Not so EEZ
Regarding April 4 article “Oro Valley takes step to expand tech park development”: It may be tempting to think that the four grandly dubbed Economic Expansion Zones within Oro Valley are more than they actually are. The only significant difference between an EEZ and any other piece of Oro Valley property zoned for commercial is the “streamlined” review process for development within the EEZ. This includes the opportunity to bypass Public Participation and review by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Being in an EEZ does not convey any other unique benefits. Thus, while it may be easier to get commercial property built in these EEZs, this in no way will impacts the probability of long term success. Businesses need customers for this. There is no way around it.
Besides the arbitrary Technological Park zoning, what do they all these parcels actually have in common? Each has well-established residential areas within 600 feet, unlike the successful Securaplane, Tucson Orthopedic, Ventana, Western National Parks and Icagen properties in the center of the Rancho Vistoso EEZ.
An open power grab is occurring within our town right before your eyes. Public participation is being scapegoated as the cause for local land speculators not maximizing their profits on their timelines. Public participation is also being cited as the sole reason why prospective employers are not locating in Oro Valley. Common sense tells us there must be a lot more to choosing Oro Valley over the long term than just this. Your right as a resident to participate in the process of evaluating and helping to shape what is being built on undeveloped commercial land near you is under serious threat. Please take the opportunity to speak up about this at council meetings and planning and zoning meetings.
— Timothy Bohen
Golf over Little League
I attended the Dec. 9, 2014 Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting when former town manager Caton pitched the surprise El Conquistador Country Club purchase to a skeptical audience. Earlier in that meeting, OV Little League presented its story: Success with over 300 boys and girls, ages four to 15 participating, yet no place to play in town. Before the night was over PRAB voted 6-0 to include little league fields in the Naranja Park Plan and voted against the town purchase of El Conquistador golf.
The meeting was reported in the Arizona Star by Becky Pallack on December 10, 2014. A few quotes:
The town recently surveyed residents about what kind of parks and recreation facilities they wanted. People asked for ball fields and playgrounds, not golf member Hallin said.
“Golf ranked just above ziplining at the bottom of the survey,” noted board member Adam Wade. “Our constituents don’t want golf courses.”
The Parks Board voted 5-1 to advise the town to go ahead with the purchase- without the golf business.
But Town Council did not listen to PRAB. It’s now three-and-a-half years later, and Oro Valley golf operations continue to bleed red ink. Yet new town manager Jacobs is recommending spending even more money for course repairs in next year’s proposed budget. She ignores the town financed National Golf Foundation Study recommendation to reduce the 36 holes at La Canada to 27 due to lack of golfers.
What residents want are playgrounds, trails, and little league fields, not rebuilding empty golf courses. Why should taxpayers continue to subsidize the few golf members to the detriment of other OV residents’ recreational needs?
Hold on Capella
I attended a Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on the Capella project and wrote about the condescending attitude of the WLB presenter towards the residents who spoke out against the project. Now, after reviewing the WLB Capella proposal in more detail, I too oppose it.
The Capella Planned Area Development includes four zoning categories, and the developers propose more than a dozen zoning changes that if approved violate the requirements of each one.
Oro Valley has established zoning categories for single family homes. The smallest is zoning at 7,000-square-foot lots. However, the Capella developers are not content with a reduction from the existing single home on three acres to roughly five homes per acre. They want to create an even smaller lot size that is narrower and takes less area. Their goal isn’t more affordable housing, it’s cramming hundreds of expensive homes onto smaller lots to increase their profits. In addition, the proposed smaller lots have less outdoor space and smaller setbacks than is allowed by town zoning.
It’s also bad for commercial space since they want businesses more than twice the size allowed. For the commercial zones, they want to exceed the allowable building size and provide for a big box store larger than a Home Depot in an area surrounded by neighborhoods of single-family homes.
At the May 16 Council meeting, residents should insist that this project comply with Oro Valley zoning requirements. But with the landowner, the Kai family, contributes to the mayor and current council, and their agent Wexler does so as well. Don’t get your hopes up that common sense will prevail.
Another watershed moment
The 2018 election once again gives all Oro Valley residents the opportunity to do more than just talk about issues, but to have real impact by supporting the candidates that reflect their priorities for our town going forward and voting accordingly.
I seriously considered running again this year, but ultimately for personal reasons decided not to run in 2018. I want to thank all who continued to encourage me to run and who supported me in previous attempts. I remain deeply involved in community and town issues. This year’s election has at its core some carry over issues from the 2014 and 2015 elections and a few newer concerns receiving more attention by residents this year. They can be boiled down into the following major areas:
Continuing golf operations losses; a feeling of disenfranchisement by many Oro Valley voters; escalating concern with accelerated rate of development; growth and cost of Oro Valley municipal operations and fiscal responsibility and long term financial stability based on planned borrowing and spending rate.
I have heard many comments around the community relative to Oro Valley’s apparent transition from a “pay as you go” town to a “build it now” approach utilizing borrowed money and accelerated development impact fees to add municipal facilities now without properly accounting for long term legacy cost of employees and on-going maintenance costs of new facilities. It is beginning to look like the revenue needs of the “build it now” approach could be fueling the increased development rate.
What to do about the above and other concerns? Since I do not know the new candidates very well, I plan to attend a candidate event at Vistoso Golf Club on May 31 to get to know the candidates and I hope that my friends and supporters will join me there.
Editor’s Note: Patrick Straney was an Oro Valley mayoral candidate in the 2015 recall attempt.