Paul's Note - February 24, 2023

I would like to bring to your attention a bill that has been introduced into the state legislature, SB 1402. 

SB 1402 would expand the population of students with disabilities who could not be rejected from enrollment at Tucson's Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind (ASDB). While the change would theoretically provide a wider range of students with disabilities an appropriate and supportive educational environment, opponents of the bill believe ASDB is not equipped for handling students with a wide variety of special needs, and the increase would strain resources and reduce services to each student. SB 1402 does not include an appropriation to help AZDB provide the additional facilities and programs to address the needs of a wider population of students. The AZ School Boards Association (ASBA) and the AZ Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing officially oppose the bill, while no organizations have registered in support. 

I’d like to note that I don’t know the motivations of the Tucson-area legislator that wrote the bill, but the fact that it isn’t accompanied by more funding for ASDB tells me that this is not about helping more young people with disabilities.  

Along with my colleagues on the Council, I opposed this mean-spirited bill during our legislative update during Wednesday’s study session and would encourage those of you who feel the same way to contact your state representative and urge them to also oppose this bill. 

Also on Wednesday, we discussed the New Era development, a proposed 33 home development on a little less than 12 acres on the northeast corner of Tanque Verde and Houghton. 

There was a lot of opposition to this from people in the area, but I would have been willing to work with the developers for something that would have been in keeping with the existing density and character of nearby neighborhoods. 

There was one big problem, however. 

There are a lot of cases where someone will point out that an agreement was cut years ago that a certain parcel would remain with a certain zoning. Sometimes, we will literally get one that dates back to when Lew Murphy or Jim Corbett was mayor (that’s a while ago for those of you that don’t recognize those names). When things come to us that are decades old, we have to consider that the community has changed a lot since then. 

However, in this case, there was documentation that when the parcel was annexed, the developer had asserted that any rezoning would be for a lower density that what was being sought now. This wasn’t written when Duran Duran was still on the charts; it was in 2016. That’s recent enough that I myself voted for that annexation and one of the reasons it was accepted was because of what the developer agreed to. 

At my insistence, my colleagues voted against the rezoning. There will be another proposal, I’m sure, but it must comply with the developer’s previously stated plans.