Last spring, Mayor Hiremath and his majority council voted to place a $17 million bond and $28 million property tax on special ballot to solve the “critical field crisis” for town youth. I led the opposition group Axe the Tax not because I didn’t support sports fields for our youth, but because adding a 15th property tax on residents was fiscally irresponsible. Our group supported necessary fields, but insisted that Oro Valley continue its successful, fiscally responsible “pay as you go” approach which has now built the aquatic center at James D. Kriegh Park, a dog park and four large soccer fields in Naranja Park.
Our message resonated with informed town voters, and the 454 Bond was defeated three to one. But it seems that Hiremath didn’t get the message. He provided the media lame denials that he had “no skin in the game” and that this vote was “an outlier” and no reflection on town council decisions.
But actions speak louder than words. You see, the mayor, town manager Jacobs and council are proposing to “double down” on golf (not fields for kids) by spending $3 million on golf course repairs with money they don’t have.
She proposes no spending on the needed Little League fields. It gets worse since she proposes a 20-year bond to provide the money, and have the town take on debt
We have a chance to send Mayor Hiremath and his lockstep council members Hornat, Snider and Waters a message they will understand. Let’s vote them out in the Aug. 28 primary election and get a mayor and council majority that get the message.
Reinstate the buffer
Regarding April 4 story “Oro Valley takes step to expand tech park development”: ‘A 600-foot buffer for residential parcels was also put in place.’ Seems like a fair compromise to protect homeowner property investments “and” tech park property owner investments as well as encourage “big business” investment in Oro Valley. But the March 21 amendment to the code expands the Economic Expansion Zone by dropping that buffer to include all tech park parcels within Innovation Park and within the town.
Those pesky “potential rezoning and general plan amendment processes” and “various neighborhood meetings and consideration of feedback” that give homeowners a voice have been eliminated and are no longer a concern for this towncouncil. And they are proud of this?
Mayor Hiremath wonders, “why is Innovation Park reaping all the benefits, while others don’t?”
Perhaps he hasn’t noticed that most of Innovation Park is not surrounded by homeowners who will lose the quality of life and property value they thought they invested in when making their choice to purchase under the existing general plan.
My question is, exactly what “benefits” are the homeowners “reaping” from losing their property value and quality of life, and who will speak for them now that the council has removed their voice?
I heard Vice Mayor Waters discuss the Oro Valley “Fact Checker” on Feb. 27. It left me skeptical. On March 12 I filed a Freedom of Information Request to review how this need arose, and how town answers were developed. I received the emails requested on Friday, March 23.
Why does the town staff need to develop carefully crafted positions supporting the policies of Mayor Hiremath and council members Hornat, Snider and Waters? From reading the dozens of back and forth emails, I concluded that this was a message control effort for the council majority. Town staff was directed to deliver content that could be understood by a ten year old (via FOIA obtained email).
There are ten “fact checker” questions. Here is a critical one: Can the Town’s water resources support all this new development?
This is the Town’s “fact checker” response: “Yes, the Town of Oro Valley’s has the water resources to support this new development. The Town has been designated by the Arizona Department of Water Resources as having an “Assured and Adequate Water Supply” for the Water Utility’s entire service area for a period of 100 years.”
An email (obtained via the FOIA request) from the Water Utility Director cautioned that the above statement is misleading since Oro Valley has 100 years of water supply at the current consumption level, but not at the projected growth in water consumption.
The town has chosen not to share with residents the impact of our runaway higher density development on water resources and now appears to mislead residents with their “fact checker” website answer.
— Kim Krostue
Regarding April 18 story “Oro Valley’s Future…”: It touted the Main Streets boondoggle and tied it to Council’s approval of massive development. It appears that the town’s desires influence what they believe is true while they ignore what doesn’t fit their narrative.
Consider the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan. Few people read it; few attended the public review sessions; yet they voted to approve it without finding out what was in it. Claiming “overwhelming support,” the town cited one lone comment in the 2013 YVOF phone survey (“no central location to meet people”) to support the El Con Country Club deal, while they overlooked respondents comments that “Politics/Mayor/Town Council” were what they liked least about the Town.
The same survey spawned the Main Streets Project to address the community’s desire for a town center. Yes, some respondents commented on the lack of stores and restaurants, but only one mentioned “doesn’t have a real downtown” as an issue.
Recently, the town commissioned a new study (prepared by a consultant to developers/ homebuilders) that calls for more rooftops (high density housing, including apartments) to sustain retail in Main Streets. We need on-street parking on Lambert/La Cañada; a “sense of place” and cheaper housing for millennials. Roughly 1,800 homes (and the new shoppers they will bring) are already planned for La Cholla Boulevard. Are they blind to the trend toward online shopping?
This is smoke and mirrors. While the Town claims to be implementing YVOF, they’re ignoring what people enjoy most about Oro Valley: Safety, scenery, community, quiet/laidback lifestyle and un-crowded, non-city living. They’re disregarding the survey respondents who don’t want more housing options, who value OV’s scenic beauty and those who have concerns with aggressive land development. These same issues are echoed at every rezoning hearing. It’s our town, but sadly, it is rapidly being transformed into Anytown, USA.