Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Guest View: Don Bristow ~ Majority-7 Council is Beholden to the Development Community

Almost $200,000 in Special Interest Campaign Contributions bestowed upon the Majority-7 from 2014-2016
The table in the insert that follows shows the special interest donations given to Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters in the 2014 Town Council election, the 2015 recall election, and the 2016 Town Council election campaigns of Pina-Rodman-Solomon.

Pina-Rodman-Solomon’s major contributors are the same as for Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters. This is why the prior Majority-4 council and the new Majority-7 council are all beholden to Humberto Lopez and the other major developers.

Why are such substantial contributions being given to small-town politicians? Below are some possible reasons:
  • Humberto Lopez/HSL Properties: He is the owner of the Hilton El Conquistador Resort and has a contractual interest in the Oro Valley Community Center golf courses and tennis courts. As such, he needs favorable lease agreements with the Town, including maintaining the El Conquistador name at the Oro Valley Community and Recreation Center. The Hilton is also the major beneficiary of Town money spent on tourism related promotions. 
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Additionally, there is a 5-acre tract on the Conquistador Golf Course that Lopez/HSL retained when they sold the El Con property to the Town. There is currently a 27-unit, 2-story condominium development in the planning stages between the 17th and 18th fairways. Perhaps Lopez is also rewarding Mayor Hiremath and his council puppets for purchasing the El Con Community Center and golf courses from him, allowing the taxpayers to assume all of the associated financial losses.
  • Jim Click: Perhaps he’s looking for zoning changes to allow car dealerships in Oro Valley. 
  • Kai Family: They need the Town Council’s cooperation in the development of properties they own in Oro Valley including the east side of First Avenue from Naranja to Tangerine and the west side of LaCholla from Glover to Lambert Lane.
  • Diamond Ventures: Diamond Ventures and Evergreen Development are the developers of Steam Pump Ranch and need the council’s cooperation to complete development of that parcel. A request to amend the Steam Pump Village PAD to allow for a self-storage facility is currently making its way through the Town’s approval process. [This request is scheduled to be heard by the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday, February 7th at 6 PM in Town Council Chambers.]
  • Venture West: They need the council’s cooperation for their future developments within Innovation Park.
  • Builders and Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association (SAHBA): They want favorable zoning changes for their future housing developments in order to cluster as many homes as possible on smaller lot sizes than what current zoning allows.
  • Vistoso Partners: They are a long-time political donor protecting their interests in Rancho Vistoso. They need continued support of the Town Council for favorable rezonings of their remaining parcels of land. 
  • Greg Wexler: A commercial and residential land broker representing the Kai Family’s land parcels in Oro Valley. He has been active in pushing for zoning changes on these parcels to increase the density from rural low density of one home per 3.3 acres to medium density residential of 2.1 to 5 homes per acre.
  • Realtors and Realtors AZ PAC: They support builders and developers and are also active in obtaining favorable sign code changes for realtors. • Peter Fasseas: He needs continued support from the Town Council in the development of his property at the SE corner of LaCholla and Lambert.
Their Voice, Our Future
The significant size of these donations indicates that the donors wanted to guarantee wins for all of these candidates; therefore, one would have to assume that this is a quid pro quo relationship. With the entire 7-member council beholden to these donors, what will happen to the future of OUR town? Will the voices and desires of the citizens ever be heard?