Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- Concert Across America for Gun Safety
- Arizona Film Office Update
- Honors Village Project
- Watershed Runoff
- Tree Work
- Air Quality Forecasts
- Quick Equifax Update
- Arizona Local First
- Props 202 & 203
- ASAVET / Best Friends Event
- Tumamoc Tour Mobile App
- Space Art Exhibit
- Events and Entertainment
This week Hamstra Heating and Cooling gets a nod for the Be Kind item. Through their philanthropic arm (Hamstra Helping Hands) they’ve donated $8,000 towards the rehab of the air conditioning system over at Valley of the Moon. Valley is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are operated by volunteers (also deserving of the Be Kind mention) and deliver shows to kids throughout the year. In fact, the nearly-upon-us Halloween is one of their biggies.
This donation will upgrade one of their adobe homes and allow them to now offer their first indoor climate conditioned space on the property. Who knew a Heating & Cooling company did philanthropy?
That’s Shirley Hines on the right – and a broken teacup her late mother had left to her in the picture on the left. It was broken, and the rest of the set was destroyed in the Houston hurricane mess. Ann Dahms lives in Frederick, Maryland. She saw the story in a NY Times article, found 3 identical cups on-line and had them delivered to Shirley. Pretty cool.
In Plano, Texas last week the news wasn’t about the hurricane. Instead they now have 9 people dead from a mass shooting that took place during a football watch party. One more is still hospitalized. The shooter – killed by police – was the divorced husband of the lady who lived in the home. She was one of the victims. They may be flying some flags at half-staff for hurricane victims around Texas. It’d be nice if they included these victims in their remembrances as well.
That’s 2 year old Kyree Myers and his dad Keon. They’re from Columbia, South Carolina. Kyree found his dad’s loaded gun laying around, shot and killed himself. Keon committed suicide very shortly after discovering what had happened. No mention of the wife or rest of the family in the news article.
In Loganville, Wisconsin 4 young boys were playing cops and robbers, using the shotgun owned by one of the kid’s fathers. That’s a picture of the ‘toy’ they were using in the game. A 10 year old pointed the weapon at his 14 year old brother, pulled the trigger and killed him.
The police told media the gun was “accessible” in the home.
Last Monday evening at the Ward 6 office, Mom’s Demand Action/Everytown shared a presentation on their SMART Program. It’s the very common sense effort to get parents to ask how guns are being stored in their friend’s homes before sending them off to play. According to the Everytown data, there have been over 170 unintentional shootings by children so far this year. Earlier this summer, Pediatrics Journal published an article that said there is an average of nearly 1,300 children up to the age of 17 who are killed each year from firearm related causes.
SMART is an acronym – Secure your weapons, Model responsible behavior, Ask before you send your kids out to play, Recognize the warning signs of teen suicide, and Tell your peers about the program. I have brochures on the program at the Ward 6 office. If you’d like to connect with the Mom’s you can find them at www.momsdemandaction.org.
And with that as a lead-in, this is a reminder to join us at Monterey Court at 1:30 on Sunday, September 24th for the Concert Across America. I’m hearing from lots of gun safety advocates that they’re energized this time around (recent State Supreme Court ruling – Trump & NRA connections) so we should have a very good crowd. I’ll open with some music, followed by Joyce Luna and WomanSong. It should be a fun event. We hope to see many of you there.
In the continuing saga of the state usurping local decision making, last week state senator Kavanaugh filed a challenge against the City of Phoenix related to how their police department handles detainees. Specifically, what the Phoenix policies are with respect to when, and under what circumstances their police involve ICE.
This is a continuation of the SB1487 issue – the one we just lost at the state supreme court over our gun destruction policy. Now comes this challenge:
Kavanaugh is a very conservative member of the state legislature. He is empowered by 1487 to compel the Attorney General (judicial branch) to investigate an alleged violation of state law. I as a council member (legislative) cannot compel Barbara LaWall (judicial) to investigate an allegation of a crime. The state supreme court did not directly rule on the constitutional separation of powers question we raised in our briefs – so until that’s decided, a single legislator can tell Brnovich what to do.
This is a huge extension of the Home Rule threat I’ve written about a lot. Who gets to decide local issues? The court case we just lost was with respect to formal ordinances we have in place. At any time in the future, any legislator in the state can challenge one of ours, regardless of how long it has been in place. Now, with this Phoenix investigation, they’ve expanded that to rules and policies. Simply how we manage our own internal affairs is now being subjected to Attorney General scrutiny – and our state shared revenues of $115M will be at risk if we don’t change the policies being scrutinized.
In the Kavanaugh/Phoenix case, Brnovich is being forced into an odd corner by the fine Senator. The AG issued some informal guidance to local law enforcement agencies last year. He did it as a part of settling a larger federal lawsuit in an effort to avoid having the feds rule on the ‘show me your papers’ part of SB1070. The US Supreme Court has already said ‘detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns.’ Brnovich doesn’t want to risk a ‘papers please’ decision further eroding SB1070. Kavanaugh has now forced that question into state court.
We’ll be watching as this unfolds. Questions of concern are how deeply into policies and rules is the state legislature allowed to dig and risk our state shared revenues? Will this result in the newly formed state supreme court overturning some police policies that may be similar to some we have in place? Will it give us a platform to finally challenge the constitutional questions the state supreme court ignored in our gun ruling last week? Will this state allow what the US Supreme Court has hinted is an unconstitutional intrusion into local policing – ‘papers please’ questioning? I know of no local police leadership who wants to be placed in the position of being an extension of ICE.
If there’s anything to be hopeful in this is that each time some state legislator uses 1487, it potentially opens the door to getting its constitutionality ruled on. Local decision making authority is a crucial right to preserve. Clearly we’ll at some point have the opportunity to make the legal case again. The legislature will ensure that opportunity lands on our doorstep.
Some good news from the state…
The Tucson Film Office has teamed up with the Arizona Office of Film and Digital Media on some programs that hold real promise when it comes to attracting more film productions to Tucson and the region. Tomorrow morning over at Lodge on the Desert, some of the work will be rolled out. They’ll start at 8:30.
Since this is late notice, I’ll give you a sneak peak now. The state film commissioner will join our own Shelli Hall in bringing the message. Matthew Earl Jones will describe the Film Resource Coordinator and Reel Deals Discount programs.
As many of you know, our state legislature has yet to adopt a state-wide film incentive program. As a result we’re doing the best we can in attracting film and other creative media productions to the area. Through the investment of the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona film office is now putting into place the Film Resource Coordinator program. It’ll identify key contact people, largely out in rural areas and use them as go-to connectors when producers are looking to make arrangements for their shows. We have superior locations – these Resource Coordinators will facilitate getting deals arranged to minimize the leg work the production companies need to do on the ground. Tapping into the talent pool, working through permitting processes, and identifying locations for the specific needs of the shoots. It’s a creative addition to what we’re offering in-coming shows.
Add to that another new program – Reel Deals. I mentioned that we cannot offer tax incentives at the state level / yet. That means we are losing jobs to neighboring states. The Reel Deals program is an alternative to those incentives. It’s a voluntary discount program specifically for film and media companies who want to come here and produce. We can lower production costs by bundling services such as bulk room rates, or offering no-fee permits for use of state-controlled highways, bridges, and rights of way. Vendors who are participating in the Reel Deals program become the go-to database for members of the film industry who are looking at Arizona locations.
We still need a state incentive program. But through the hard work of the Visit Tucson Film Office, and the relatively newly formed Arizona Office of Film and Digital Media, we’re making some progress in landing some shows that we may have otherwise lost.
If you’re interested in learning more about the state office work, here’s a link to their website:
A couple of meetings ago the M&C voted to advise the UA that we felt the proposed deal points related to the land swap, construction and management of the Honors College should be subject to city zoning rules. That position was based on the two documents we had at the time; the Request for Proposals (RFP) for student housing that was issued about 5 years ago, and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the UA and American Campus Communities (ACC) just signed for Honors. We haven’t changed that position yet.
By way of refresher, this is the site of the proposed project:
It generally runs from Park, two blocks east, and from Drachman, two blocks south. It’s a combination of state owned land, and some owned by ACC. It’s immediately in North University neighborhood, and across the street on Park from Feldman’s. And it’s a block north of the University planning boundary, although this site was noted in their master plan as one that would be considered for development.
And this is a rendering of the proposed Honors Village. It is programmed to include about 1,100 beds, retail, classroom and office space, a recreation center, on-site parking and some open space dedicated to the residents. And it should be noted that also in the master plan is the statement that development taking place outside the UA planning boundary will be subject to city zoning law.
This rendering shows the street level view from Fremont Avenue – the one that bisects the village:
Of note is the scale. Not shown are the adjacent homes to the north, west and east. Therein lies the concern.
And the Honors Village is being moved forward outside of the zoning process while this project – another student housing proposal by Peak Campus – is beginning the rezoning process up the street at Speedway and Euclid.
It’s another 600+ beds on the outskirts of the same neighborhood being impacted by the Honors Village. All involved need to understand that these projects are not happening in a vacuum from one another. The response from nearby residents is understandable.
The plan described in the MOU has ACC transferring ownership of their land to the state. Once that happens, it becomes exempt from city zoning. You can see from the renderings that it’s not quite a single family residence they’re building. So the move to avoid a formal rezoning process is important since the zoning, if approved would very likely reduce the scope of the project, cause some delays in opening, and would therefore have a financial impact on all of the players.
This is an update. We have not seen the final form of the Land Use Agreement. With that document we will get another opinion from the city attorney on whether he feels the terms still subject the project to our zoning obligation. The notation in the master plan is not legally binding – although it’s a factor in what I believe is a loss of credibility on the part of the state if they move ahead with the project and ignore our rules.
Nothing for us to do until we see their final deal. I’ll of course share more on this as it moves forward.
I pulled this quote out of a 2014 study on green infrastructure conducted by Columbia University. They studied 11 major U.S. cities and evaluated how they were doing with encouraging environmentally sensitive development policies. This was a part of what they had to say about Phoenix.
The city’s urban heat island effect can be mitigated by green infrastructure solutions such as increased vegetation and less heat-storing pavement. The predicted impacts of green infrastructure in Phoenix should be assessed by both its stormwater management benefits as well as urban heat reduction.
The same can be said of Tucson.
A ‘watershed’ can be any number of defined areas onto which rainwater falls and is either absorbed into the ground, or runs off the site and affects somebody else. It can be a rooftop, a home site, a shopping center parking lot, or the ground in a forest.
The graph shown below is a tool we can use to help guide what I’m hoping to be a 180 degree change in how the city looks at capturing through curb cuts and reusing the stormwater you see flowing down our city streets. Right now, there’s push back on allowing it to be diverted onto private property. We’ll have a study session on this on Tuesday to talk through all of the reasons – and hopefully agree that they’re not with merit.
This graph, produced by Evan Canfield from the Flood Control District shows a few things. Generally it describes the potential we have with rainwater harvesting at different watersheds, comparing pre vs post development runoff. It’s describing the amount of water lost due to various levels of development. It’s showing the difference in what some ‘downstream’ user might have a claim to. And it’s showing how much water we might be able to capture and return to the aquifer – if we had a fundamental policy change allowing / encouraging / private use of water coming from our streets. That’s what we’ll talk about at M&C tomorrow.
For example – at the far lower left hand side of the graph, the green line shows how much rainfall is returned into the ground. Obviously, it’s most of it. But when it lands on a rooftop, some of it will head down the spout and be captured, but most won’t. There’s no magic in the graph – it’s showing what you intuitively know. And it’s showing how much we can potentially direct back into our aquifer if we change our policy of disallowing stormwater incentives on private property.
I spoke at an Environmental Law class on campus last week. Most of the students and professors can’t believe we’re even conflicted on this issue. But we are – and we’ll hammer out a solution tomorrow.
I’m grateful to Catlow Shipek from the Watershed Management Group for the work he’s doing on this topic. WMG has a very interesting river preservation project I’ve written about in previous newsletters. And they have a net-positive water system at their living lab over on Dodge (one block north of Speedway.) Visit the WMG website at www.watershedmg.org - and stay tuned for the outcome of this conversation at M&C.
While I believe we need to implement a fundamental policy change when it comes to encouraging developers to incorporate water harvesting features in their landscape design, we’re already working on several projects that’ll soon begin, each of which leads by example in terms of tree planting and making a strong pro-environmental statement.
Join us on Tuesday, October 17th over at Himmel Park where we’ll kick off a tree planting project. The event will begin at 3:30pm over on the Tucson Blvd side of the park.
Thanks to the hard work of the Friends of Himmel Park for presenting an initial design proposal on this work. Tucson Parks staff took that and integrated it with work they were already doing related to irrigation repairs – the result will be 80 trees coming into the park, achieving the goals I’d love to see through the curb cut item I wrote about up above. The law firm of Mesch, Clark, Rothschild deserves credit for helping to fund the work. And of course Tom Ellis and our friends at Tucson Clean & Beautiful have been great partners throughout the planning process.
Add to that the TC&B award of 3 neighborhood scale stormwater harvesting proposals. In Ward 6 we’ll begin with the San Clemente Neighborhood, Garden District and Sam Hughes Neighborhood proposals. If there’s still funding left once we price those out, more can be considered. Design is being finalized – that will be followed by pricing and then implementation.
I’d add a congratulations also to Dodge/Flower. Although they’re in Ward 3, I’ve got a ton of friends over there and am pleased to see their project is also one selected by TC&B for this work.
And finally, TC&B, and Parks are working with the Catalina Vista neighbors to replace some pines lost due to a beetle infestation. In each of these cases you’ll note the partnerships that exist between residents, Tucson Parks, and Tucson Clean & Beautiful. Together each of these projects will make ours a better, more healthy and aesthetically pleasing community.
One more environmentally related piece – 5 day air quality forecasts.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has been giving air quality forecasts to both Maricopa and Pinal County for nearly 20 years. We in Pima County have not been receiving that same service. Starting this week, we will.
We primarily owe a debt of gratitude to the folks in the Pima County DEQ for being our regional advocates on this issue. The forecats will be a collaborative effort between them and the ADEQ.
One of the reasons we haven’t been getting these forecasts is that we’re meeting EPA air quality standards. The ADEQ position has been to send the forecasts to places that aren’t in compliance – the Phoenix area. With the extreme heat we saw last summer, there may well be days when we’ll want to be aware of ozone and other air pollutants. Having the forecast will give you an opportunity to plan activities in advance if we are predicted to have alert days. Seeing the data will also allow us to track trends – hopefully encouraging people to change travel habits. How we travel around (cars) is the single largest cause of air pollution in Pima County.
The prime mover on this over at the County is Beth Gorman, their Senior Program Manager at PDEQ. We at the Ward 6 office are grateful for her work on this. If you’d like to sign up for air quality forecasts and advisories, you can use this link: Subscribe >
Last week I shared a concern that by signing up with Equifax for their credit protection plan, you might be losing your opportunity to also be considered for any class action suits that may come later. Evidently the firm has been getting some inquiries on that exact concern. They issued a statement late last week.
In response to the direct question “if I take Equifax’s offer for credit monitoring, am I giving up my right to sue?” they shared an update to the policy language (the arbitration clause I quoted last week) that now states:
"enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not prohibit consumers from taking legal action."
Last week I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but also noted I wasn’t signing up until they made it explicitly clear what the policy was. They now have – it’s not too late for you to check your vulnerability to having been hacked by going to their site (https://equifaxsecurity2017.com/ )
I’m doing a tag-team for this week’s local Tucson item – a civic event coming in Himmel Park, and the city’s recognition last week by the International Festivals and Events Association. They announced Tucson as a 2017 recipient of its ‘Festival City’ award. The only other U.S. cities honored were Des Moines, Iowa and Philly.
I’d like to see us invest more into our civic events. We have that discussion each budget year. Even with the minimal financial help we’re now offering, the region supports more than 40 festivals annually. You’re familiar with many of them – Tucson Meet Yourself, 2nd Saturday’s, the Gem & Mineral Show, the Tucson Jazz Festival, the Festival of Books, All Soul’s Procession, 4th Avenue Street Fair, El Tour, and on and on.
On a somewhat smaller scale, but an annual asset to the community, the El Rio Theatre Project began this year’s Shakespeare in the Park series this past weekend. It’s in their regular location – Hippie Hill in Himmel Park. Performances will continue for a couple more weekends – 9/21-24, and 9/28 – 10/1. Shows begin at 7pm – they’re free, but if you can help with a donation to cover their costs, they appreciate the help.
And this – Zoocson is back again on October 13th at the Tucson Zoo in Reid Park. The event is open from 6pm until 9pm – come and go as you need to. This is their annual food/entertainment/auction event that helps offset the costs of operating the zoo. The great work they do with international animal conservation also benefits.
You can get ticket information on this event by going to reidparkzoo.org. Click on the events link and it’ll take you to the site. And even if you can’t make the Zoocson event, they’re open every day for regular visits.
And while you’re there, make a point to check out Tierra. She’s the now 6 month old anteater – the newest baby out at the zoo. The zoo folks always have a cow when I misname their animals (like calling a gibbons a monkey – well, they look the same.) So Tierra is actually a tamandua. Here’s a picture –
Looks like an anteater to me. But you give her a look and decide. It’s always fun to wander through and see what the critters are up to.
We’ve got a ton to be proud of in our community. It’s an honor to represent a portion of the city where so many of these great civic events take place.
I can’t use this newsletter to advocate for or against any ballot measures, but I can – and should – use it to clarify with the goal of possibly alleviating potential voter confusion. That exists with what people are calling the ‘zoo tax.’
There will actually be 2 separate questions on the ballot this November, each of which must pass if the 1/10 cent sales tax capital needs zoo funding is to be approved. Prop 202 is needed in order to change the city charter and allow the increase. Prop 203 then implements that increase, earmarking it to the zoo needs. Those needs are largely capital, deferred maintenance and expanded exhibits. The 1/10 cent increase will end in 10 years.
There will be informational pamphlets coming out soon enough, but since signs are already up, I wanted to explain why you’re seeing two separate propositions listed.
Speaking of critters, this reminder of the cat spay/neuter event we’re hosting along with Best Friends and ASAVET. Spay/neuter is such an important key to managing our animal population. It’s simply responsible pet ownership.
Saturday, September 30th is the day of the event. You’ll need to bring your cat by before 9am in order to take part. We’ll begin registering at 8am. There is no cost, but since they’re actually doing the procedures on the animals that day, you can’t just show up and assume there’s an available slot. If you’d like to get more in depth information on the event, contact Pat Hubbard at 403.6947. You can check out their work on their website at www.asavetcharities.org.
(Photo Credit: Paul Mirocha)
That is a boathouse. It’s not what one might expect to see in the middle of the desert. The reason you do is one of the tidbits of history and science you’ll learn through a new mobile app developed as a walking guide to Tumamoc Hill.
The UA bought Tumamoc in 1956. It has been a research and preservation site ever since. And it’s a hugely popular walking area for thousands of us throughout the community. Now this app will add a new dimension to the treks.
The UA developed the Tumamoc Tour to mirror what is already up and running for people driving up Mt. Lemmon. Just like the Mt. Lemmon app was timed for driving a car up the hill, this one is designed in a way that will point out sites you’ll come across, but timed for an average walking speed. It’s available for iOS and Android devices, and comes in both an English and Spanish presentation. It has 6 different audio sections (thanks Dave Yetman and Alberto Burquez for narrating) as well as 16 videos embedded in the presentation. The sections correspond to 6 discretely different sections of the road – it’s a living lab, and the information contained is both interesting, and entertaining. And of course it’s not just drab vocals – there’s a music soundtrack provided by Calexico and Gabriel Naim Amor (all local artists.)
I am the proud owner of a flip phone. Therefore, I cannot access this app. If I ever walk up Tumamoc with my bride, I will be able to use her phone. You on the other hand may be able to right now, on your own. Give it a try – it may make the trek a bit less onerous as you divert your attention to something other than the incline.
And if you’d like to learn more about the hill generally, try tumamoc.arizona.edu/. The site is entitled Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill. It’s very well done.
Last year I had the privelage of hosting the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA) and their opening exhibit of ‘space art.’ We had their works up and on display for a couple of months – hundreds of you came through and enjoyed their paintings. Last Friday I was very pleased to join Simon Krager and Michelle Rouch – the co-founders of our local IAAA chapter – out at Tucson International Airport for their opening out there.
What a great place to showcase the value we as a region place in both the Arts and in Science. Earlier I named off several civic events, many of which involve some form of the arts community. And we can look around the UA campus for great examples of how the scientific community is embedded into who we are locally. Osiris Rex, the Mars moon lander, Flandreau planetarium, Biosphere 2, the Caris mirror casting lab, and on it goes.
In these budgetary times when members of the arts and sciences might be inclined to compete for scarce resources, it’s great to see this exhibit demonstrating the nexus between them. And the mutual cooperation in showcasing their respective importance.
The exhibit will be on display through the end of November. It’s in the main terminal, 2nd floor. In my remarks I mentioned how symbolically appropriate it is for every visitor passing through the area to see that in Tucson and Pima County, we place a high value on both arts and sciences. Congratulations to Michelle and Simon for this opportunity to share their work, and that of several other space artists.
(Shoemaker-Levy Impact by Don Davis)
Council Member, Ward 6