Thursday, June 21, 2018

Meet the Candidates

Here's another chance for you to Meet the Candidates.

Mayoral Candidate, Joseph Winfield, and Town Council Candidates Joyce-Jones Ivey and Josh Nicolson will be meeting with voters this Saturday, June 23rd from 7:30 AM until 10:30 AM in front of the Community Center.

See the flyer below for more details.

NOTE:  Town Council Candidate, Melanie Barrett will be unable to make this event.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Guest View: Mike Zinkin ~ Is Democracy dead in Oro Valley?

Webster defines democracy as:
“Government by the People; especially: rule of the majority.”
The International City-County Management Association (ICMA) has a Code of Ethics, consisting of 12 Tenets. Tenet 4 is:
“Recognize that the chief function of local government at all times is to serve the best interests of all the people.”
Do the actions of the current mayor and council meet the definition of democracy? Are they serving the best interests of all the people?

Exhibit A. The Golf courses
In June 2014, the Town paid for a statistically valid survey asking residents what amenities they desired in their parks. The results showed that the top 3 items requested were (1) playgrounds and play structures, (2) ramadas and picnic areas, and (3) paved walking paths.. Out of 34 possible options, golf came in at number 33 (with 63% of respondents stating that golf was “not important.”)

Despite this, just six months later, in December 2014, the Council decided to purchase 45 holes of golf. The overwhelming amount of input from the People was NO, yet the Council majority (Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters) voted to purchase the golf courses anyway.

If there was any democracy in Oro Valley, would the Town Council chose to purchase a golf course just six months after the citizens asked for play structures, ramadas, and picnic areas? This purchase was supported by Greg Caton, the Town Manager at the time. So much for ICMA Tenet 4, and Government by the People.

Exhibit B. The voter-approved General Plan
In 2016, the Town Council forwarded to its residents a new General Plan. Developed with approximately three years of resident input. This plan, Your Voice, Our Future [YVOF] was placed on the ballot for voter approval. And although YVOF was approved by the voters on November 8, 2016, the Town Council voted to amend the Plan just 8 days later on November 16th. And they have continued to amend the voter-approved plan at every opportunity. Government by the People?

Exhibit C. Ball fields
In 2017, members of the community came to the council asking for ball fields for the children. They said that they were “desperately needed” and the Town Council agreed. But instead of looking for available resources to fund these fields, the Council instead asked the residents to impose a secondary Property Tax on themselves to fund these ball fields. This was a $17 MM bond that would have cost taxpayers $28 MM including the interest. The Residents overwhelmingly rejected the tax. Interestingly, the Council continues to brag that they have saved $2 million in the budget. Well then, why not put that $2M towards building those “desperately needed” ball fields?

Exhibit D. Undesirable development
The residents have told the Council repeatedly that they do not want postage-stamp sized residential lots and the continued blading of the desert. They have told the Council that they desire to save their mountain views and preserve the desert environment. What does the Council do? They repeatedly ignore the wishes of the citizens in favor of the developers/builders who financed their campaigns. Is this democracy?

Exhibit E. The Town Budget
The FY 2018/19 Town Budget is over $20 million higher than the previous fiscal year. There are NO ball fields included in it. There is, however, a $6 million bond of which $3 million will be used to improve the GOLF COURSES. Does this sound like adherence to the ICMA Tenet 4? Does this sound like Democracy?

Sadly, there is ample evidence that democracy does not exist in Oro Valley. On August 28th, the voters of Oro Valley will have an opportunity to replace four members of this council and return democracy to our Town.

Mike Zinkin has a Bachelor’s degree in history and government from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from California State University, Northridge. He was a commissioned ensign in the United States Navy Reserve. He was an Air Traffic Controller for 30 years. He and his wife moved to Oro Valley in 1998. Mike served on the Oro Valley Development Review Board from 2005-2009 and the Board of Adjustment from 2011-2012. He served on the Town Council from 2012-2016 during which time he was named a Fellow for the National League of Cities University, he was a member of the National League of Cities Steering Committee for Community and Economic Development, and a member of the Arizona League of Cities Budget and Economic Development Committee.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Did Mayor Hiremath Use A Fake Name To Post On Social Media?


Help us solve the mystery
Is it possible that Mayor Hiremath has been engaging in conversations about Oro Valley on social media using a fake name?

Is it possible that Hiremath was making his views in opposition to others using a fake name?

Who, we ask, was posting as "Mahra" on Nextdoor, a social media web site? Many think it was Hiremath using a fake name. Hiremath "sort of" denied it [His full text statement appears at the end of this posting]. We present the facts based on LOVE's extensive research. You be the judge.

These are the facts
Fact: Oro Valley resident Don Cox created a posting on May 24 on Nexdoor.com.  He said that he was going to be an Oro Valley election fact checker. (Extensive commenting followed, much of which challenged his ability to be an "independent" fact checker.)

Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath

Fact: Several weeks ago, posts favorable to Mayor Hiremath appeared. They were posted under the names of "Mahra" and "Rae Fay."

Fact: Last week, a commenter said that he thought that Mayor Hiremath was posting under the name Mahra and that Don Cox was posting under the name "Rae Fay".

Fact: Mahra Solberg is Hiremath's teenage daughter. Rachel Fay (aka Rae Fay) is the teenage daughter of Hiremath supporter, Douglas Seeman.

Fact: Hiremath posted on the thread last week: "I am not Mahra and Don Cox is not Rae Fay."

Fact: In his posting, Mayor Hiremath denied being a person named Mahra. He does not deny participating in the creation of the post. He does not deny causing the post to be made. He does not deny making the post.

Fact: Mahra signed posts as being from Monte Del Oro community. Hiremath signed his post as being from the Desert Greens community. Hiremath lives in the Monte Del Oro Community.

Fact: In his posting, Hiremath stated that he knew Mahra and Rae Fay and that he was going to tell them to stop posting. There were no further postings. Mahra and Rae Fay are no longer members of nextdoor.com. Though they are no longer members, their posts remain on the site.

Fact: Commenters subsequent to Hiremath's posting provided logical evidence that he did indeed have at least some role in the postings.

"When I read (Mahra's) 600 word essay attacking my post I knew it was (Hiremath). The essay directly followed the town’s December 2014 presentation supporting the El Con purchase. No one else would have committed the El Con deal justification to memory and be able to spit it back up on demand other than the architect of the deal."

Fact: "The posts got longer and longer", according to a commenter. "This is classic Hiremath. Never stopping for a breath in order to drown out any opposing view."

Fact: Other commenters noted that Mahra posts included "...Thousands of words all with detailed knowledge of Hiremath’s positions on everything from the golf losses to bonding, to development, to the last minute pulling a playground forward in the budget, to denying developer influence."

Vote your judgment
So what do you think?
Vote in our poll. Tell us whether you believe that:
  • Mayor Hiremath is innocent. He knew nothing about the Mahra posts.
  • Mayor Hiremath is duplicitous. He orchestrated the Mahra posts
  • Mayor Hiremath committed identity theft by posting under Mahra's identity.
We will share these results with you in a subsequent posting.
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Statement of Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath on nexdoor.com:


Read the full article, The Follower Factory, which is the source of the New York Times quote noted in this posting.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Guest View: A trap of their own making

Today’s Guest View is from a long-time LOVE reader who went by the pseudonym “Nombe Watanabe” back in the days when our comments section was open for commenting. We always looked forward to his posts as they were not only factual, civil, and well-reasoned, but also contained shades of sarcasm and great wit.

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The controversy over the Town’s purchase of the Conquistador Golf Course has raged on for far too long. Outrage on one side vs. sullen defense on the other side have been the order of the day. All this passion has not done one thing to change anyone’s mind. Oro Valley remains divided and we have not heard the voice of compromise and reason from town leadership.

The “Property Values” Argument
Although the game of golf appears to be in decline nationwide, the game itself is not the issue. The mayor and town council have a vested interest in preserving the property values (read “votes”) of the homes located near the Town-owned golf courses.

With the recent closure of the Vistoso Golf Course, our elected officials find themselves in a trap of their own making. How can they continue to cater to a minority of homeowners living along the Town-owned golf courses, when a second group of homeowners living along the Vistoso golf courses now face the same “property values” issue?

Any attempt to stop or even reduce the damage that our tax-supported Golf does to the Oro Valley budget runs into the fact that many of the solutions would create a serious loss of property values to the homes bordering the Town golf courses.

A Logical Solution
Returning the golf courses to desert wilderness may be attractive to some, given the over-development that has been foisted upon Oro Valley. However, the answer to our problem may lie in the transition from golf to a more inclusive, family friendly, recreational use for the golf course land.

A phased conversion to linear parks, trails, and playgrounds could be established on the existing course and even serve as a model for the now-closed Vistoso course. (Note: Playgrounds, paved walking paths, and natural surface trails were in the Top 10 list of amenities that Oro Valley residents requested in the 2014 Parks and Rec Survey).

This solution would accomplish the following:

• maintain property values
• expand recreational opportunities to all citizens rather than just the shrinking golf population
• cut budget losses by 20 to 50 percent (thereby reducing costs to the taxpayer)

Friday, June 15, 2018

From Our Readers


Contractor: "Oro Valley Staff 'Rubber Stamps' Certificates Of Occupancy"
"I found your page after reading a link to Timothy Bohen's "Not so EEZ". In reading about dealings with the Oro Valley Town Council -- both from Mr Bohen as well as others -- I see a consistent trend throughout the pieces of the lack of accountability in the Town of Oro Valley. This behavior has created a culture that is reflected all throughout the Town's offices and I wanted to briefly share my experience.

...I represent a ... company that does work in Oro Valley and have recently (since March) been attempting to get the Town's attention regarding a matter of blatantly non-compliant workmanship on new home builds in the Town, via the non-compliant special inspection reports for which the Town is responsible for reviewing. While this may sound as sour grapes (I mean, how can my company compete with the cheaters who cut corners and doesn't install code-required materials), the tangible matter is that the Town rubber-stamping these reports means that, should an Oro Valley homeowner have the unfortunate experience of needing recourse in a construction defect situation, the Town's approval of the report serves the purpose of saying, "This house was built in compliance with all the codes so, if something seems wrong, the onus of proof is on you, Mr Oro Valley Homeowner."

While the Town's Code Enforcement Official has refused to even consider the matter (though the code explicitly identifies this as his responsibility), I have requested meetings with the Town Manager and Mayor regarding this matter, though both have been declined. As of now, the Town has been aware for months that it is rubber-stamping certificates of occupancy on homes that the Town knows were not properly inspected and sit on potentially-compromised foundations (while celebrating May as "Building Safety Month) and no one in the Town offices has any interest in resolving the matter. Must be nice to have a cush job in a place with no accountability.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my story because, with the way small corrupt governments try to just squash these types of issues so quickly, it's difficult for people to know that others in their community are also experiencing a culture without accountability in the Town offices. So while I may be easy to brush off because I am no longer a Town resident, I think your site is doing a great service here and I hope you all, as citizens, have better luck establishing some change at the Town. It is sorely needed."
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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Update: The Abandonment of the Nakoma Sky Senior Living Facility

On June 4th, LOVE reported that Posada Life Services was abandoning the Nakoma Sky Senior Living Facility, a development project that was already underway on the east side of First Avenue near the Lambert Lane intersection. This was the development that included the contentious 5-story building.

LOVE reader and frequent contributor, Diane Peters, emailed the Town to obtain more information. She shared her email and the Town’s responses with LOVE.

Ms. Peters' Questions:

She asked for clarification and specifics on the following statement that appeared in the online version of the Explorer entitled, “Nakoma Sky cancels Oro Valley development.”

“The company said the site will be stabilized and completed to town requirements…”

In addition, she asked how many of the 80 acres had already been graded and how many of the rolling hills had already been leveled.

Finally, she asked if the Town required Posada Life Services to pay a bond in advance to cover the possibility of them abandoning the project after they had already destroyed the land, and if so, how much was the bond.

The Town of Oro Valley responded:

• The site has been graded and the Nakoma Sky’s team of engineers will be meeting with Town staff to address all safety, erosion, and dust control issues.

• Just under 30 acres have been disturbed.

• All the prominent hillside features were retained per the planning effort.

• Yes, a bond was required prior to starting construction. It is about $2M and will only be used if Nakoma Sky does not meet the requirement to stabilize the site, addressing all safety, erosion, and dust control issues.

The Town also stated, “We anticipate that a new development proposal will come forward given that this is an attractive site.”

Below are pictures taken at the two entrances to the now-abandoned Nakoma Sky project.
North Entrance to Nakoma Sky

South Entrance to Nakoma Sky

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Maximizing profits should not be the rationale for rezoning land in Oro Valley

Below is an excerpt from the speech given by Oro Valley resident, Michael Sanderson, during the May 16th Town Council Public Hearing on the Capella rezoning. Yesterday, we published the speech that Diana Sanderson gave the same evening. We’re publishing these speeches to show our readers that the current Town Council does not listen to the citizens, no matter how well-researched and well-presented those citizens’ speeches might be.

Mr. Sanderson’s Speech
We live in the Canada Hills area. My wife and I sent a letter to each of you at the first of the week. I assume you have taken the time to read it. In the letter, we listed the specific variances proposed in the rezoning for the Capella PAD that are unacceptable to a significant number of Oro Valley residents. We have been meeting with these residents for the last three months.

We, unfortunately, do not have time this evening to discuss each variance, as we did in the letter. Very briefly – they center on the following requests by the Developer:

In the residential areas: to create dense single-family housing by reducing the size of the lots and placing the homes closer together, beyond existing town code.

In the multi-family housing: to reduce the open areas surrounding the structures, again, beyond town code.

In the commercial zone at the NW corner of Naranja and La Cholla: to expand the size of the buildings from the existing code of 5000-9,000 sq. feet to 20,000 sq. feet.

In the commercial zone at Lambert and La Cholla: to have a super big-box store of 125,000 square feet, more than twice the size allowed by current code – and bigger than any single store in Oro Valley except the Walmart Supercenter at Oro Valley Marketplace.

In both commercial zones: They are also requesting that commercial buildings in both areas be five feet higher than allowed by code.

The Zoning Code is intended to maintain the character and quality of the town by imposing development standards and to reduce adverse impacts on neighboring property owners. Unfortunately this proposed plan seeks variances that would allow the developer to degrade the character and quality of Oro Valley and have an increased adverse impact on neighbors.

Three of us met with the applicant in an attempt to understand the need for the zoning variances. We, absolutely, appreciate him taking the time to meet with us and provide detailed responses to our questions. Clearly we do not agree with the basis for the variance requests.

Our interpretation of the responses was that they were based on the need to build as many single-family homes, multi-family dwellings, and provide as much commercial square footage as possible to maximize the profits for the current landowners and prospective buyers. This should not be the rationale for rezoning land in Oro Valley.

We support the amendments proposed by the Planning and Zoning commission at their April 3 meeting and approved by a 6-0 vote.

In addition, there must be the 5 conditions that we listed in the letter we submitted to each of you. These conditions for approval of the Capella PAD rezoning have been thoughtfully researched and considered by our group of concerned Oro Valley citizens. We expect you to add these conditions to the amendments unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. These combined conditions represent a reasonable compromise to allow this PAD to move forward.

This is your opportunity to demonstrate to the citizens of Oro Valley that you do listen to their concerns.

(Editor's Note:  The council did not listen.  They approved the rezoning with a unanimous 7-0 vote).

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For reference, below are the amendments passed 6-0 by P&Z during the April 3rd meeting.

Planning & Zoning Amended Motion:

1. All future site plans for each parcel will go through the Conceptual Site Plan process to be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as Town Council for further review.

2. Complete an updated Traffic Analysis for each development phase required by Town Code.

3. Parcel M is restricted to 1-story height within 300 feet of the west property boundary.

4. The plans for restrooms and playgrounds in recreation areas must be maintained.

Below are the additional conditions that the Sanderson’s requested in their letter to the mayor and council:

1. All single family homes in the PAD shall meet the requirements of R1-7 zoning regarding minimum lot area, lot width, yard setbacks, and building height; except that the minimum lot area in Parcel H, for homes not located along Lambert Lane, can be 6600 square feet, per the Special Area Policies adopted in 2015.

2. Multi-family residential buildings in the PAD shall meet the requirements of R-7 zoning regarding outdoor open space and outdoor private living space.

3. All businesses in the C-N commercial zone at the NW corner of Naranja and La Cholla shall meet the current C-N zoning requirements for business floor area limits, building height and allowable use.

4. All businesses in the C-1 commercial zones shall meet the current C-1 zoning requirements for business floor area limits, building height and allowable use.

5. A traffic control “island” or curbing shall be placed at the Canada Hills Drive intersection to not allow through traffic to cross La Cholla. (The proposed design will not be sufficient to “not permit eastbound or westbound through-traffic across La Cholla Boulevard” as stated in the current proposal).