Archive for the ‘Conversations’ Category


What You Thought 8 Years Ago.

In January of 2010 I asked If Tucson needed a U of A / Downtown Planning Interface effort with Neighborhoods.  Since then we spent well in excess of  one billion dollars.  It included a $200,000,000.00 street car, 6,000 luxury student beds and residential projects valued at $500,000,000.00 and hundreds of millions in commercial starts within a mile radius of Tucson’s core hotbed of development….and still counting. Unfortunately we also have seen losses in traditional family oriented home ownership in the core.  You may be interested in what you said about this eight years ago.  Do you like what you see today?  Are we creating enough opportunities for a robust home ownership bordering the university and within our great historic centers like downtown and the 4th Avenue District?   Here are some thoughts you shared in 2010; paraphrased from memory:

  • Chuck Albanese, Architect and former dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, CALA – Embraces the idea. Would like to see the architectural community involved. It is a good time for discussion
  • Gal Witmer, Architect, Member of WUNA long term university area resident and representative. She supports supports embracing these sensitive issues
  • Robert Vint, Architect, Preservationist and president of Vint Associates – Thinks it is a great idea and a good time for it.
  • Jim Mazzocco, Senior City Planner. Something like this is needed. Nothing specific addresses this issue. The City would have to manage the creation of any new plan for it to functionally work and be administered.  The City of Tucson’s budgets are too impacted to embrace a major effort.



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Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 12.46.50 PMJarrett Walker is an international consultant in public transit planning and policy, including the links between transit and all aspects of community planning and urban structure.  His clients include transit authorities, cities, developers, and non profits – anyone who wants to make better use of public transit as a tool to support resilient communities and social inclusion.  he will be speaking publicly on the 11th of July @ 5PM, 88 E. Broadway ( Unisource Building).  You can download a flyer here:  Jarrett Walker Flier

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How America’s 4th largest city can abandon its addiction to cars – Salon.com.

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Jarrett Walker Coming to TucsonScreen shot 2014-06-30 at 10.39.40 PM

Jarrett Walker, international consultant in public transit planning and policy and author of the highly recommended blog HumanTransit.org (and the 2011 book Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives) will speak in Tucson the evening of Friday, July 11.

Tucson Talks Transit: With Jarrett Walker
Friday July 11, 2014
5:00 reception, 6:00 presentation
TEP downtown HQ, 88 East Broadway

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Talk upThe pursuit of happiness is an important right in the declaration of independence.  As it turns out,  there is more to it than just a  phrase in the 1776 document.  Now, that notion is a recognized measurable gauge of community and individual well-being.   How this relates to our pursuit of better process in planning Tucson’s core is the measure of social capital necessary for effective and harmonious  action.   Anita Fonte talks about that in her new book, Talk Up Tucson: An Exploration of Community Happiness and Prosperity,  The book focuses on an internationally known  concept that links levels of happiness and prosperity to our well being.  The book reflects on Anita’s  Tucson experience and the work of her company, Community Renaissance.   Following consulting work with Kimley-Horn and the RTA,  she decided to write.  From talking and meeting with community leaders and people in Tucson’s development world she published comments and conclusions that gauge our social capital in building a more inclusive process thereby, more “happiness” for everyone.   Her book is available at Antigone Books and Mostly Books

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“Imagine Greater Tucson (IGT) released the results of its 2-year study, Looking Forward, A Vision for a Greater Tucson Region.   PlanTucson is winding up its citizen participation phase of the City’s writing of a new General Plan for the coming ten-year period.  I would expect that City staff will be looking at the IGT document as one source of data to consider.  One of IGT’s nine principles is Quality Neighborhoods.   On p. 19, eight values for them are listed.  The three I find most relevant to mid-town, and, therefore, most in need of specific clarification, are…” Ruth Beeker.    CLICK on Imagine Getting Compacted to read the rest of Ruth’s article.   Many believe that the IGT and Plan Tucson are generalized goals.  In the eyes of core neighborhood leaders, the correct vision has to emerge from their impacted communities. Pro Neighborhoods a long time Tucson  community foundation was victim of recent budget cuts.  It’s last funded project is a Neighborhood Symposium Project; presented by Jefferson Park Neighborhood.  It’s panel presentation is set for January 26th, 2013.  The focus is on neighborhoods and a strong voice of direction in their future.  The next planning meeting is on Monday, October 29th, 7pm, at the  International School of Tucson, 1701 E Seneca.

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The August 23rd Overlay Seminar was a rundown of  bullet points outlining 6 overlay topics.   You can download the following power point pdf files by clicking on the titles:  1) Legal limitations 2)  Downtown Links  3) Grant Road  4) Main Gate District  5) Urban Overlay District and  6) Infill Incentive District.  Representatives from Pima County, Marana, Oro Valley and Suarita also summarized their experience with overlays.  Community acceptance to zoning overlays was acknowledged by City Planner, Jim Mazzocco as an area in need of serious work.  He stressed that streamlining the Main Gate Overlay was something he would not want to repeat and pointed to DowntownLINKS as a better model.  The Main Gate District worked for business interests but not local residents.  A poignant moment in the seminar was a partnered presentation by  Neighborhood leader Ruth Beeker and Developer Jim Campbell.  They spoke on the right planning,  failures in the Main Gate Overlay public process, and a need for plans that afford certainty and predictability to residents and developers.  The core of Tucson is under pressure and planning areas targeted for rezoning overlays is necessary whether it is a two year specific overlay district planning process or part of a broader master plan.  Either way, communities need to be deep in a process free of pressure.

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