in 2009, Rio was a mess. The City was far too deeply intertwined in what they were doing, the State Auditor General was investigating what was determined to be mismanagement of funds, and the Tax Increment funds being generated by the District were not being used in ways that would be sustaining and supportive of economic growth. We were in litigation and the State was seriously considering ending the District.

The current Rio Board has focused on their proper role, and is operating at a proper arms-length from City entanglement. We are still engaged with respect to zoning and neighborhood considerations, but the investment decisions are largely made through that independent body. For example, they have recently announced another $1.5M plan to invest in ten vacant downtown storefronts along Congress. We are partnering with them on funding what will be an outdoor ice rink that will be open from Thanksgiving through the end of the year.

They are working with JE Dunn on a $75M project that will be located at 75 E. Broadway. We are partnering on the new TCC hotel, and their Board is moving forward with multiple other downtown investments. One of my favorites is the Rio involvement with Project for Public Spaces and the work their doing on the Sunshine Mile.

Our continued economic development story should not be a competition for who gets credit. The Rio Nuevo Board is doing a very good job managing the TIF assets being generated through downtown growth. They deserve this note of recognition.

Welcome Broadway

One of the projects on the Sunshine Mile is the Planned Area Development (PAD) proposed for the old Volvo site. It is located between Park and Tyndall, on the south side of Broadway. The City owned the site, and through a competitive bid process sold it to the guys who run Welcome Diner nearby.

The project development team has gone through several public outreach meetings. They are now ready to present the results of those meetings and take further input on their proposed PAD development for that site. The goal all along has been a mixed-use project that will include residential and commercial tenants.

The PAD presentation will be given on Tuesday, August 13th at the Miles Exploratory School – 1400 E. Broadway. It is open to the public and will begin at 6:30pm. As Rio moves forward with their PPS projects on the north side of the Sunshine Mile, this Welcome Broadway project has the potential to add the transit/ped/bike oriented flavor to this site on the south side. Come and see what is being proposed. I hope to see you there on the 13th.

Sincerely,

Steve Kozachik
Council Member, Ward 6
ward6@tucsonaz.gov

Events & Entertainment

MISS OLIVIA AND THE INTERLOPERS @ 191 TOOLE

August 9 @ 8:00 pm - 11:30 pm

Free

Voted runner-up as Best Musical Act in the 2018 Tucson Weekly—Best of Tucson, the four esteemed musical spirits known as, Miss Olivia & Interlopers, attribute the longevity of their sonic success to not only their obvious skill in the ways of organized sound, but also—and perhaps most importantly—to their deep love and respect for one another. The band is family.

Currently based in Tucson, AZ, this rambunctious cover & originals band consists of Olivia Reardon (vocals), Mike Sydloski (guitar, vocals), David Hostetler (bass), and Daniel Thomas (drums, vocals). Together, the group is eagerly putting the finishing touches on their debut album, Little Stories.

NO FEAR PAINTING WORKSHOP

August 10th @ 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm

$30 for the class, $10 for a beer sampler

Dillinger Brewing Company, 3895 N. Oracle Rd

Iskashitaa is partnering with Dillinger Brewing Company for a painting FUNdraiser. No experience necessary, just bring yourself, perhaps a friend, and a go-get-em attitude! Spots are limited, so get tickets while you can! Contact Kate@SJTFC.org

TEN55 BREWING COMPANY TURNS ONE!

August 10 @ 11:00 am - August 11 @ 11:00 pm

Free

Join us ALL weekend long on August 9-11th, to celebrate our first year at our downtown location! Raffle to benefit the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, tickets will be sold all weekend long, with various prizes.

FRIDAY: Borderlands Brewing Company Collabrewation and food pairing
SATURDAY: Dragoon Brewing Company Collabrewation and fry sauce pairing, Humane Society in house (with special guest)
SUNDAY: Brunch & Industry Night (free appetizers and a beer for Tucson brewery staff)

Also returning to tap for the birthday weekend:
Sugar Skull Milk Chocolate Stout, using cacao nibs from Monsoon Chocolate
Two Suns Citra, a crowd favorite Double IPA

Ongoing…

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

Main Gate Square,
Friday Night Live Summer Jazz Concert Series, Geronimo Plaza – 814 E University Blvd FREE ADMISSION, Fridays at 7:30pm, Validated parking in Tyndall Garage after 5pm | https://www.maingatesquare.com/2019-friday-night-live-jazz-concert-series/

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

Raices Taller 222, 218 E. 6th St | Fridays and Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm | www.raicestaller222.com

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 Tucson2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org