Topics in this issue...
- De-escalation and Mental Health
- Low-Impact Development / Green Infrastructure
- In-Home Energy Efficiences
- Utility Lines and Safety
- Climate Concerns Matter
- Sustainable Tucson Forum
- Arroyo Chico
- National Monuments
- Streetcar Hours
- PAG Bike/Ped Committee
- Local First: Tucson Meet Yourself
- Elephant Salad
- Ward 6 Blood Drive
Last month we remembered a somber 5th anniversary of the tragic shooting here in Tucson of Genna Ayup. She was shot and killed in an incident that never resulted in any charges being filed. I join the family in grieving not only the loss, but questioning whether the system worked.
Last Wednesday, a group of guys got into an argument on Tucson’s south side. A 40-year-old guy was shot and despite TFD’s best efforts, he died. TPD detectives are looking into the incident, determining not only how many guns may have been involved, but also trying to identify the shooter(s).
In Indianapolis last Friday a police officer was shot multiple times while responding to a traffic crash. Someone had called to report the crash, saying people were trapped inside the vehicle. One of the occupants shot the officer as he approached. Two other officers were at the scene, returned fire and hit two of the occupants, both of whom are now in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
In Salisbury, North Carolina there are two dead and three wounded in a shooting – each of the victims is 23 years old or younger. The group had gathered outside a restaurant shortly after 2 a.m. last Thursday and got into an argument. The result was fatal. No arrests have been made.
On a semi-related note, police respond to “shots fired” calls with lights and sirens. Watch and listen for them. Last week we lost one of our new patrol cars because somebody had his head somewhere other than “watching and listening.”
Here’s hoping the guy has good insurance. You and I shouldn’t have to pay for his negligence. Please stay alert while driving – no cell phones, turn the radio down to a dull roar, and give your job of driving your full attention. Thanks.
De-escalation and Mental Health
On a final public safety note, please be sure to mark your calendar for the presentation we're hosting here at the Ward 6 office on TPD's work in de-escalation training. Included will also be a presentation from our Mental Health Support Team. The MHST unit is the preferred point of contact when you're dealing with incidents in which any of the people involved may be suffering some sort of psychological issue that warrant an intervention other than the standard police/arrest/jail interaction.
TPD is right now taking the public through incident scenarios to demonstrate first hand both the real-time decision making challenges they face, but also to gather input from the public on civilian/police interactions. My staff has gone through it and each one believes it provided a valuable insight they didn't have prior to attending. It's my hope you come on the 10th and leave with that same new perspective on the work our police do, and understanding the training in de-escalating incidents Chief Magnus is now insisting they each take part in.
The MHST unit is specially trained to recognize mental health needs, and to direct people they encounter to our crisis response center or other treatment venue. The goal is to get people treated, not incarcerated. We have a 'warm-line' system through 911 that has successfully redirected approximately 1,300 emergency calls to the unit, getting people's needs met in ways traditional law enforcement methods would not have. It's a credit to our agency that we lead the industry in this work.
The meeting on August 10th will begin at 6 p.m. It'd be great if the only person upset after the meeting is our fire chief for our having over-stuffed the capacity of our community room. He won't be here, but I hope you can make it over.
Low Impact Development / Green Infrastructure
That’s the cover page of a 296-page document produced by the city and county back in 2015. It was not widely disseminated, but it should have been. I’m going to do what I can now to get it out into circulation.
The manual is a comprehensive guide to how you can landscape your home or business – form a large scale development to a small scale garden – in ways that will save water and produce vegetation that serves us both aesthetically and environmentally. As JFK said, “if not us, who, and if not now, when?”
Perhaps the reason we didn’t get the manual out into wider circulation is that it’s non-regulatory. But the information contained is well-researched and easy to implement. Low Impact Development (LID) is defined in the manual as ways you can reduce runoff and pollutants from the site on which they’re generated (see Arroyo Chico discussion below) by doing things such as recreating natural landscapes. Green Infrastructure (GI) is the structural elements used to achieve that; things such as stormwater controls that enhance infiltration and storing and recycling stormwater runoff. The terms are often used interchangeably because it’s typical the LID is done in conjunction with GI methods.
This graphic is from page 23 of the report. It shows the relationship between the development goals and the methods used. Much of what’s included is easy for a homeowner to implement.
For example, you’ve seen these all over town:
I’m joining with Paul to further the conversation with city staff to get this sort of GI infrastructure permitted on both public rights of way and on private developments. Currently there’s some resistance due to concerns that water carried on our streets could be claimed as a public good by some “downstream” user and therefore should not be allowed to be intercepted on private property. Quoting myself – that’s silly. More on that to come.
The public benefits of LID/GI are multiple and obvious: buffering homes from the sun, creating walkable streets, traffic calming, creating natural landscaping, and plenty more. A couple of weeks ago I included a series of rebates we offer through Tucson Water, many of which are directly tied to LID/GI. In addition, our Rainwater Harvesting Ordinance requires all new developments to get at least half of their water for landscaping by using water harvesting techniques. Those are LID/GI. The manual speaks directly to those methods.
There’s flood mitigation, groundwater preservation, savings in stormwater infrastructure capital costs, reduction of heat island, preserving riparian habitat – a ton of benefits. Here’s a link to the study. Please consider referring to it when you’re thinking about upgrades to your home or business landscaping. We all benefit when you do.
In-Home Energy Efficiencies
I mentioned the rebates we offer for rainwater harvesting systems above. In the past I’ve also written about rebates for greywater systems and energy efficient appliances. But there are also practical things you can do around the house to save energy and money that don’t cost much if anything up front. Some examples:
- When you’re changing out lightbulbs, buy the energy efficient LEDs.
- We have a swamp cooler. This time of year it has its issues. By simply using a fan to move the air around, we’re more comfortable, sometimes even without turning on the cooler.
- If you do laundry loads in quick succession your dryer is more efficient because it doesn’t have to reheat itself for the new load. Clean the lint tray – both for safety reasons and to make the dryer more efficient.
- Do the weather-stripping around your doors and windows to trap the cooling (heat in the winter) inside your house or business.
- If you have a ceiling fan, change the blades in the winter so they run clockwise so you’re pulling the warm air to the ceiling and redistributing it to the entire room.
- Cut showers down from 15 minutes to half that. Too late for me. My daughter already moved out – and in her case it would have been from an hour down to about half that. But you get the point.
- Keep your shades closed during the hot times of day.
- Use less water when washing clothes and use warm, not hot water (the most expensive part of using a washing machine is the energy it takes to heat the water).
- Don’t block vents or ducts in your house so air flow is efficient.
- Be strategic in where you plant trees outdoors. High tree canopies to the south to help cool the roof and low foliage to the west to shade the walls in the afternoon.
That’s 10 simple ways we can all save energy and money around the home. And there are plenty more you can find online, through utility websites, asking at hardware stores, or browsing through the LID/GI manual.
I’m mentioning these ideas in the past few newsletters as a lead-in to the August 7th forum we’re having on climate change. While there is a legitimate role for the government to play – lead by example – we’re all in this together and lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
Utility Lines and Safety
In the context of TEP and utilities, their website also has some ways you can participate in protecting our urban wildlife. Before we could take down the diseased pines in our pocket park, we had to wait for the baby raptors to age out of the nest. Tucson Electric Power is working with the UA on ways to make sure hawks and owls aren’t killed by power lines that may be near their nests.
Hawks and owls are birds of prey. They like to perch up high, look down and swoop onto their victim. Power poles are a great launching pad, except for when the lines aren’t protected. For 15 years TEP and the UA have been working together on ways to protect both the birds and utility property. They’ve installed a variety of rubber protective caps onto the electrical gear when they know a raptor nest is within about the length of a football field away. Knowing that often requires someone notifying them of the nest.
If you see a nest in a tree in your neighborhood, please let TEP know so they can send out crews and install protective materials on the electrical equipment. You can do that by calling their customer line at 623.7711, or go to their customer site on the website.
Climate Concerns Matter
Before the screening of An Inconvenient Truth last week at Catalina United Methodist, I shared with the audience some thoughts on climate generally. One was recognizing that we just went through the hottest June on record in Tucson. We’re not alone in experiencing an increase in our temps.
Dr. James Hansen is a retired NASA climate scientist and a current professor at Columbia University. He and two colleagues studied actual summer temperatures for each decade since the 1980s, comparing them to a fixed baseline. The baseline was used to define "normal" temps. Using those data they created a bell curve like you’ve seen forever in your math and science classes. That formed their basis for comparison pre-1980 to what we’ve seen since 2005.
Another of my pre-movie comments was that in the film, they showed temperature trend lines that stopped in 2005. Since then, those trends have continued. Using the data they compiled for the post-2005 comparison to their baseline, Hansen and his team created this side by side graphic to demonstrate how things have changed, and how they’ve continued the increasing heat trend.
Extra hot summers virtually don’t appear pre-1980. Now, they’re commonplace. Using their records, two-thirds of the summers in the post-2005 study are categorized as “hot”, and 15 percent are in the “extremely hot” category. That’s just data, which doesn’t much care what the politics of the day are. They just are what they are.
Further validation, this is a slide from Dr. Ruiz’ presentation he gave at the recent study session I asked for on climate. It shows loss of snowpack on Greenland up until 2005. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to speculate that it has continued as temperatures have continued to rise.
Ok, I won’t leave it to your imagination. This graph from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the loss of ice mass on Greenland from 2002 up through last year. Loss of mass means greater likelihood of ice sheets breaking off – as happened two weeks ago on Antarctica.
I closed my remarks at Catalina United by inviting us all to do our part in reducing energy consumption. I’ve shared several ways to do that, both in this newsletter and in each of the past few. In an effort to walk the walk, I’ve offered the Ward 6 office building as a test pilot location for some of the ideas I’ve floated in the newsletters. We have a brown roof. Let’s paint it white. We use fluorescent lamps. Let’s change the fixtures to LED. We haven’t had our building weatherized since I was elected in 2009. Let’s do it. Then let’s compare our energy costs going forward to what we’ve been paying. If I can get staff to go along with the idea, I’ll share those data with you too as we see the effects of the changes.
Sustainable Tucson Forum
On Wednesday, August 9th I’ll be taking part in a candidate forum on the general topic of climate and what our roles are in addressing it. The forum is sponsored by Sustainable Tucson. It’ll be held at Changemaker High School, 1300 S. Belevedere. We’ll be talking about water, transportation, development and how we each can play a role. Very similar to the August 7th forum at Temple Emanu-El.
Co-sponsoring the forum along with Sustainable Tucson and Changemaker are Local First Arizona, Pima County Food Alliance and the Progressive Democrats of Arizona.
The participants in the forum will be all city council candidates for this year’s election. Everyone on the ballot was invited to take part. I know most of us running have RSVP’d for the event, so you’ll hear several viewpoints.
The forum will run from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. There’s a lot of quality discussion happening on this topic since Trump announced the U.S. would be pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. While I disagree with that move, it has proven to be a catalyst for public engagement where before some of that was lacking.
In 1996 the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to fund work along the Arroyo Chico. The goal was to mitigate flood damage to surrounding residents. A large water catchment was built on Randolph Golf Course, another at the Cherry Fields over on Campbell, and a new storm drain was installed on High School Wash. That work has been completed and a final phase is now under discussion. It’s a segment of the Arroyo Chico Wash between Kino and Plumber. This map shows the project limits:
With the successful completion of phases 1, 2 and 3, the area was taken out of the flood plain through a FEMA review. The local feeling is and has been that the final leg of the project is not needed. Save the money, save the habitat and use the funding where it can actually achieve its purpose.
Very recently, the Pima County Flood Control District was advised the Corps had suddenly found $4 million they had to spend – and this project was targeted. Despite resistance from the county, residents, me and others, the feds insist on doing the work. The threat if we don’t comply is potentially placing residents back into a flood plain map and placing the region at risk of losing access to emergency FEMA funds in the future. There’s an active discussion going on now about how to mitigate the impact of the project on the habitat that exists in the wash. Last week I shared the scope of UCAB and groundwater contamination. In this case there’s also concern over potentially dislodging some contaminants embedded in the soils.
Pima County and the Flood Control District are allied with the city and residents on this item. In a memo outlining his concerns, the County Administrator said, “This proposed channel modification will substantially degrade the environmental quality of this section of Arroyo Chico, removing much of the vegetation and installing structural flood control elements.” He went onto state, “We have discovered the presence of polynuclear hydrocarbons exceeding safe standards, which will require remediation.” All the local input is aligned to argue for a reduced scope; one that is responsive to concerns over flood water mitigation, but that preserves the habitat, vegetation and does not cause issues with the contaminants of concern. Getting the feds to redirect scope and back away from the threat of unnecessarily remapping is the goal.
The crux of the disagreement is whose model for predicting flood damage should be controlling. The local model we used - which was approved by FEMA - shows we don’t need to do the project as originally scoped. The Army Corps is using a different model and not taking into consideration changes in the surrounding environment or rainfall levels. Their model shows the project is still needed. That’s it in a nutshell. Two sets of civil engineers working with two different predictive models coming to differing conclusions.
The Pima County Flood Control folks are right now working with the Army Corps to try to agree on a reduced scope, one that will preserve the riparian habitat and yet still satisfy the feds’ concern over what they see in their flood mapping model. There are alternatives being discussed including things such as increasing the capacity of existing box culverts, removing some dip crossings and laying back some of the bank using what are called gabions instead of simply concrete. To give you a visual, this is a gabion:
It’s essentially rock embedded in wire mesh. You’ve seen them around.
The original plans involve removing what is now a well-established mesquite bosque canopy and other vegetation that has grown up along the banks since the project was originally proposed. I am assured by the local folks that there’ll be public review of the alternatives prior to the arrival of any construction crews along the wash. While I’m hopeful for a good outcome, this is one we’ll need to stay engaged with as it develops.
In a recent newsletter I reported on the president’s desire to roll back the naming of several national monuments. Four of those are in Arizona. One is the Sonoran Desert. Rolling back the designation allows for development to take place on what are now national monument sites.
Each of the sites under review in Arizona was created by Bill Clinton back in the 2000-2001 time frame. To justify the executive order calling for the change, Trump called the use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to secure the sites as monuments an “egregious abuse of federal power.” It’s what the Act is in place to allow. Here’s the language giving the authority to the president:
Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.
What the act doesn’t do is allow a president to rescind the designation. That’s what the Trump EO is attempting to do.
Interior Department Secretary Zinke expanded on the EO and asked that any monument so designated since 1996 “without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders” be reviewed. Since that began, they’ve indeed received “public comment.” A recent Tucson Sentinel article reported Zinke has received over 1.4 million comments. People clearly care about this issue. A group called Center for Western Priorities selected 1,000 of those comments at random and found 98 percent support maintaining the national monument designations.
As much as I’d prefer the current focus be on our November city council elections, there’s a lot of chatter about the midterms coming up in 2018. This would be a worthy topic for you to draw out the candidates on and find out whether or not they support preserving the monument designation for the Arizona sites.
Speaking of the November 2017 elections, if you haven’t registered to vote yet, your time’s running out.
There’s a primary election on August 29th. Speaking as a candidate, I’d like to see you all show up for the Ward 6 primary. There are three people on the ballot, and one write-in running for Ward 3. I know those candidates would like to see a large turnout as well. You have until Monday, July 31st to register for the primary. Those of you who do will receive an election pamphlet shortly after the August 2nd mailing date. Ballots will be mailed on August 9th.
The general election is November 7th. If you register for the primary, you’re good to go for the general. If you’re registered as an independent though, you need to specify which party ballot you want to have mailed to you for the primary.
We have voter registration forms here at the Ward 6 office. You can also register online through this link or you can call the Pima County Recorder’s office at 724.4330 if you have questions. Don’t sit this one out.
During the summer when UA students are gone, we cut back on the late night hours the streetcar runs. With school resuming next month, we’re going to also resume the 2 a.m. service on Sun Link. I’m not supportive. It’s a decision made from the city manager’s office.
The reason we reduced the hours was because ridership doesn’t justify us running empty cars until 2 a.m. Merchants along the route have joined some UA folks asking that we keep the tracks lit once the students come back. So we’ll start rolling the cars late again on Monday, August 21st, despite it costing us an added $90K.
My position with the city manager has been that if the merchants and UA see the value in the system running that late, they should demonstrate that by paying for the additional hours. Ain’t happening. So welcome back UA students. The hours will be Thursday through Saturday until 2 a.m.
PAG Bike/Ped Subcommittee
If you’re not riding the streetcar to save fuel, you might be on a bike or walking. Everybody is a pedestrian at some point. Many of us ride on two wheels too. We have both a bike and a ped commission – the Pima Association of Governments (PAG) does too.
On the PAG bike/ped subcommittee, they look at regional issues related to bicycle and pedestrian concerns. They’re involved with the PAG bike and ped count program, creation of the Tucson Bikeways map, and considering related policy matters.
PAG is looking to add up to four community members to this subcommittee. If you’re reading this, you likely live in Pima County and are eligible to apply. This link contains all the information about how to do that, meeting schedules and more about what the group is involved with.
Tucson Meet Yourself
It’s time to sign up to be a volunteer in this fall’s annual Tucson Meet Yourself. I first became familiar with this community-wide event through my mother-in-law and bride who worked the Danish booth each year. You can find something that touches you just by wandering through the various booths.
The event is this October 13th, 14th and 15th. They need over 600 volunteers to make it happen. Each year, they get that level of support, and more from you. You can use this link to sign up.
If you’d like to see what you’re signing on for, they have all the information about times, job descriptions and other information you’ll be after on their volunteer website.
If you want to participate as a vendor or performer, I can save you the ask. They’re already full. That’s a testament to the popularity of this civic event. Each budget year it’s my bias to fund this and other civic events more fully than we do. Your level of involvement helps to make up for what we don’t provide.
There’s no more worthy candidate for this week’s Local Tucson item than our own community “meet yourself” event. The direct point of contact for volunteers is Jessica Escobedo. You can reach her at TMYvolunteer@gmail.com or call 390.7864.
When I was in Kenya we saw dozens of scenes like this. No, he’s not choking. It’s a salad.
Last week in the newsletter I had an image of a downed tree outside of McKale. I’ve seen plenty of others as I run and bike around town during the monsoons. Actually, they’ve got the makings of some good eating material for the elephants over at Reid Park Zoo.
An elephant can eat up to several hundred pounds of food per day. Much of that is high-fiber – tree limbs, for example. We have five of them over at Exhibition Tanzania, each of whom would love to munch on the tree you just lost in your backyard.
If you have a non-toxic donation you can offer, give them a call at 791.4202 and they can walk you through the process of getting your tree limbs into the habitat. They’ll accept way more species than they won’t, so it’s easier to show you what you don’t need to bother calling to offer.
Here’s the list from the zoo website:
We do NOT accept browse that contains any of the following:
- Palo Verde
- Thorns larger than ½ inch
Ward 6 Blood Drive
On the morning of September 9th, we’re partnering with the American Red Cross and hosting a blood drive here at the Ward 6 office. Actually there’s a little in-house competition going on. Our own Alison seems to feel she and her pals from her rugby team deserve to be the W6 blood drive mascots. Chris may have earned those honors with his bike wreck last week, but when the trash-talking started it was his soccer buddies who felt they owned the title. We’ll see.
More importantly though, we’d love to get you involved. The Red Cross blood needs never disappear. The donations are the first in a six-step process that eventually ends with your blood meeting the need of a person you’ll likely never know. But the needs are real, and you can be the first link in the donation chain.
All blood types are needed. Because of the staffing and equipment needed to carry out one of these, we’re signing people up early. To get a time reserved please reach out to Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s working as our in-house coordinator for this event. It’s important we have you on the roster. Red Cross can’t commit resources without us first showing a committed level of interest. The date and space is booked, so please consider taking part.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events and Entertainment
First Fridays: Father Kino - A Journey to Discovery
Friday Aug 4, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Arizona History Museum: Tucson 949 E. 2nd Street
Historical geographer Barbara G. Jaquay, PhD discusses a true man of the Renaissance, Eusebio Francisco Kino: cartographer, astronomer, explorer, geographer, scientist, and Jesuit missionary. Padre Kino laid the foundation for San Xavier del Bac and is credited with 24 other missions in Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico. In addition, Dr. Jaquay will discuss Kino’s introduction of European agriculture—farming and animals—to this area.
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way | www.tucsonbotanical.org
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave | www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org
UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd | www.uamineralmuseum.org
Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave | www.jewishhistorymuseum.org
Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St | www.FoxTucsonTheatre.org
Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St | hotelcongress.com
Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd | www.loftcinema.com
Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St | www.rialtotheatre.com
Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave | www.arizonatheatre.org
The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd | www.theroguetheatre.org
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave | www.TucsonMusuemofArt.org
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.com
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childernsmuseumtucson.org