PUBLIC WEIGHS IN ON PROPOSED CHANGES TO URBAN AGRICULTURE IN TUCSON - Tucson residents had their first chance last night to comment on proposed changes to the zoning code as it relates to urban agriculture. The City is in the process of modifying its zoning rules to revamp regulations on community gardens, farmers' markets, urban farms and the keeping of small animals. Cities around the United States are re-visiting their rules in response to public interest in support of local food production and sustainability. The foundation for the policy changes in Tucson stem from Plan Tucson, the City's General and Sustainability Plan, which was approved by voters last year. People both for and against the proposed changes had a chance to comment and ask questions. The next public meeting is scheduled for June 10 at 302 N. Commerce Park Loop, from 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Read more from Tucson News Now.
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PRACTICE DISASTER DRILL HELD YESTERDAY WITH NEW STREETCAR - A multi-agency disaster drill, including the SWAT Team, was held yesterday at the western end of the streetcar route downtown, as the City plans for a July 25 kickoff for passenger service. Meanwhile, the streetcar's management team continues to educate community members and streetcar operators about public safety. Sun Link's "Be Street-Smart" educational safety campaign is an ongoing effort to educate citizens about the streetcars presence and how to be safe around the tracks. Read more from Tucson News Now. Visit the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar website and watch the safety video.
PHOENIX PROPOSES PARKING RATE INCREASES TO BALANCE BUDGET - Phoenix City staff is proposing increased rates for parking meters - as high as $6 an hour in their downtown area - as part of its response to the City's projected $37.7 million budget deficit. A City Council transportation subcommittee yesterday discussed changes to the City's parking-meter structure. Currently, metered parking is free during evenings and weekends in Phoenix. There is one rate of $1.50 an hour for all meters regardless of location during other times. A proposed rate range of 50 cents to $6 an hour is under consideration. Staff said rates would be higher during high profile events, such as professional baseball or basketball games, and lower during times when there is not a lot of traffic. City staff hopes increased rates encourage higher parking lot turnover and persuade more people to use public transportation, bicycles and walk to downtown events. Read more from azcentral.com.
WIND AND LOW PRESSURE CAUSING BAD AIR QUALITY DAYS - The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) has issued five air quality warnings in the past two weeks, putting air quality below its normal standards in the Tucson area. Windy days and less than an inch of rain so far this year help stir up dirt that can be carried in the wind. “We’re in a situation where the winds seem to be more frequent than in the past," said PDEQ's Senior Program Manager Beth Gorman. "It especially seems to be stretching out longer.” Meteorologists point to a low-pressure system as the cause for the wind. It has been a rough season for allergy sufferers, and smoke from wildfires could add to the problems this summer. Read more from Arizona Public Media.
REID PARK ZOO TO CELEBRATE 'ENDANGERED SPECIES DAY' THIS WEEKEND - The Reid Park Zoo will showcase its three female Visayan warty pigs during Sunday's Endangered Species Day, from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. at the Zoo. The pigs, sometimes mistaken for javelina, are native to the Philippines. Other endangered species also will be featured. You can see photos of the Visayan warty pigs at the Reid Park Zoo's Facebook page.