Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guest View-Allan Block: Oro Valley "Birds of a Feather"

Oro Valley resident Allan Block is an  amateur photographer. And a very good one indeed. Allan photographs birds. We've asked Allan to be a periodic contributor to LOVE. He has agreed to do so.
The glossy black desert bird with a commanding treetop presence and a taste for mistletoe berries is the Phainopepla (pronounced: fay-no-PEP-la)

Gleaming black from tip to tail this medium sized songbird doesn't retreat. Instead he proudly sings his varied song, sometimes including the songs of other birds.

His pretty partner is also a stand-out. She's feathered in subtle shades of brown trimmed with white. They both have bright red eyes and a crest.

Learn more about this Oro Valley bird here.

Do you have an avocation that you want to share with the community? Perhaps, for example, you're into Oro Valley history or Oro Valley Art.

Why not share some of the fun things you do that relate to Oro Valley?

Send you ideas to richard@letorovalleyexcel.com

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Watchdog Report: Save the Community Center by Eliminating El Con Golf Operations

I suspect that the town officials who needed to read the contracted report on the golf operations probably put little effort into doing so. The mayor once said, "I don't need to know the Codes, that is why I have staff." Following the same logic, one might assume that, “We don't need to read the report, the contractor will advise us what to do.”

Below are direct quotes from the report:

Pages 1-4 discuss the current financial condition and the necessary upgrades/improvements.
"As a whole, the El Conquistador Golf and Tennis (ECGT) and Pusch Ridge golf facilities combined to produce total top-line revenue of just over $2.9 million in 2016, the vast majority of which comes from golf fees, member dues and Food and Beverage (F&B) sales. The on-site operating expenses at the facility totaled around $5.2 million resulting in a roughly (-$2.3 million) loss on operations (excluding other necessary costs such as capital upgrades and new investment in infrastructure).”

“The current financial condition is worse than most public sector golf operations in the U.S. where 67% of municipal golf course operations are able to cover on-site expenses, but not able to cover both onsite expenses and capital improvement costs (only about 33% can cover both)."

"Factors such as the recent recession, the declining interest in golf, growth in the number of competing golf courses and even ECGT conditions have all contributed to the recent decline."

"The National Golf Foundation (NGF) has estimated a total of $5.1 million in required repairs over the next few years, in addition to the $6.0 million estimated by the Town for clubhouse and community center improvements. This investment also includes upwards of $170,000+/- in annual recurring items."

"While losses on operations are common in municipal golf, the depth of this loss is less common."

"The overall demand/supply balance for golf in the greater Tucson market is very unfavorable to golf courses."

Page 6 summarizes the cost to implement each of the options presented.

Option A - Stay with 36 holes - Total investment = $5,115,775
Option B - Reduce to 27 holes - Total investment = $4,639,115
Option C - Reduce to 18 holes - Total investment = $4,200,795

Additional to all above options is to convert the Pusch Ridge course from a 9-hole course to a 12-hole, Par 3 course called The Dirty Dozen. Total investment = $3,013,120

The consultants recommended Option B. To go with Option B and the Pusch Ridge conversion will take an additional investment of $7,652,235.

Page 7 mentions outright closure of all golf courses.
"Outright closure, although perhaps the most economically beneficial decision, is not necessarily a “cheap” option, as there are costs to prepare the property appropriately and there may be additional contemporaneous impacts that have to be considered (property values, tax base, resort relations, etc.). Further study is recommended."

Pages 67-68 summarize closing all golf operations.
"Full closure of the El Conquistador 36-hole operation would involve significant costs to remove managed turf areas and, at minimum, plant and establish revegetation desert varieties to the areas removed from turf.”

“Based on 146± acres of existing managed turf, we estimate approximately $2.5 million for turf conversion and establishment at El Conquistador using a per-acre cost of $17,000 (slightly less per acre than shown for specific options A, B and C; based on volume). Added to this cost would be approximately 20% for soft costs (design, engineering, etc.) and a reasonable contingency. Our opinion of probable cost is approximately $3 million.”

Page 68 discusses closing the Pusch Ridge course.
"In order to fully close the Pusch Ridge facility, we estimate that an average cost of $20,000 per acre be applied to calculate removal of existing managed turf with re-establishment to native desert vegetation. This slightly higher amount per acre is recommended due to significant slopes involved in the Pusch Ridge terrain combined with more intricate access than at El Conquistador.”

“Based on a total turf footprint of 40± acres, we estimate full conversion of existing turf areas to be approximately $800,000 plus soft costs and contingency of about 20%, rendering an estimated probable cost of near $1.0 million. Additional costs to fully close the Pusch Ridge facility would need to account for razing the existing (old, now abandoned) maintenance facility (estimated at $40,000) and disposition of the existing irrigation storage pond, which has not been estimated."

As I understand it, it would cost $1,040,000 to close Pusch Ridge, and $3 million to close the remaining 36 holes.

Going back to Page 7, the NGF states:
"Continued operation with rounds at or near current levels (under 50,000 total) will not lead to profitability for ECGT, and severe losses will continue, but become more manageable for the Town under any of the renovation options presented."

The most cost-effective option.
The report states that no matter what option the Town Council chooses, golf will continue to lose money. It doesn’t take a CPA to see that investing $4 million to repurpose 45 holes and END GOLF is a more cost-effective option than spending $7.6 million in upgrades to continue golf despite no guarantees of breaking even in another 5 years.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bits and Pieces

New Road County Tax To Be Put To Work In Oro Valley
The Green Valley News reports that Oro Valley received an allocation of $1.43 million for road repair county money. The funds come from a county tax. "The tax, approved by the Board of Supervisors in June, raised the primary property tax rate by 25 cents to fund repair of local or local collector roads." A local road is a street that is used primally for the benefit of those who live on that street. A collector road is one that gathers traffic from the local roads, delivering it to a primary road.

It is easy for county supervisors to get away with raising our taxes for roads. That's because the taxpayers use the roads and can see some benefit. But, we don't look so kindly on because we recall RTA voting fraud, a tax, and all the other moneys that are available for roads. 
How To Drive "Hands Free" In Oro Valley
Every media, print and net, have reported that The City of Tucson, Oro Valley and Pima County are enforcing laws that prohibit holding an electronic device while driving. These "laws" make common sense. But, since people do "text and drive" yet another law was needed to enforce "common sense."

What is not reported is "How To Be Hands Free."

Here are four suggestions for hands free phone calls:
  • Use microphone earphones that you plug into your device
  • Use microphone earphones that connect via wifi to your device
  • Use the "speaker" function of your device
  • Use the device connected via bluetooth to your car radio, if you have such.
Here's a suggestion for hands free texting:
  • Use the dictation feature of your "personal assistant" (like SIRI for iPhone) to dictate into the device as in: "Siri, I want to dictate a message to ..." [Do the dictating via the microphone earphone device]
  • Use the dictation feature for reading a text, as in: "Siri, read me that text message..."
And, if all this confuses you: Either pull off the road safely and park to use the device; or wait until you get home. After all, is that call or text really that important?

The "legislation" was not necessary since Arizona driving laws prohibit "distracted driving." Under existing law, law enforcement can pull you over and give you a ticket for anything that distracts your driving.
Oro Valley Author Publishes Third Book
Oro Valley resident Joel Bresler has published a new comedic novel, “The Moskowitz Code” (Tasfil Publishing, LLC), in which Mike Moskowitz finds his life turned “tush-over-teakettle” when his doctor makes a typo in his medical record. Bresler’s previous books include “Sunderwynde Revisited” and “Letters to be Read in a Heavily British Accent,” a finalist for both the USA Book News and Indie Book Awards in the humor category." (Source: azjewishpost.com)
Oro Valley Municipal Court To Participate in "Warrant Roundup"
The Oro Valley Municipal Court will participate with six other courts "the morning of Saturday Aug. 26 for people to pay fines and arrange payment plans to resolve outstanding warrants." We're sure that those who ignore warrants will jump at the chance to get this "off their backs!" (Yes. We're joking.) This "outreach" program will be held at the Pima County Consolidate Justice Court. This is located at 240 N. Stone Ave, Tucson.
(Source: usnews.com)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

LOVE Contributor ~ Community Opposes Oro Valley’s Future Annexation of State Land (Tangerine North)

Outside the meeting room at Casas Church, local Save the Cactus activists greeted attendees and passed out flyers detailing their concerns with Oro Valley's unwanted and incompatible overreach into their community.

Oro Valley Planning Manager, Bayer Vella, faced a room packed with passionate area residents who came to learn the reasoning behind the potential Tangerine North State Land General Plan Amendments and future Annexation.

Mr. Vella assured the group that this meeting would provide staff with a good listening opportunity for their concerns but that the land would be developed regardless of whether Oro Valley annexes it or not. He further advised attendees to say "ditto" during the open question segment rather than repeat someone else’s comments and to “Be kind and treat each other the way you want to be treated.”

 "The properties currently under consideration for annexation
by the Town of Oro Valley are the two State Land‐ owned sites
indicated on the map below, referred to as Tangerine North
(302 acres), and Tangerine South (550 acres)."
He then proceeded to clarify various misconceptions related to the potential annexation of the two State-owned properties referred to as Tangerine North (302 acres) and Tangerine South (550 acres.) The meeting primarily focused on the proposed Plan Amendments for Tangerine North.

Oro Valley is 90% built out and is looking at annexation to grow the town. At the April 5, 2016, Planning and Zoning Commission Community Academy session, developers expressed an urgency in establishing lot supply during 2017 and 2018.

To that end, Tangerine South was added to the Town’s official Planning Boundary and designated as a Master Planned Community in the Town’s voter approved General Plan in 2016. While many residents were likely unaware that this was in the Plan, it was included with the expectation of annexation due to its commercial potential.

The possibility of also annexing Tangerine North arose during Tangerine South annexation conversations with the State Land Department. It is primarily suited for residential development due to limited frontage on Tangerine Road and is currently zoned to allow one residence per three acres under the current Pima County jurisdiction. Oro Valley, however, is recommending a land use designation of Master Planned Community as this will offer the most flexibility for development and increase the value of the property.

Who will purchase and develop the two properties?
Oro Valley will not assume ownership of these properties if they are annexed. Rather, the State Land Department will sell the land at public auction to the highest bidder. No purchaser or developer has been identified.

Why is Oro Valley interested in annexing these properties?
Oro Valley wants to manage growth and control the potential impacts of land near or within its boundaries to ensure quality developments and environmental resource conservation. Annexations however, must make fiscal sense and be approved by the Town Council.

The costs will outweigh the revenues
Tangerine North offers NO advantage in terms of a revenue stream for the Town as Oro Valley has no property tax. The cost to the Town (additional police, road maintenance, etc.) will outweigh the revenue derived from construction taxes and impact fees. Over time, a purely residential annexation loses money. There is also little chance that Tangerine North residents will increase our sales tax revenue by shopping or buying gas in Oro Valley since it will be more convenient for them to shop in Marana (unless Tangerine South is also annexed by Oro Valley and provides those commercial services).

Residents raised the following concerns:
  • Desert conservation, wildlife and riparian areas – Oro Valley has lost a significant amount of credibility with recent land management. The motto, “It’s in our nature” is inaccurate. Their "Nature" is bladed every day by developers with Town Council's approval.
  • Developers’ campaign donations and cozy relationship with Oro Valley Town Council. Residents fear that they “will work behind the scenes to get whatever they want.”
  • A Master Planned Community is not compatible in this rural area with 3+ acre homesites/horse properties.
  • Traffic and road conditions (Thornydale Road)
  • Water resources
  • Loss of property value
  • Lack of fiscal analysis (Staff is unable to prepare this analysis until State and Oro Valley agree on land use.)
  • Lack of representation - Neighborhood meetings are all about the process and checking off a box that meetings were held.

Given this extensive list of concerns, it was no surprise to hear the room echo with “dittos” when one person commented that he didn’t want to be part of Oro Valley or be surrounded by it. He said that they moved here to get away from the city and they do not want Oro Valley bringing the city to them.

A second Neighborhood Meeting is scheduled for August 21st at 6 PM in Council Chambers, 11,000 N LaCanada Drive

Learn more HERE or contact Michael Spaeth at mspaeth@orovalleyaz.gov or 520-229-4812.

Visit savethecactus for additional information on how you can help.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Editorial ~ The Voting Record of the Oro Valley Town Council “Majority-7” (Part 2.)

This is the second of a 3-part series presenting the voting record for the new Oro Valley Town Council. Part 1 was published last week, covering their voting record from November-January. If you missed it, you can read it HERE

This week we present the record from February-April. Four meetings were held and all votes were unanimous.


February 15, 2017

Over 100 youth sport parents and Oro Valley user group representatives were in attendance requesting that Council take action to construct additional sports fields at Naranja Park.

Five representatives of the group spoke in favor of this issue. Council directed staff to return at a future council meeting with a plan to finance additional sports fields in response to this community request.

Authorizing an increase in water rates.

All motions passed 7-0.

March 15, 2017

Amending the Steam Pump Village PAD to permit an indoor self-storage facility.

Only one person spoke in support. Five Oro Valley residents and two business owners spoke in opposition. Oro Valley resident, Diane Bristow, pointed out that it did not meet the majority of General Plan requirements. You can read the arguments she presented HERE.

Despite this, Solomon motioned and Rodman seconded to approve it “based on a finding that the request conforms with the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan.”

Motion carried 7-0.

All motions passed unanimously including one 6-0 vote when Councilmember Hornat left the room. (There were no discussions on four agenda items this evening).

April 5, 2017

Adopting the OV Main Streets Concept Plan.

Discussion, direction, and possible action from Town Council regarding the funding and construction of additional sport fields and related improvements for Naranja Park.

All motions passed 7-0 (There was discussion on the above two items).

April 19, 2017

Funding and construction of additional sports fields and related improvements for Naranja Park. PUBLIC COMMENT.

Thirteen residents spoke in favor. (They were all involved in sports either as coaches or from having children who play Little League, etc.) Two residents spoke in opposition.

Mayor Hiremath motioned and Pina seconded to place this item on the May 3rd agenda and directed staff to come back with a question for council consideration to place this item on the November 7, 2017 ballot.

Motion carried 7-0 (with discussion). All motions this evening passed 7-0.

Part 3 will be published on Wednesday, August 23rd.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Guest View: Jeff Jones ~ Connecting the Dots from the Community Center to the Naranja Park Bond

I’d like to weigh in on the boondoggle known as the Town of Oro Valley Golf Courses (aka El Conquistador Golf Club) and the options offered by the National Golf Foundation Consultants who were hired by the Town Council to help them figure a way out of the mess they made.

What have we learned from the $50,000 Consultant’s Report?
All the options suggested by the consultants will cost millions of dollars to implement. In other words, let’s throw good money after bad.

Public golf is losing money nationwide but our Community Center Golf Courses are losing more than the national average.

They believe that our losses will be reduced by 10.5% if all of their projections come true.

The projections
A 4% increase in golf fees (even though these have been trending downwards)
A 17% increase in Member Golf Fees (even though membership is declining)
A 4.6% increase in Food & Beverage (even though F&B has never met the budget even once)
A 10% Reduction in Food & Beverage Cost

Why should we believe those projections?
Not one of the projections (revenue or costs) from Day One relative to the El Conquistador purchase have come anywhere near close to being accurate. Not a single one…Membership – Capital Improvements – Costs – Revenue. Not a single one!

When the Majority-4 on the 2014 Town Council (Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters) “sold us” the El Conquistador purchase, their projections were that we would “break even” by Fiscal Year 3 (FY 2017-18) and that it would turn a profit beginning in Year 5. However, the FY 2017-18 budget continues to project a net loss of $1.8 million. This is breaking even?

What’s more, Mayor Hiremath recently backtracked on his original 5-year plan, claiming that it was always a 6-year plan to begin making a profit. (Public records reveal otherwise.) Now, the Golf Consultant’s report states that even with the proposed millions of dollars in changes, they still can’t guarantee that we will turn a profit for another 5 years after the implementation of the changes!

It’s a matter of trust
How can we trust the same fools, and their three new cohorts, to properly handle the development of Naranja Park? If they can’t make good decisions on a $1 million purchase, why should we trust them with a $17 million dollar purchase?

Don’t let them fool you into believing that the property tax will expire in 20 years. Have you ever seen a tax expire? I predict that when the $17 million bond is paid off (at a cost of $28 million with interest), that the Town Council will then state that they need to renew the property tax because the now 20-year old facility is in need of updating and refurbishing.

I urge you to vote NO on the Naranja Park Bond/Secondary Property Tax. Do not trust them with any more of our tax dollars.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bits and Pieces

Do You Want Homes In "Innovation Park"?
The Town Of Oro Valley is holding a general plan amendment neighborhood meeting this coming Monday. The site under consideration regards Innovation Park.

This is the same land parcel that Beztak wanted to put apartments on in 2011. That request was denied. Later, there was another plan that never came to fruition and now this GPA is for residential.

Follow the money on this deal.  A large developer profit is in the offing if this GPA is approved.  The land is valued for 2017 by Pima County at $1.6 million. The petitioner, Anthem Equity Group, petitioned the county to value the land at about $1 million on the basis of comparable industrial land use. However, industrial use is not their intent. Instead, they want to change the land use to residential and reap "land value" benefit from putting up to 64 instead of industrial property.

"This "General Plan Amendment [is] for an approximately 15-acre property located at the northwest corner of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and Vistoso Commerce Loop. The applicant proposes to change the future land use on this parcel from Commerce/Office Park (COP) to Medium Density Residential (2.1 – 5.0 homes per acre), Case No. OV1701076.

The applicant will provide a presentation and Town staff will facilitate the meeting. The focus will be on addressing your questions and concerns.

August 14, 2017
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Rancho Vistoso HOA Building
945 W Vistoso Highlands Drive

QUESTIONS? Please contact Elisa Hamblin, Long Range Principal Planner, at 520-229-4847 or ehamblin@orovalleyaz.gov. "
Read about this amendment.
(Source: Oro Valley Web Site)

Oro Valley to offer free training for Water Utility customers
Oro Valley, Arizona (August 10, 2017) – The Oro Valley Water Utility is offering free, one-hour training classes on its AquaHawk Alerting program. AquaHawk is a free service that helps Oro Valley Water Utility customers efficiently manage their water usage and lower their monthly bills.

Class participants will learn how to register for AquaHawk and how to set water use thresholds based on water use history so they can monitor usage and receive timely leak alerts. Water conservation information and giveaways will also be available.

Classes will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. in the computer lab at the Oro Valley Public Library (1305 W. Naranja Drive) on the following dates:

  • Monday, August 21, 2017
  • Wednesday, August 23, 2017
  • Monday, August 28, 2017
  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Registration is required, and class size is limited to 10 participants per session. For more information or to register, contact Karn Boyce at 520-229-5024 or kboyce@orovalleyaz.gov.
Customers who are not able to attend a class can still enroll in the program. Valid email address required. Learn more at www.orovalleyaz.gov/aquahawk.
(Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release)
July Oro Valley housing sales lower but overall pace matches last year
"In the Oro Valley area, July 2017 active inventory was 260, a 6% decrease from July 2016. There were 81 closings in July 2017, an 11% decrease from July 2016. Year-to-date 2017 there were 575 closings, a 1% increase from year-to-date 2016. Months of Inventory was 3.2, up from 3.1 in July 2016. Median price of sold homes was $281,000 for the month of July 2017, up 2% from July 2016. The Oro Valley area had 82 new properties under contract in July 2017, up 5% from July 2016."
(Source: Long Realty August Report)