Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Two hot button issues will be voted on Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Tucson City Council meeting and study session: widening Broadway Blvd. and approving the feral cat spay/neuter policy, adopted by the county.
If you read the Arizona Daily Star, you’d think the big issue of the day is the City Council’s dithering on spending $200,000 to do a catch, spay/neuter, and return-to-the-wild program to control the feral cat population. The Star devoted ~25 column inches in today’s paper to feral cats, including hubris from Republican-turned-Blue-Dog-Dem City Councilman Steve Kozachik repeating his, “we’ll kill the cats” threat aimed at Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. The paper focused of the city-county tiff of who told what to whom when instead of on whether or not the new program works in city’s where it’s been tested. (Here’s a great story about how well this type of program has worked elsewhere and more information regarding Tucson and Albuquerque programs.)
What you didn’t read about in the Star was the Broadway widening controversy. Prime real estate in the newspaper was devoted a $200,000 spay and neuter program, but there was no coverage on wasting millions to widen a road that doesn’t need to be widened. What’s wrong with this picture? No one will make any money on the cat program; it’s just the right thing to do. But buying up and destroying 19 structures, including some historic buildings, to widen a road based up plans drawn up decades ago– city’s power base wants to side that deal through without further mention because contractors, developers, speculators, and road-widening addicts will make a bundle on that!
In a nutshell, the Broadway Citizens Task Force has proposed a six-lane plan for Broadway Blvd., and the Council will vote on that tonight. The Broadway Coalition, Sustainable Tucson, the Tucson Bus Riders Union, and others who favor sustainable living are against the six-lane plan for multiple reasons. (I don’t see the rationale for widening Broadway when current traffic and future projects don’t warrant it, and when no good rationale is being given to do it. Also, citizens and area businesses are fighting hard against the widening and the destruction of historic buildings.) Tucson’s power players have an addiction to widening roads, and it doesn’t matter how destructive it is to families, businesses, the city budget, or Tucson’s historic sense of place. Broadway will be discussed at 1:30 p.m. study session and the 5 p.m. meeting. Details and links from both groups below.
From the Broadway Project Team (6-Lane Proposal)
The Broadway Project Team is pleased to share that, after 2 years and 3 months and MUCH consideration, the Broadway Citizens Task Force has developed recommendations about the Broadway alignment. The recommendations will be going to the Mayor and Council on October 9 for their approval.
Ten (10) of thirteen (13) members support moving forward the Preferred 6-Lane including Transit Alignment, which weaves to the north and some to the south, and includes transit, bike lanes, sidewalks and landscaping. The alignment will also have enough roadway width to accommodate future mass transit, such as streetcar and/or bus rapid transit.
This is a significant milestone in the project schedule, and signals the transition into the refined technical design process – a key step to achieving our construction deadline goals of 2016.
The full recommendations report includes the recommendations of the majority of the Task Force, and also shares the perspectives of those in the minority and is available online at: tucsonaz.gov/broadway.
The Mayor and Council will be asked to approve the Citizens Task Force alignment recommendations, which will be presented by Citizens Task Force members, on:
Thursday, October 9, 2014 Mayor and Council Study Session 1st Floor, City Hall 255 W. Alameda
If you cannot attend but want to share your comments with the Task Force and the Project Team, please email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next Citizens Task Force meeting will be on Thursday, October 23, at 5:30 at Child & Family Resources (2800 E. Broadway). The agenda and materials will be forthcoming.
Broadway Coalition Newsletter (Citizens Supporting 4 Lanes)
On Thursday, October 9, the Mayor and Council in study session (at 2 o’clock) are being asked to recommend a roadway alignment for the Broadway Project. The Project Director is asserting that a 6-lane road including 2 lanes for transit is the recommendation of the Citizens Task Force (CTF). The CTF at its August 28 meeting had 9 people in favor of the 6-lane road (out of 13 members). The report to the City Council includes minority reports from 4 members. This is a critical decision point as to how the project goes forward.
The Broadway Coalition has been meeting with the Mayor and Council Members to express our concern for the proposed alignment. For instance it would destroy 19 historic buildings in the Rincon Heights Historic District. The nominal width of the roadway is 118 feet, but as a CTF memo points out only 9 % of the proposed roadway is at 118 feet; all the rest is wider (due to right hand turn lanes, left hand turn lanes, etc.).
The issue of what kind of transit would be developed in the transit lanes and when is also up in the air. There is no study analyzing the different kinds of transit (streetcar, light rail, rapid bus transit) and whether the lanes should be in the middle or curbside.
Staff had put forward an ordinance to authorize the City to begin to acquire property in the alignment, but that has been withdrawn. We suspect it is postponed until the next meeting, but we will keep you informed. A map of what is proposed to be acquired is on the regular session agenda to be found on City Clerk’s page, Mayor and Council Meetings, Third addendum for regular meeting. Click on agenda item and files for that item will appear on right-hand column.
You can still register your support for keeping the roadway narrow, saving historic buildings and backing economic vitality of the Sunshine Mile by signing the online petition at http://www.sustainabletucson.org/2014/08/BC-online-petition.
We already have over 600 signatures and would love to present the Council with 1000. Broadway Coalition members will be in the audience during the study session with signs showing our neighborhoods or organizations.
COME AND JOIN US. We will also be in the audience for the Call to the Audience in the regular session. You might want to watch the meeting on Channel 12.
Margot Garcia For the Broadway Coalition.
P.S. we have written a response to the Project Director’s memo regarding the CTF’s “recommendations.” Send me an email if you would like a copy of this document.
Letters to Mayor and Council from Broadway Coalition Supporters
Subject: Please Remove Unneeded Acquisition Item from October 9 Agenda
Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2014 22:41:04 -0700
Dear Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Council member Regina Romero, Council member Paul Cunningham, Council Member Karin Uhlich, Council Member Shirley Scott, Council Member Richard Fimbres, and Vice Mayor Steve Kozachik,
According to the City Council agenda for October 9, posted at http://www.tucsonaz.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1335&doctype=AGENDA , the October 9 meeting has listed as item number 9 “REAL PROPERTY: ACQUISITION OF RIGHTS OF WAY FOR THE BROADWAY BOULEVARD – EUCLID AVENUE TO COUNTRY CLUB ROAD IMPROVEMENT PROJECT.”
When you click on the linked PDF, you find that “The City Manager is hereby authorized and directed to negotiate for and acquire the parcels of real property…which are necessary as rights of way for construction of the Broadway Boulevard -Euclid Avenue to Country Club Improvement Project.”
What’s wrong with this picture? The Broadway Citizen’s Task Force has not yet decided on the width of the roadway, so there is no way to know how many or if any at all, properties need to be purchased. Please let the Citizen’s Task Force complete its work! And in fact, at public hearing after public hearing, Tucson citizens have been saying loud and clear: the best way to “Improve” the existing Broadway is to keep the new Broadway within the same footprint as the existing Broadway.
So there is no need to acquire these parcels!
As the citizens have been urging, not purchasing properties has these benefits:
1. Removing the cost of acquiring these unneeded properties saves the City of Tucson, Pima County, and the RTA an estimated $74 million dollars,
2. Hundreds of local Tucson businesses that pay over $4 million in property and sales taxes annually will no longer be endangered by an unnecessary roadway widening,
3. Historic buildings that have helped to define the Tucson sense of place and the “Sunshine Mile” will no longer be scheduled for an unnecessary demolition. You know, once an historic building is bulldozed, it cannot be rebuilt. Just look at the TCC parking lot for an example. Haven’t we learned yet from our past mistakes?
Thanks to changes in how much young people drive, construction of the Aviation Highway, and other factors, traffic studies show that traffic counts are going down on Broadway, not up. Despite these factors, after two years of work, after four public hearings where they were urged by hundreds of citizens to do so, roadway designers have still not produced a single alternative design which keeps our buildings, businesses, and sense of place intact.
We want a beautiful Broadway, a safe Broadway, a Broadway with a streetcar, not a Phoenix freeway. How long must we wait to see this design that we have been asking for for two years? Please remove Item number 9 from the City Council agenda for the October 9. Please allow the Citizen’s Task Force to complete its work without being pressured to accept a roadway fit for Phoenix, not for Tucson.
Thanks for your consideration!
Dear Steve Kozachik
The Broadway Coalition would like to see M&C put their foot down and authorize no more than 3 months of additional funding, and only under the following conditions:
(a) Before the next CTF meeting the project team produce a six-lane (four for cars, two for transit) alignment that increases right-of-way by no more than five percent (5%) over what currently exists, is as narrow as possible so as to protect all historic buildings and existing locally owned businesses in the project area, and provides for a pleasant pedestrian experience. This alignment will also be presented to the CTF at its next meeting
(B) In accordance with the overwhelming public sentiment expressed at all four project “open house” events, these designs must enhance the walkability, character and economic vitality of the project section of Broadway, and retain robust connectivity between all the neighborhoods adjacent to and adjoining Broadway.
(C) To better ensure accountability and transparency, the Office of Integrated Planning shall oversee this process.
More Background on Why 4 Lanes on Broadway is preferred
* What: “Communities, not Corridors” message to M&C
* When: Meet at 1:30PM for study session, and/or at 5:00PM for regular meeting
* Where: City Hall, 255 West Alameda Street (NB: “Checkpoint Charlie” TSA-style shakedown in effect at the door)
* How much: admission is free
* Brief overview: Mayor and Council will discuss the proposed Broadway road widening during study session, and we will address it during the call-to-audience segment of the regular meeting. During these events, we will sit in the audience holding signs showing support for Communities, not Corridors. Our silent but visible presence will convey to Mayor and Council — and to folks watching the meetings on teevee — that we expect our representatives to be in step with Tucsonans citywide who put more value in investing in our communities than in unnecessary damaging boondoggle roadway projects. Communities, not corridors.
More data (and editorializing) is below, followed by links to some pretty good reading.
– When 74% of voters stay home from an election, there is no “mandate”: The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) ballot measure passed in 2006 with 60% of the votes, meaning only one in six (60% of 26% is ~16%) eligible voters approved it. This would not appear to be overwhelming enough demand to justify spending $74 million on a destructive and unnecessary project.
– “But we promised” is not always a good reason to follow through: RTA lawyer Thomas Benavidez has stated that the “[RTA] Board [may] react, efficiently, to changing circumstances …”. Circumstances have changed since 2006; it is time for an efficient reaction, not dogmatic insistence on keeping ill-made promises.
– RTA’s extortionate stance (“do what we say or else”) defies reason: The Broadway project area lies entirely within Tucson city limits, used mostly by City residents. The City, therefore, is uniquely qualified to determine what form Broadway should take in order to better serve the needs of those who use, live near, and do business on it. If the City can do this with a less expensive and less damaging design than what the RTA has proposed, the City’s design, however small in scope, should be implemented.
– What are we really getting? Negligible commute time savings: The 150-foot eight-lane plan purported to shave 80 seconds off the average vehicle travel time from Euclid Ave to Country Club Road. With an estimated project cost of $74 million, that’s almost one million dollars for every second that may or may not be saved when the final design is implemented.
– What do the impacted neighbors get? In a word, nothing: The time savings above will benefit those driving THROUGH the area, not those who are IN the area. Adjacent neighborhoods will lose connection with each other, traffic noise and other impacts will increase, and one of Tucson’s last unique walkable human-scale commercial areas will be diminished.
– The public has spoken out on this issue. Loudly and repeatedly. At all four (4) project open houses, public sentiment has overwhelmingly supported historic preservation, sense of place, pedestrian friendliness, and maintaining the current roadbed footprint (or as close to it as possible).
– Divide and conquer, part 1: “either/or” instead of “both/and”: The roadway design options so far presented generally depict a zero-sum game, e.g., superior pedestrian amenities OR preserving buildings. We have seen creative reconciliation of historic preservation, business, pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit interests in projects elsewhere, why not here?
– Divide and conquer, part 2: isolation breeds distrust: Overzealous interpretation of open meeting laws has the unfortunate effect of isolating CTF members when they should be spending more time learning each others’ interests and constituents’ needs so that the design that finally eventuates will better serve the entire community.
– “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”, part 1: less expensive options exist: If the object of the Broadway improvement game is to increase safety and decrease throughput time, this can be achieved by speed limit reductions (to promote slow and steady flow), signal synchronization, and modest widenings for turn lanes and bus pullouts at certain intersections.
– “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”, part 2: more useful expenditures exist: Past traffic projections have not come to fruition and vehicle usage trends indicate that future roadway needs will continue to be modest. Why are resources being squandered on a project vastly greater than can be justified instead of being redirected to other projects that are truly useful?
– Historic neighborhoods at risk: National Register Historic District status depends on how many of a district’s buildings meet NRHD criteria. The proposed alignment would require that almost every single building on the north side of Broadway between Warren and Mountain Avenues, many of them historic or contributing, be demolished. This could impact Rincon Heights’ NRHD status.
– Disproportionate burden, disparate impact, dislocated benefits: The convenience of commuters is being prioritized over the quality of life for adjacent neighborhoods and the residents who live, work, play, pay taxes, and spend money on Broadway. Yet these neighborhoods and residents alone will bear the impacts.
– When an experiment inflicts harm on its test subjects, it must be halted: The past sixty or so years have seen the rise and now the fall of the putting- cars- first experiment. Automobiles have brought many benefits, but they have also brought many irreparable harms and do not warrant being the sun around which all other transportation considerations revolve.
– How many times must we be taught the same lesson before we learn it? Tucson’s past is riddled with destruction of historic structures and other resources in pursuit of the latest new shiny thing to bring promises of prosperity (for some). Too often those promises have proven to be unworthy of the sacrifice.
– In sum, we have before us the opportunity to grow an existing community asset into a gleaming gem to which we can all point with pride: Prudent investment of resources into enhancing what already works — historic character, walkability, human scale — instead of inflicting off-the-shelf quick fixes to non-existent problems will require creativity and conviction, but reap manyfold benefit.
For further reading:
HISTORIC PROPERTIES CONSIDERATIONS
(A) COT Major Streets and Roads Plan, 11-MAY-1992, page 11 (17th page of document):
“B. General Design and Development Guidelines
The following provisions apply to the overall design and development of major streets identified in the Plan.
[ … ]
9. Effects on neighborhoods and historic districts shall be considered in determining the impacts of street widenings, new transportation routes, and reclassification of streets. SUCH PROJECTS SHALL BE SENSITIVE TO AND COMPATIBLE WITH THE SPECIFIC NEIGHBORHOODS AND HISTORIC DISTRICTS THEY PASS THROUGH AND SERVE (GP, Section 3, Policy 4.B. and Section 10, Policy 1, N).” [emphasis added] Both Rincon Heights and Sam Hughes Neighborhoods on the north edge of Broadway are National Register Historic Districts.
(B) COT Major Streets and Roads Plan, 11-MAY-1992, page 20 (26th page of document):
Further the goals for scenic and gateway routes through public actions and monitoring of development regulations.
A. Development Guidelines for Public Improvements of Gateway Routes
All improvements within the public right-of-way should comply with the following guidelines:
1. Landscaping of gateway routes should be required using the following guidelines:
a. Landscaped medians SHALL BE PROVIDED ON ROUTES OF MORE THAN FOUR THROUGH LANES, EXCEPT WHERE THE ROUTE PASSES THROUGH OR ADJACENT TO A HISTORIC AREA AND THE WIDTH OF THE ROADWAY WOULD INTRUDE ON THE CHARACTER OF HISTORIC STRUCTURES, or at bridges, grade separations, or other structures where a landscaped median is not feasible.” [emphasis added]
Both Rincon Heights and Sam Hughes Neighborhoods on the north edge of Broadway are National Register Historic Districts. Plans presented by staff to date would require demolition of historic and eligible/ contributing structures, which constitutes an intrusion on their character.
(A) Walk San Diego and the California Chapter of the American Planning Association in San Diego, _From Policy to Pavement: Implementing Complete Streets in the San Diego Region_, 21-JUN-2012, page 18 (24th of document) — http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/ocp/complete_streets_files/APA_Report_Final.pdf — (~1.64MB, 86 pages, PDF format) contains an overview of the conversion of a section of La Jolla Boulevard in San Diego from a ho-hum drive-through road to a wildly successful drive-to destination. Note that vehicle throughput time did not notably diminish despite (or perhaps because of) the many bicycle, pedestrian, and other safety features installed.
(B) Lisa Gray’s “Gray: The road diet”, _Houston Chronicle_, 01-MAR-2012 —http://www.chron.com/life/gray/article/Gray-The-road-diet-3374851.php — includes photos (in the slideshow widget) of La Jolla Boulevard in the Bird Rock neighborhood of San Diego before and after an intensive road diet (photo 5 is before, photos 6, 9, and 10 are after). The caption under photo 9 states that traffic throughput speed may generally not have been impeded despite the road diet’s substantial traffic calming, pedestrian, and bicycle facilities.
(C) Michael Lindenberger, “State set to eliminate Dead Man’s Corner, but S.M. Wright project prompts question: What are highways for?”, _Dallas Morning News_, 08-AUG-2012 —
http://transportationblog.dallasnews.com/2012/08/state-set-to-eliminate-dead-mans-corner-as-questions-over-s-m-wright-parkway-linger.html — reports that transportation planners in historically car-centric Dallas, TX, are questioning the function of roadways:
“If the object is just related to traffic then six [lanes] makes sense,” [south Dallas, TX, neighborhood resident Hank] Lawson said in an interview last night. “But if it is about rebuilding the neighborhood, then I think we need to talk about what connects the neighborhood, what gives us more vitality. Obviously four lanes is all about that. If you talk about environmental justice and look what happened to our neighborhood when they put all those improvements in years ago, and how it became a haven for crime and deterioration largely because of the configuration of the highway … then you talk about taking the freeway down and putting in six lanes to move traffic, that doesn’t say anything about connecting and revitalizing the neighborhood.”
[I]ncreasingly, six-lane roads in Dallas are being reduced to four lanes. “It’s actually turned out to be good that they were built that way,” [Dallas transportation planner Keith Manoy] said, “because that has given us the space to plan bike lanes.”
_Dallas Morning News_’s map of the South Dallas project area — http://transportationblog.dallasnews.com/files/2012/08/sm-wright-project-area.jpg — (~482KB, 699 x 939 PX, JPEG format) shows that US-175, if rebuilt as six lanes, would isolate a triangular corner of the neighborhood also bound by I-45 and the new US-175/I-45 connector. Similarly, the Miles and Barrio San Antonio neighborhoods are currently cut off on the east by Kino Parkway and the south by Aviation Parkway; widening Broadway to six lanes would effectively isolate them from the rest of midtown.
(D) Florida Department of Transportation, “Community Impact Assessment Handbook”, 22-NOV-2000 — http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/26000/26500/26541 — for table of contents (all chapters in PDF format, largest is less than 300KB). Chapter 5, “Social Impacts”, opens thusly: Social impacts of a transportation project are impacts that disrupt the normal daily functions of a community or neighborhood. Typically, it is the broader region or jurisdiction that enjoys the social benefits of a transportation project while the social impacts are borne by the local community — particularly the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the transportation project. Therefore, social impact assessment is often conducted at the neighborhood level.
RTA, PIMA COUNTY, OTHER JURISDICTIONAL:
(A) Andrea Kelly, “Road Issues Going to Voters Tuesday”, _Arizona Daily Star_, 15-MAY-2006 — http://www.eller.arizona.edu/docs/press/2006/05/ArizonaDailyStar_Road_issues_going_to_voters_Tuesday_May14_2006.pdf — (~109KB , seven pages, PDF format) lists the projects on the ballot, and the cost for each.
(B) Patrick McNamara, “Kozachik sees flaws in RTA’s Broadway widening, wants chance to amend plan”, _Inside Tucson Business_, 23-MAR-2012 —
— http://www.insidetucsonbusiness.com/news/kozachik-sees-flaws-in-rta-s-broadway-widening-wants-chance/article_4853046c-7447-11e1-afd8-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=print — discusses flaws in justifications given for widening Broadway.
(C) Tim Vanderpool, “More Roadway Wordplay”, Tucson Weekly, 08-AUG-2013 —http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/more-roadway-wordplay/Content?oid=3851851&mode=print — RTA lawyer Thomas Benavidez states “[RTA] Board [may] react, efficiently, to changing circumstances …”.
Petition from Broadway Coalition (to Stop 6-Lane Proposal)
Dear friends, neighbors, and concerned community,
On October 9th, the Tucson Mayor and Council are preparing to approve a 6-lane option with transit alignment for the Historic Broadway Redesign Project.
The M/C will hear that this will entail widening Broadway in order to provide enough space for high-capacity transit in the indefinite future. There has been NO DEFINITIVE ACCOUNT presented which shows that widening is necessary.
Please sign this Broadway Coalition petition to support enhancing our historic place. Please sign this petition to oppose unnecessary widening the right-of-way which will cause unnecessary destruction, costs, and lost tax revenue. A vibrant future for Historic Broadway is at stake.
Please sign our online petition today and encourage your friends, relatives and neighbors to do the same: www.sustainabletucson.org/2014/08/bc-online-petition
We will then report the community’s wishes to elected officials.