-Karin's Note: Friday, August 9, 2013
-Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Did You Know?
Perhaps our most significant vote at Tuesday’s Mayor and Council meeting was the unanimous support for the establishment of an Access to Care Program in Tucson. Through this initiative, hospitals will pay an earmarked tax on their services to the City which can then draw down a $2 per $1 federal match. The total funding collected will help to either extend healthcare coverage to the insured through AHCCCS or be used to help cover the costs hospitals incur providing uncompensated care. I am impressed by the coalition of hospitals that worked together across Tucson to advocate for the program. It will ultimately strengthen healthcare provision in our community with an additional $70 million of federal funding, a benefit to us all.
On Tuesday the Mayor and Council rejected two applications from AT&T for cell phone towers which did not comply with the City’s existing ordinance (which sets height limit at 50 feet, etc.). The discussion led me to suggest that we schedule a Study Session this fall to reexamine our ordinance and realistic projections for what applications we might expect from the myriad of companies in the telecommunications industry. It makes sense to me that we try to facilitate more co-location opportunities (helping companies identify the “least obtrusive” options they must pursue as required under FCC guidelines) and determine whether fewer, taller towers or more towers at the existing height threshold (or some combination) can help us achieve best signal coverage across the City without spreading visual blight.
Through this conversation I was reminded of a comment by a prominent realtor in our region. He bemoaned the “look” of Tucson and wished out loud that the utility/communication poles and wiring were required to be put underground. Unlike other areas of the country where this infrastructure tends to be softened by canopies of tall, leafy trees, the infrastructure stands out in our desert terrain. While undergrounding tends to be fought hard by utility and communication companies (it escalates maintenance/replacement costs), better planning and coordination could help us reduce the web towers, poles and wiring. Over time new technologies will also evolve the shape of telecom infrastructure.
Another concern, which FCC rules prohibit Mayor and Council from considering, is the debate over health impacts of electromagnetic signals. We did not contemplate or discuss that issue at all in our deliberations. We did, however, pass a Resolution in support of the Pima County Board of Supervisors’ 2009 request to the FCC which would designate the County Health Department as the local entity empowered to evaluate health concerns. Mayor and Council concur that the Health Department would be best suited to professionally and scientifically study and advise us.
Jobs and International Trade
“While Arizona's biggest metro area did not keep pace with comparable markets in exports last year, Tucson was a bright spot. Exporters in the Tucson area saw significant growth in all major industries in 2012 and totaled $2.5 billion, with the biggest increases in fabricated metal, computer and electronic products manufacturing.” That’s from a Saturday article in the Arizona Daily Star (read full article here: http://azstarnet.com/business/local/tucson-area-exporters-registered-significant-growth-last-year/article_bc92e51e-f5f6-58a1-88fd-d93c96c03325.html ).
Just as we celebrated the designation as a “Hot Spot” and “Emerging Hub” by Entrepreneur Magazine last week, our growing success in manufacturing and international trade signals that the Mayor/Council has been on the right track to grow our local economy. Just last week Mayor Rothschild traveled to Mexico with Pascua Yaqui Chairman Peter Yucupicio. They solidified key relationships as well as an important investment in infrastructure at the Nogales/Mariposa border port from Mexican officials. Mayor Rothschild was able to reaffirm the importance of trade to our international border economy with President Obama on Tuesday in Phoenix.
All of these efforts build upon the leadership of Councilmembers Richard Fimbres and Regina Romero and former Mayor Bob Walkup. Together the Mayors and Council have recognized that strategic binational/international tourism and trade initiatives hold great promise for our region. It’s heartening to see our shared efforts pay off for the hard working people of Tucson.
Economic Development Projects
At my request, the Mayor and Council delayed action on a request from staff to utilize (Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)-backed Section 108 Loan funds for sidewalk projects throughout economically distressed areas of the City. My questions focused on two questions: 1) why would we use CDBG funds for sidewalks (traditionally paid for by our Transportation Department)? And 2) what kind of jobs would be created under the project? The focus of CDBG is typically to create affordable housing and core programs/capacity to address poverty. The focus of the Section 108 program is to create jobs for people living in low-income areas. Before we vote on staff’s proposal I want to be sure their project presents the absolute best path for achieving the goals of both programs. Please let me know your thoughts on this, and help spread the word that both public and private sector projects anywhere in the City can also apply for Section 108 loans so long as jobs open up for low-income residents or other key objectives are met: http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1133&doctype=AGENDA
This morning I attended the Grand Opening of the new Goodwill Shop just east of Dodge on Fort Lowell. It was heartening to see so many people lined up to donate items and to buy toys, books, videos, clothing, household items and more. I hope you’ll support Goodwill (www.goodwilltucson.org) as you’re out shopping for bargains. While you’re at it, check out the Metal Arts Village just north of the Dodge/Fort Lowell intersection. There you will find “Arizona’s Premier Collaboration of Metal Artisans in the Heart of the Fort Lowell Furniture and Arts District” (from their website www.metalartsvillage.com). You can also grab a great cup of coffee there at the Coffee Loft and enjoy their metal sculpture garden.
On another note, the Local First Arizona business mixer this week drew seventy people! I am proud to have led the effort to bring Local First to Tucson (previously centered only in Phoenix). Local members clearly recognize the benefit of joining the movement, which promotes buying locally better than any other group I know. Local First has helped the City to revise our procurement guidelines to direct more opportunities to local vendors, and has a great website I hope you’ll visit to guide some of your own spending: http://www.localfirstaz.com/
Have a great weekend,
Ward 3 Events:
-Dedication of New Sculpture – Tuesday, August 13 at 6:00 p.m. Corner of First Avenue and Navajo Road. Join Council Member Karin Uhlich and eight young Ward 3 artists for the dedication of a sculpture in the Mountain View Neighborhood. This summer youth employment and roadway beautification project has been funded by Tucson Pima Arts Council and Pima Association of Governments. The young artists worked under the direction of sculptors Hiro Tashima and Jason Butler.
SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, August 28th from 5:30 to 8:00 PM at TPD West, Council Member Uhlich invites you to "Transportation 101: How Transportation Planning and Funding Works in our Community.” How many of your tax dollars go to support transportation, and how much of that comes back to our region? How do Tucson, Pima County, and PAG plan for future roadway improvements, bike boulevards, greenways, our shared mass transit system, or maintenance of our current transportation assets? Get answers to these questions and more, at the Ward 3 sponsored Transportation 101. Key City and PAG/RTA leaders will be on hand to answer your questions and hear your thoughts.
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, September 21 from 8:30 a.m. to Noon. 4th Annual Ward 3 Shred-It Event! This year’s event will be at Mansfield Park, 2000 N. 4th Avenue. First box is free, and subsequent boxes are $5 each and/or donate to our non-profit partners, Lend A Hand and Boys and Girls Club of Tucson. More information: Ward 3 Council Office, 791-4711.
Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s):
-Hedrick Acres NA – Saturday, August 10 at 7:00 a.m. Navajo Wash (meet at the NW corner of Mountain and Hedrick)
-Oracle Project Steering Committee (TOPS) – Tuesday, August 13 at 5:30 p.m. at TPD Westside substation, 1310 W. Miracle Mile
-Campus Community Relation Committee (CCRC) – Tuesday, August 13 at 6:00 p.m. U of A Student Union
-Alvernon Grant Initiative (AGI/TNBC) – Tuesday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m. Emerge! 2425 N. Haskell
-Friends of Mansfield Park – Wednesday, August 14 at 6:30 p.m. Parkside Terrace Apartments, 2150 N. 4th Avenue
-Tucson Modern Streetcar Design Charrett Follow-up Meetings – The City of Tucson invites all property owners, residents, businesses, neighborhood representatives, developers and U of A stakeholders to participate in a series of follow-up meetings related to the Tucson Modern Streetcar Land Use Design Charrett that were held in January. The purpose of these meetings is to provide information regarding proposed strategies being developed to help the community achieve the vision for the Modern Streetcar Focus Area.
The meeting schedule is as follows:
Meeting 2: Eastern Terminus & Main Gate
Monday, August 12th 6:00 PM
University of Arizona Student Union, 1303 E University Blvd., 2nd Floor - Kiva Room
Meeting 3: Downtown Entertainment Districts & Downtown Cultural/Convention District
Monday, August 19th 6:00 PM
Public Works Building, 201 N Stone Ave., Basement Conf. Rm. C
Meeting 4: Western Terminus -- Mercado District and Menlo Park
Monday, August 26th 6:00 PM
Location: Public Works Building, 201 N Stone Ave., Basement Conf. Rm. C
Questions about the meetings can be sent to The Planning Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
-Did you know…?
…that National Voter Registration Day is Tuesday, Sept. 24? Why is National Voter Registration Day so important? As recently as 2008, 6 million Americans did not vote because they didn't know how to register or they missed their state’s voter registration deadline. The League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson is committed to strengthening Tucson by getting voters registered on National Voter Registration Day. You and your organization, business or school can make a difference as well, by holding your own registration drive. Go to www.NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org and sign up. This website has all the tools you need to make your event successful. To support you, the League is offering a Voter Registration Training Workshop for participants on Sunday, Sept. 15, 1-4 pm, at Dusenberry-River Library, 5605. E. River Road. Email Sue DeArmond, the League's NVRD coordinator, at email@example.com if you are going to participate on September 24 or in the training workshop on September 15.
…that the City of Tucson Public Housing Program is accepting applications for various Public Housing Waiting Lists? The applications are being accepted beginning Wednesday, July 31 at 10:00 a.m. for Tucson House at 1501 N. Oracle Road (studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments) and Wednesday, August 14 at 10:00 a.m. for 1-6 bedroom units on various unrestricted general occupancy lists. More info and assistance call 791-4742. Applications accepted until further notice. To apply go to: https://tucsonlive.secureportaln.net/PHAHome/Index.aspx
…that your household may qualify for low cost Internet service if at least one child in your family is eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program? Connect2Compete (C2C) is a nationwide nonprofit program working to help Americans access technology through digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and low-cost computers. In our area, C2C has partnered with Cox Communications and Comcast for affordable Internet access, with GoodPC for refurbished computers, and with the Pima County Library system and EveryoneOn.com for digital skills training. To see if you qualify for the program or to get more information, go to Connect2Compete.org or call toll-free 1-855-222-3252.
…that Basic CERT Training is back! The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) educates citizens about disaster preparedness and basic disaster response skills. This training can prepare you to assist your family, neighbors and workplace when professional responders are not immediately available. The course includes 24 hours of instruction and practical exercises dealing with disaster preparation, fire suppression, medical operations, terrorism, search & rescue, command organization and disaster psychology. The schedule for this training is: Tuesday and Thursday evenings (Sept. 24, Sept. 26, Oct. 1, and Oct. 3 from 5:30 to 9:30 pm) followed by an all-day session Saturday, Oct. 5, 8 am to 5 pm. Classes will be held at the UA Medical Research Building at Speedway & Campbell, where there is plenty of free parking. There is no fee for the course, but donations are appreciated to help offset funding cuts. To register, email your name, address and phone to TucsonCERT@cox.net. For more information, call Stephen Schuldenfrei at 520-344-7769.