Land SpeculationTo the Editor,
Regarding "Land Rush" (Tucson Weekly, September 5): Take a little truth and add suggestions of improper conduct, and--presto!--your editorial appears! In you attempt to discredit Vicki Cox- Golder (candidate for District 3 Board of Supervisors), you imply that she has exerted her influence on the Amphitheater School Board to have Bill Arnold represent the school district in the acquisition of land over the past four years. You totally discount Cox- Golder's tenure on the School Board. You have no idea of the time and commitment that school board members make to the community. But that kind of information would not fit your mindset of trying to influence the voter's choice.
In your poor reporting you failed to point out that Arnold is one of the most knowledgeable land brokers in Southern Arizona. The City of Tucson, Pima County and many others call upon Arnold to serve as an expert witness in difficult land decisions. I've officed with Arnold for two years and have dealt with him for the last 15 years. I've observed him negotiating for the school district. In my opinion the taxpayers in the Amphitheater School District have the best possible representation when they use Arnold's services. You imply that the only reason the School District acquired the land was so Arnold could earn a commission. I've got news for you! The District purchased the land because it needed the land. Amphitheater is a very fast-growing school district.
If you checked the record on the Planning and Zoning Commission, you would find that he's not in the pocket of those "evil developers." You also failed to acknowledge his tenure on the Pima County Board of Health. With regard to your question about Arnold's compensation for the land acquisition for the school district, I would have told you, "It was none of your business!"
As a Realtor and member of this community for over 34 years, I resent your broad-brushing of everyone that is associated with the real estate industry. You state, "The Growth Lobby is a machine that cares very little about the quality of individual lives, the livability of our community, the safety of our roads or the quality of our water our children must drink." I would remind you we live here, too--and raise our children here also!
It would appear the purpose of you editorial was to fan the flame of the old "Growth versus No-Growth Philosophy." I would remind you that the roadways leading into Tucson and Pima County have not been closed--people continue to come seeking a better quality of life. We have a better chance of continuing that quality of life with Vicki Cox-Golder as Supervisor in District 3.
Editor's Reply: We note you faxed your message on stationery bearing the Genesis Real Estate logo--did you, too, profit from the Amphi deals of your office mate?
Regardless, your statement that the amount of money Mr. Arnold made while representing the Amphi District in land deals is none of our business is, quite simply, arrogant bullshit. It's yet another example of the mindset of the power brokers in this community--how dare we ask how much this sterling character might have benefited while pursuing the public's business. Harrumph!
As for Mr. Arnold not being in the pocket of those "evil developers," we were amused to read a recent article in the daily press reporting Mr. Arnold as advocating the use of groundwater for a proposed Green Valley golf course, while residents in the immediate area of the planned course fret about having enough decent drinking water. Nothing evil in allowing rich white males in loud pants to frolic wherever they damn well please, eh, Mr. Wright?
And while you members of the Growth Lobby may have lived here and reared your children here for umpty-umpty years, you apparently never gave much of a damn about simple things like sidewalks, air-conditioning for grade schools, decent class sizes in our schools, jobs outside of the low-paying tourism sphere, the continued existence of our unique desert environment, or, for that matter, the very water we must drink.
Mr. Wright, the point of our editorial was straightforward: The Growth Lobby has controlled things around here for far too long. Vicki Cox-Golder, for whom Mr. Arnold is campaign chair, would continue that shabby tradition. She's the wrong person for the job.
Impacted TeethTo the Editor,
Regarding Jim Nintzel's "Impact Imperfect" (Tucson Weekly, September 5), on Pima County's new housing impact fee, how does one of the most important environmental issues in local politics get sifted down to asphalt and potholes? While the impact fee is indirectly concerned with issues of transportation, it is directly and predominantly influenced by issues of wildlife, density, the natural landscape, property values and long-term viability (with respect to large developments), of which vehicular impact is only a partial effect of the root cause.
Of course, Alan Lurie and SAHBA would have us believe they are all highly responsible and sensitive planners when it comes to bulldozing acres of virgin desert for their trendy tract-home communities and that an impact fee is completely unnecessary. And even though we all know they are the antithesis of environmental sensitivity incarnate, we either turn our heads in disgust and walk away in denial or we unwittingly sell out to their profit.
The impact fee marks an all-too-rare occasion when the Pima County Government does something truly positive for our community, and it's completely contemptible to not let its true intent and effect be realized. Within the portions of Pima County that will be affected by the impact fee, most of the development will be for private custom construction and semi-custom builder developments.
Within this spectrum, "affordable housing" (Lurie's term) is non-existent. There is no truly "affordable," low-cost housing in the Catalina Foothills or the Silverbell Tortolitas. So, is $1,500 or even $4,000 that much to ask of a homeowner who's building or buying a $200,000 to $400,000 home? It's like a destination charge on a new car. Furthermore, with this tax comes an increased awareness--subtle, though it may be--of how the developed environment should necessarily be subordinate to and respectful of the natural. It's just one step closer to the day the piper comes to lead Don Diamond out of town.
--Aaron Seth Katz
P.S. As for Ed Moore, he certainly showed us his true colors in encouraging SAHBA to sue the county. (Not even your "independent" cloak can absolve you of that bad move, Ed.)
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