December 2017

Minutes Date: 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Full Text: 

Treasurer’s Report

Still $1446.01 in the account, but next month there will be a withdrawal of $150.

Announcements

If you enjoyed the food from the special meeting, contact Joy V. Catering

Discussion of pad proposal for Maloney’s parking lot on January 3rd at 5:30pm at 4th Ave Merchants Association.

Library will send representatives to neighborhood meetings in other downtown neighborhood associations to have a focus group with local residents about events and programs. Kingston Trio is playing in February at the Fox.

Yesterday there was a random solstice group that walked around and sang songs and handed out cookies.
Originate is hosting rammed earth workshops three weekends in a row starting January 12th (Friday to Sunday). Participants can attend a weekend or all nine days. It is $65 per day, $195 per weekend and a discounted rate for the full 9 days.

11th Ave Project

Different ideas were presented at a special neighborhood meeting. All houses on 11th Ave between Speedway and 2nd had another opportunity to provide feedback but did not offer additional comments.

The committee added information based on the special meeting. Brad Lancaster added further comments. The committee put together a points system and 250 points are possible (though it would be difficult to do all components). The committee proposes a 75-point minimum to be approved.

Ezra presented on the contents of the current design guidelines

Preferred characteristics include: Shorter timeline, front porches, accessible paths in front, preserving trees in the front, deep set windows, masonry, adobe, green building, active water housing, dark sky compliant lighting, variety of details, zero onsite parking or angled parking, integral stucco, color variety, low front yard fencing, native plants, and curb cuts.

Mandatory characteristics include 1500 square feet maximum, 3-bedroom maximum, passive water harvesting, no EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finishing System), and no invasive species.

Not preferred characteristics include: row houses, rear garages, front parking on the lot, and chain link fences. The most contentious issue was affordable housing. The committee has settled on 75% minimum affordable housing and the preference would be 100% affordable housing. The preference would be affordability in perpetuity.

There was a list from many years ago about this project and the current proposal is very consistent with prior neighborhood conversations and agreements. Natasha shared a few items from that list.

Glenn asked about number of units. The committee responded that seven would be the minimum. There was discussion about a maximum number of units. Eventually the neighborhood agreed on a maximum of 12 units. Glenn asked about the definition of workforce or affordable. HUD’s definition is based on 80% of area median income. In Tucson, that would be about $45,000 household income. HUD allows for up to 30% of income spent on housing. The association assented to the HUD definitions. Glenn suggested not using the term “workforce” because it refers to higher income housing.

There will be a vote at January meeting on the cost burden of the housing relative to income. Glenn asked about porch size. Glenn suggested specifying that the porch be a minimum of five-foot depth. Glenn asked about a minimum square footage. The city requirement is a minimum of 400 square feet. Glenn asked about the setback and Ezra clarified the 10-foot setback would work with the other requirements. Karen thanked the subcommittee for their hard work.

Glenn said that the proposal looks very useful. The only consideration is that the first bullet point says that the design must be approved by the neighborhood. Glenn suggested softening the language, since the city would not want to cede complete control to the neighborhood. He will notify the neighborhood if that section has to be edited.

Matt asked about the developer approval process. Glenn clarified that the developer would put together a proposal to meet the financing and design requirements. That proposal is scored but the Director of the Housing and Community Development Department still has the final decision. Natasha reminded Glenn that the neighborhood would like representatives on the panel. The panel makes a recommendation to the director who makes a decision. The director generally follows the panel recommendation. If the director were to make a decision that were problematic, the neighborhood could reach out to Mayor and Council to ask the City Manager to recommend a different action.

Applicants would present their plans at an open house before moving forward with the selection process. There are several options for open houses. Comments at the open house would be included in the scoring. It is in the developers’ interest to reach out to the neighborhood early in the process. Ezra asked about lessons from Menlo Park. Glenn responded that he is trying to learn those lessons, be transparent, and not give false expectations.

Glenn said the point system seems like it would be helpful. There were some requests that were encouraged but didn’t involve points, which could be tiebreaker components.

It could be that a high scoring proposal does not look good on its face. Ezra asked what influence the neighborhood has in that process. Glenn responded that the only way to overcome a clear winner would be to cancel the whole RFP. Cancelling the process would be a huge hassle.

Tom Warn has expressed an interest in the 11th Ave parcel. Picklet and Habitat for Humanity have also expressed interest.

Low Whistle Zone

As part of Downtown Links, there is a proposal to create a low whistle zone. There was discussion about a safety issue. If the gates malfunction or there is a person or animal on the tracks, the train will blow the horn. The new gates will completely close the street.

M(Karen)/S(Sky)/A. Motion to write a letter in support of a low whistle zone. The motion passed with ten votes in favor and none in opposition.

Letter to Dunbar Coalition

There have been ongoing concerns about barber college students parking improperly and leaving trash on the street. A neighbor talked to Tio about the concerns and received a seemingly inappropriate response. Karen expressed concerns about the heavy handedness of sending a letter. She suggested going to the Dunbar Coalition in person first and the concerned neighbor agreed that would be a good next step. Karen asked the neighbor to take photos if issues continued to arise.

Lisa mentioned that there was no backlash at the Dunbar School meeting when the issue was raised. There were concerns from Tio that someone else threw trash into the area. Barbea and Tio promised to talk to their communities again.

Recap of Home Tour

The home tour went well and there was good attendance from new people. Weather was perfect. The information is accessible via computer and smartphone. Karen asked Sky to put a more prominent link on the home page. Karen also suggested having a printable version. The Pima County Historic Society and West University both have funds to support this kind of project. The money would be used to pay a professional with graphic design experience to do the map and to pay for printing.

There are still details to figure out such as which houses to include. Expanding the time horizon would be interesting, but it might dramatically expand the number of items on the map. The process could take more than a year, so the map could just be the centennial of whenever it is completed.

John added that some of these questions would be best directed at the graphic designer chosen for the project. There are similar projects, such as the Sunshine Mile.

M(Karen)/S(Natasha)/A. Motion to apply for a grant to create a printable map of historical homes in the neighborhood. Motion passed with 11 in favor.

Verizon Update

There is a Mayor and Council meeting tomorrow to consider the Verizon cell phone tower. The topic will be item nine. Anyone interested in speaking can fill out a comment card. There is a five-minute comment session. Health concerns cannot at all be mentioned. Mayor and Council intend to deny because Verizon has not proved a gap in coverage and because the lack of interest in considering other locations. There is room in the agenda for an executive session that would allow Mayor and Council to check with the lawyer on the appropriate language for the denial.

Some staff discussed Mayor and Council approving the tower but placing a condition on the approval. Karen did a straw poll to the neighborhood of the question. She expressed concern about how the condition would be enforced. There was opposition to this idea amongst those in attendance at the meeting.

If the project is turned down, Verizon could appeal to Federal court. City officials and Councilmembers have been surprised that the zoning examiner denied the request. Matt said it is surprising that the reasons for denial by Mayor and Council are apparently unrelated to the zoning review.

The special exception was necessary because it did not meet the distance requirements from the single family homes.

If Mayor and Council deny the application, then Verizon could change the plans and propose again. There are some proposals that the neighborhood could be interested in.

Sky expressed that Verizon will probably continue to persist so it is troubling to give up our leverage. Natasha reported that at the zoning examiner’s meeting, the zoning examiner asked about alternatives if the project were not approved and the engineer suggested smaller towers along Stone. Sky doubted the likelihood of Verizon pursuing that alternative. There was some discussion about under what contexts the neighborhood would have leverage over future proposals.

Sky proposed for asking for a specific condition. Sky said that perhaps after denial they will reconsider our asks but it might be reasonable to have a condition on the approval. Karen and others expressed opposition to that idea. There was further discussion about strategy and alternatives. Sky expressed the importance of not sitting back after the denial. Ezra affirmed that we should run through some scenarios.

Committee Updates

DNARC – There was a presentation from Living Streets about Complete Streets and the ask for the city Department of Transportation to design streets that are comfortable for everyone. There is no historic preservation officer currently at the city so the neighborhoods need to be aware of requirements and proactive. City wants to sell triangle in Barrio Anita but the only access is a one-way, dead end street. The neighborhood wants a community center and the city wants a commercial property. At the January DNARC meeting there will be a discussion on the topic, because Barrio Anita needs to be reinstated as a neighborhood. Menlo Park heard about a bike park proposal for the base of A Mountain and some neighbors oppose because it is on a site where there was supposed to be a historical museum.

Downtown Links – New person in charge will be at the January meeting.

WAMO – No updates

Neighborhood Garden – No updates.

Dunbar Coalition – The Coalition has drafted a letter of agreement for Debi Chess-Mabie’s new paid position as a community impact fellow. Lisa will share to the listserv for neighborhood feedback.

Speedway/Stone Parcel – No update

11th Ave Parcel – See above

Walkability – Need to check in on the Main Ave road diet. Some improvements made on the east side of 11th Ave.

Neighborhood Foresters - Neighborhood Foresters cleaned up several chicanes this past weekend and planted additional plants around 11th and 1st. There will be a pruning workshop February 10th.

November Meeting Minutes

M(Karen)/S(Sky)/A. Motion to approve the November minutes with an edit of changing Barbius to Barbia Williams. Motion passed by unanimous assent.