Armory Park Commentary & News

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Support Steve K for City Council


Need a reason to support Steve K for Ward 6 City Council?

How about $230,000,000 reasons?

When Steve took office the city was actively trying to build a Tucson Convention Center Hotel.

“The Tucson Convention Center renovation and expansion, headquarters hotel, and associated parking garage collectively comprise what may be the largest public works project the City undertakes in our lifetimes. Because the Rio Nuevo District is unable to financially carry the project, city taxpayers will be asked (through City-backed bonds) to backstop over $230 million in debt.” (Inside Tucson Business)

Steve said NO.

“In his first term on the Tucson City Council, Kozachik has been remarkably effective.  He was barely in office when he led the charge to cancel the plans for a major downtown Tucson hotel.” (The Tucson Weekly, April 4, 2013)

What could have happened if Steve hadn’t stopped the hotel?  Tucson could be in the trouble that Phoenix faces.

“The (Phoenix) Sheraton opened in the midst of the Great Recession and struggled to make money…City staff members estimate total losses of about $45 to $50 million on the hotel. Phoenix previously had reported losses of $29 million since the hotel opened in 2008. The city also provided the hotel corporation with about $14 million over the past decade.” (AZ Central 2016)

So… $230 million reasons PLUS another $50 million reasons.

Still need another reason to support Steve K?  He makes the tough decisions. Share this with your friends.


Among the few complaints I have living in Armory Park is the obscure, complicated and uncertain process for obtaining historic review and approval of a project for repair or addition to my property. Information has not been readily available though in some cases helpful information does exist. A brochure published by our neighborhood association in 1990 is one such. While it can be very helpful for those unfamiliar with historic preservation, remember that these are guidelines while definitive direction can only come from city code or decisions by the appropriate city officials. Here is the information extracted from that brochure:


“ A fine old building is a special thing. It possesses qualities unmatched in new construction: qualities both tangible and intangible.

Such a building demonstrates that quality of design and craftsmanship knows no time limit. It brings a sense of comfort from awareness of the passage of time.

The house becomes a point of reference in . today’s rapidly changing society. Together with other buildings of other periods, it becomes a record of community development.

An old house, well maintained, is a source of pride not only for the owner but for the entire community.”

Quote courtesy of Tucson Preservation Primer, U of A College of Architecture, 1979.

Historic Zone Map from Brochure

Consider these questions as you develop your proposed plans:

  1. Are exterior alterations and changes kept to a minimum?
  2. Do plans fit the structure’s original design?
  3. Do plans relate compatibly to the surroundings?
  4. Are changes visible from the street side(s) kept to a minimum?
  5. Are original building materials maintained and/or exposed?
  6. Are all materials appropriate to the building and to the neighborhood?
  7. Are the original sizes and shapes of window and door openings maintained?
  8. Are original and distinctive architectural details kept?
  9. Are traditional views unobstructed by proposed walls, fencing or landscaping?

Your participation in the design review process insures the preservation of the original architectural character for which Armory Park is known.

Cooperation and early dialog can frequently eliminate frustration stemming from the misinterpretation of the ordinance and review procedures.

The Armory Park Neighborhood was designated as Tucson’s first Historic District in 1976. A city zoning ordinance was written to preserve property values, provide for future development and to promote an awareness of the heritage of Tucson among both residents and visitors to the community.

The Armory Park Historic Zone Advisory Board was created by the ordinance to help preserve the historic character of the neighborhood by reviewing and encouraging good design. The Advisory Board consists of property owners, residents, and experts nominated by neighborhood residents and property owners and appointed by the Mayor and Council. The Board provides the resources, expertise, advice and guidance necessary to preserve the original appearance and intention of the homes and neighborhood setting of Armory Park.

All plans involving the construction of a new building or addition, or the modification, moving or demolition of existing structures within the Historic Zone must be reviewed by this board, and the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, and be approved by the Planning Director. 


  • Keep additions simple and appropriate in size, shape, material, color and detail.
  • Do not disturb the street side(s) of existing buildings.Place additions to the rear. This includes new rooms, porch steps and stairs.


  • All windows and doors should conform to the original size, style and materials.
  • Maintain the original doors and windows and the size, shape and placement of openings.
  • Flush doors and sliding glass doors are not appropriate; do not use aluminium windows, doors or screen frames.
  • Security bars should be simple and not dominate the building. Bars should follow the lines of the window; bars should be mounted inside the window opening, rather than on the surface of the building.


  • Use the same or similar materials to repair or replace brick, stucco or stone. Match as closely as possible the color, texture and composition of the original.
  • Do not tise exposed concrete block as a substitute for brick or adobe.
  • If used for new construction, concrete block must be stuccoed. Color may be added to the stucco or it may be painted.


  • New construction need not copy existing structures but should be compatible with surrounding historic buildings and streetscapes.


  • Maintain original chimneys, even if unused.
  • If repairs are necessary, match original material, color, shape and brick pattern as closely as possible.


  • Alteration of the roof line is discouraged.
  • White roofing shingles are inappropriate.
  • Rolled roofing is discouraged on surfaces visible from the street.


  • Maintain original porches.
  • Retain as much of the original material and ornamentation as possible if repair is necessary.
  • Front porches should not be enclosed as rooms. If possible, such rooms should be removed and porches restored.
  • Do not use wrought iron columns, steel pipe columns or horizontal railings.


  • Do not remove original architectural detail: even the simplest details contribute to the character of your building.
  • If replacement is necessary, select details used on similar houses, and duplicate size, placement and quantity.


  • Historic structures, including garages, sheds and outbuildings should not be removed.
  • Buildings should not be allowed to deteriorate.
  • Proposed demolition requires review and approval of the Planning Director.


  • Swamp coolers, air conditioners, water heaters, metal turbine and roof vents, furnaces, electrical equipment, solar panels, catwalks, satellite dishes, disks and antennas, as well as skylights, should not be visible from the street.


  • Walls and fences should be appropriate to the style and age of the house.
  • The height of your fence should not obstruct the public view of buildings.
  • Do not use chain link, unpainted redwood, rough cedar, stockade, post & rail or concrete block fences for the street side(s) of a property.


  • Landscaping should respect the historic period of the neighborhood as well as the architectural style of the structure, and not obstruct the public view of the building.


  • Locate off-street parking to the side or rear of the building, not in front.
  • Parking lots and commercial parking areas should be screened.


  • A sign should be compatible with its historic, setting.
  • Monument signs are inappropriate. 

Thanks to Kathleen Koopman for the original design of the attractive original brochure.

As more useful information becomes available regarding the historic review process, it will be published on these pages.

Caution: The brochure and its contents were not approved by the Mayor and Council so do not have the force of city law as does the official city code. It is, however, still a useful guide to historic preservation in Armory Park and to the likely thinking of the APHZAB as that body considers your proposed project. The above content was extracted verbatim from the brochure but could still have editing errors. I hope the information is helpful but the decision to rely on any part of this article is entirely the responsibility of the person contemplating a project.

I Support Steve Kozachik

Some time back, I decided to generally stay away from partisan politics on these pages. I still intend to do that except in local elections that have a direct bearing on Armory Park. We are in Ward 6 and Steve K is our council member. He is also one of the most thoughtful and articulate among the council members. He has a solid record of supporting neighborhoods against the many threats from government and economic interests. Consequently, I will be republishing some of his campaign items here. This is the first:

Dear friends,

During the 2013 campaign season I sent out weekly emails as a way of keeping the people informed as to positions and causes I was advocating on behalf of, and inviting them to join me in that work. I believe it’s important to begin that way of connecting with you once again.

The jobs we do at the City Council are serious business. These aren’t hobbies. They take people who will invest the time and energy to study every individual issue and policy we’re considering, and cast an informed vote every time. We craft important public policy, and we defend the values that define Tucson for what we are. Each of us running for Tucson City Council owes you the commitment that as members of the Tucson governing body the message must be Tucson First. That’s my commitment to you as this campaign season begins in earnest. And I will hold every candidate accountable for making that same commitment.

And in fairness to the voters and residents of Ward 6, it’s important you learn from the guy who just filed to run against me where he stands on issues. This photo is from his front yard in the Peter Howell neighborhood – taken during the recent presidential campaign. Note the Trump yard sign. More on that below.

Going forward I’ll make these emails topical and focused – and much briefer than my newsletters. But to kick off these campaign communications I think it’s important to lay the foundation for what the upcoming campaign season should demand of any candidate who runs – regardless of party, and regardless of which ward seat they’re pursuing.

A few examples: coming from Trump and Congress are direct challenges to our local economy, environment and cultural identity. Each of us running for Tucson City Council will either own the Trump agenda as it relates to the wall, cutting ties with our neighbors and friends in Mexico, evisceration of environmental regulations, defunding the arts, support for the needy, and community revitalization – or we will very vocally commit to fighting the Trump agenda in defense of Tucson and the values for which we stand.

Coming from the state legislature are challenges to our local sovereignty and decision making authority. Consider that during the current legislative session there have been 14 bills proposed, each of which would chip away at our Charter authority. We just finished arguing in front of the state supreme court to defend those rights. Each of us running for the Tucson City Council will either own the state agenda of attacking Home Rule, or we will commit to fighting bills that would steal our local ability to set policy consistent with our local values.

You know my consistent advocacy on behalf of the City of Tucson and you, my neighbors. If you’d like to learn how solidly my potential opponent stands behind his yard sign and party affiliation, send him an email and demand to know if it’s the Trump agenda he’s running on, or Tucson values. Ask if he’ll defend our Charter and Home Rule when challenged by the state legislature, or if he’s in their pocket. You can reach him at rodriguez4council@gmail.com.

Share this and his responses with your friends and neighbors. If he chooses to continue with a campaign for the Tucson City Council, you deserve to know whose values he intends to defend. Ours, or Trump’s.

APNA Board, Good Stuff and Some Not So

The good stuff:  The July meeting began with various news items and updates on efforts by committees. The new market rate rentals you may have seen in the news are quite pricy. They rent in a range of $2.20 to $2.50 per square foot or more and units are generally 1,000 square feet or less. You might expect to pay $2,500 monthly for a thousand square footer. These high prices translate to increasing property values for us owners in Armory Park. Also, property owners are also more likely to maintain their properties well to retain their value. The downside is that renters can expect to pay more in the future and it will be too expensive for many downtown workers to live near their work.

The board is updating its address list for AP property owners. They will be surveyed regarding their sidewalk repair needs. There was also discussion concerning accessibility issues where some sidewalks cross minor avenues. Minor asphalt placement can resolve those issues and some have had success in getting pothole patching crews to do a fix. In the same discussion, concern was expressed that the city may want to narrow our wide streets and avenues to allow for diagonal parking as has been done on 12th, 13th and 14th Streets. This would detract from the residential and historic character of our neighborhood. This is something to be watching for.

The June Porch Party was a great success and lead planner DeeDee Means was complemented by the group. Donna and I enjoyed the chance to visit with neighbors and all seemed to have a good time. The next party will be 6:00 – 8:00 PM on Tuesday, July 25th at the same location, 505 S 6th Avenue. Because the time covers most people’s dinner hour, there will be some plan for food at this event. We hope to see you there.

Plans are coming together for another ice cream social, probably the first week in September at the Johnny Gibson’s patio. We went to the last one and really enjoyed it.

The Baffert project (6th Avenue and 18th Street) may be coming close to an agreement among the developer, city staff and community leaders. The main issue is still the height of the proposed building and the relationship of the property to the HPZ.

Mark your calendar for the Amory Park home tour on Sunday, 12 November. The last tour introduced the community to Donna and me and led to the purchase of our home here. It is a great event to foster our sense of community while introducing new people to the neighborhood.

Not so good:  There was extensive discussion of the historic review requirements and how they should be applied. Even among the very knowledgeable individuals present there could be no definitive agreement about what would be a minor repair not requiring a historic review. The subject has many areas that are very subjective and vague. It is not even clear how a property owner should get a ruling as to whether an application should be made for historic review. Since even a minor review costs time and money, nobody wants to do one if not required. The burden for fixing this problem lies entirely with city government, hopefully under pressure from our neighborhood organizations and individuals. Michael Means and I plus a few others are working on this subject and are now collecting facts to support specific changes to practices at the city Planning & Development Services Department (PDSD). If you have had problems getting through the historic review process, we need to hear the facts of your experience. Drop me an email at ken@kmtaylor.com if you can help.  We want to support historic preservation but the process can be much easier and quicker.


June APNA Meeting

I was unable to attend this meeting so Karen Olson took very detailed notes. Many other details will appear in the meeting minutes and I will only extract some items of general interest for this article.

Home tour chair Anne Cooper reported that the tour is up to 12 houses. Bring’s Funeral Home will serve drinks at 3 p.m. Exo Coffee is also partnering with us. Phyllis Factor said that she will run the bake sale again. Anne’s husband will do a poster. There are some artists who would be interested in doing open studio. Everyone was supportive of including them in the home tour. November 12 is the date and Anne is working hard on getting really old homes and those that haven’t been on the tour before.

Outreach chair DeeDee Means arranged a BYOB porch fest. She wants to do this as a monthly event. Anne encouraged everyone to go to these events. The date was June 29, 6-8 pm. The event was well attended. Donna and I were there and enjoyed visiting with our neighbors. If you didn’t come, you should attend one of the upcoming events.

The Baffert Mixed Use Building project at 5-Points has been a regular topic of conversation at previous meetings. The developer sent a proposal to APNA President John Burr and Steve Kozachik’s office. John met the developer and discussed a compromise; he asked the board for feedback that he was going along the right path. This is the first proposal that agrees to a complicated donut style zoning to keep the property in the HPZ. A 44-foot building is proposed. The height and overhanging porches are important issues for the developer. John is pursuing some other zoning options and expects to come back for a neighborhood meeting. John wants to help with working things out with some of the immediate neighbors. He’s agreeing to do 1:1 parking for apartments, but there will not be any for the business. John has been diplomatic with the developer who now seems to be in a cooperative mood. John would like to allow everyone who’s directly affected to publicly comment before this is approved. Mark Crum commended John for all his work on this, which he has been doing very quietly.

John talked to Donovan Durband, Parkwise Administrator, and he said there has been no recent special enforcement. Two recent issues from our listserv: The ticket for the woman parking on her property would be dismissed. The woman who parked the wrong way on her street for a week will keep her ticket. John has a list of the type of parking violations that have occurred over the last couple of years. On 4th, 6th and Stone Avenues, and parts of 18th Street, for example, people are not allowed to park within 30 feet of stop signs.

John pointed out that any emergency repair costing less than $1500 requires a minor review (if it is visible from the street). Over time the permitting process evolved into a source of revenue. This is why the city charges a fee for minor repairs and permits. The fees and a confusing process may discourage property owners from properly maintaining their buildings. The Armory Park historic board is urged not to report people for simple repair jobs. This policy has been part of the code for many years. President John Burr will speak to Mr. Ortega, city manager, and ask a more reasonable standard to be applied.

My proposal to post banners on fences to remind of upcoming meetings was discussed. The consensus was that it would be a waste of money as most people are just not interested in coming to meetings. I feel that we must do what we can to inform our residents of the important community meetings and some may choose to attend. I have spent a little of my money to purchase some sample banners so we can see if they encourage any more participation. I need a couple of people to volunteer a 2’ by 4’ space on their front fence to place a banner a week before an APNA or APHZAB meeting.

Johnny Gibson’s has agreed to be the host site for the ice cream social again. APNA will pay for ice cream. September is likely month for the ice cream social. Paul at Johnny Gibson’s has been very helpful.

Many items were discussed at this meeting and I am sorry that I missed it. Thanks for your notes Karen. I will be at all future meetings possible and hope you will be there too.

Historic Process Needs Improvements

At the June APHZAB meeting, the first item addressed was the roof replacement I commented on in a recent post here. The proposed re-roofing was recommended for approval and that there should be no fine levied. There was a lot of discussion regarding the reasoning for the requirement that re-roofing have a minor historic review. Roof coverings should resemble. where practical and visible from the street, the roofing materials used when the structure was constructed.

Later in the meeting there was considerable discussion about how the review of minor items might be simplified. It became evident that there is no clear understanding of which items of property repair might require a minor review.

I have been attending APHZAB meetings for the last several months and it seems that the board does a good job at reviewing proposed projects. What is missing is communications with community residents and with city officials in matters that would facilitate compliance with historic rules and ease the very challenging administrative process. For example, a flowchart or checklist of all required historic review steps could reduce the many trips now required to the building department. A reasonably definitive list of those projects (repairs?) requiring reviews could avoid another unintentional violation such as addressed earlier in the meeting.

My own major review of a carport project about a year ago was extremely frustrating and might be a good example of the current situation. I proposed to erect a pre-engineered carport at the rear of the house and invisible from any major street. It took five trips to the city offices to complete the stack of papers required. At each visit, I was told only of one requirement with another raised at each subsequent visit. Finally, my frustration overcame me and I asked Mr. Taku to be more helpful. He sorted through my stack of documents in five minutes and the package was complete. I then submitted the ten copies of the documents folded as I understood the complex city folding protocol.

Imagine my surprise when at my APHZAB major review the board had none of the ten copies I had submitted. Fortunately I brought along enough documentation for the board to understand and approve of my project. I was told that the absence of documents from the city is the norm.I found the APHZAB and the City/County review board to be very reasonable and easy to work with. I cannot say the same for the city staff which was very unhelpful and wasteful of my time and theirs. I have since done a minor review for some window awnings and saw no improvement on the part of city staff. I usually attend these community meetings to observe and report, not to comment. This time I could not contain myself and gave feedback from the perspective of a review applicant. Though the APHZAB does its primary task well, communication could be greatly improved. Here are some suggestions:

  • Meetings are only held when there is business to be conducted but notifications could be placed on the listserv as soon as it is known that there will be a meeting. This would remind interested residents to attend.
  • The board could demand that city staff provide some of the many copies of documents submitted by applicants for use by the board and those appearing before it to discuss the proposed project. If city staff is not up to this task, the applicant should be instructed to bring a copy of the package to the reviews.
  • Clearer guidelines of what items will require historic review could help avoid unintentional violations. These guidelines must be published in a visual medium such as a printed or electronically published document.
  • Similarly, a detailed checklist of the required steps, documents and other materials should be made available.
  • Regular explanatory articles of historic zone rules put on the APNA website could also help.

It is human nature for people not to like being required to ask permission to do something with their homes. It is even more unwelcome when they are told that something desired will not be approved. Both of these will sometimes be unavoidable to preserve the historic character of our neighborhood. I respect the people who are willing to take on this sometimes unpleasant task by serving on the APHZAB. I only ask that the process be improved so that it will be as palatable as possible.

If you have suggestions for ways the historic review process could be improved, please post a comment or send me an email at blog@kmtaylor.com.

Historic Review Controversy

Most of you have probably seen the conversation on our listserv regarding roof replacements and historic zone approval. The general subject of the conversation touches on something critically important to Armory Park. It also illustrates the difficulty of resolving differences of opinion, especially when individual freedom of choice is impacted. I feel that preservation of the AP historic character is vital to the future well being of our neighborhood. Without it, AP is just a group of old houses waiting to be demolished so that more profitable large buildings can be built. Nevertheless, reasonable compromise must be sought.

We should use this case to examine how the historic review process can be improved and how the inevitable conflict with individual preferences can be resolved with minimum angst. Here is the motivating comment (emails are in italics, my comments are not):

While walking this morning I ran into a neighbor on 3rd whose roof had just been stripped.

IMG_2477, resized
This is the house with underlayment installed but no shingles.

“I see you’re getting a new roof” I say. “No” she responds. “Well you better” I joke, “because your old one has been torn off.” Then she tells me that everything has been put on hold because she didn’t go through the historic board to have the color of the shingle approved. Someone wanted a darker color for the shingle! What?!?!?! Does the historic board have a say so in roofing color? What about material? Please say it ain’t so!
What do neighbors think?

# # #

Bill – please chime in. My personal experience is that color is not a factor. It most likely is the material choice and that does need to go through the historic board.

# # #

Paradoxical that they’d quibble over roof shingle colors but allow unattractive, unhistorical, new cyclone fencing to be installed at 3rd and 13th.

# # #

No, what she is saying is NOT accurate.  The work was started WITHOUT going thru the Armory Park Historic Zone Advisory Board for review, followed by the review of the Pima County Historical Commission Architecture Committee.  Any work to be done on the outside of property should be brought to the APHZAB before starting.  We’d recommend bringing the ideas (sketches are fine at this point) for plans to the board for an informal review prior to having formal plans drawn.  Some work may just need a minor review which is done on site, but it is necessary to check with the board first.  The chair is Bill Duffy – emailduffy@gmail.com .  

By doing an informal review before having plans drawn can save time and money.  For example, I had a call from a real estate agent a few years ago who had a client who wanted to build a house on stilts in the neighborhood.  The agent was sure it wouldn’t be acceptable, but checked to keep the client happy.  Ask first so plans don’t have to be redone and work doesn’t have to be torn out.

 In the last year, I have had two projects in the historic review process. I have found our APHZAB helpful and reasonable in preparing for the proposed work and in obtaining approval. City staff is another matter. Guidance is obscure and doled out in small doses so that many trips to the building department were required. Communications were poor and required constant pressure from my end. Timelines were never met so the major project (just a pre-engineered carport) approval took three months and the minor project approval took three weeks. A poor administrative process builds resistance to the entire historic review effort. The quality of the city’s historic review process is not the subject here but I will have much more to say about it in the near future. Anyone who would like to be involved in pressing for improvement can email me at ken@kmtaylor.com.

# # #

Just read about the roof color remark and approval by the Historic Board. I had my roof reshingled 2 years ago and went through all approval steps including permits and meeting with members of several “historic” interest groups at my house (I believe a Pima County person was there along with a city official and our neighborhood committee member .)  The shingle color was mentioned. Not wanting a dark color was mentioned, but since my choices were either a light gray or medium gray, the conversation did not go further. I did have to show the committee the shingle in some form. I either had the shingle itself or the company brochure with a small piece of the shingle plus pictures.

There was also a follow up visit to my house after the project was finished by one person. The necessity for this was described in the permit procedure. It took about 2 minutes. 

This example shows that the minor review process for a roof replacement can be a reasonable experience. Some will object to any requirement for approval but I can see no other way to preserve the historic character of our community.

Thank you for this timely reminder about living in the Armory Park Historic Preservation Zone. The Armory Park website has a page with background on our HPZ (https://armoryparktucson.org/historic-zone-advisory-board/). For those who really want to get into the weeds, there is a link at the bottom of that page to the City’s Unified Development Code, which covers HPZs in Section 5.8 of the UDC and Section 9-02.0.0 of the Technical Standards Manual. Section 9- is specific to Armory Park. 

On the immediate issue of roof shingles and their color, the Technical Standards say this about Armory Park: “Rolled roofing, white or light roofing shingles are discouraged on roof surfaces visible from the street.” Standards 9-02.7.2.D.5. Why? Because historically our houses did not have rolled roofing or light-colored shingles. That’s why the City needs to review and approve the property owner’s final choice.
As a general guideline, if you are planning exterior changes to your property (say, new construction, new windows, reroofing, building demolition, fences/walls), and you live within the Armory Park HPZ, ask first about an HPZ review. If somebody starts work on their property without a required HPZ review and approval, City Code Enforcement is likely to show up with a Stop Work order. Nobody wants that.
We have a unique neighborhood in Armory Park. Its HPZ status and the HPZ requirements help us keep it that way. 

This comment is extremely useful but also illustrates some of the problem. The technical standards use the word discouraged, not prohibited. That leaves the matter open to interpretation and debate. I suggest that if you propose a project with any controversial element at all, you should “get into the weeds” to become informed about the exact wording of the relevant city code. It is a challenge because the guidance is spread over several locations on the city website. You will get almost no help from the city staffer responsible for administering the program. The last two paragraphs are important. Almost any project altering the appearance of an Armory Park structure, except paint and landscaping, requires historic review. The city land use code definition of a structure may be helpful: “A physical element constructed or erected with a fixed location on the ground or attached to another physical element having a fixed location at, below, or above grade. Structures include such elements as, but are not limited to, buildings, paved areas, walls, fences, posts, and patios.” So, a storage shed or shade cover which is transportable and not connected to electricity, plumbing or footings, or to a structure as defined above, is not a structure.

The link to the APNA website is useful but the site overall is not an effective communications tool. There has been almost no new content posted there in over a year. People will not follow a website where the content does not change. New material relevant to the intended audience must be added frequently. I have volunteered to administer the site but providing fresh content is the responsibility of others. Board minutes and committee reports would be a good start. Newsy articles and even debates such as we see on the listserv would be even better. I hope some enthusiasm can be worked up for an effort in this area.

# # #

To be fair, what Phyllis replied here is correct.  The person in question did not realize that even if she was replacing an existing shingle roof with shingles that are a very close match in color, that she would have to have permission to do so.  She was given a cease and desist order and the roofers were sent home.  I went with her to see Mr. Taku at the city historic planning.  She was rightly worried that she would not get the review done in time to avoid water damage.  I will give credit to Mr. Taku and Bill Duffy for expediting a minor review.  Mr. Taku did give her permission to have the roofers put on the new tar paper right away to alleviate the concern about water damage.  Our neighborhood level of the review took place in just two days.  She is scheduled for the city wide  part of the review on Tuesday and there should be little problem in getting it approved.  One worrisome issue for her is that Mr. Taku said the city board would have to decide if she is going to be fined for doing work without a permit.

  I would like to raise an issue here based on this experience of a neighbor who is doing a fine job of fixing up a 110 year old house including landscape.  What is the definition of ‘WORK’ on the outside of the house? Mr. Taku explained to her that any work, his words, “even if you are fixing a broken window” requires a review. Is it really as stringent as ‘fixing a broken window’?  Or, another example Mr. Taku gave, ‘changing a light fixture’?  Since even a minor review has the $190+  application fee and two to four hours of work, this is an important distinction.  I submit that it is rather expensive to pay and do that just to fix a broken window.

Do we have a clear definition? 

The practical answer to this question is no. It makes no sense to require a historic review for repairs which do not change the exterior  appearance of a structure. Remember, the historic review fees help to pay Mr. Taku’s salary.

# # #

David brings up an issue that bothered my very much when I was Chair of the Advisory Board.  When I started with the board, about 15 years ago under previous city management, we did not require home owners in our historic district to pay for a review when they were simply repairing and maintaining their houses.  I have fussed about this change to require payment to fix your roof.  If the roof, door, window, or anything else on the exterior is being changed in any way, that obviously needs a review.  However, “fixing a broken window”, replacing a leaking roof with the same material and color is routine maintenance.  Why should those of us living in the historic district have to pay to maintain our houses when others living in most other neighborhoods can  carry out routine maintenance without paying the city for the permission to do so. 

I do think that this needs  to be looked in to.  Change to the exterior of a historic home is one thing.  Routine maintenance is another.  This policy only encourages demolition by neglect. As I said, this was not the way things were done years ago and we still maintained the historic feel of our neighborhood.

# # #

Yes something must be done.  If historic status means we must ask permission, wait for committees to meet, and pay $200.00 to replace a broken window or leaky roof, we may need to rethink that decision.  There has to be a reasonable alternative.  

# # #

In my opinion (and my opinion only), there has been a bit of an overreaction.

# # #

No one here in AP has to undergo any type of inspection to repair a broken window. To replace windows and doors, yes – there is a permitting and inspection process that has been well-established and well managed for many years. And there are very legitimate reasons for this. When we live in a designated historic zone, all homeowners agree to maintain our homes in a style and manner that adheres to the statues. In exchange we receive SUBSTANTIAL tax benefits – to the tune of many thousands of dollars per year. 

To me, adhering to the historic statues is a small price to pay for this tax break. I, for one, am not interested in seeing my tax bill go up by a couple of hundred dollars every month. 

Though I don’t know it for a fact, I imagine that (given the current fiscal climate), the City of Tucson would LOVE to get rid of the AP Historic Designation and receive a hundred thousand or so in additional tax monies per year. If we started pushing back to the City, I can’t imagine they would put up any kind of fight in ridding us of these “onerous” historic regulations. 

Just my $0.02 – but something that MUST be considered.

Preservation of historic structures in our city has value for the entire city as well as for the residents of historic neighborhoods. The tax benefit we property owners enjoy is an incentive to encourage us to maintain the historic character and integrity of our properties.

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Thanks Jean, words worth far more than 2 cents.  My concern is that the person in charge of enforcing the historic zoning for the city does believe we need to have a review for a broken window.  That does bother me.  I would very much like to have our historic board put out a more reasonable definition of what requires approval. 

For the record, I can see and would support saying that re-roofing, even with the same material, would require approval just because it is such a big maintenance procedure.  We would like to see the color be compatible with the neighborhood, no lighter than the many roofs that are light grey. 

A major part of the problem illustrated here is poor communications between our community organizations and residents. This will always be a challenge but additional effort is needed to maintain support for and compliance with our historic review process. The dedicated members of the APHZAB and APNA board are a small circle in limited contact with other AP residents. I certainly wish residents would be proactive in learning about community matters but as a practical matter, the burden is on us. When I say us, I mean both of these organizations and those others of us who care about our community. I started this blog as a small effort to build community dialog but much more is needed.

If you want to add something to this discussion, please leave a comment. Also, participate on the listserv. It reaches more AP residents than any other medium.

The Lee-Cutler House

Lee-Cutler House, 620 South Third Street

620 S 3RDa
Photo by Ken Taylor

This is the sixth and last in the series of articles about homes highlighted in the armory park:74 ff study which formed the basis for creation of the Armory Park Historic Preservation Zone. I will be doing more pieces on Armory Park history and historic homes as I can gather information from the study and other sources.

620 S 3RD sketch
Sketch by John Cataldo


The Lee-Cutler House, dating from 1915/16, is characteristic of the Queen Anne Style. The turret at the front (a feature of the later phase of Queen Anne) is a strong exterior design element of the house and is carried to the inte­rior in the form of a semicircular bow for the living room. Irreg­ularity of massing is echoed in the complexity of roof lines. Brick walls rest on stone foun­dations and are highlighted with salmon-colored-stone belt coursing. The gable ends are filled with stucco. A classical Paladian motif occupies the south gable as an attic

Photo by Stephen Sinex

ventilator. Front and rear porches are employed in a typical fashion.

©1974 College of Architecture, University of Arizona

620 S 3RDc2
Original floor plan by Gary Carlough

The McGinty-Laos House

McGinty-Laos House, 647 South 4th Avenue

This is the fifth in the series of articles extracted from the armory park:74 ff study which647 S 4TH formed the basis for creation of the Armory Park Historic Preservation Zone. I am particularly fond of this house since I see it every day and its restoration was the work of Annie Laos and her family. I did a previous piece in the People & Places category with less of an architectural emphasis. You can fine that article here: Historic Gem on S. 4th.

647 S 4th 3a
Photo by Stephen Sinex

The McGinty-Laos House (1897)-can be referred to as being in the Anglo-Territorial style as it dates from the territorial period and exhibits definite Anglo influences. Verandas and porches face the south and west fronts and the east rear, tying the irregular plan into a unified massing. All this is capped with a dominant pyramidal roof form having additional gables projecting over plan projections on the south and west. There are many Queen Anne characteristics, such as the bay window of the living room. The wood porch displays simple Doric-like

647 S 4th 3b
Photo by Stephen Sinex

turned posts and no railing. Window openings have segmental arched heads while the doors are flat headed. The house was one of the first in Tucson to be mechanically equipped with a central cooling system. The interior exhibits a wealth of elaboration in Victorian wood detailing and appropriate furnishing. Today the residence is well maintained and displays all the charm, as well as the accumulation of nostalgia, characteristic of the Victorian era.

©1974 College of Architecture, University of Arizona


647 S 4th floor plan
Original floor plan by Gary Carlough