Land Use Code Revisions
The Mayor and Council continues to review the City’s zoning regulations to find opportunities to make them business friendly and more adaptable to urban versus suburban development. These initiatives are in various stages of completion/approval and include:
- parking reduction options
- urban overlay district
- certificate of occupancy relief
- development review timelines and expirations and loading zones
- renewable energy generation facilities
- downtown infill incentive district
- neighborhood preservation zone
- planned area development (pad)
- downtown core sub-district
- parking code comprehensive revision
- land use code reformat
- sustainable land use code
Details about these initatives can be found here.
Certificate of Occupancy Relief
On July 7, 2010, City Council eased the rules governing the conditions under which businesses may be granted a Certificate of Occupancy. The new rules will allow businesses to open in existing structures without meeting all Land Use Code requirements. The change is intended to make it more affordable to open a business in Tucson and encourage infill and reuse of existing buildings. Find out more about the new ordinance: http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/files/agdocs/20100707/jul7-10-338.pdf
On November 17, 2010 the Mayor and Council reveived a presentation on the City of Tucson Ombudsperson Program. The purpose of the ombudsperson program is to ensure that significant development projects move forward efficiently through the City’s development review process and that construction projects are brought to fruition as expeditiously as possible. The ombudsperson program is intended to stimulate the local economy, produce a positive customer experience, and reinforce a business-friendly climate in Tucson. Find out more about the new program: http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sirepub/view.aspx?cabinet=published_meetings&fileid=3291229
Streamlined Sign Permits for Change of Copy and Banners
The Permit Counter and Sign counter staff have teamed up to help reduce the time spent getting permits for a "change of copy" on an existing sign, and for banners. Effective today the Sign customers have the option to take change of copy permit applications directly to the Permit Counter, bypassing the Sign Counter. Change of copy permits dropped off at the permit counter will be ready for pick up in 48 hours. This will eliminate the need for the contractor to sit and wait for their permits. This service is offered as an alternative and is strictly voluntary. In addition, banner permits can now be issued directly through the permit counter. No more waiting at the sign counter.
Urban Overlay District (UOD)
The Urban Overlay District is a new zoning tool that provides design guidance in a focused way to achieve transit-oriented development. Transit-oriented development makes good economic sense because infrastructure is easier to provide and costs less than other development. Benefits to businesses, residents and visitors are:
- Better places to live, work, and play
- A mixture of uses in close proximity including office, residential, retail, and civic uses
- Increased foot traffic and customers
- Reduced traffic congestion and driving
- Enhanced ability to maintain economic competitiveness
- Higher, more stable property values
- Faster and easier development
The first urban overlay district is Downtown Links, an area between the major activity centers of downtown and the University of Arizona that includes 4th Avenue, Iron Horse and the Warehouse district.
Tucson's new Modern Streetcar system will create unique and exciting opportunities for redevelopment and new development in the downtown and university areas. The streetcar is expected to connect an estimated 5,700 weekday passengers along a 5 mile alignment between Tucson’s major activity centers within the City’s core. Find out more about Tucson’s Modern Streetcar: http://tucsonstreetcar.info
Economic Recovery Framework
The City’s Economic Recovery Framework guides City efforts aimed at improving Tucson’s business climate and stimulating the local economy. The Framework includes four “building blocks” that represent the key areas the City is focused on to create a healthy local economy:
• City Financial Recovery and Core Service Delivery
• Business Customer Focus
• Partnerships, Tools, and Resources
• Public-Private Investment
Find out more about the City’s economic recovery efforts and provide your feedback: http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/economicrecovery
Downtown Tucson has served as the central location in Southern Arizona for commerce and trade for hundreds of years. Today, the greater downtown area is home to more than 60,000 employees and provides cultural, historic, and arts venues that include restaurants, festivals and entertainment establishments for the region's one million residents and three million annual visitors. The City has tools and incentives in place in order to encourage revitalization projects in this social and commercial heart of Tucson. Find out more about current development efforts underway downtown: http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/downtownprojects
Green Business Certification Program
The Green Business Certification Program can help businesses located within City of Tucson limits reduce resource consumption and operate more sustainably, and save money on utility bills! Businesses accepted into the program receive valuable energy, water, waste and pollution audits and technical expertise in order to reduce resource consumption for no charge. Businesses benefit through the savings that come with reducing energy, water and waste. http://tucsonaz.gov/ocsd/GreenBusinessCert_Home
City Improvements: CENTER
Mayor and Council have outlined a set of focus areas to improve our city: CENTER. CENTER stands for Community Safety, Effective Government and Good Planning, Neighborhoods and Parks, Transportation and Infrastructure, Economic and Financial Recovery and Revitalization of Downtown. Your city has ambitiously addressed these focus areas with initiatives that meet multiple focus areas. A few of these are:
Clean Cities Initiative
The mission of the Clean Cities Initiative is to address obvious deterioration in the city’s physical appearance through legal, code, community and transportation avenues. The initiative includes recommendations to create a culture of responsibility for the appearance of our city across the multiple sectors, including the city itself, partner organizations and citizens.
The Anti-Graffiti initiative takes aim at preventing and quickly responding to graffiti. Graffiti impacts property values and sends a signal that an area has criminal activity. It is a stubborn problem to eradicate, and the therefore several city departments are working together and with Pima County to go beyond removal so that citizens can participate in solving this problem.
To find out what you can do to prevent and report graffiti, please go to: http://dot.tucsonaz.gov/graffiti/
Customer Service Initiative
Being business-friendly begins with excellent customer service, and that’s why the City Manager has made going "from good to great" a focus area for all city departments. This initiative starts with continual customer service training and feedback so employees are able to effectively communicate with customers and provide them with solution-based information. Beyond this, the city uses collaborative auditing, a team approach of service delivery and cost measurement that gives early indication of problems. This data-based and collaborative approach enables continuous improvement despite the city’s personnel and budget challenges.
The next stage in the continuous improvement process will be a digital collaboration tool with a standardized, four-step problem solving process used to create time and cost saving solutions and improve internal and external services
Maintaining Public Safety, Transportation and Parks
As in other cities across America, the economic downtown has put Tucson’s budget into dire straits. In Tucson, a $40 million annual deficit will impact critical services that businesses, visitors and residents alike hold dear unless new revenues are found. These critical services include public safety, the ability to recreate and maintain the natural beauty that parks provide and maintenance of our transportation infrastructure and systems. The city made cuts that affect these quality-of-life services, but was unwilling to make more without giving voters an opportunity to keep them. A citizen committee found that a temporary sales tax was the only immediately viable way to provide the funds needed http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/annoucement/committee-advise-mayor-and-council. Although this initiative was not approved by the voters the City continues to look for funding sources and internal efficiencies to support thes core services. For more information about the service cuts already experienced see: and http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/coretax
Tucson Has Received Nearly $120 Million in Stimulus Money
In the year since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into law, the City of Tucson has been awarded $119,610,987 in stimulus money. This funding has helped fill some of the gaps caused by the national economic downturn. Bridge and road improvements, neighborhood stabilization, the modern streetcar and funds for increasing energy efficiency are some of the major projects funded through ARRA grants. The City’s website has more information about funded projects, as well as success stories from our community: http://www.tucsonaz.gov/recovery
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds (ARRA)
Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law in 2009, the City of Tucson has received almost $120 million in stimulus funds. These funds have served to stabilize neighborhoods, enable energy efficiency upgrades, secure Tucson’s energy improve roads and bridges, make other transportation improvements and enhance criminal justice processes. Funds will also be used toward the Modern Streetcar Project and the Tucson Solar Initiative.
These projects aim to secure our energy resources, save money, create jobs, improve transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Tucson has used funds to attract new investment in Tucson and create a higher quality of life for Tucsonans.
For updates, links, featured projects and other ARRA success stories in our region, visit http://www.tucsonaz.gov/recovery.