Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- Some Development Items
- UA Master Plan
- Campbell & Grant
- Colonia Solana
- Transit Passes
- Vision Zero
- TCC Music Hall
- Trucks in Patagonia - SB1487
- Local First: Unscrewed Theater
- Crossfit Milo
- Red Cross Blood Drive
- Film Industry
- Beat Back Buffelgrass Month
- Events & Entertainment
This Be Kind recognition goes to the 15-year-old girl who cut a puppy loose that was hanging in a tree. The puppy is doing fine. If you know anything about the perp who caused the incident, please, please call 88-CRIME.
Here is a reminder from a newsletter reader who wanted to offer another side to the half-staff notices. That’s the behavioral health component: “We can start by being kind to one another and then escalating by getting to know our neighbors a lot better than we do now. Those two acts alone would go a long way and produce some positive results. Then, we would be in a far better position to help those who are in need by merely asking them, when we might notice a change, if they are OK and if they need to talk with us about some of their problems and their challenges that they're currently wrestling with.”
Many of you know Chris Tanz and Jean-Paul Bierney. They recently returned from a trip during which they both caught bad colds. The Be Kind part is that they skipped a very well attended neighborhood plan meeting in an effort to avoid passing the sickness around. Thank you and get well soon.
Last week a guy verbally and physically confronted some Muslim students at an eating area near campus. This Be Kind recognition to the guys who chased him down and detained him until TPD showed up minutes later. I have advocated to the police chief that this should be charged as a hate crime. We have zero tolerance in this community for racist acts like this. Thank you to the gents who acted on the scene.
This is an invitation to Be Kind by helping us get our arms around some sordid behavior going on around the 4th Avenue area. Over the years, the 4th Avenue merchants and surrounding neighbors have worked hard to create a safe and inviting environment on and around the avenue. Recently there have been some reports of animal abuse taking place in the area. If you spot any of that, please contact Adam Ricci at PACC and let him know when, where, and what you saw. The merchants association and I have been in touch with PACC to help crack down on these activities. As with the 15-year-old girl mentioned above, we can all be a part of the solution in these sorts of situations. Adam’s email is email@example.com, and his phone number is 724.5913. Thanks.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania a 45-year-old U.S. Marshal was shot and killed while serving a warrant on a suspect. Two other officers were shot and wounded. The suspect was killed by the return fire from the law enforcement agents.
In Dallas, Texas, another pointless murder-suicide ended up with two more gun death victims. The guy was 50 and the woman was 31 years old. Police have not revealed details on who initiated the incident.
In Pittsburgh, a 72-year-old man was found shot dead alongside his 73-year-old wife. Police believe the man shot the woman before taking his own life. Another murder-suicide, perhaps based on health conditions involved with one of the victims.
Data from the Gifford’s organization show that an average of 115,000 people were shot with a gun every year during the past decade in the U.S. Our murder rate with firearms is 25 times that of peer countries. We can do better than that with implementation of reasonable gun safety laws.
Last Thursday we along with TRRG hosted another full-house Ward 6 meeting. We held a 90-minute discussion in the packed community room of how neighborhood plans are viewed by city planners and the way they fit into development proposals. The meeting scratched the surface of what will become a series of meetings intended to drill down into how we use, amend and apply neighborhood plans in the context of a given development proposal.
I appreciate the time city staff invested in preparing for the meeting. Based on the turnout its clear this is a fundamentally important issue for residents throughout the city. Based on my own observation, I know we had people from most wards present. That’s as it should be since every ward in the city has neighborhood plans in place designed to guide development in their respective areas. Thanks to the folks from the city manager’s office, mayor’s office, city attorney’s office and planning department for carving out the time to meet. Thanks also to the many residents who participated in the conversation.
Not surprisingly, neighborhood plans are most prevalent in the midtown areas and older areas of town. In fact, 97% of the land area in Ward 6 is governed by either a neighborhood or an area plan. The reason is that as development began to ramp up back in the 70’s and 80’s, neighborhoods wanted to gain a voice in how that impacted their own quality of life. The neighborhood plans we adopted are intended to be the voice of the residents when faced with a development project.
The Unified Development Code (UDC) says any project needs to comply with the prevailing neighborhood plan in the area. Recently, with the east side Fry’s project there were differences of opinion in how the city applied the UDC versus the Houghton East Neighborhood Plan. That difference of opinion was reflected in our vote (6-1 in favor of the project) and now is reflected in an Open Meeting Law complaint filed with the State Attorney General, as well as notice that a law firm will be filing a legal complaint over the decision. People don’t take the value of neighborhood plans and their role in guiding development lightly.
The question isn’t “growth versus no-growth.” It’s what kind of growth and where. This is the reason the Honor’s College item was so important when it arose last year. I’ll keep you informed as more of these meetings are scheduled. Your voice and participation are important pieces of how these public documents evolve and are evaluated as each project moves through the design process.
On a related note, the UA is beginning public outreach on the redrafting of its campus master plan document. That’s the long-range planning document that is intended to guide how and where the UA grows in the areas around campus.
Coming next Monday, January 29, there will be a kick-off meeting and reception to get this process re-initiated. The meetings will take place in the Student Union South Ballroom. The discussion happens from 3:30 until 5 p.m., followed by an hour-long reception in that same space. Since space is limited, they’re filling it on a first-come-first-served basis through RSVP’s. Use this link to let them know you’ll be attending: https://uarizona.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_41JWk5G78u8ld3v.
You can visit the strategic planning site to learn more about the process to come: https://strategicplan.arizona.edu/.
If you have questions, contact Presidential Events at either 626.4349 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One final development related item. I took this photo a week after I brought the condition to city leadership’s attention. It’s Campbell and Grant, a major transit corridor adjacent to large residential areas at one of the busiest intersections in the city. It gets lots of pedestrian, bike and wheelchair traffic. The photo (yes, flip phones take pictures) shows a few things. First, the fence was inappropriately placed when in was installed. It provides zero pedestrian access along that right of way. There are major bus lines all over the area. Even without the fence, making a connection from one to another is a challenge from a timing standpoint.
The city owns the property on which the fence sits. After giving them several days to correct it, I filed a complaint against the city for creating this unsafe condition over the weekend. We had 62 traffic fatalities in the city last year. On Tuesday, we’re talking about all the wonderful things we’re doing to correct that. This fence at this major intersection causing this unsafe condition on our property makes that conversation somewhat disingenuous.
The other issues raised by installing that fence have to do with this site, the Grant Road widening generally, and the RTA even more broadly. I’ll tackle them together.
With respect to this site, the city purchased all of the parking lot that’s enclosed within the fence line back in 2014. The eventual Grant Road widening will take out all of that parking so the purchase was a way to limit the city’s obligation to pay for relocating any business development that may have occurred on the site between then and the time the road is finally built. We leased back the site to the owners so they could use the parking in that interim period and find tenants for the vacant Bookman’s and Walgreen’s. The projected start of the Grant Road construction was 2021. The lease term was for that seven-year period.
It’s now three years before the end date for the lease. The owners of the site under lease don’t feel they can justify investing money in either of the buildings for a three-year tenancy. I agree. However, I also know that section of Grant isn’t going to begin construction in 2021. In fact, as I’ve written before, you’ll see on the RTA website that the construction date has now been pushed back to after the RTA even exists as a taxing entity. I’m expecting clarifications to the accuracy of that projected start date and explanations of RTA funding streams, project costs and how they’re planning on making up the shortfalls. Simply leaving this segment of Grant unfinished isn’t the best way to present your credentials to the voters and ask for an extension.
Given the fact that 2021 isn’t the projected construction date for this segment of Grant, I’ve requested the city manager reach out to the people who are leasing the property from us and discuss a lease extension. With longer time to lease the buildings, making some minor tenant improvements may give them a chance to lease it out and avoid the currently planned demolition in February. That conversation is happening.
Now let’s broaden the conversation – to Broadway. Both Rio Nuevo and the Project for Public Spaces are ready to engage property owners with place-making design discussions for three sections of the Sunshine Mile. I’m ready to invite that discussion to a study session and have requested one for February 6. That presentation may achieve some movement for creative design along Broadway and may plant seeds for similar destination-design concepts for say, Campbell and Grant. Who knows, it could inform some of the design development ideas that come out of the UA master plan sessions.
All of this is intended to create development that contributes to quality of life opportunities in our urban core. High-rise student housing has its place and that place is limited in where it makes sense.
More to come on all of this, but with multiple-parallel paths happening in the same time frame. I’ll do my best to stay on top of it all and to keep you informed.
Similarly, we recently had a meeting with about a dozen Colonia Solana residents, along with representatives from the zoological society to discuss the possibility of reducing traffic on the north segment of Randolph Way, north of Hi Corbett. While several options were on the table, one that has already been implemented is diverting city staff traffic headed to work at our facilities south of the ballpark. This email to city workers from City Manager Ortega spells out the new direction:
I recently attended a meeting with residents that live along Randolph Way north of Hi Corbett Field. They were basically expressing concerns over what they believe to be an increase in traffic along this segment of Randolph Way. They also mentioned they see a fair amount of City vehicles using the road to get to the city facilities (SAMM, P&R and Zoo). In an effort to do our part in decreasing the volume of traffic on Randolph Way between Broadway and Camino Campestre (north of Hi Corbett), please have all City staff enter and exit at 22nd Street and Randolph Way when working or visiting the COT Fuel Island and/or any Parks and Recreation facility in the area, including the Reid Park Zoo, Therapeutics, Parks Administration, the Adaptive Recreation Center and SAMM.
Please make sure this information is distributed to all employees who may not have regular access to Groupwise.
The exception to this directive is any Police or Fire Department vehicle that may need immediate emergency access to Broadway or the surrounding neighborhood.
I appreciate the responsiveness and we’ll keep thinking about the other options presented.
Related to getting around town, we of course have multi-modal options for you to take advantage of (notwithstanding the challenge we’ve placed in front of you to make connections at Campbell and Grant). A recent media release correctly advertised the availability of three-day transit passes to help you access the many weekend events downtown (Dillinger Days, the Jazz Festival, Roadrunners Hockey, Fox Theater…). The release highlighted the three-day pass and how you can ride the streetcar to all of those events for $12 when you get a SunGo Card. So, it’s a great deal, but it’s better than what the media release advertised. That’s because the three-day pass is also good on Sun Tran. You’re not limited to just the streetcar when you purchase that weekend pass.
Right now we have a single transit management operator and the passes we’re selling work on all of our transit system. This three-day pass option is a pilot program that’s due to end and be evaluated in the middle of February. I wanted you to know its full benefit so you can take advantage of it while the pilot is still going on; also so we have a full data set to look at when evaluating its success, not just limited to streetcar use.
You can get the passes at the ticket vending machines, the GoTucson Transit mobile app, or any of the SunGo sales outlets.
We’ve now had two pedestrian deaths so far in 2018. We won’t make the “Vision Zero” goal this year, but we also should keep pushing for all the traffic safety moves we can make throughout the year so the final tally is as low as possible. As I mentioned above, we’ll get an update from staff on Tuesday on the initiatives they’re taking to help. I’ve read the material. What we’re doing is good and it’s not enough.
I’ll be writing next week about the outcomes from the Tuesday study session item. The long term work that’s already in progress is the formation of a Complete Streets Policy design manual. However, we don’t need to wait on that before we take steps such as making our hands free mobile device ordinance a primary offense.
Portland, Oregon’s city council recently lowered the speeds on their residential streets by five miles per hour, from 25 to 20. Over one-third of our traffic fatalities are in some way a function of speed. Last year I was able to get a speed reduction on our Bike Boulevards. I believe it’s time we had the larger discussion about considering it on all of our residential streets.
Scroll back up to the photo I took of the fence line on Grant Road. We need a culture change in our thinking if it take’s me filing a complaint against the city to get someone to recognize that’s not safe. That change will be reflected in how we design our corridors to be bike and ped friendly, the policies we eventually see in our Complete Streets manual, and how willingly we can bring some people to the table when talking about safety amenities that may have the corrolary impact of slowing down car travel a bit. It continues on Tuesday.
The next time you visit the music hall at the Tucson Convention Center, you’ll be greeted by new lighting amenities.
It took some time to locate and purchase the quad-lights that are long-time markers on that site. Thanks to Greg Jackson’s hard work tracking them down, they’re installed and now create a safe and inviting environment at the hall. We’re grateful to Greg and the facilities management folks who worked hard to get this work done. The patrons who support the area will recognize an immediate improvement in their experience.
Here’s a quick update on the piece I shared a couple of weeks ago where State Representative Vince Leach (Saddlebrook area) was upset that a Patagonia ordinance regulated the time and number of construction vehicles that could use their roads. He used the odious SB1487 bill to force Attorney General Brnovich to see if it violated state law. If it did, Patagonia would have had to either repeal their local ordinance or face losing state revenues.
Ta da! Brnovich ruled that the local law may stand. It wasn’t about guns, so the state isn’t going to preempt Patagonia over their desire to restrain the use of large mining trucks on their local roads.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that SB1487 is still law. There are a couple of initiatives in play to modify or repeal it. The League of Cities and Towns is supporting legislation that would make it so only a state legislator who represents the locale can charge a jurisdiction is violating state law and that the locale may petition the state supreme court without putting their state shared revenues on the table. Those efforts nibble around the edges of SB1487. It’s existence – even with those changes – still eviscerates local decision making, puts the state in a confiscatory position of control, and suffers many of the due process issues we raised last year in our gun-destruction case.
State Representative Kirsten Engel’s bill that would simply repeal SB1487 is much better. Her bill is HB2354. I would encourage you to write in support of her work on this issue. It’s home rule, taking the state’s foot off the fiscal throat of local jurisdictions.
This week’s Local Tucson is a group that’s right around the corner from the Ward 6 office. Check out the Unscrewed Theater. It’s inexpensive, family friendly, and just a good time. They’re celebrating their fourth anniversary at the end of this month with a special series of shows.
When they opened in 2014, the Unscrewed was the first comedy theater in Tucson devoted solely to improv. Located at 3244 E. Speedway (next door to Fromino’s), they have built a great following. Each week their shows come with a variety of giveaways and there are food trucks on-site Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. until 7:15 p.m. They put out a release recently promoting the upcoming anniversary shows. Instead of replicating what they said, here’s a portion of that pelease. Plan to support them at some point during the weekend and more broadly, to support all of our local comedy teams. You’ll find promotional information on them at the entryway of Unscrewed.
You can get advance tickets at https://www.unscrewedtheater.org/events.
Another Local Tucson shout-out is due to Alan and Kare Williams. My bride and I were happy to join them as they celebrated their one-year anniversary this past Saturday at their Crossfit studio over in Dunbar Spring. I worked with them during the opening (they’re Broadmoor-Broadway Village residents) and it’s great to see the gym now up and running, having some great success.
Their classes run from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m., then in the afternoon and evening from 2 p.m. until 8 .pm. Check them out at www.crossfitmilo.com or stop by the gym at 301 W. 4th Street. It’s always great to celebrate a local small business success story. This is one of those.
Here’s a reminder of our upcoming Ward 6 blood drive. On Saturday, February 3 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., the American Red Cross will be on site for the event. As was the case the last time, we very much prefer that you pre-register so there are time slots filled and so we know how much the Red Cross staff should bring in terms of supplies and personnel.
There are three ways you can pre-register. One is simply by calling the Ward 6 office and setting up a time for the February 3. Our number is 791.4201. You can also email Alison here at the office at Alison.Miller@tucsonaz.gov. She’s our point person on this event and can get you plugged into it. The final way to pre-register is through the Red Cross website at www.redcrossblood.org. You need to use Ward6 as the sponsor code and the site will take you to the registration page.
Not everyone can donate blood. There are height, weight and other health criteria. If you’re one of the fortunate ones who is eligible, please consider it. With all the major weather-related disasters we see on the news, the needs are immense.
I’ll add this: we also see on the news how the flu is hitting the country hard. If you have any symptoms, please call and cancel any meeting you have with anyone here at Ward 6. If your group has a room booked, give them a break too and stay away. “Bugs” don’t get passed around unless people expose other people. Those are choices. We ask you to take care of yourself, and those with whom come into contact. It’s still very early in the season, so this one has the potential to be a real dangerous one if people make poor decisions.
We’re about halfway through the fiscal year 2018. It runs from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. In the first six months of the fiscal year, the Film Tucson folks over at Visit Tucson shepherded in nearly $3M in direct spending related to film production in and around Tucson. I write about Shelli and the crew’s work a lot because unless you’re directly involved in pre/post production or are casting for a spot in a show, these shoots can go under the media radar screen and you’d never know that we’re still in the game. We’re still advocating for the state to play an even larger role.
Some of the shows that had a local economic impact in the past six months include the Danish Netflix documentary Curtainfall. It’s an eight-day shoot centered on a Holocaust survivor who is now living here in Tucson. Add to that, Crossing Over, an MTV docu-series episode in which our locals also connected the LA-based show with city leaders in Nogales, Arizona and Sonora. Dangerous Animals is an Australian nature program that came here in December to film some of our wildlife. Ride With Norman Reedus is another LA production coming here to film an episode. I’ve shared with you before about the filming of both Run Coyote Run and Bisbee’17. Together they accounted for well over 500 hotel room nights with nearly a million dollars in direct spending by their visiting crew.
I’ve scanned the list of bills that have been proposed for consideration this session up in Phoenix. None that I’ve seen extend any state level benefits for the film industry. The work being done by our local film advocates demonstrate the wisdom and value in moving such a bill through and getting it signed. If Ducey and the state are after “jobs bills,” supporting a state film incentive program is exactly that. I join many other local film supporters in continuing to promote such an effort coming out of Phoenix.
Beginning on January 27, the Desert Museum joins many other partners in working to eradicate this invasive plant. If you need convincing that the effort is important, it’d help to know that buffelgrass is a threat to our saguaro population. It outcompetes saguaros for nutrients and scarce water. It’s also a fire hazard. We’ve seen plenty on the news about forest fires. Many start as brush fires and spread.
Volunteers are now signing up to take part in one of many bullelgrass pulling events. There are several scheduled across our region. If you’d like to sign up to volunteer, use this link: https://www.desertmuseum.org/buffelgrass/bbbdsitelist.php.
If you’d like to suggest a site, please use this link: https://www.desertmuseum.org/buffelgrass/bbbdsite.php. The site can be in your own neighborhood, at a park you love to visit, or anywhere you see an outbreak of the grass that needs to be eradicated.
If you’d like more information on the whole body of work, you can contact the public programs coordinator out at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Sonya Norman. Her email address is email@example.com and her phone number is 883.3030.
We at the Ward 6 office are grateful to Sonya, the buffelgrass eradication partners, and all of the volunteers who take their time to protect our Sonoran desert environment.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events & Entertainment