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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help. We want to support historic preservation but the process can be much easier and quicker.
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.
Even though Donna and I have lived in Armory Park for over a year now, we discover new things about our community almost every day. The latest find is the Zócalo magazine which covers Tucson arts, culture and living. Though coverage is not restricted to the downtown area, many articles and even advertisements are of special interest to those of us who live here. Free copies of the magazine are available at many Tucson businesses. If you want your print copy delivered, for $15, you can subscribe at http://www.zocalomagazine.com/subscriptions/. You can also browse current and past issues at https://issuu.com/zocalomagazine for no cost. There are 11 issues each year.
My first exposure was to the May issue (the latest). Music and other events are well covered with articles also featuring Tucson’s history. I particularly liked the piece on The Old Barrio which covers not only the barrios we see today but also those destroyed in the construction of the convention center. The list of regular features covers many interesting aspects of life in Tucson.
If you want to keep up with the many exciting things happening in Tucson, Zócalo magazine can help you.
I found these notes buried in the “Old Articles” section of the APNA website (ArmoryParkTucson.org) in a November 2014 article. They deserve to be republished for those of us trying to learn more about our community. Thanks to our neighbors for their contributions.
Railroad executives built homes, many of which are on each side of Railroad Street, and were built in the style of the East (Queen Anne, brick) to remind them of home, I suppose. They typically have two front doors, one for the family and the other for an office or for other executives who visited. My house has a dirt basement opening from the outside with ledges built in for the railroad workers to sleep where they would be cooler, if not very comfortable. –Nancy Myers Continue reading “Neighbors History Comments”
I have mentioned the contributions Annie Laos made to historic preservation in our community. Doing some internet research, I came across more information about her role in that effort. These are her words recorded in the Zocalo Magazine (May 9, 2014):
“We’ve lived in Armory Park since 1960 and still live in the same house. It tore me up when I saw them tearing down the barrio to build the convention center. They wanted to do more (destruction), but we stopped them. Mayor Corbett wanted to build the Butterfield Freeway from the airport to the convention center. This would have torn down a large part of Armory Park and Safford and Carrillo schools. One freeway plan also called for elevating the wishing shrine, El Tiradito, up in the air on freeway pylons. Continue reading “Annie: Saving Armory Park”
Some time back I posted a poll asking whether politics should be discussed in this blog. The number of responses was quite small but the comments offered were thoughtful. I asked five questions and I will synopsize the responses.
Should discussion of politics have a place in this blog? Almost all responders said no to this though several said a political discussion in a separate site would be good. One said yes but in a separate section of this blog. Comments indicated concern that political discussions could disrupt the sense of community in Armory Park. Continue reading “No Politics Here”
Spring brings warmer weather and the plants love it. Flowers, shrubs and trees are leafing out and many are blooming. the results are fun to see and enhance the attractiveness of Armory Park. There is a downside though; stop signs get obscured and the sidewalks are sometimes obstructed. Property owners/residents are supposed to maintain the areas between the property line and the curb but that doesn’t always happen. There are a variety of reasons however the work must be done to keep the streets safe and the sidewalks conveniently walkable. Continue reading “Spring Cleaning Mostly Done”
Donna and I are news junkies as well as concerned citizens. As I reflect on the recent months, I wonder if our neighbors are similarly concerned. If so, would they (you) want to have a local place to discuss politics and advocate for a certain point of view.
Disclosure: I am a pragmatic moderate but liberal on social issues. I am not registered with a political party. The blog is likely to reflect my views though I want to include other points of view that are not repugnant.
If you want to express your position, please complete the following survey.