In the last four years that I have been on the Planning and Zoning Commission, I have attended many town meetings. I have seen residents arrive hopeful that their voices will be heard, their elected leaders will adequately address their concerns, and agreeable compromises will be achieved. Sometimes this has occurred, but more often than not, I have seen people leave muttering, “I didn’t know it was a done deal before I got here,” or, “I didn’t realize the Council had already taken so many campaign contributions from these land owners and developers.” I have tried to make a difference where I could, often negotiating or adding conditions when I could to save some saguaros here and a viewshed there or ensure there was a park, however the Planning and Zoning Commission’s power is limited.
Eventually, I realized that in order to make a real impact to help the Town be more responsive to its residents, we would need a change in our Town Council. I am willing to be a part of that change.
Since the 2016 elections, developers have requested 14 zoning changes from the Town Council. All but one were approved 7-0, and the last was approved 6-1. The Council votes unilaterally in favor of the developers who have paid for their election campaigns.
Of course we need some growth, however, Mayor Hiremath and his council have recently been handing out development rights like floss at the end of a dental exam.
My vision for development in Oro Valley is moderate growth that is sustainable and protective of our beautiful Sonoran Desert environment, while being responsive to residents. Development should provide for adequate parks and recreation facilities, as well as open space and the protection of view corridors. Our residents should have the fundamental trust that their elected leaders represent them and not developers or special interests.
I will accomplish this by:
- Not accepting political campaign contributions from developers, land owners, and other special interest groups. You will know that I represent you.
- Slowing down large scale development until what has currently been approved by the Mayor and Council shakes out and we see its impact on our community and then move forward collaboratively as a community.
- Re-working the zoning code in areas where it could be improved, and seeking expert and resident input in this endeavor.
The current council has pending nearly 2,000 new homes. In addition, many apartments have been approved, with two more apartment complexes being considered in the near future which would add 600 more units. The law was changed so that a General Plan Amendment and rezoning can now be done all at once, limiting citizen input and paving the road for future development.
The mayor and current council have accepted tens of thousands of dollars from land owners and developers for their political campaigns.
It is important that we restore trust in Oro Valley. While in any diverse community compromise is essential, when our residents leave our meetings, they should not be muttering about “done deals,” or “bought out,” representatives. It’s time for representatives who represent you.