It has been a very interesting, learning experience for my husband and me to sit outside the Oro Valley Library six days a week, and meet those residents who come to sign the Recall Petitions. Some also come to ask questions about the reasons for a Recall. After a brief discussion they all want to sign!
Most of the eager signers are upset and appalled by the lack of transparency our Town government has shown them. Many are upset about the high-density growth, the huge numbers of apartments up and down Oracle, which was supposed to be our "Scenic Corridor".
A large number feel that these meetings, arranged to explain the hasty purchase of the El Con properties were nothing but distorted figures and lies. They noted that when they arrived at the venues for these meetings, the Mayor's friends had already taken most of the seats, having been advised to come much earlier and fill the seats.
Oro Valley voters are incensed that they are called a "Whiny minority", that the "Don’t Sign" signs around town have no source indicated on them. These signs actually draw them to the Library and Sun City Activity Center to sign petitions because they are tired of being demeaned, legislated to, and ignored. They feel that none of their questions have been truthfully answered, that statistics have been deliberately misrepresented, that legal contracts have not been explained adequately or fairly obtained, and their voices have been ignored.
We were amazed at how astute these voters are to the deeds that this group of M-4's have perpetrated on our town. Often those who were signing would start sharing with those waiting to sign the facts that have hurt them personally. Many complained that when the utility tax was to sunset, it was doubled to 4% instead! Others resented the half-cent sales tax increase which would hurt them and drive business out of Oro Valley. A large number of people were angered over the approval of a five-story building near Oracle and First Avenue. Others felt that lighted signs at night at the Marketplace would further destroy our "Scenic Corridor" and the overall appearance of our town. A good number of folks told us about the intentions to re-zone more open land to high-density, when the original plans would have allowed open space, or minimal density. We heard from those who know that the M-4's reduced the Town Reserve Fund by 50%, transferred $1.2 million from the "Rainy Day Fund", and approved A-frame signs for five years.
We even had some employees of the El Con property come to sign. They described the small rooms, deterioration, and inadequate area for a "community center". They shared the poor condition of the tennis courts, the golf cart pathways and the small swimming pools. They fear that we are all going to be in difficult financial straits to pay the $10 million or more for repairs, upgrades, and reconstruction. Pima County will lose $120,000 in taxes from the El Con, Oro Valley will lose $40,000 a year, and they can only assume it will be another addition to our property taxes.
Listening to a radio interview with the Mayor we learned that "Bert" (Mr. Humberto Lopez, the developer) has reserved "Five acres of the golf course land for his own development!"
We are grateful to have found so many residents who really care about the future of Oro Valley, and we thank them for their participation in this most important exercise of the democratic process.
Brenda Ryan is a long time Oro Valley resident and a consistent reader and commenter on LOVE.