Thursday, June 10, 2010

City council decides not to decide

This is a follow-up to my previous post.

The city council first voted unanimously to reconsider their previous vote in favor of annexation (as was expected).  Then they heard from a few people in the audience and voted to go into executive session so they could discuss the options with the city attorney.  When they came out, they simply voted to give the city attorney 30 days to find an alternative solution to resolving the lawsuit - i.e. find some other land for the pension fund to develop, or more specifically, ask the county to find some other land they could trade with the developer or just buy this parcel outright.  OK.

Seems to me that if that option was on the table in the first place the county wouldn't be asking the city to refuse annexation and water service to the developer.  And that's pretty much what the county administrator says in the article.  So 30 days from now we'll have another round of political theater, except this time the final act will be the council seeking forgiveness because their backs were really against the wall on this one and the only thing they could do was to cut a deal with the developer.  But hey - they tried right?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Seeing red over Painted Hills - aka another edition of Using Water Policy to Manage Growth

There's a big, ongoing fight coming to a head this month in Tucson.  On one side you have the county administrator, environmentalists, and a powerful and well organized neighborhood association.  On the other side you have a property development company that represents the interests of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund.  And in the middle, for the moment, is the Tucson City Council.

The fight is over the right to develop a parcel of land just west of downtown Tucson, but outside the city limits, known as Painted Hills.  This parcel is just under 300 acres of prime Sonoran desert landscape, just 10 minutes from downtown.  Most of the land surrounding the parcel is developed (to the extent allowed by the terrain), but there is also a large county park in the general vicinity.  The site is supposedly home to over 1000 10,000 mature saguaros - the acknowledged symbol of the Sonoran desert - as well as prime habitat for many birds, small mammals, and probably quite a few coyotes.  It's a pretty location and something of a rarity so close to a rapidly growing Sunbelt community.

more below