The tab for Oro Valley's next General Plan continues to climb. At its March 17 meeting, the town council heard a brief summary of outreach efforts to explore the reasons for the plan's defeat in a special election last fall. It then unanimously relegated future work on the plan to a study session sometime in April.
In an accompanying council memo, Bryant Nodine, town planning and zoning administrator, estimated that another $103,000 would be needed to revise, publicize and place a new plan on the ballot in November, on top of $500,000 already spent on the two-year update of its 1996 plan. Another $14,000 was recently budgeted for a survey and three town meetings to find out why 60 percent of voters rejected the updated plan.
At the council meeting, Nodine named five items needing work in the next plan update: specificity and flexibility in the language of the document; mixed-use neighborhoods; growth control and open space preservation; taxes; and plan amendment and adoption process.
Tucson-based Kaneen Advertising and Decision Support, Inc. conducted the survey and Arizona State University's Peggy O'Sullivan facilitated the three open-house sessions. Of $14,000 budgeted, the town has paid $7,500 for the survey and $2,500 to O'Sullivan. Additional invoices are still outstanding, said town public information officer Bob Kovitz.
Nodine recommended staff revise the plan to meet both citizen concerns and state requirements and send it to a small committee for review before seeking public support.
"You'll have to explain how the next plan differs from the plan that was voted down," argued Carl Kuehn, who spearheaded OVBeyond2004, a grassroots effort to defeat the plan. "And that you're not going to march this puppy around the block again and vote on it."
Bill Adler, another plan opponent, called Nodine's list incomplete. "I could meet with Bryant tomorrow and remedy those things," he said. "If you can rally the people who opposed it to support it, it's going to get passed."
Adler had earlier complained to town staff that he doubted the validity of the survey when a survey worker who called him at home was unable to confirm his answers.
The survey included a random sample of calls to "high efficacy" voters, voters who voted often in the past and probably voted last fall. Of 3,882 calls made between Feb. 4-10, 401 interviews were obtained. The rest were excluded because the resident didn't vote or because of wrong numbers, answering machines and disconnects.
Mirroring the vote on the plan last fall, the sample contained 41 percent of respondents who voted for the plan and 59 percent who voted against it. Forty-nine percent of the respondents were female and 51 percent were male.
All questions were open-ended, with similar answers grouped together in frequently overlapping categories (see box page 3). About a quarter of responses identified newspaper articles as the biggest single source of information used to make a voting decision. Another quarter were muddied in an "other" category and 15 percent didn't know or didn't answer.
"We did find out that the tax issue wasn't as important as we thought," Kovitz said in a later interview. "So we really did learn things we might have assumed differently had we not done this."
'Why didn't you support the General Plan?' elicited 56 of 287 responses (20 percent) as "too vague," "unclear" or "need more info"; 44 responses (15 percent) said "too much development," "too much growth," "too much density," "too many businesses," and "too pro-developer." Seventy-three (25 percent) of responses were listed as "other."
Mayor Paul Loomis said the survey and community meetings only provide an initial "look-see" to highlight elements of the plan that need more work.
"Do we need a 90-page plan? Or a 10-page plan with a lot of attachments?" he asked. "I'm not comfortable with the small committee idea. We have to overcome a large public loss. We have to convince them to vote yes."
Results of the survey were not presented at the meeting. The complete survey and community meeting comments can be found at www.update2020.com.
In other action, the council overrode by a 4-1 vote a Development Review Board signage condition in Capin Plaza, now under construction at Oracle Road and Cool Drive. The area was annexed May 7 as part of Area B. At that time, town staff determined that the development would fall under Pima County Sign Code, but would follow Oro Valley's review process.
On Feb. 10, the DRB approved the proposed sign criteria for the project, but added a condition replacing red signs with holly green or beige and internal illumination with halo illumination.
Fluoresco Lighting & Signs, representing center owner Neil Capin, appealed the ruling to the council.
"We had meetings with staff and they recommended red, which we incorporated in all three logos at the center," said Andy Stash, permit manager for the sign company, who claimed the requested changes would represent a hardship for tenants. "The board followed personal tastes and interests rather than what was set out before them."
Council candidate Conny Culver, a member of the DRB, asked the council to uphold its decision. "This is new construction," she said. "This is the obvious opportunity to seek compliance with our code."
"It seems to me that the applicant needs to know what the rules are," Councilmember Bart Rochman said. Councilmember Dick Johnson remarked that the signage issue would continue to confront the town as it rolled out future annexations. Both men are running for re-election in May.
Loomis made a motion to approve the appeal with instructions to staff to draft a policy to be applied to signage in annexed areas.
Councilmember Paula Abbott opposed the motion. "This is the gateway to Oro Valley. For future annexations we should aspire up to Oro Valley standards," she said. "I don't think we should lower our standards."
In other action, a rezoning request to turn the historic Steam Pump Ranch property into a commercial zone was rescheduled at the developer's request to May 19, the day after voters in the Pima County Bond Election could infuse $2 million into preserving the site.
Oro Valley General Plan Survey Results
The survey was composed of a random sample of high efficacy voters (voters who had often voted in the past and most likely voted last November.) A total of 3,882 calls were made to complete 401 interviews between Feb. 4 to 10 (calls excluded were wrong numbers, answering machines, disconnects or residents who didn't vote). The percentage of respondents in the survey who voted for (41 percent) and against (59 percent) mirrored the vote in November. Respondents were 49 percent female and 51 percent male.
What kind of information most influenced you in making your voting decision on the GP? (465 total responses)
Mailed info: 35
Word of mouth: 28
Read about it: 18
Not enough info: 15
Read plan: 11
Too vague: 11
Time put in: 7
Web site: 6
Too much development: 6
High density: 6
Don't trust council: 5
Don't know/no answer: 33
Reasons you supported the GP? (174 responses)
Needed to do something: 18
Good plan: 13
Trust council/staff: 12
Lot of work: 12
Good job: 10
Plan seemed reasonable: 9
Nothing wrong with it: 7
Well balanced: 5
Plan mandated: 5
Fair : 4
Money spent: 4
Agree/liked it: 4
Open space: 3
Bring in business: 2
Need better roads: 2
Don't know/No answer : 30
Reasons you did not support the GP? (287 responses)
Too vague/unknowns: 20
Didn't understand/unclear: 19
Need more detail/information: 17
Didn't like MUN: 16
Too much development: 15
Concern about taxes: 15
Didn't like it: 13
Don't trust council: 12
Too much growth: 12
Needs work: 9
Too many loopholes: 7
Too much density: 7
Too many businesses: 7
Too pro-developer: 6
Costs too much: 4
Concern about water: 4
Not enough roads: 4
Didn't listen: 4
Don't know/No answer: 23
Only voters who voted No on the plan were asked the following questions.
Are there any parts of the GP you can support? (241 responses)
I'd have to look at it again: 9
Most of it: 7
Lower density: 3
More roads: 3
Don't know/no answer/can't remember: 138
What is the most significant change needed before you can support it? (260 responses)
Less growth: 18
Less density: 15
No new taxes: 14
Need more info: 13
Listen to citizens: 10
Zoning uses: 10
No mixed use: 10
More open space: 8
Improve transportation: 8
Cost concerns: 8
Limit development: 7
Concern over water: 6
More parks: 4
Less pro-development: 3
New council: 3
Don't know/no answer: 74