Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Crane Fly Invasion Wanes

The invasion of the Crane Fly is winding down
We base this conclusion on our observations. These flies are completely harmless. In fact, they are food for the areas birds, bats and other wildlife.

The problem for we humans has been that these crane flies are everywhere; and they have been everywhere for the past six weeks.

Wet and early prolonged winter rainy season caused invasion
The crane flies are plentiful this because it has been a long and wet rainy season. The ground is moist. The crane fly larvae love wet grounds!

According to UA biology professor Michael Brogan: "The heavy rains we had in November helped to wet the soil in Tucson, which triggers more activity in crane fly larvae. We continued to get rains in December and January, and lots of wildflowers and grasses have been growing around town the last couple months, so all of that growth provides good food for crane fly larvae." (source)

Courtesy of LOVE
Often, you come across crane flies in the house or on the side of a building. They are doing absolutely nothing. Why? " ...crane flies have to conserve their limited energy resources and just hang out doing nothing quite a lot. But when they see potential mates or good places to lay their eggs after mating, then they'll spring into action and fly around."

Our season is changing and it should be drier. Thus, fewer crane flies... until next year.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Romspen Vistoso Golf Plan Substantially Changes Density

This requires a major general plan amendment
Romspen Mortgage Investment Fund ("Romspen") the owner of the shuttered Vistoso Golf Course, and Spectra Properties, based in Memphis have provided a draft request for a general plan amendment for the course. The course is currently zoned  mostly for recreational use. There is a 6 acre area currently designated for high density residential use.

87 Acres at stake
Romspen seeks to amend the YVOF (2016 General Plan) land use designations of approximately 87 acres from ‘Resort/Golf Course’ to ‘Medium Density Residential’ (MDR) and ‘High Density Residential’ (HDR). In the same application, Romspen is asking for the same change to the Rancho Vistoso PAD.

The Romsden Plan
Big money at stake
The area will experience a substantial increase in residential density and the addition of a high density resident senior care facility if the amendment is approved by council.  Romspen will reap substantial profit on their $3 million investment in the course. This is because acreage of residential land in Oro Valley is worth far more in the market than acres of a preserve. There are tens of millions of dollars at stake here.

The Neighborhood meeting requirement presents a barrier to moving this amendment forward
A general plan amendment petition must be submitted to the town by April 30 in order for it to be considered by council by end of this year. State regulations require that a neighborhood meeting occurs before the amendment is submitted (Town Code Section 2.15.F.3.b). "Neighborhood meetings should typically be scheduled on a weekday evening so that working residents may attend, but may be adapted to neighborhood needs, as appropriate."

Every neighborhood meeting that the town has conducted has always been an in person meeting. Such a meeting is not possible because the state, county, and town of Oro Valley require social distancing during the Covid-19 epidemic. It is anticipated that this restriction will remain in place for the month of April. Thus, there can be no in person neighborhood meeting.

Town proposed next step is a electronic information sharing session
According to group Preserve Vistoso, the town plans to post videos on April 10th explaining the rezoning process to residents and asking residents to direct questions and concerns to ask@orovalleyaz.gov or by calling 520-229-4711. The Town also will post a video from Romspen and Spectra that will provide an overview of rezoning applications. Subsequent video presentations will address questions and concerns from residents. In theory, this process more easily allows residents from the entire community to participate.

Still, this is not a neighborhood meeting, based on Oro Valley's established practice. It will, however, give the applicant some indication of what the residents the residents are thinking.

The actual neighborhood  meeting, and there must be two of these, will come when social distancing restrictions are no longer in effect.

The question is: Does an electronic information sharing session meet the neighborhood meeting legal requirement such that the amendment can move forward?
That is something that the legal team in Oro Valley needs to determine. Because, if is not such, then the amendment can not move forward. This legal standing  decision also has implications for an anticipated two more general plan amendments for other properties in Oro Valley.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Bits and Pieces

Own a small business? 
Apply for the "Payroll Protection Program" today
Keep paying  your employees!!!!
There is no reason that a small business can not pay its employees even if it is shutdown.  All small businesses should talk to their bank today to get an SBA payroll protection program loan. The loan can be up to $10 million. It is forgiven as long as it is used for payroll.

If you work for a small business (under 500 employees) tell your boss about the program. The neat part is that they can put recently furloughed employees back on the payroll and pay for it.

This program is ideal for Oro Valley's local restaurants, most of whom are struggling.

This program is a giant win for everyone. Employees get paid. It costs the business nothing. And the business will be able to get rolling quickly once we get the all clear.

Learn more here.

Miller endorses Reidhead for US House District
Pima County Supervisor, Ally Miller, the representative for Oro Valley, has endorsed Nolan Reidhead as republican candidate for US Congress in Oro Valley's district (District 1).

According to Miller: "Nolan believes in limited government and holds the same fiscally conservative values that I do."

New resident in Riverfront Park
Sure there's things to worry about. But lets not forget that it is spring. It's a time for life. It's a time to celebrate the great life we have in Oro Valley.  This little one obviously thinks that Oro Valley is a great place. We took this picture just south of the paved path at Riverfront Park.

State failed to provide mandated online nomination petition signing portal for local candidates
State statute 16-317 mandates that local candidates can solicit petition signatures online using the State's E-Qual online portal system. Oro Valley Town Council candidates could have used the system if the State had complied with the law.

According to State Representative Mark Finchem: "The E-Qual online portal system, which is managed by the Arizona Secretary of State, has been up and running since before the 2018 election, accepting candidate nomination petition signatures for federal, statewide, and legislative offices. Under state law, candidates for city, town, or county office, and precinct committeeman are also entitled to online signature collection but, thus far, they have been denied access to the state’s E-Qual portal. The Secretary of State’s office has not yet fully complied with the law, even though funds were allocated in prior years budgets to update the system."

Visit this link to see how the system works. Find your favorite candidate and sign the petition. Note, as we mentioned, that local candidates are not included on the list. Then, imagine how useful this system could have been to encourage even more candidates to run for town council had the state followed the law and allowed such.

Is this LOVE or what?
We came across this in an article analyzing the state of journalism today. It is an article well worth reading regardless of your national political leanings. In referring to We thought, goodness, this is us.
"...local journalists don’t try to pretend they’re heroes. They exist to inform their community and hold local government – the government that will most impact their lives – accountable."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Nobody Told Us There'd Be Days Like These

Oro Valley Hunkers Down
"Nobody told me there'd be days like these
Strange days indeed"

Words from the late Beatle, John Lennon. John's words, written in 1974, are so true today. These are "strange times indeed" as together we face the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stay at home... Be Cool
The State, the county and the town have issued "Stay at home" orders. The State has declared an emergency, giving it the ability to get government funding. They did it to tap federal money. They did not necessarily declare the emergency because they think that we are at extraordinary risk, though this may be the case.

Yes. We will see more Covid-19 cases and more deaths. Please, let's keep it all in perspective. The vast majority of Arizona's 6.9 million residents will never get this virus. No need to panic. Simply follow CDC and local guidelines.

Cops on duty... Ready to help
While we hunker down, Oro Valley's outstanding public safety personnel are on the job. According to Police Lt. Matt Horetski. the police department continues to work to ensure safety. The department has made a deployment changes. "In keeping with Community Policing efforts officers have increased presence at local businesses, especially during peak volume hours. You have obviously seen them at Fry’s however our officers are spending time at businesses within the town."

In accordance with social distancing guidelines and limiting person to person interactions, the CVAP personnel are not deploying and special events such as the citizen’s academy have been put on hold. The department encourages the community to make phone, as opposed to in person reports.

Some things we can do
  • Follow CDC Guidelines
  • Stay at home, making only really necessary trips
  • Walk... walk... walk...
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Reduce anxiety. Watch and read the news less. Grab a good book. Your favorite movies!
  • Boost your mental acuity. Take on online course in something you LOVE!
  • Smile! (We know this stinks but we are in this together. So enjoy the time off.)
  • Offer help to those in need
  • Support your local restaurants. Did you know that Harvest and Charred Pie offer take out?
  • Please don't hoard anything
  • "Be happy, Don't Worry!"
All things must pass
Another late Beatle, George Harrison, reminds us all that

"All things must pass
None of life's strings can last"

And so it will be with Covid-19.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Remote View Only For Tonight's Council Meeting

Town Council meetings accessible to public remotely only
The public will not be allowed in council chambers for tonight's town council meeting. Instead, the public will be able to view the meeting and participate remotely. This procedure by the town is to "... ensure public participation during the current period of social distancing." (source)

The public can view and listen to the meeting
The public can watch the meeting and listen to the meeting online or listen by phone. Click this link to watch and listen on line. Dial this phone number, 480-999-2896 and when prompted entering ID: 311 239 070#, to join.  The meeting starts at 6pm

Here's how the public can participate in the meeting remotely
Comments on an agenda item
You can provide comment on an agenda item if such is allowed by law, such as in a public hearing. To do so "...contact the Town Clerk at 520-229-4700 or at mstandish@orovalleyaz.gov at least thirty minutes prior to the meeting and state what agenda item they would like to speak on."

Call to audience
If you want to participate in the "Call to Audience" segment of the meeting "The comment or question must be sent via email to Bluecard@orovalleyaz.gov no later than thirty minutes before the public meeting. If the sender wants it to be read at the meeting (which may or may not occur, in part or in its entirety, as appropriate under the circumstances), comments shall be limited to no more than 500 words or three minutes as read aloud."  Note that we do not believe that you need to provide the comment or question in writing since that is not required when you attend a meeting. Simply let the town know that you will be speaking and inform them of the topic of your speech.

Remote participation is not always reliable so do be patient
The town is assuming at least two things in moving to this remote mode. One is that the technology is reliable. The other is that people will be sufficiently skilled to be able to comfortably use it.

In the past, the technology has not always been reliable.  Indeed, the last town meeting was supposed to be viewable on line, but it was not.  All we could see was a blank screen. And we have a very high speed internet connection. Most people don't.  Add to this the possibility that the system may crash if there are many viewers. We don't know if there is a backup system.

The other challenge is that most people, especially older folks, are not computer fluent. And it's older people who generally attend these meetings. Participation requires coordination of using a device for viewing and a phone for talking. Sounds simple enough. But our experience with others attempting this is that they simply don't get it right. We imagine also that there will be latency problems; that is, what you see on the screen will not synch with what you hear on the phone.

Regardless of all this.. . show up.. it's our town!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Heather's Corner: An Oro Valley Mom's Perspective on Covid-19

We are pleased to present the following "Special Edition of Heather's Corner." Heather is a freelance writer.  Her column "Heather's Corner" appeared in LOVE from 2014 through 2015. We asked Heather and she so graciously agreed to provide her personal perspective on the impact of Covid-19 on an Oro Valley mom. As usual, beautiful work. Enjoy!
Someone posted on Facebook that the weirdest part of living through this pandemic is the strange mixture of normalcy and emergency and the constant struggle between feeling as though they were either underreacting, overreacting, or a combination of both at all times. So far I have found nothing that resonates more as I spend current days coloring with my children, basking in the Arizona sunshine of my backyard, and keeping an eye on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths tracked thus far in Pima County.

I often wonder how much anxiety I am adding to the lives of my children while having the news cycles on in the background. They seem to be ignorant to the fact, as they make paper flowers and loom band pot holders, that the world is ever changing during this catastrophic event, so on they play. I still hear laughter from them as I chew on the extra skin beside my thumb nail, scrolling through news sites and worrying about how bills will be paid, so all is still good in my world.

My mornings consist of the family check-in between my sister, mother, and I. My sister has the keen sense of limiting news stories for her family but relies on me to tell her the gist of the day while my mom tells me about the latest conspiracy she’s read. We take a walk on the streets of our quaint Oro Valley community, as I look at everyone we pass by like possible carriers. After a snack, we tackle virtual classrooms, chores, and then spend the rest of the day behind the walls of our fortress. Some days I feel like my life is like a wholesome rerun of Family Ties or 7th Heaven and some days, as one Facebook poster shared, I feel like we were dropped on the set of The Hunger Games.

Things I worry about: I worry as I run low on sandwich meat that I will have to go back to the grocery store where staying 6 feet away from shoppers is nearly impossible. I worry whether I should start doing the shopping for my parents, as my mom nears 70 and my father is diabetic, but she insists she is fine. I worry when my children will spend time with their father again, a TMC employee who gave up his “co-parenting time” over concerns he may become infected— he says ‘hi’ to them from my driveway and they wave from the front door but it’s not the same. I worry that as this spreads, one of my loved ones will get sick, or worse. And I worry that all of this worrying is for not.

When I allow myself the brief moments between staying ahead of the headlines and weeding through news stories, I surrender to a new life that has landed in our home; a way of living that is simpler and without expectations or rigorous schedules. Up before sun rise, the struggle to get everybody dressed: “I told you to put your shoes on five minutes ago!” school, work, homework, ballet class, archery, band, birthday parties, clubs, appointments, are all foreign to us now as we navigate the new intensity of a 20-minute game of checkers. Yet from the safety of my home, I watch in awe as the community leaders out there, without the potential of a simplified life, make it possible to thrive: the teachers who have rallied to not skip a beat, the steadfast healthcare providers and grocery store workers, who are undoubtedly also experiencing concern for themselves and their own families. To them I say you deserve our deepest gratitude. I can stay home for you. As you battle on the frontline of this surreal viral apocalypse, (and in the words of Effie Trinket,) “May the odds be ever in your favor!”
Heather Nenadovich is an Oro Valley mom and freelance writer. Her work appeared in LOVE from 2014 through 2015.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Race Is On: Council Candidates File Petitions

The race is on
At least four Oro Valley candidates for council have filed petitions to run for one of the three open town council seats. Each has established a PAC to fund their activities. We understand that the candidates filed petitions that contained signatures well in excess of the required 468.

The next step for them is to organize their campaign and win the hearts of voters before the August 4 primary election. You will be hearing much more from them in the months ahead.

Today, we want to share with your their reaction to the process of getting on the ballot.

Candidate Tim Bohen
"As a first time candidate, the process of getting on the August primary ballot has been a great learning experience. We have met many Oro Valley residents and they have shared their concerns with us.

The Town Staff we have interfaced with were knowledgeable and capable of clearly explaining what is required.

I want to share with LOVE readers that the process of running for Town Council is daunting but also viable with the support of a motivated campaign team."

Candidate Bill Garner
"For myself the process was fairly easy and very smooth. I was instructed to go into the council chambers room where table and chairs were set-up for me to sit at while reviewing my paperwork. There were two clerks present with Mike Standish handling the documents and Michele Stine taking care of counting and copying.

They counted the ballots on the council dais with table tents indicated with numbers one to ten simulating totals on each petition sheet. Mike placed the sheets in each pile according to numbers on each petition then added them up by starting at table tent number ten and working down to number one.

I knew my count going into the room and told Mike in advance and the count was correct after verification or a total of 676.

I had a couple of questions and they were answered and I was given my copies with time stamps and I was on my way."

Candidate Harry "Mo" Greene
"The Town Clerk Michael Standish and his assistant Michelle Stine made the signature procurement very clear and totally understandable. Michael had prepared briefing books for anyone contemplating running for Town Council. The manuals were clear and concise.

As someone new to the political scene Mr. Standish was a tremendous help.

Using his guidance and the manual we had no missteps. My campaign volunteers fanned out and obtained the near maximum signatures in an amazingly short period of time.

The bonus of the process is being able to talk with the voters and learn about their concerns. It was truly energizing.

I am looking forward to the campaign and the election."

Other candidates: Incumbents Bill Rodman and Steve Solomon
At least one of these incumbents filed their nomination petitions as of this past Friday. We are assuming that the other will file shortly.

The race is on!