Many unhappy with city's statement of goals

2013-06-12T00:00:00Z Many unhappy with city's statement of goalsDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A little-known state mandate that cities adopt a new general plan every 10 years is causing some residents' blood pressure to skyrocket.

Every 10 years, the Legislature requires municipalities to produce a document outlining their long-range goals and objectives and place them before the voters for approval. The city's last plan was adopted in 2001.

On Tuesday, the City Council heard dozens of complaints during a public hearing on the new plan, which it is considering putting to a vote in November.

Amid public uproar, the city's Planning Commission voted 7-3 last week to recommend against putting the current draft plan to a vote, stating there wasn't enough community support for it to pass this year.

Neighborhood groups are upset that the document doesn't address noise and other issues surrounding Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

"We are concerned about the health, safety and welfare of the city residents adjacent to and under the flight paths," said Robin Gomez, a midtown resident. "Future missions and assignments need to take into consideration the urban locations and ensure adequate public input, and take on more public input."

D-M officials want to see stronger language affirming the city's cooperation on future issues.

The business community claims the document is light on economic development objectives and heavy on feel-good social and environmental ones.

Tucson Metro Chamber president and CEO Mike Varney said it's clear the plan shortchanges business growth and expansion.

"A scan of just the table of contents shows that the economic aspect of this plan is woefully inadequate," he said. "If adopted as is, the city of Tucson will have a warm and fuzzy wish list with no way to pay for the items on the list."

Others, such as Dave Devine, are troubled by unattainable, utopian goals, such as creating a "community where no one lives in poverty" or "a community that is healthy physically, mentally, economically and environmentally."

Devine said the eliminating poverty entirely is a tall order for an area whose poverty rates only increase over the years.

Not everyone denounced the plan. Tucson resident Ron Proctor said reducing pollution and other environmental polices were worthy guidelines and might create a more sustainable city.

Deadlines looming

The council must vote at its July 9 meeting on whether or not to place the measure on the fall ballot.

The state extended the deadline to approve new plans until 2015. If the city is forced to hold a special election later to make that deadline, it could cost taxpayers anywhere from $350,000 to $800,000 more.

That's a lot of extra money and effort for a document with minimal policy implications, Councilman Steve Kozachik said.

"We have not referred to that document one time over the last four years when discussing policy issues," Kozachik said. "Let's remember that the only reason we're doing this is because the state is mandating it."

Even though there's a section in the plan calling for it to become an integral part of the mayor and council's decision-making over the next 10 years, it is not a binding document.

"It's not a collection of regulations," City Attorney Mike Rankin said. "It is, as the name implies, general, not a specific plan. It is aspirational, stating objectives and policies of the community and it is not regulatory."

The council voted 6-0 to consider the plan again on July 9, after the language is refined.

On StarNet: Go to azstarnet.com/politics to read more about local and state government and political news.

"Future missions and assignments need to take into consideration the urban locations and ensure adequate public input, and take on more public input."

Robin Gomez, a midtown resident, talking about D-M

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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