An Open Letter to Mayor Jonathan Rothschild Regarding the Overlay Ordinance

Ever since retiring as a city employee in 2011 (after 20-plus years of service), I have avoided all news associated with the city. I left with less faith in government than when I started. All too often, I listened as city management and department directors talked about how "they" knew what was best for Tucson, not the "pesky" residents. By chance, I read the Tucson Weekly article on the new overlay-district ordinance ("Overlay Approved," Currents, March 8).

As I read through the new ordinance, it struck me that it could easily have been written by developers. What are design and environmentally conscious standards that must be met? A trellis? Using native plants (duh)? Shade over a bike rack? Last, but not least, a couple of bump-outs in the building plane? Total cost? A grand more or less, even at retail.

The city's website claims that Tucson has "the progress and innovation of a metropolitan community and the friendly, caring atmosphere of a small town." The second phrase should be deleted. The planning process for this ordinance does not reflect a friendly, caring atmosphere, unless perhaps you are a developer from out of town. Couldn't we at least have neighborhoods compromised by a local developer?

I'm not opposed to multistory buildings as long as they fit the character of the neighborhood and reflect a human (not monolithic) scale. A developer recently built apartment buildings on a lot in my neighborhood that some could construe as mini-dorms. While single-family homes would have been my preference, the lot is close to a major street with buildings only two-stories tall. I can't imagine skyscrapers eight to 14 stories high in any Tucson neighborhood.

You might as well face up to the looming disaster of the modern streetcar. The money supposedly set aside to operate it will likely be needed to complete construction and pay for the cars.

Of course, you noted in your State of the City address that you will be coming to voters in the future with requests for new, dedicated funding sources. Why should disregarded but concerned citizens heed that call? Where do I go to sign the referendum to repeal the ordinance?

Cathleen Shirley

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