Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Zeeman: The Facts Are That Oro Valley Is A Growing Retirement Community

We've heard it said by Council Member Mary Snider and others that "Oro Valley is no longer a retirement community." It was the "mantra" of the pro Prop454 supporters. However, stating something does not make it so.

We know that that statement is not correct. We reported this fact in LOVE some time ago.  Still, we thought we would check it out. Maybe things had changed. Maybe all the new apartments in town had brought in the "millennials".

According to the census bureau, that is not the case.

It is true: "Oro Valley is a retirement community"
The facts, as presented by the US Census bureau, support the statement that Oro Valley is a retirement community (assuming that you define retirement as anyone who is 65 or older).

According the the Bureau, Oro Valley's population of age 64 and under has declined from 74% in 2010 to 68% in 2016. The population age 65 and older has increased from 26% in 2010 to 32% in 2016. That is a continuation of a trend seen from 2000, when the over 65 population was 22% of all residents.

Looking at the change in population from 2010 to 2016, there are 498 fewer residents living in Oro Valley who are are age 64 and younger and 3,274 more residents over age 65.

So, the facts are: Oro Valley is getting older, not younger.

---

Monday, December 11, 2017

REMINDER: Mark Your Calendars ~ Two Important Town Meetings This Week

Once again, we know that this is a busy time of year for many people but we hope that each of our readers will make an effort to attend at least one of these important meetings.

Tuesday, December 12th at 6 PM
Community Meeting – Town Council Chambers
Golf Courses Update
Special meeting with Town Manager, Mary Jacobs.

Ms. Jacobs will review the Golf Consultants’ recommendations (from the $50,000 Golf Consultants’ Report) and also where the Town currently stands in the process of evaluating golf operations. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback.

The final recommendation to Council will be presented in January 2018.


Wednesday, December 13th at 6 PM
Public Meeting/Neighborhood Meeting – Hilton El Conquistador
Proposed Development - Commercial/Senior Care/Apartments

25 acres located on the NE and SE corners of Oracle Road and El Conquistador Way
This project is located within the Oracle Road Scenic Corridor.

The applicant is proposing to rezone the property FROM single-family residential R1-144 (144,000 sf lots), Resort District and Technology Park TO Planned Area Development with an underlying zoning designation of Neighborhood Commercial.

NOTE: This property is owned by HSL Properties (Humberto Lopez, who infamously dumped the money losing golf courses on the town and who has donated almost $80,000 to the campaigns of all 7 current sitting council members.)

$15,730 to the 2014 Election campaigns of Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters
$25,750 to the 2015 Recall Election of Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters
$38,000 to the 2015 Election campaigns of Pina-Rodman-Solomon

Oro Valley is ranked safest city in Arizona



On December 6th, the Town of Oro Valley published the following Media Release:

Oro Valley is ranked safest city in Arizona

Oro Valley, Arizona (December 6, 2017) – According to recent rankings released by Safe Home, the Town of Oro Valley has been named 2017 Safest City in Arizona, based on a population of at least 38,000. Additionally, the Town ranks in the 25th percentile nationwide for safest cities. Rankings are based primarily on crime reports, U.S. Census data, and other statistics such as police officer ratio and demographics.

This prompted one of our readers to send us the following email:

No one at Town Hall will ever be willing to admit this but, the primary reasons that the town is statistically safe (from a criminal standpoint) are:

• Oro Valley is not a tourist draw
• It is not on a tourist route
• Oro Valley does not have an entertainment district (e.g. bars, strip joints)
• It is not a well-known location
• Tucson itself is the crime draw
• Crime in a given jurisdiction is nearly entirely derived from the caliber of individuals residing there, followed by home ownership rates (versus transient renters), followed by business sector participation rates.

Another LOVE reader submitted these thoughts:

There is much more to police work and the police department than what is revealed in the FBI crime reports. Additionally, they used FBI reports from 2015 to conclude that Oro Valley was the safest city in 2017.

Additional Reading

The following links are worth reading if you want to understand the perils of relying upon crime rates:

Read the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics: Their Proper Use HERE
Read the FBI Uniform Crime Report Handbook HERE

LOVE asks that you keep all of this in mind whenever the mayor and council attempt to take credit for Oro Valley being named the safest city in Arizona (and you know they will, especially since four of them are up for re-election in 2018).

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Zeeman: On The Light Side...

Like Clockwork
It's like "clockwork" in Oro Valley.  Every three months, without fail, the lights go out for about 2 hours. There are various reasons. A car knocks down a pole. A worker cuts a line, A power transformer blows. It is almost never weather related.

The reason doesn't really matter. It just happens. And it did at 10:11 pm las Saturday night.

What To Do When The Lights Go Out
The thing about a power outage is that you are not in control. There isn't anything you can do to fix the problem. However, being in control is always something I try to do. So here's what I do when lights go out. It's my "7-step" program!

Step 1: I looked out the window at 10:11 pm
Looking out the window is my attempt to determine if we are the only house without power. This "window peek" is a "natural" instinct. I do this despite the fact that I have never experienced a situation in which my house is the only house without power.

I learned from this peek what I have learned every other time I have peeked out. We were not the only ones without power. Our neighbors don't have power either. Somehow, this is rather comforting to me because that means that "we are all in the same boat." It also means that it is likely the TEP know we lost power (They do).

I also remembered from this peek what I have experienced every time we lose power. That is that the people who live north of the CDO wash do not lose power. There lights are on. They never seem to lose power when my house does. Why are they so blessed? Maybe I should get a really long extension cord and hook up to them. That could be a "back up!"

Step 2: Find a working flashlight
You would think that I would have a flashlight handy. But I don't. I never do. The flashlights are in the garage. But it's dark and I have to fumble in the dark to get to the flashlights.  I tell myself, every time this happens, to put the flashlight were I can get to them quickly. I forget to do that. So, that's not going to happen.

We have four flashlights. I was able to sufficiently cobble together enough batteries to make one work. I resolve right then and there: I am going to make sure that our flashlights have fresh batteries at all times. I know, of course, that's not going to happen either. But just saying it makes me feel in control.

Step 3: Light some candles
This step takes place at the same time as step 2. We're in luck here. We like candles. We have them around the house. We also have one of those huge lighter things that actually works. So, while, I'm out cobbling together a working flashlight, my wife is lighting candles. "Let there be light." And there is. This, by the way, is perhaps the only really useful step in the process.

Step 4: I report the outrage to TEP at 10:20 pm
The is by far the least useful step I take. But it does keep me in control. So it is emotionally comforting.

Did you know that TEP knows when a section of town loses power? The town is divided into power "grids". The power system tries to shift power from alternate sources to keep your lights on. When this does not work (which is some of the time) their system tells them: "Hey, those people in Oro Valley have no lights. Better check it out."

I know this but I can't resist the urge to report the power outage anyway. Fortunately, we have a phone that does not require TEP power. Its a smart phone. So I call the TEP emergency number: 623-7711.

Now I'm really in control. Or am I? Because now I have to work our way through a phone tree. Don't they know this is an emergency? Why isn't there someone waiting for my call?

No. There is no one. I do not reach a person. Instead, the phone tree eventually identifies my location and asks: "Did you hear a loud bang when the power went out?" I have never heard a loud bang when the power went out. I have always heard the the "sound of silence." So I say "no" to that.

The phone tree then asks us if I want TEP to call me back when the power is back on?  I have no idea why I would want them to do this.  After all, I will know when the power is back on. They don't need to tell me. I can figure that out on my own. But I say "yes" anyway.

Step 5: Wait
My wife and I have now done everything we can do. So, we settle in. My wife works on a puzzle. I settle into bed. No sense in not making good use of the darkness. So, I slowly fall asleep only to be awoken at 11:25pm because I have to...

Step 6: Walk around the house to turn out all the lights we had on before the power went out.
I can not believe how many lights were on when the power went out. This includes the outside landscape lights which never received the signal from the control box to turn off. I vow, right then and there, to be more careful of our power usage: To turn off  more lights. But, I know, deep down inside, that that isn't going to happen either.

Step 7: Delete the phone message from TEP that the power is back on
This is my final step. I check my phone messages in the morning. Yes. TEP did call back at 1:35 am. This is two hours after the power came back. They tell me: The power is back on. I am so relieved! I delete their message.

Those are my seven steps.

So, we ask and we have our comments open for you: What do you do when the lights go out?
---

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Oro Valley Town Council Unanimously Approves Three General Plan Amendments


It's Unanimous Again
The seven member Oro Valley Town Council approved three major general plan amendments last night.

The vote was 7-0 on each of the three.

At one point, Council Member Hornat joked that perhaps he should vote no on one of the amendments just so that there would not be a unanimous vote on all.

The council approved  these three amendment within a year of the voters approving the general plan. Their stated justification is that these developments were considered during the planning process but didn't need to be included in the plan at that time because that might have slowed down the planning process.

Solomon Tells One Commenter To Leave Town
Public comment, most of which oppose the amendments, was heard at the meeting. As, in the past however, public comment stated at council meetings that does not agree with the desires of council is dismissed by council.

One reader wrote on our facebook site: "Really considering leaving Oro Valley because of the deep seated corruption surrounding city government.They have taken our voice away."

Leaving town is apparently a suggested option of the council. Council Member Steve Solomon told  town resident April Dindale to move if she did not like what was happening here.  She wrote on our LOVE facebook page:

"I was so disappointed in the disrespect I felt coming from some of the council members."

We, at LOVE, have received anonymous emails weekly suggesting we also leave town. That is not going to happen.
--
We will report more on this meeting in future postings. Meanwhile, follow us on FACEBOOK To read more.
---

Guest View: Dick Leonard ~ The utter mismanagement of the town-owned golf courses. Part 2.

(Part 1 was published yesterday)

When a Municipal Golf Manager was asked how he could make his course more profitable, he answered, “Simple. Increase the driving range and sell the golf course.” It’s no secret in the municipal golf business that the driving range is often the Number 1 revenue producer because of the constant income with minimum labor and land use. Yet, as the Oro Valley golf courses continue to bleed money, the Town provides unlimited range balls FOR FREE!

Questions to Consider
• What is the mission of a true municipal golf operation? A USGA chairperson defines this goal as, “To provide an affordable golf experience to all ages and playing levels; to learn and play the game of golf at fair and equal fees.”

• Why does the Town Council continue to expect all of the Taxpayers (most of whom do not even play golf) to fund a Country Club which benefits only a few of the Town residents and requires one complete 18-hole golf course with the immense cost of operation?

• How does this meet the goal of fair and equal treatment of the Public?

• Why does our Town Government continue to operate and pay the cost of such maintenance for 45 holes of golf when the overall usage barely supports the daily play usage of one 18-hole course?

• Why is the Town not subsidizing other Country Clubs within Oro Valley?

• And finally, why wasn't the Golf Course operated entirely as a Traditional Municipal Course from the day it was purchased? This would have saved millions of taxpayer dollars, thereby eliminating the need for an additional property tax to fund sports fields.

Solving the golf course problems
• Resize the golf course to match normal usage (18 holes total with two 9-hole loops)
• Charge golfers an average of $40.00 per round.*
• Eliminate unlimited play and amenities.
• Make the driving range a profit center.
• Lease the food service.

Most of the above advice was given to the Council by the golf consultants who have already helped turn around other ailing golf courses. Such corrections would no doubt increase revenue, decrease costs, and perhaps eliminate the need for continued sales tax subsidies.

*To insure an accurate and fair Daily Fee, only the cost of maintaining the golf property specifically required for the golf operations should be used in determining this fee. Any property not used specifically for the golf operation will become the responsibility of the Parks and Recreation Department and all costs associated with maintenance and/or re-purposing will be a budget item within Parks and Rec. If there are any issues regarding the funding of this department, this will be a completely separate discussion and not connected to the profitability or loss of the golf operations.

Mr. Leonard is a property owner in Oro Valley.  As a 20-year member of the El Con Country Club, he is well-versed on golf operations.  Additionally, he spends his summers in Minnesota where he is a staff member of the Braemar Golf complex in Edina, MN.  Braemar is one of the busiest self-sustaining municipal courses in the state.  Based on future golf predictions, Braemar is currently closed while they double the size of the driving range and downsize the courses from 27 to 18 holes.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Guest View: Dick Leonard ~ The utter mismanagement of the town-owned golf courses. Part 1.

Thanks to Mike Zinkin’s Watchdog Articles on the LOVE Blog, the mismanagement of the town-owned golf courses continues to be exposed. After the resounding defeat of the Town Council’s latest scheme to pass a $17 million dollar Naranja Park Bond, it’s easy to see why such information is suppressed by the Town. For example, how many citizens know that their sales tax dollars are being used to pay for two completely different types of golf courses?

The first type is a Traditional Municipal Golf Course
In this type, each golfer pays the same daily rate for each round played. This does not include any other amenities that may be available at that golf course. This management style is common to every Municipal facility throughout the country, and when operated efficiently, generally requires little or no public tax subsidies.

The second type is a Municipal Country Club operation
In this type, the golfer becomes a Member by paying an annual fee. This type entitles the golfer and/or family to unlimited and exclusive play on a dedicated course. This includes access to whatever amenities are offered (pools, tennis, fitness, food discounts, driving range, etc.); whereas the daily fee golfer pays extra for each amenity used.

Nationwide, this style is privately owned and the Members are responsible for the entire cost of operation. However, in Oro Valley, taxpayers are responsible for all costs over and above the income generated from membership dues. For the last two years, these losses have cost Oro Valley taxpayers over 5 million dollars.

Is this fair?
There are no objections to having additional country clubs in Oro Valley nor to having a true municipal golf facility. However, if the town chooses to operate a country club facility, it should not be funded by the public. Note that the Oro Valley Country Club and Stone Canyon Country Club do not receive any public support.

Does anyone (except the Town Council and Staff) think it’s fair to make working families and thousands of members of the non-golfing public pay to support the lifestyle of 242 country club golfers? Not only does this require the expense of having a separate dedicated 18-hole course, but it also grants free access to all amenities of the Community Center.

The Numbers from Fiscal Year 2016/17
Total Troon income (member golf fees, non-member golf fees, cart fees, food and beverage, merchandise, tennis, etc.) was $2.9 million in FY 2016/17.

The dedicated half-cent sales tax increase brought in another $2.2 million in revenue.

Despite a total of $5.1 million in revenue ($2.9 MM/Troon and $2.2 MM/sales tax), the Town suffered a $2.5 million dollar operating loss, which after the $2.2 million in sales tax revenue, caused the Community Center Fund to drop by $300,000.

The Community Center Golf Courses cost the Town (via the taxpayer), roughly $2.5 million per year for the 45 holes of golf. The combined income from the Public (daily fees) and the Private (country club) member dues is roughly $1.4 million. Hence the sales tax subsidy, which you pay, to make up the difference.

In fiscal year 2016/17, there were 42,679 total public and private rounds played for a total of $1,456,722 in revenue. (Member rounds were 19,777 and non-member rounds were 22,992). If all rounds played were played with a daily fee rate of $40.00, the revenue would have been $1,707,160.

If the course was only 18 holes, we eliminated memberships, and charged an average of $40.00 per round (and assuming the same amount of rounds were played) the total operating cost would be closer to $1.7 million and no taxpayer subsidy would be needed.

Another example: If the average golfer plays 3 times per week times 52 weeks, they would play roughly 150 rounds per year. A daily fee golfer would pay $40.00 per round or $6,000 per year.

Currently, a member pays only $4000 per year for unlimited rounds. This is a loss of $2000 per year which is why the tax subsidy is necessary. This is exactly why there are no Municipal Country Clubs anywhere in the country but here.

Part 2 will be published tomorrow and will discuss questions to consider and some options for solving the golf course problems.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Guest View: Mike Zinkin ~ It’s Time to Take Back Oro Valley

Let’s begin with some history of the 2016 General Plan: Your Voice, Our Future
The Town began to allocate funding for the development of the State-mandated General Plan beginning with the FY 2013/14 budget. Several hundred thousand dollars were set aside to hire people to assist with development of the Plan. Councilmember Hornat and I were designated as Council Liaisons for this effort.

A multitude of Town residents volunteered to help ensure that the citizens were given ample opportunity to provide input to the Plan. Coffees were held and tables were set up at the Farmer's Market and at Town events in an effort to reach as many citizens as possible. Councilman Hornat and I attended over 15 staff meetings as the General Plan developed. During those meetings, we worked to ensure that the town staff did not have an inordinate amount of influence over the new General Plan. As council liaison on this project, I wanted to ensure that the Plan was derived from public input – not council and staff input.

Voters approve new General Plan in November 2016
The General Plan, now called Your Voice, Our Future (YVOF), was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council following two public meetings. The Council placed it on the November 2016 ballot and YVOF passed by a large majority of those who voted in that election. The people were told that YVOF was a guide for all elected, appointed, and town employees to inform them that this is what the citizens desire for OUR TOWN.

The new developer-friendly Town Council amends the plan just two weeks later
On November 16, 2016, the new council (ALL of whom were financially supported by developers and builders during their election campaigns) was sworn in and they immediately voted to amend the new General Plan that was not even two weeks old! You can read the details HERE.

While it had been reasonable in the waning years of the 10-year General Plan for the Town Council to amend it using the argument, "The General Plan is almost 10 years old; times have changed; demographics have changed; values have changed,” those arguments were not valid on November 16, 2016 when the Plan was LESS THAN TWO WEEKS OLD.

More General Plan amendments on the agenda for the December 6th Town Council Meeting
Now YVOF is a year old. Nothing has changed. It is still fresh. However, at the December 6th Council Meeting, there are 4 proposed amendments to YVOF including a related rezoning.

The Town spent untold hours over 3 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars attempting to obtain YOUR thoughts on how the Town's land should be utilized. Now, once again, your wishes are in jeopardy of being overthrown by a Council that is beholden to developers and builders.

IT'S TIME TO TAKE BACK ORO VALLEY. Let your voice be heard. Email the mayor and council with your thoughts on these General Plan Amendments or speak during the Public Hearing portion of tomorrow evening’s Town Council Meeting.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Editor’s Note: A new citizens group has been established

The landslide defeat of the $17 million dollar Naranja Park Bond (71% to 29%) has energized the group "Axe the Tax" to reorganize into a new group called, "Take Back OV."

Visit their website HERE

You can also LIKE "Take Back OV" on Facebook to receive updates in your Newsfeed.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mark Your Calendars ~ Upcoming Town Meetings

During the next two weeks, there are four town meetings scheduled regarding development issues in Oro Valley (General Plan Amendments and Rezonings) and the Community Center Golf Courses. We know that this is a busy time of year for many people but we hope that each of our readers will make an effort to attend at least one of these important meetings.

Keep in mind that the 2016 General Plan (a 10-year plan) was approved just one year ago by Oro Valley voters, yet developers are already looking for changes.

THIS WEEK’S MEETINGS

Wednesday, December 6th at 6 PM
Council Meeting – Town Council Chambers
Big Wash GPA and Rezoning; Shannon Road GPA and Rezoning

(1) Big Wash General Plan Amendment and Rezoning
Approximately 108 acres between Moore Road on the west and Rancho Vistoso Blvd. on the east

The applicant’s proposal includes the following three zoning designations:

Medium Density Residential (7,200 square foot lots)
Medium-High Density Residential (5,400 square foot lots)*
Open Space

*This designation “is intended to provide individual single-family ownership through patio homes and townhouses.”

If approved, this proposal will allow two massive developments with over 400 homes and mass grading in the FLOODPLAIN of Honeybee Wash and Big Wash.

View the Big Wash Project Fact Sheet HERE

(2) Shannon Road General Plan Amendment and Rezoning
76-acre property, east side of Shannon, south of IRHS

Applicant desires to change the zoning FROM R1-144 large-lot residential (3.3 acre lots) TO R1-36 small lot cluster residential with minimum lot sizes of 7,500 square feet with just 5 foot side setbacks (10 feet of space between each home.)

View the Shannon Road Project Fact Sheet HERE

A LARGE RESIDENT TURN-OUT IS IMPERATIVE AT THIS MEETING.   If you would like to speak during the meeting, please complete a Blue Speaker Card located on the back counter in council chambers.


Thursday, December 7th at 6 PM
Neighborhood Meeting – Casas Church, 10,801 N LaCholla Blvd.
Saguaro Viejos Rezoning

175 lot subdivision on 85 acres on the NW Corner of Naranja Drive and LaCholla Blvd.

Rezoning FROM R1-20 (20,000 sf lots) single-family residential TO R1-7 (7,000 sf lots) single-family residential

NOTE: The town already granted a rezoning on this property in approximately 2009 from 3.3 acre rural residential (144,000 square foot lots) to 20,000 square foot lots. The applicant is now requesting to rezone the lot sizes even further, down to a minimum lot size of 6,000 sf.

View the Saguaro Viejos Project Fact Sheet HERE


NEXT WEEK’S MEETINGS

Tuesday, December 12th at 6 PM
Community Meeting – Town Council Chambers
Golf Courses Update

Special meeting with Town Manager, Mary Jacobs.

Ms. Jacobs will review the Golf Consultants’ recommendations (from the $50,000 Golf Consultants’ Report) and also where the Town currently stands in the process of evaluating golf operations. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback.

The final recommendation to Council will be presented in January 2018.

You can view the entire Golf Consultants’ Report HERE and the briefer Executive Summary HERE


Wednesday, December 13th at 6 PM
Public Meeting/Neighborhood Meeting – Hilton El Conquistador
Proposed Development - Commercial/Senior Care/Apartments

25 acres located on the NE and SE corners of Oracle Road and El Conquistador Way
This project is located within the Oracle Road Scenic Corridor.

The applicant is proposing to rezone the property FROM single-family residential R1-144 (144,000 sf lots), Resort District and Technology Park TO Planned Area Development with an underlying zoning designation of Neighborhood Commercial.

View the Project Fact Sheet HERE

NOTE: This property is owned by HSL Properties (Humberto Lopez, who infamously dumped the money losing golf courses on the town and who has donated almost $80,000 to the campaigns of all 7 current sitting council members.)

$15,730 to the 2014 Election campaigns of Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters
$25,750 to the 2015 Recall Election of Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters
$38,000 to the 2015 Election campaigns of Pina-Rodman-Solomon