Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- TPD Hiring
- Honors College
- Broadway Development
- Barrio Viejo & the TCC
- Water in the Desert
- Unified Community Advisory Board
- Blood Drive
- Local First: Tucson Japanese Festival
- Lee Bucyk & The Hermitage
- Events & Entertainment
Our deepest sympathies go out to our colleague Shirley Scott on the loss of her husband. They had been married for over half a century – a model for all to emulate. We wish for Shirley and her family a place of peace in what lies ahead.
It was very kind of Emerge! to post this on their Facebook page. If your group is one of the many that couldn’t hold meetings in the Ward 6 office over the holidays, this is why.
The New York Times published an article last week in which the reporter followed six people, each 85 years or older, for a period of time. At the outset of the study, he felt the outcome would be to report on how people dreaded aging and became morose, waiting for the end of it all. Instead, he found that if you want to learn how to be happy, “think like an old person.” For this week’s Be Kind section, I’ll include a few snippets of wisdom from the folks he studied.
John Leyland was the author. He reported, “Old people report higher levels of contentment and well-being than teenagers and young adults.” They have “been there/done that” and have a longer sense of perspective on how things balance to the positive overall. Here are a few comments from the subjects of the piece.
That’s Fred Jones. Describing a lifetime, at the age of 89 he said, “It’s like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The span is too long just to have a bridge, so they had to have a bridge and an underpass. So part of it you’re up here, and part of it you’re down here, and finally you get to the Eastern Shore. Good days, bad days. But overall it’s good days.”
Helen Moses is 93. Her boyfriend is 92. Her comment was on consumerism, sort of: “I think my life is happier now. I don’t look at the price when I go shopping. If I like it I buy it. But when I was young if it was too expensive I couldn’t buy it.”
Pin Wong is the lady who’s about to bounce the balloon (looks like something we should start doing during council meetings to break the tension). Her comment was, “We seldom talk about bad things. We keep ourselves happier. Try your best to keep your mood up. I’m getting old. I want to live a peaceful life here. No arguments, and we can talk with each other without any difficulties.” She’s also 93.
A little perspective for the New Year from those who have seen a lot more than most of us.
Last Friday morning Cynthia Washington of KOLD had me on talking about my perspective on the progress made (or not) in gun safety legislation since our shooting incident on January 8, 2011. My response was that on balance, we’ve made no progress. In fact, we continue to take steps backwards in Arizona. We have a state legislature who wants to cede our sovereignty to other states through a “reciprocity law.” It lowers the bar for gun laws to the lowest common denominator among states who also sign onto the agreement. We have done nothing on bump stocks since the Las Vegas murders. We can’t even take your gun out of circulation for you even if you ask us to. I understand there will be a movement in Phoenix this session to empower members of the “state militia” to amass whatever they need to fend off the government. Call me naïve, but I don’t live in fear of the government coming to get me. There are plenty of real concerns to focus on. Many noted in these newsletters.
How commonly do you see these types of reports in this newsletter? In Taylor, Texas on January 3, a 48-year-old guy shot and killed his 42-year-old wife in a domestic dispute before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life. Police understand DV calls to be the own most dangerous ones to respond to.
On that same day in San Jacinto, California a road rage event took the lives of a man and a woman. They were sitting at an intersection when a truck rolled up alongside them. Shots were fired and the two were killed. No arrests have been made.
Also on January 3 in Garland, Texas, a guy saw what he thought was his camera that had been stolen on a website. He arranged to meet the seller. The result was the buyer and seller were both killed, and a friend of the guy who was trying to get justice for his stolen camera was shot and wounded.
Three very different incidents, except for the deaths by gunshot.
Chief Magnus hired the officer shown in this video. The guy is now a police chief in his own right. The video is a few minutes long, but sends an important message, one that I’m still hopeful resonates with our legislative employees sometime very soon.
Here’s one final public safety add: TPD is recruiting for new officers. We currently have an academy class in progress. The people selected through this testing period will be considered for classes we may have within the next six months. The earliest that we’ll fill our next academy class will be in July, depending on funding availability.
The deadline for this application period is January 31. This link will give you the details of the job description: http://bit.ly/2CoDadA.
During our May 23 study session, I made a motion that effectively placed the UA on notice that given the terms of the UA and American Campus Community (ACC) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), we felt the development of a new honors dorm should go through city zoning processes. These were the key points in that motion:
1) The City Attorney is directed to advise in writing the University of Arizona (U of A), American Campus Communities, and the Arizona Board of Regents that, based upon the information about the Project that is currently available, the City Attorney’s opinion is that the proposed Honors College Project is subject to the City’s zoning regulations, and that any further actions to proceed with the Project must take into consideration the requirement to comply with those regulations;
2) The City Attorney is also directed to advise the U of A, ACC and ABOR of the relevant provisions of the ABOR policies and the U of A’s Comprehensive Campus Plan, under which the Project can only proceed with close cooperation between the U of A, the City of Tucson, the private sector developers, affected property owners and the neighborhoods relating to the planning and implementation of the proposed Project.
Since that time, attorneys from the city and UA have been in contact as the UA worked through term changes with ACC. We now have an approximately 800-page document that embodies the new, modified agreement they have in place. In short, it is the belief of the city attorney that they have checked the correct boxes and we no longer have a legal basis to force the project through the public zoning process.
In any agreement we sign with the UA on the final terms of the deal, we will dedicate the right of way on the east side of Park, from Speedway to Adams for a possible future expansion area if/when Park is ever widened to accommodate the increased traffic from this and other developments in the area. That will preserve historic structures that now lay on the west side of that stretch of the roadway.
We raised objections to other terms of the management agreement. In the original format, they contemplated what would really be a private use of the property. The revised “transactional agreements” between the UA and ACC touches on many of the concerns we raised. Many of those related to construction and operation of the site. Here are some of the conditions we requested and how they are being addressed. Here’s a graphic of the proposed layout for your reference.
In the graphic, Park is on the right hand side of the picture, with Drachman on the north boundary of the project site.
There will be no balconies, rooftop amenities or swimming pools at the residence site. It will be built to meet all of our outdoor lighting code standards and come equipped to accommodate solar in the future. We also made certain of delivery times, landscape setbacks to protect residential sensitivities, and entryways located on the western edge of the buildings, away from single-family residences. Detention basins and green space will be built into the site design. Overall, the goal is to build to LEED Silver standards.
The surface parking you see in the lower right hand of the site plan will be designed to limit ingress and egress to Park, Mabel and Drachman. The access into and from the parking garage will also use Mabel and Drachman limited to “right out” only. We’ve also bargained to ensure pedestrian and bicycle safety features along Fremont where it crosses residential streets. With 1,100 new beds and such close access to campus, there will be plenty more walkers and bikers for cars to be aware of. The plans also call for enhanced and new sidewalks throughout the site area, along with some restriping and repaving of Park between Adams and Speedway.
The UA will handle the actual management of the residential component of the site through their Residential Life Department, the same as with all dorms that are built on campus. The contracts will be between students and the UA, not ACC. The UA (Arizona Board of Regents) will own the real property and ACC will lease it for 40 years, with an option for an additional 40 years. The UA will own and operate all of the classrooms, dining and office areas.
Finally, the UA will consult with the State Historic Preservation Office where demolition of the historic Comstock Hospital is concerned. Some documentation and approval will be required by the state.
We have a lot of development proposed for areas around campus. As I stated in an open meeting for a student housing project under consideration for Speedway and Euclid, these projects do not happen in a vacuum from one another. The impacts are cumulative. When the ACC/UA agreement to remove this project from the public zoning process came before us, the template was immediately of concern. It still is. Seeing these new 1,100 beds and associated uses in this location will impact our discussions of other proposed housing in and around this area. I’m hopeful that “vertical and on campus” is the model we see for some of the perhaps yet-unplanned student housing projects that may otherwise be causes for concern if built adjacent to residential areas off campus.
As many of you know, I’ve been advocating for the active participation of Rio Nuevo – with the Project for Public Spaces model as the guide – to become involved in the preservation and redevelopment of parcels along the Sunshine Mile. This graphic shows an example of what the PPS model may include:
This is downtown, off Congress. Congress was named one of the best-designed streets in America last year. There’s no reason we can’t work in that direction on the Broadway corridor and encourage vibrancy and activity other than simply car traffic.
I know Rio is interested in three sites along the corridor. In recent conversations, I’ve encouraged city leadership to meet with Rio and learn specifically what they’d like to see done at those sites, in accord with the PPS study. I’ve also raised the issue of city real estate giving notices of taking to property owners prior to us knowing if they can be productively used in ways the public has been requesting. I’m hopeful those dual directions will now overlap and we see work that happens cooperatively and not in silos from one another.
The old Volvo site is located at the west end of the RTA Broadway widening project. Currently, the city owns the property. We’re considering rezoning the site into a Planned Area Development (PAD) before marketing it. That would create design standards and allowable uses for the property even before we secure bids. The property is located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Park.
On Thursday, January 11, there will be two workshops to discuss the PAD with the public. Each workshop will cover the same material, so you don’t need to attend both in order to effectively participate in the process.
The preview sessions will be held at:
- Session A – 7:30 a.m. at 201 N. Stone in the 4th floor north conference room.
- Session B – 5:30 p.m. at 201 N. Stone in that same 4th floor large conference room.
There will be signage at the site to help you find the meetings.
The current zoning is a combination of commercial and industrial. The goal is to create a PAD zone that is compatible with both the surrounding areas and the historic character of the area. It’ll also be sensitive to the transit-oriented development we’ve been stressing throughout the Broadway design charrette process.
There will be a neighborhood meeting in the spring in which the proposed PAD will be presented for public comment. Following that, the actual rezoning process (with the zoning examiner and M&C reviews) will take place. That’s what Honors College lacked.
Lots coming and soon on the Broadway front(age). Stay engaged. The outcomes will affect the community for decades to come.
During our November 8 study session, we gave approval to move forward with the TCC hotel proposal. To address an issue that was raised, we asked for further study on the existing parking and traffic impacts of events at TCC that are hitting Barrio Viejo. That’s the historic neighborhood immediately to the south of the TCC. The streets are narrow and the concern is that increasing traffic in that area with the hotel is both a safety hazard to residents and an inconvenience to people who may come home and find no place to park in front of their own houses. More immediately though, there’s a concern that TCC events are already impacting Barrio Viejo’s traffic and parking situation negatively.
The city hired Psomas Engineering to conduct a study of the area. They worked in concert with Park Tucson and gathered vehicle counts during a variety of times on nine days when the TCC hosted events. They also studied two non-event days to establish a baseline. The report Psomas submitted confirmed the concerns of neighbors.
Psomas and Park Tucson validated that there is indeed event parking overflow into a portion of the neighborhood, specifically the area closest to the TCC and the portion that does not have a residential parking permit (RPP) program in effect. They found that the RPP area serves as an effective tool in limiting outside parking.
The study found that the parking overflow exists even when there is parking available in the TCC parking lot. They also took video from a drone to watch neighborhood traffic during the study and confirmed the excess traffic was largely from people searching for parking spots around the neighborhood.
Based on the study results, the city manager’s office is going to test a few possible remedies. One is to adjust parking rates both within the TCC parking lot and at garages around downtown. Lower the financial burden and encourage people to park up close to the center. We’ll also begin a stronger streetcar marketing campaign to encourage people to arrive by that means. Just leave the car away from the TCC and ride in the comfort of the streetcar. We’ll additionally look into implementing some new parking restrictions around the neighborhood, keeping in mind that there are also commercial uses that need customer parking access in the area.
The goal is to get some or all of those pieces into place before the February Gem and Mineral Show. During that event, we’ll do a recount and reassessment, then Psomas will report back as to the progress that was made.
If you’re going to an event at the TCC (there are plenty of good ones to select from), I’d ask that you consider the streetcar or parking in areas away from Barrio Viejo. Choosing those options will be safer for everyone involved. Reducing traffic injuries is one of our primary goals for 2018. Everyone helping in this area will be a step in that direction.
I give a year-end newsletter in which I review some significant items we addressed during the prior year. City departments give similar summary reports. One in particular of considerable importance is what we received from our water department. It shows water use trends and highlights why managing this resource is such a key piece of what we do at the M&C. These are the data offered in the TW review for 2017:
• Provided service to 231,000 accounts
• Delivered 32.9 billion gallons of potable water
• Peak usage day: 130.5 million gallons on 6/30/17
• Lowest usage day: 64.6 million gallons on 1/20/17
• Average daily usage: 91.3 million gallons
• Gave rebates to 7,307 customers
• Saved 54,229,998 gallons of water due to rebate/incentive programs
Note that we consumers use over 91 million gallons of water each day in Tucson. That amount is less than what we used even decades ago, but is still a lot of water considering our drought conditions. We cannot take our eye off the conservation ball.
There’s a group up north called the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA). It’s made up of 10 largely central Arizona cities. They had this to say in their own year-end report:
We cannot keep pointing to the smart water policies of the past. We must look ahead. Lake Mead, a giant reservoir on the Colorado River, is 8 feet from the elevation that triggers a water shortage declaration. If the federal government declared a shortage, it would reduce the amount of Colorado River water delivered to Arizona. This winter is off to a very dry start – showing once again how Colorado River hydrology can quickly change. Furthermore, Arizona’s rural areas are facing groundwater challenges that impact family and agricultural wells and raise questions about future growth opportunities. Hoping for a very wet winter cannot be our solution. We must build on our previous successes to stop the decline of Lake Mead and protect our state’s groundwater.
The AMWUA has been working together for nearly 50 years. In Southern Arizona, we have a similar group of 15 cities and other organizations. They’ve been working on water security as a group since 1999. In a year-end 2016 bulletin, they stated:
Based on the proactive measures of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) to keep water in Lake Mead and with the cooperation of Mother Nature last May, it is projected that Lake Mead will be 1,082 feet above sea level. While their current status is certainly positive, there is still a probability of a shortage declaration in 2017 or 2018, creating the need to remain vigilant towards water management practices. However, Arizona is at a critical juncture for our political willingness to continue planning and investing in critical infrastructure, which will determine how well we succeed as a state in the future.
Those are concerns raised by groups who represent municipalities. Add to them voices from conservation-minded groups and its clear our reliance on 91 million gallons per day deserves strong and continued attention by every governing body in the state – along with all seven basin states, but ours for sure.
The Sabino Creek hasn’t had a trickle in 116 days. The prediction is that runoff from snowfall in the Rockies will be about 20 percent less than average. That will result in decreased flows in the Colorado. That means Lake Mead will be challenged yet again to stay above levels at which a shortage is declared. As is noted above, we can’t just hope for wet winters.
This week we’ll be talking about ongoing measures we can consider to conserve and reuse stormwater. It’s something I know my colleagues on the M&C take seriously. Stay tuned throughout the year as we see how Mead levels, CAP flows, monsoon rains and record temperatures each develop throughout the summer. I’ve said it plenty, water security is one of our top two priorities at the M&C table.
Very directly related to water security is the Unified Community Advisory Board (UCAB). It’s the board we formed that specifically monitors the progress of cleaning up the Superfund site that resulted from pollutants such as TCE seeping into our water supply, primarily out around the airport. There are plumes all over town that Tucson Water is now actively monitoring.
UCAB has openings for citizen involvement. They meet quarterly out at the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, 101 W. Irvington. In addition to members of the public, the meetings include reports from the EPA, Tucson Water and other invited guests making presentations. These were important meetings even prior to the new EPA administration and reductions in both their staff and agency oversight. Now with those changes, the importance of UCAB may be even greater.
The next meeting will begin at 5:45 p.m. on January 17 out at the center. If you’d like to join the group you can either just show up a bit ahead of that meeting time and check in with either of the co-chairs, or contact them directly before the January 17. The co-chairs are Yolanda Herrera (991.3307) and Mary Aycock (415.972.3289).
If your neighborhood association or other social group would like to have someone from the EPA attend one of your meetings and give you an update on the site conditions, you can arrange that by contacting their Community Involvement Coordinator Sarah Cafasso at 415.972.3076. All of this is supremely important for us locally. I appreciate the work everyone on UCAB already does. It becomes more important as we see changes coming from DC and from the water issues related to the CAP and our own hydrology.
Remember that odious state bill from last term? It’s the one that passed in 2016 and was used to threaten our state shared revenues if we didn’t stop destroying guns you brought to us and asked us to take out of circulation. After a trip all the way to the state supreme court, we were forced to rescind that local ordinance. The bill has been used eight times now, each time involving a state legislator charging that a local jurisdiction isn’t following lock-step with what the state dictates we do. Recently it was used two more times and we need to keep close watch on one case in particular.
The one recently filed that probably won’t affect Tucson activities much is the legislature charging that the Town of Patagonia should not be allowed to restrict how often and when large heavy equipment is driven on their local roads. Here’s their local ordinance:
Given that local funding maintains their streets, those conditions seem reasonable – but SB1487 isn’t about “reasonable.”
The guy who filed against Patagonia is “north of Tucson” representative Vince Leach, the same guy who felt we should sell all of the guns turned into us back into circulation. This isn’t a dispute between Patagonia-area locals. Here he’s concerned that state law allows Patagonia to either restrict trucks totally or limit their weight, but not impose a restriction such as their pavement and quality of life preservation ordinance. It’s in front of the AG now.
We likely won’t be in the same situation as Patagonia restricting heavy equipment from travelling on our roads, but we do issue GPLET development incentives. That’s the other challenge Leach recently filed against Tempe.
The GPLET is a development incentive where we allow a developer to avoid paying property taxes on a project for a given period of time (generally eight years) if they can demonstrate the tax benefits to the area exceed the value of those taxes. We’ve used it about 10 times in the past five years. They’ve helped spur downtown redevelopment. Leach is charging that Tempe misused it when they allowed two recent projects to use the incentive. The AG will sort out the details. My point here is that Rep. Leach continues to use SB1487 in ways that directly affect local decision-making authority.
Last week I committed to helping a territory leader organize precinct committee workers for the 2018 elections. The basis on which I’ll be assisting is to keep track of how Home Rule (local decision making) is being threatened by the state legislature. We’ll soon invite local candidates to a presentation on that topic and use that forum as a way to generate political activity for the fall elections. When I made that commitment, I was sure we’d have plenty of cannon fodder. It was one day later that these new SB1487 challenges were brought to my attention (thank you, Andrew). Sadly, more is likely to come as the legislative session unfolds soon up in Phoenix.
Last fall we hosted an American Red Cross blood drive here at the Ward 6 office. Enough time has passed to allow us to host a second such event. The needs have only escalated in the past couple of months.
On Saturday, February 3, we’ll have the Red Cross folks here again from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you would like to give a part of yourself to help others in need, please pre-register for the event. Doing that allows us to manage time slots and it allows the Red Cross to plan on how many people and supplies they’ll bring to service the event.
They have certain criteria you’ll need to meet in order to be a donor. Those include height, weight and age standards. When you get here, they’ll take some vitals and determine at the time if they can indeed draw your blood. I know we had a few people last time whose blood pressure was too low to allow for it. If you’re sick, of course you won’t be a donor.
You can see much more about donating blood and you can pre-register by using sponsor code Ward6 at this site: www.redcrossblood.org.
You can also call us directly (791.4601) and we’ll sign you up for a time slot. If your neighborhood association leadership group would like to sign up together, or your club or social group would like to do a group donor event, we’d be happy to accommodate those sorts of offers.
Contact Alison here at the Ward office directly if you have questions you need answered. Her email address is Alison.Miller@tucsonaz.gov.
This week’s Local Tucson item is an upcoming festival at the Pima College downtown campus (1225 N. Stone). On Saturday, January 20 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m., the PCC campus will host this year’s Tucson Japanese Festival. It’s open to everyone. $5 for adults, kids five and under are free.
The festival will include a variety of activities, music and demonstrations. They’ll include things such as taiko drumming, martial arts, Japanese ceramics, origami and lots of food. It’s sponsored by the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition. If you’d like to see more about them, go to www.southernazjapan.org. You can also call them directly at 577.1763.
We have a rich local Asian history. Last week I wrote about the Mission Gardens and Chinese agriculture is showcased out there. This Japanese Festival will introduce much more of what the Asian community contributes to our local cultural whole.
Finally, I want to recognize Lee Bucyk for her work on behalf of The Hermitage, and by extension the cat and kitten population in need of care and homes here in Tucson. After successfully overseeing the renovations to their new center, Lee decided to move on to new animal-related work last week. She’ll be working on some projects with other rescues and will be helping the Humane Society U.S. on their AZFORWILDLIFE campaign on an interim basis. That’s the effort to eliminate trophy hunting on wildcats in Arizona. If you’d like more information on the campaign, go to www.azforwildlife.com.
We’ve all enjoyed working with Lee at the Hermitage and look forward to crossing paths in other animal welfare work in the days ahead.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events & Entertainment