July 01, 2005

Excerpt from a feature in the new Tucson Weekly about how one city administration can royally fuck future generations in the ass.

Thirty years ago, Tucson and Portland, Ore. were looking ahead. Pima County's metropolitan population was about 450,000, and the Oregon community had more than twice as many residents. Facing growing pains, both wanted to plan their futures.

In the end, the northwest city chose urbanization; the southwest one continued suburbanization. But for a brief moment, Tucson flirted with addressing leapfrog development.

In 1972, a local Comprehensive Planning Process was begun. Combining the forces of all the governmental jurisdictions in eastern Pima County, the goal was to devise a plan based on public input which would guide growth until the year 2000, when the area was projected to have a population between 1 and 1.4 million.

Included in a 1973 newspaper supplement entitled "Tell Tucson Where to Go," these were:

-Peripheral expansion. By allowing the status quo of unrestrained population increases and scattered new housing developments to continue, it was estimated the community would grow from 260 to 750 square miles in size.

-Activity centers. Through use of intense zoning around major street intersections, commercial, office and higher-density residential uses would be concentrated at specific locations across town.

-Contained growth. Establishing and enforcing a growth boundary to encircle Tucson, this option was intended to eliminate the prevalent leapfrog pattern of development.

-Satellite cities. The towns of Oracle, Green Valley and Benson were possible candidates for huge increases in population while steps would be taken to ensure the land between them and Tucson was not developed.

When the initial draft of the 561-page plan was finally released in 1975, it sent shock waves through the Tucson establishment. The proposal recommended managing the rate of growth so the population in 2000 would not exceed 800,000 people. It also suggested having future construction only occur within a 300-square-mile area containing numerous activity centers.

In addition, the draft CPP document called for new development to pay its own way while focusing taxpayer-funded infrastructure improvements at the core of the community. Other ideas were that Central Arizona Project water not be imported into Tucson; government support for tourism and economic development would be ended, and a decreasing reliance would be placed upon the automobile.

Not surprisingly, the community's power structure was outraged. Calling the plan "dangerous" and "dictatorial," they labeled the planners who had prepared it "socialists."


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