October 2017

Minutes Date: 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Full Text: 

Announcements

Parking request for La Suprema Apartments has already been heard.
Urban Agricultural Amendment has already happened.
November 18th there will be a Neighborhood Foresters tree planting event.
The library is partnering with Ten West Festival– there will be a local author’s mixer, local CD collection kickoff, and the regular mindfulness workshop continues.

There will be trick or treating on the 31st from 5:30pm to 8pm, so sign up if your house is interested. There is also some discussion of a Halloween party at Whistle Stop but that is uncertain.

Treasurer’s Report

Same amount as always in account: $1446.01

Discussion

11th Avenue Presentation/Conversation with Glenn

There have been discussions about the parcel and the role of the subcommittee. Ezra has not had an opportunity to meet with Habitat for Humanity, nor has Natasha spoken to U of A Design/Build. Karen reached out to Reed Butler, who developed the West University affordable housing project. He has a for-profit development company and is on the board of a non-profit developer in Phoenix. Karen solicited input about eco features, design guidelines, and other thoughts.

Reed said that all of the guidelines seemed reasonable to him and that other statewide developers might be interested in the project. It will probably cost $200,000 per unit to build, but the goal would be a $150,000 cost. A for profit developer can partner with banks who can offer mortgage assistance to nonprofits in compensation for actions that were detrimental. Reed also thought the idea of homes for purchase was important (rather than rental). Construction costs will increase in the next year due to hurricanes. Getting a parking exemption might cause issues with the mortgage as banks want there to be a garage.

One proposal would be for a local nonprofit (such as the Community Food Bank) to partner with the Pima County Land Trust, and then allow construction to happen over the course of a longer period with the Design/Build program. That would take the land off the city rolls while construction happens. However, it would be a burden for the nonprofit to pay insurance on the vacant land. Reed mentioned another project in Phoenix he did where only the first-time homebuyer had the affordable housing requirements, and they resold for a higher price. He offered to talk to the subcommittee about the RFP, and Karen was concerned about conflict of interest because it could give him an advantage.

There will be a special neighborhood meeting on December 3rd to discuss priorities. Glenn said that it there isn’t a conflict of interest as long as neighborhood conversations with developers occur pre-RFP and are informational only, especially if the subcommittee also reaches out to others such as Habitat. Glenn cautioned against taking specifics from Reed that would give his specific organization an unfair advantage.

The primary point of discussion in the subcommittee is the decision between 100% affordable and some market rate mixed with affordable. Natasha asked why Glenn is opposed to 100% affordable housing. Glenn clarified that he is in favor of affordable housing, he is just worried about the project not coming to fruition because there isn’t money to make that work. Ezra brought up that Glenn has more so cautioned because of feasibility. Perhaps there are other sources of money. Affordable for family of four is defined as $175,000 for the mortgage. The HUD guideline is 30% of income dedicated to housing. There are still down payment assistance programs in the county and city, which could go directly to support the buyer (but not to the developer). The City of Tucson dedicates “Home” funding money through the state’s LITEC program (which helps finance affordable housing) to rental programs.

The only other neighborhood interested in affordable housing is Menlo Park (the Westmoreland property).

Moving forward, committee members will gather information and share at the special meeting in December. Someone familiar with the project will be at each table so that people can ask questions and prioritize on a poster board. Identifying the priorities will help the city to move forward. Glenn then translates the priorities into a document for discussion and clarification. That document is intended to lead developers to neighborhood’s desired outcome. It will be divided between requirements and preferences. Glenn was open to having a neighborhood member on the selection panel. Menlo Park chose not to appoint anyone to the panel, which made it impossible to finish the RFP.

There is also a nonprofit loan fund as part of the Community Foundation. Karen asked about whether the fund could be used for this project. Glenn was not familiar with the program. Some other options would be a third party that buys down the interest rate (less relevant with current low rates). Habitat uses sweat equity, Pima County Land Trust (PCLT) retains land ownership. Menlo Park wrote the RFP broadly so that any model could apply as long as it met affordability requirements.

Karen asked about RFP dissemination process and whether it goes statewide. The City advertises in a paper that would trigger search terms and sends out emails to known organizations statewide (about 50). That list might still miss recently formed organizations. There is outreach at professional conferences. Ezra asked if the neighborhood could advertise and Glenn said that was acceptable. Menlo Park had a 30-day advertising period, but it can be longer.

The December 3rd special meeting priorities will then be discussed at the December neighborhood meeting and will send to Glenn early in 2018. Glenn can turn around the document by February.

Glenn emphasized that the project is our process and so encouraged the neighborhood to communicate well about desires or issues with property maintenance.

Verizon update with vote

Natasha mobilized community members to ensure that there were thirty letters to the zoning examiner in opposition. Although the state has changed requirements, that opposition still helped. The zoning examiner read all the letters and no one submitted letters in support. At the meeting itself, neighborhood residents expressed concerns with the cell tower. The zoning examiner issued a continuance and told Pinnacle Consulting to review neighborhood requests and make concessions. The decision will be at the next meeting, Thursday, October 26th at 6pm. Pinnacle Consulting has not yet given updated drawings to the neighborhood or been in touch.
There is concern about legal action by Verizon if the zoning examiner and Mayor and Council do not approve the project. It seems that the paperwork in the case is distributed to Councilmembers for a decision regardless of the zoning examiner’s decision. It would be helpful to have neighborhood outreach to Councilmembers too. Mayor and Council have the prerogative to continue the process as well.

It could be that health concerns are admissible into the hearing, based on what the zoning examiner mentions. Karen circulated an article about cell towers and their health impacts, which also include suggestions on how to mitigate the radiation.

Karen reached out to Steve Arnquist about obtaining the apartment owners’ information, but has not been successful. If anyone else wants to reach out that would be helpful. Gail did speak informally with city officials and they said that having an attorney would be helpful. But Dunbar Spring doesn’t have money for a retainer. El Presidio and West University both have attorneys on retainer. Gail suggested finding a pro bono attorney. There was feedback that pro bono attorneys have a long list of tasks right now, and this issue is not going to be a priority.

M(Sky)/S(Ezra)/A. Motion to write and send a letter to Mayor and Council summarizing the history and neighborhood’s concerns with Verizon’s cell tower. Motion passed with 9 in favor and one abstention.

M(Joanna)/S(Natasha)/A. Motion to delegate a committee to include at least two board members, which has the neighborhood’s authority to vote at the October 26th zoning examiners’ meeting if Verizon brings new proposals to the meeting. Motion passed with unanimous assent.

There was discussion of whether we would accept a Verizon change to landscaping and wrought iron fence. In general, meeting participants felt it wasn’t acceptable. Sky expressed concern about what the neighborhood would be willing to concede on. The neighborhood has tried to come up with other proposals and ideas. Sky suggested having one or two realistic suggestions. Natasha pointed out that the zoning examiner agreed with neighborhood suggestions about location. Sky suggested offering cheaper ideas, such as the mural. Yet that idea has already been rejected by Verizon. Ezra said that the cheapest idea was the landscaping, which Verizon may do. Chi pointed out that Pinnacle doesn’t even acknowledge our communications. The zoning examiner pushed Verizon on whether the spot was necessary, but they declined to share data to illustrate need.

Dunbar Spring 100th Anniversary Home Tour and Celebration

Sunday, December 3rd will be the 100th Anniversary home tour. Time will be determined. There will be a committee meeting next Monday at 7:30pm to plan, so contact Karen with interest. There will be a self-led option and a guided tour. There are 30 buildings that are 1917 or older. Someone in the neighborhood is passionate about historical research. After the tour there will be a special meeting and potluck. There is also a proposal for catering from Caridad Kitchen. Whistle Stop isn’t an option for a location. Allen at Milo Crossfit may offer their parking lot space. Karen asked Cirrus to use a meeting room. Another proposal was the Dunbar Coalition auditorium. It would be important to check availability, requirements around alcohol, and whether it would have a cost or be free. The neighborhood would do setup and cleanup. The disadvantage of Milo Crossfit is that it is not entirely kid friendly, so children would require more supervision.

There may be some leftover drinks from other events that could be consumed at this event. People will be asked to bring sides, drinks, and other items. The catering items will just be supplemental. The event committee will need to plan out tables and chairs.

M(Karen)/S(Natasha)/A. Motion to use up to $150 of neighborhood money to hire Caridad to cater the event. Motion passed with 8 in favor and 1 abstention.

Committee Reports

  • DNARC – There was a presentation by Dan Bursuck about the revised protest areas for projects per recent legislation. In the past, only 20% of the parcels within the 150-foot range had to support, now it is both parcels and the lot area. The bill was initially meant to just clarify, but it changed over time and its final version at a state level surprised the city. Jonathan Maybury retired from the city and works in administration for the university. The Parade of Lights will change route to be closer to downtown and will have fewer floats. Tree lighting ceremony will be after the parade. The downtown hotel is open and already 70% booked. November 25th is Small Business Saturday so local shopping encouraged.
  • Downtown Links – Sherry Martin is new contact person and will come to the January meeting. She was very responsive about the deck plaza art. The artist is working on the piece.
  • WAMO – No updates
  • Neighborhood Garden – There is continued confusion about the receipts and reimbursements.
  • Dunbar Coalition – Bill Ponder and Debi Chess Mabie have been in conversation with the university about a Community Impact Fellowship. The University will commit $55,000 and Dunbar has to put up $40,000 to fund a fellow. Debi Chess Mabie just resigned from the Arts Foundation and may be in consideration as the fellow. The Dunbar Coalition voted to approve the funding. The position is being advertised. The room use rates will increase. In conversation with the Bank of Tucson to help finance work on the other rooms. There was question about names, and the new name for the campus is the Dunbar Pavilion and African American Arts and Cultural Center. There was a break-in and slight damage to flags.
  • Speedway/Stone – No updates.
  • 11th Ave Parcel – See above.
  • Walkability – No updates.
  • Neighborhood Foresters –November 18th there will be a tree planting.

August and September Minutes

M(Karen)/S(Jackie)/A. Motion to approve the August and September minutes. Motion passed with unanimous assent.