Archive for October, 2011

This from Ward 3 councilwoman Karen Uhlich:  “The definition indicates that a structure will be considered a Group Dwelling if leased/occupied by 5 or more unrelated persons. Mayor and Council provided direction to ensure that domestic partnerships and dependency relationships (e.g. foster parenting, etc.) will be included in the relationship category (along with relations by blood, law or legal custody).  This approach of defining “group” (5 or more unrelated persons) offers a fair and straightforward way of preserving the intent of R1 and R2 zones…Existing structures currently utilized as Group Dwellings could remain in R1 and R2 zones if owners apply for a conditional use permit. That permit could be revoked if the conditional, group use undermines the area by creating nuisance or criminal problems”  I guess one could say this is better than nothing, but the land use code group home limit for the number of unrelated person living in a household is 2 for R-1 and 4 for R-2.  As welcome as this is for Jefferson Park and Feldmans neighborhoods to protect against the larger mini-dorms, it appears to now expand the LUC to allow future smaller minidorms (group homes) if less than (5) person use the structure.  Ward 6 actually contains much more area within impacted areas, however councilman Steve Kozachik doesn’t thinks mini dorm builder are getting a fair shake.  View this FOX11AZ.com story on the October 12th M&C session for more on Kozachik’s point of view.


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Rio Nuevo Reconstituted

“In 1999 voters approved the creation of the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District (District). The District is both a municipal stadium district and a special taxing district. The voters authorized the District to receive an incremental portion of State-shared funds derived from transaction privilege taxes (i.e. sales tax called TIF Funds) collected from within the District boundaries within the City of Tucson city limits. The District is a State municipal district with the powers, privileges and immunities granted to governmental, municipal corporations for District purposes: a planned multi-faceted development project, including cultural and recreational amenities and improvements, unique historic re-creations, mixed-use developments, etc.”    Statement from Rio Nuevo Reconstituted.   A new reconstituted Rio Nuevo District management emerges.  Reconstituting, as it is defined is  to constitute again or anew; especially  to restore to a former condition.  Maybe reconstitute is not the right word.  This district needs to re-invent itself.  However Rio Nuevo moves forward, we need to understand its impact on inner city neighborhoods with much needed new urban construction and improvements that are coming soon.   Please view and mark their new website and meet the recently appointed  board of directors:   Rio Nuevo — Official Web Site.

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Tucson’s urban university core is full of rich old neighborhoods that are both victims of unplanned growth and advocates for preservation.  The larger picture of preservation is the context that make these neighborhoods an urban refuge for family living environments which is worth preserving.   As student housing demands migrate closer to the university, neighborhoods must make  choices between orderly housing blocks,  located along the right activity corridors or random  unplanned group homes and defacto apartment compounds.  The choice is clear and neighborhood edges with the right underlying zoning can be legitimate candidates for housing density near a major university.  How do we plan this?  One problem that vocal critics of planning like West University Neighborhood, is that there is no enforceable plan to insure a compatible transition to their interior.  The closest document is the U of A area plan which is only suggestive and some infill overlays along the edges which have angered home owners and do not work correctly.  Another problem is no voice of consensus.   Tucson lacks a University Area Housing Body or Commission that would be that voice of reason to influence the right planning decisions.  Developers are frustrated because they feel neighborhoods want to save everything and won’t make choices.  Some developers proliferate controversial “mini-dorms”.  Feldmans Neighborhood  is a case history.  It has essentially lost its north half to this new context of group homes and had an opportunity in 1997 to be an HPZ.   Jefferson Park Neighborhood is also threatened.  West University is protected by its Historic zoning overlay, the HPZ,  which can’t be used in new areas because of prop. 207, but it’s edges are an ongoing issue.   The logical direction is for mayor and council to appoint a specific commission that can make the tough decisions about specific planning omissions,  adopt residential and commercial edge incentive plans, guide a re-write for university area plan and  embed key language and references into the upcoming Tucson General Plan scheduled for public referendum before 2015.


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