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City’s sale of some CAP water may help balance budget

Citizen Staff Writer



The Tucson City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to sell a third of its Central Arizona Project yearly allocation.

The sale is part of a plan to make up for Tucson Water’s $15.4 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Tucson Water officials said they would ask CAP to resell 42,000 acre-feet of the department’s 144,000 acre-feet allocation for this fiscal year.

Tucson Water will keep 8,000 acre-feet that it had intended to resell because other southern Arizona towns have said they were interested in buying credits for the water.

Department Director Jeff Biggs said Oro Valley hoped to buy 4,000 acre-feet in groundwater pumping credits that are more valuable than CAP water, so the city could buy 4,000 acre-feet from CAP to replace that water and still make a profit.

Tucson Water will try to strike a deal on the rest of the unsold water before April, he said.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who was absent for the vote but pushed for officials to try to keep the water in the region, said in a statement that the Oro Valley agreement represented “a new level of cooperation.”

Regional water rights have historically been fodder for drawn-out legal battles.

Earlier in the day at the council’s study session, it moved forward with changing city rules to make it easier for businesses to move into old buildings in the central city.

So that businesses can get quick relief – and, council members hope, stimulate the economy – the changes will be made in a series of overlapping steps.

The proposals focus on “full-code compliance,” the requirement that businesses that make certain changes to the use of a property bring parking, landscaping and other outside features up to the most recent city code.

“The idea behind full-code compliance was just to bring a more consistent aesthetic,” Director of Development Services Ernie Duarte said of the 1985 rule.

But the changes can be costly and sometimes impossible given the lay of the land. Some developers argue the rules also contradict the current council’s aim of encouraging older buildings’ reuse, especially around downtown.

The requirements are under review, Director of Urban Planning Albert Elías told the council Wednesday.

Revamping the parking lot requirements will be the first change. The Planning Commission is slated to hold a public hearing on a draft ordinance about parking rules March 4.

“The stumbling block again and again and again is parking,” said Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, whose ward includes midtown.

The city’s parking rules require a certain number of spaces per square feet. Most older buildings do not have enough parking spaces and no room to add spaces.

The code amendment process generally takes at least six months, Elías said.

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