La Cholla Construction

Having the honor of serving on the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) for 10-plus years, I was intimately involved with much of the development you see in Oro Valley today. Back in 2000, when I attended my first P&Z meeting, I didn’t have a clue about the relationship between commercial property and residential property and what needed to be done to make the two compatible. I also did not know the effect of development (or lack thereof) on the Town budget. I didn’t know about state shared revenue, or construction tax. I did know that people/residents generated sales tax. I also knew that there were only two gas stations in Oro Valley and other than a very small space in what is now Fry’s at La Cañada and Lambert Lane, you had to go out of town to rent a video (to Thornydale and Cortero Farms Road to be exact). I learned quickly from a great and dedicated Oro Valley planning staff.

So let’s take a look at what has happened since that time. Our census in 2000 was 32,017. In 2010 it was 41,011. That’s a 28% increase. Our 2020 census is reported to be 47,502. Our population has grown 48.4% since 2000. I don’t think that rate of growth will continue but growth will continue. 

How was it possible for Oro Valley to absorb 15,000-plus people? Well some of it was through well vetted annexations. For the remainder, the answer is pretty simple. We planned for and developed an appropriate amount of our useable land. This development was the result of General Plan Amendments and re-zonings where necessary. And several were necessary. And every one of those developments went through the very strict Oro Valley process, were the subject of several public input meetings, received a positive recommendation from the citizens serving on the Planning and Zoning Commissions at the time (except one) and were approved by the Town Councils. The Town Councils also approved three major apartment complexes mostly with unanimous votes. And in every case where an apartment complex was built, commercial development has sprung up around them.

And speaking of commercial development, 45% of the budgeted revenue in the Oro Valley FY20/21 budget comes from state shared revenue and sales taxes. Both of those line items are driven by population. The more people we have, the greater slice of the state shared revenue pie we receive and sales taxes flow in as a result of the population density around commercial centers.

Picture, if you will, what Oro Valley would look like today if we hadn’t grown responsibly.  Those 15,000-plus people would be living in other communities. The revenue generated by those residents would be in the general fund of some other government. We wouldn’t have a Naranja Park, Aquatic Center, Community Center or Oro Valley Marketplace. Our streets would be like Tucson and Pima County. And most importantly you and I would be paying the taxes that would have been generated by those 15,000 folks. The cost of government does not go down.

Responsible development is the life blood of any community. Oro Valley is no exception. We need to continue to annex, build and grow. And we need community leaders who recognize that fact of municipal life.


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