Thursday, January 19, 2017

"The Ridge"

We are blessed in Oro Valley to have a fabulous view of Pusch Ridge. The "thing" is huge. But, the real beauty may be in the detail.

Here's a picture of one small section of the Ridge. There is so much life going on up there. No, you can't see any wildlife in this picture, but you can see the sage, the bushes and the beautiful rock formations.

Pusch Ridge In Detail


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Oro Valley Main Streets Project: Get Involved ~ Walk the Block and Take the Survey

The Town of Oro Valley is hosting a “WALK THE BLOCK” event on Saturday, February 7 from 4 to 7 pm at the intersection of Lambert Lane and La Canada Drive. The event provides Oro Valley residents the opportunity to understand the Main Streets concept, ask questions and share their thoughts about the project.

What is Oro Valley Main Streets?
The Main Streets project is not a typical “downtown Main Street.” It is focused on creating and connecting existing town center areas to enhance Oro Valley's lifestyle and economy. Two Main Street areas are proposed: One at Lambert Lane/La Canada and one at Oracle Road/First Avenue.

(Additional details on the origin of the project).

Planning and Zoning Commission Discussion
The Oro Valley Draft Concepts Plan was presented at the November 15, 2016, Planning and Zoning Commission Study Session. Commissioners and Oro Valley residents asked questions and made various suggestions including:
  • Using Oro Valley Marketplace as the “community gathering area.” 
  • Public/Private partnerships.
  • Bonds.
  • Roadblocks from AZDOT on Oracle Road
  • Oro Valley's lack of a “tourist draw.

Additionally, Nancy McClure, 1st Vice President of CBRE with 30 years of experience in commercial real estate, shared her insights on retail in the Tucson metro area.

  •  “Retail follows rooftops.” OV needs greater density and should allow more apartments.
  • Oro Valley currently has more retail than they can support.
  • “Build it and they will come” is not happening now. 
  • Oro Valley needs to streamline the process for commercial development.
  • Shopping center owners have leases with major tenants that include “no build zones.” In other words, there is no chance of keeping big box stores (Home Depot, Target) if their visibility is blocked.
  • Leave the multi-use paths as they are. Retail will not work there. 
 (You can listen to that meeting here)

Main Streets Concept Plan 60% Draft, November 2016
The Draft Concept Plan states that the Town will need to seek out private partners for Main Streets to be successful. As of November 15th, none have stepped forward.
In public/private partnerships, the Town, businesses and developers share their skills and assets. They work together to deliver something of use for the general public. Through joint effort success becomes more attainable. 
For instance, the Town of Oro Valley could incentivize development improvements and public amenities by creating opportunities in the zoning code. The Town could allow more intense development on a site than previously permitted, increasing its value. A private developer could then build new buildings, while also putting in place desirable improvements. The Town could also provide revenue subsidies.” 
Other financing methods could include regional bonds and Town capital improvement programs.

It’s Time for YOU to get Involved
Oro Valley Planning Staff needs residents to share their views in order for them to refine the concept plan and “get the formula right.” Input obtained from the roughly 100 adults residents at the Main Streets seminars last year may not reflect the overall desires of the community. Invite your friends to take the walk with you on Saturday to learn more and share your ideas.

Why is this so important? Because several of the financing options under consideration could impact your taxes. 

Make YOUR preferences known
Do you want wider sidewalks lined with trees and benches along Lambert Lane so you can walk to the Main Street shops?

Do you want street parking on La Canada Drive near the Lambert Lane intersection? How would this impact the bike lane? Or traffic flow during peak travel times?

Do you want a shuttle from First and Oracle to Lambert and La Canada? If you drive to one of those shopping areas, would you want to take a shuttle to the second location instead of driving to it?

Do you want more apartments?

Do you want a splash pad or playground equipment located in these Main Street areas or would you prefer that they be incorporated within the park system?

Are “Main Street areas” important to you? If yes, how much should the Town (i.e. you the taxpayer) spend to create and provide for ongoing maintenance of these gathering, dining and shopping areas? 
Apart from the Public/Private Partnerships, how should the Town fund the Main Streets project? Property tax? Increased sales tax? Bonds?

Do you want an overpass or underpass so you can cross La Canada safely? For comparison, the Oracle Road Wildlife Crossing cost $11 million and was paid for with the 2005 voter-approved RTA sales tax. [Source: Arizona Daily Star] Although it wouldn’t cost that much due to the smaller scale, it would still be a sizeable expense and may result in increased taxes in Oro Valley. 

Let YOUR VOICE be heard!
You can help shape this project. Put on your walking shoes and Walk the Block. E-mail the Mayor and Councilmembers or share your thoughts with them at a Town Council meeting. Take the online survey here.
The author of this article prefers to remain anonymous.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Guest View-Mike Zinkin: El Conquistador Golf Course Still Losing Money

Golf Memberships Update
The table that follows details the number of golf memberships for the current fiscal year which began on July 1, 2016.

As you can see, they lost 5 members in August, another 13 members in September, and 6 members in October. November is the only month showing an increase in memberships, but is still 20 members short of the memberships in July despite the fact that November temperatures are much more favorable for playing golf

In reality. there are only 216 dues-paying members out of the 230 total members since members over age 90 pay no dues.

Troon stated that they needed 318 members by December 31, 2016. There are actually only 216 dues-paying members since members over age 90 pay no dues. In other words, Troon needed a membership increase from 216 to 318 in the month of December. It’s not likely that they added 100 new memberships in one month but I will provide an update when the figures become available.

Revenue Update
In addition, golf revenue from July through September 2015 was $135,723. Golf revenue for the same time period in 2016 is $109,380. This is $26,343 less revenue than the prior year. As of September 2016, the Community and Recreation Fund (the fund set aside to pay for all this) is $201,294 in the red. This fund includes the increased sales tax revenue. ly through September 2016 total golf revenue was $109,380. This is $26,343, about 19% less than the revenues of $135,723 for the same time frame in 2015.

The food and beverage numbers are somewhat better. Through September 2015, the losses were $88,178, while through September 2016 the losses are $48,902. The bottom line remains that the food and beverage portion (primarily the Overlook Restaurant) is still losing a lot of money…your money.

Golf Losses Update
In the first three months of the fiscal year (July 1 through September 30) the golf losses are still quite high at $760,069.  They are predicting year end losses of $1,538,678.  In order for that to happen, golf can lose only $778,609 in the remaining 9 months of the fiscal year.  It seems improbable that golf will lose $778,000 in the next nine months when it lost $760,000 in just the first three months.  Remember that last year we ended over $2.4 million in the red. 

The financials for October and November 2016 are supposed to be on the January 17th Council agenda.  I will provide an update as soon as those figures become available.

Monday, January 16, 2017

In Honor Of Martin Luther King

We pleased to honor a great American, Martin Luther King. 

Yesterday was his birthday. 

We celebrate it together today.

Enjoy the day,

Come back tomorrow to read Mike Zinkin's update on Oro Valley's continuing to worsen golf course losses!

Your LOVE Team!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Walk The Block on January 21

“Walk the Block” with us on Jan. 21 to kick off the Oro Valley Main Streets project

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 11, 2017) – The Town of Oro Valley invites the public to join in and share ideas at a community event for the Oro Valley Main Streets project. The “Walk the Block” event will be held Saturday, January 21, 4-7 p.m. at the intersection of Lambert Lane and La Cañada Drive. It is a chance for residents to meet friends, family and neighbors for a short walking course around the La Cañada Drive and Lambert Lane area. The event will include learning activities, games, giveaways, a raffle and a food truck area. The first 200 people to complete the short walk get free gelato! The event will culminate with a Luminaria Walk at 6:30 p.m.

What is Oro Valley Main Streets?
Oro Valley Main Streets is a Town project to promote areas for gathering, dining and shopping that serve as a town center. These walkable and unique areas will enhance OV’s lifestyle and economy. Two local commercial areas are the focus of this project. The first area is at Lambert Lane and La Cañada Drive. The second area is near Oracle Road and First Avenue.

As a first step in the project, the Main Streets Draft Concept Plan was recently released. Based on community input, the Concept Plan offers high-level direction and illustrates a possible future. Members of the public are invited to read the draft Concept Plan and answer a three-question survey at this link. Input will shape the final Concept Plan and set directions for future detailed planning.

Visit this link to learn more about the Main Streets project.
Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Guest View ~ Mike Zinkin: The Case of the Missing Documents

Council Reports and Council Forwards are MIA
Now that I am no longer a town council member, but just a "lowly" citizen, it has been more difficult to get information from the town without some persistence. For example, a couple of months ago, I requested to be copied on all "Council Reports" and "Council Forwards" beginning on November 16, 2016 (the date that the new council took office.) I was initially told that the town’s software system was not equipped to manage continuing future requests. I persevered and offered alternatives for dispensing the information. The Town eventually acquiesced and improved their online document management system, promising to upload the reports to the Town website as they became available.

However, weeks went by and only one report was posted. Believe it or not, since November 16th, there has been only one Council Report and there have been no Council Forwards at all despite the fact that they used to come out every Friday. One wonders…is the town dispensing information to the council via other avenues in order to avoid publishing the information on the Town website?

Possible Open Meeting Law Violation
On December 16th, I asked the Town Clerk how the information was passed to the Council regarding recent staff promotions within the Oro Valley Police Department. The Town responded that the announcement was made at the CVAP (Citizens Volunteer Assistance Program) reception on December 13th in which all of Town Council was in attendance. Legally, when four or more members of council are present at any meeting or town function, a “Notice of Quorum” must be posted on the town website in order to comply with Open Meeting Laws. I checked the Town website and there was no such announcement that a quorum of council members would be present at the CVAP reception.

I brought this to the town’s attention and was told that Notices of Quorums were automatically deleted from the website once the event has passed. I advised the Town that the website currently contains three years’ worth of quorum notices dating from Dec. 3, 2016 all the way back to 2014. None of these notices were deleted after the event had passed. It seems suspicious that the notice for December 13th is the only one that was “automatically deleted.”

A picture’s worth a thousand words
Click below to see some of the Notices of Quorums from 2014 through 2016. These were taken from the Town website. The December 13th CVAP Reception notice is conspicuously absent.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Piece Of The Rock

It is a beautiful day in Oro Valley. I guess that's why we live here.  Below is a little "piece of the rock" we call Pusch Ridge.