Paul's Note - May 7th, 2021

As many of you know, my colleagues and I adopted an alternative plan for zoo expansion on Tuesday. Back on March 9, we were tasked with approving an expansion plan that many in the community thought was ill considered, and my colleagues and I believed that the Reid Park Zoological Society hadn’t done an adequate job of engaging the public before bringing their plan forward. 

Instead of approving the plan, we told the staff and the Zoological Society to go back to the drawing board. We gave them 45 days to go to the public and come back to us with the results. 

It’s a short time to survey a community of our size, but I have to give the city manager’s office credit for being able to pull it off. In all, 14,000 Tucsonans participated in what was called “The Community Conversation.” To put things in perspective, that’s the capacity of McKale center. 

In addition to the Conversation, we got hundreds of emails from members of the community. When there are controversial issues in town, we’ll get emails, but these were different. So often, an organized group with get their supporters to write emails and sometimes it shows. In this case though, these were almost all personal stories from people that used the park, people that lived near by and people that visited the zoo. 

My colleagues on the council got some of the same emails, and we voted to move forward with what was called “G Minor.” This isn’t music theory, it’s the name that got adopted by members of the community who were advocating for the plan. One of the concepts discussed in the community conversation was called “Plan G,” which called for expanding into the parking lot currently used for the Edith Ball Recreation Center. The modified “minor” plan called for by many of the people writing us would modify that plan, saving some of the parking spaces and eliminate the necessity to build a parking garage. 

I’d like to thank all of you that participated in the Community Conversation and those of you that contacted me or my office. This shows how important it is for community members to participate and also how important it is for institutions to engage the public. 

There will be virtual public meetings to learn about a proposed code change to allow backyard casitas (also known as Accessory Dwelling Units) in Tucson. You can hear how this housing option can provide affordable housing, help seniors age in place, and promote sustainable infill development.  

PDSD staff will present a draft proposal for new zoning regulations to permit this housing type. This proposal was developed based on what we heard at public meetings held earlier this year, and input from a stakeholder group representing a range of viewpoints and expertise. Share your feedback and hear from other community members. 

Meetings will be held at the following times: 

Wednesday, May 19, 1:00pm – 2:30pm 

Saturday, May 22, 10:00am – 11:30am 

Monday, May 24, 5:30pm – 7:00pm 

Tuesday, May 25, 9:00am – 10:30am 

For background and how to register for the meetings, click here.