Tucson City Hall

Tucson City Hall, including the art piece of the Mormon Battalion in downtown Tucson.

The city is giving police officers the authority to do much more than give drivers caught drag racing on Tucson streets a ticket.

The police can now impound vehicles caught drag racing thanks to a vote Wednesday night by the Tucson City Council. The new ordinance goes into effect immediately.

The Tucson Police Department asked for more power to address the issues, describing a dangerous situation on the east side — although illegal street races have been held in other parts of the city.

Street racing remains a Class 1 misdemeanor for drivers.

City Councilman Paul Cunningham said the city needed stronger enforcement measures to deter racers.

“We are in situations where people were getting ticketed for street racing and racing again 45 minutes later,” he said. “Worse, we had a person who was arrested for street racing three or four times and still was racing on a suspended license.

“The most effective way to prohibit someone from street racing is to take their car.”

In 2012, an 18-year-old woman was killed near Gates Pass after the vehicle she was in lost control during a drag race and rolled over.

Access Tucson building is sold for $2.5 million

The council also approved selling the former Access Tucson building and an adjacent parking lot downtown for $2.5 million.

Built as the Tucson Veterans of Foreign Wars building at 124 E. Broadway near Sixth Avenue, the city opted to sell the 68-year-old, 13,720-square-foot building and a 4,235-square-foot parking lot just west of the building last year.

ZFI Acquisitions, managed by Zach Fenton and Benjamin Pozez, bid $500,000 over the city’s minimum asking price for the property.

The sale comes with one rather serious caveat — the city wants to place a historic preservation and conservation restrictions on the sales terms, preventing the two-story structure built for the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1948 from being torn down by the buyer.

Changes would be OK
on building’s interior

The restriction would also limit changes to the exterior of the building, but would allow interior changes.

The city acquired the building in 1991 and the adjacent parking lot in 1998.

The building, where the second-floor ballroom was converted into two film-production studios, was occupied by the Access Tucson and Channel 12 staff, but the city closed the facility after giving a media contract to Creative Tucson in 2015.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.