Archive for the ‘Community Development & Neighborhood Conservation’ Category
Celebrate improvements at two parks this month made possible by voter-approved Pima County bond funds and Pima County’s partnership with the City of Tucson.
- Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías, District 5, and City of Tucson Vice Mayor and Ward 1 Council Member Regina Romero on Saturday, May 11, at 10 a.m. to celebrate the Menlo Park Neighborhood Revitalization Project at 301 N. Grande Ave.
- Pima County Supervisors Chairman Ramón Valadez, District 2; Vice Mayor Romero; and Ward 5 Council Member Richard Fimbres on Wednesday, May 15, at 9 a.m. to celebrate the opening of a skate park at St. John’s School Park, 602 W. Ajo Way.
Pima County invested 1997 Pima County bond funds of $850,000 to improve soccer field facilities at Menlo Park. An additional $498,975 from 2004 Pima County bond funds administered by the Pima County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program was invested into pedestrian safety and mobility improvements at the park.
Some of the administrative costs were covered by the City of Tucson Departments of Transportation and Parks and Recreation, and Ward 1 Back to Basics, which provided $30,000. The City of Tucson provided $318,000 in 2000 City of Tucson bond funds to construct a new restroom building and the plaza in the center of the park, and a Community Development Block Grant of $180,000 helped pay for the remaining sidewalks, lighting, chain link fencing, and a group picnic ramada.
The project’s traffic calming and park improvements were constructed by the City of Tucson’s Transportation and Parks and Recreation Departments. Improvements included traffic circles, speed tables, ADA curb access ramps, xeriscaping and water harvesting chicanes; and fabric shade sails over the pool deck and playgrounds, concrete decks, plazas and walls, landscape planting and support irrigation.
The project included Menlo Park Neighborhood Association members, especially, Mac Hudson, Bob Rodriguez, Lorraine Bartlett, Gene Einfrank and Lillian Lopez- Grant.
The Pima County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program also contributed $500,000 in bond funds to construct the skate park at St. John’s School Park. The skate park is lighted, and other improvements include a paved jogging track and ramada with picnic facilities. The site is shared by St. John’s School and the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department. Vice Mayor Romero contributed $4,000 in Back-to-Basics funds to the project.
The Pima County Housing Center wants homeowners who may have been wrongly harmed by foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 to know that they may be receiving compensation.
Homeowners who requested a free Independent Foreclosure Review by Dec. 31, 2012, in connection with the U.S. government’s enforcement actions against 13 mortgage servicers are among the more than 4.2 million people nationwide who will receive payment.
The $3.6 billion in cash payments come as a result of an agreement between federal banking regulators and the 13 mortgage servicers, including Bank of America; Countrywide; Chase; Citibank; Morgan Stanley; Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.; U.S. Bank; Wachovia Mortgage; and Washington Mutual.
According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, payments are expected to range from a few hundred dollars to $125,000. Those receiving payment may still pursue their own legal claims against their servicer.
In most cases, a letter and check from the paying agent – Rust Consulting Inc. – will arrive in four to eight weeks. Some borrowers may receive a letter from Rust requesting additional tax-related information that will be needed to process their payment.
To verify that you are covered by the agreement or to update contact information, call Rust Consulting at 1-888-952-9105. Information provided to Rust will only be used for purposes relating to the agreement.
If you need additional help with foreclosure prevention, please contact the Pima County Housing Center at (520) 624-2947; or the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673) or at www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
The review process for more than 450,000 borrowers serviced by OneWest, Everbank, and GMAC Mortgage continues because these companies did not enter into the agreement with federal banking regulators. Regulators expect the review process for these companies to be completed over the course of the coming year. Eligible borrowers at these servicers who requested a review will receive information about their review when it is available.
For more information, please visit:
- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (www.occ.gov/independentforeclosurereview).
- The Federal Reserve (http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/independent-foreclosure-review.htm).
- The Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or call (520) 624-2947.
The Pima County Housing Center is one of 22 local sites where volunteers are helping low- and moderate-income individuals and families prepare their 2012 federal and state income tax returns for free.
If your individual income was $25,000 or less or your household income was $51,000 or less last year, the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program can help you secure all the refunds and credits you are eligible for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Trained VITA volunteers are at the Housing Center, 801 W. Congress St., from 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Saturday, April 13.
When you go, be sure to bring with you:
- Picture I.D. for taxpayer and spouse (if applicable)
- ORIGINAL Social Security card for each family member
- Proof of income, including W-2s and 1099 forms
- Documentation of deductible expenses
- Account and routing numbers of checking and savings accounts for direct deposit of refunds
- Prior year tax return (if possible)
Last year, United Way’s 319 trained volunteers prepared 8,558 tax returns and secured $12.6 million in tax refunds for participating individuals and families.
For more information in English and Spanish, visit www.unitedwaytucson.org/vita.
March 2 motorcycle show at American Legion Post 7 to feature Las Artes students’ tile work in silent auctionTuesday, February 26th, 2013
Head to American Legion Post 7 in downtown Tucson on March 2 to see some mighty fine motorcycles and tile work depicting motorcycles and veterans by students at Pima County’s Las Artes Arts & Education Center.
You could even go home with a tile if you place the highest bid in a silent auction.
Raza Rider Magazine, the only Hispanic motorcyclist magazine inArizona, and the Morgan McDermott American Legion Post have teamed up to put on the free Show N Shine Show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at330 W. Franklin St.
Santos Diaz, the creator of Raza Rider Magazine, and Barry Mossman, commander of American Legion Post 7, challenged Las Artes students in January to create images of motorcycles, veterans and U.S. and Arizona flags on ceramic tiles to be auctioned off at the motorcycle show. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Las Artes.
There will be refreshments, music, raffle prizes and trophies for the best motorcycles.
Las Artes, at 23 W. 27th St. in South Tucson, combines structured classroom study with community art projects to prepare students for GED testing and employment. Las Artes students’ murals, ceramic tiles and other artwork can be seen across Pima County – most recently installed in a wall at the South Kino Parkway entrance to the UA Bio Park. More than 500 Las Artes students have obtained their GEDs since the program began more than 15 years ago. For more information, please visit www.pima.gov/ced/employment-training/et-arts-center.shtml.
Raza Rider Magazine comes out quarterly in print and is online at www.razaridermagazine.com. Its free circulation has grown from 1,000 to 18,000 since Diaz started it in November 2011.
American Legion Post 7 is Southern Arizona’s oldest American Legion Post. It was founded in 1919 and has about 300 members.
You may be entitled to compensation if you were wrongly harmed by foreclosure, but you must take action this month.
The Pima County Housing Center is working with Don’t Borrow Trouble® Pima County and HUD-approved housing counseling agencies to help identify borrowers who were financially harmed as a result of servicer errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies during the foreclosure process.
The Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued enforcement actions against 14 large mortgage services for deficient servicing and foreclosure practices. A foreclosure review conducted by an independent consultant is required as a result of the enforcement actions.
If your primary residence was involved in a foreclosure process between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010, you may qualify for a FREE Independent Foreclosure Review.
The Independent Foreclosure Review will determine whether individual homeowners suffered financial injury and may receive compensation or other remedy due to errors or other problems they encountered while going through the home foreclosure process with their lender.
Remediation for losses (financial loss due to foreclosure) may include:
- Loan modification or other loss-mitigation assistance.
- Correction of credit report or correction of deficiency amount records.
- Lump sum payment of $500-$125,000 plus equity.
- Suspension or rescission of foreclosure.
Requests for review must be postmarked or submitted online by Dec. 31, 2012.
If you or someone you know may qualify, please contact:
- the Independent Foreclosure Review Hotline at 1-888-952-9105 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Tucson time) Monday through Friday and from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
- the Federal Reserve Board at www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/independent-foreclosure-review.htm.
- the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/foreclosure-prevention/correcting-foreclosure-practices.html.
- the Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress, at (520) 624-2947 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Don’t Borrow Trouble at (520) 792-3087.
Pima County’s partnership with a local contractor and a nonprofit has created jobs and turned a vacant, foreclosed home into a duplex that achieved the “greenest” possible rating for energy and water efficiency – Emerald.
Two low-income families are moving in today.
“This is the only Emerald Certification awarded in the state of Arizona” for a renovation, said Shawn Andersen, project manager for the nonprofit Southern Arizona Land Trust (SALT).
With Andersen’s project direction, the contractor converted the run-down house into a beautiful, safe and very energy-efficient home. “Everything in this house, from the roof to the foundation, has been constructed to save the resident money on their water and electric bills for many years to come,” said Jerry Camp, the general contractor with JC Construction Inc. hired by SALT.
The property southeast of Valencia Road and South Sixth Avenue is one of dozens of vacant, foreclosed homes purchased and renovated for sale or rent through the Pima Neighborhood Investment Partnership (PNIP). Pima County received a $22 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2010 and is collaborating with the City of Tucson and seven local nonprofits to make foreclosed and vacant homes energy efficient, available and affordable in a target area generally south of 22nd Street.
SALT received $8 million and has purchased, renovated and rented over 52 homes to low-income families. The project has helped Camp keep his 15-year-old, family-owned construction business going through tough economic times.
“If it hadn’t been for the grant money … I’d probably be running two or three guys,” he said. “That’s it. Now I’ve got 21 guys.”
Camp is proud of his green building record. “I’ve got 42 Silvers, three Golds and an Emerald,” he said about his housing rehabilitation work for the partnership and for the City.
He and Andersen worked closely with Amy Patze and Clayton Trevillyan in the County’s and City’s green building programs, respectively, to get the certificates.
The standards of the Regional Residential Green Building Program established by the City and County are comparable to the national LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards without the costly LEED fee for certification – a critical factor in affordable housing projects.
“People say that using Energy Star-rated materials, fixtures, bulbs, etc. increases the construction costs hundreds, even thousands, of dollars,” Camp said. “It doesn’t.”
“There are many ways to find the required points to make the home energy efficient without spending an enormous amount of money,” Andersen said. “Jerry and I have great model we have utilized on every one of our projects to maximize the energy efficiency while keeping construction costs to a minimum.”
Turning the 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom home with a grandmother’s apartment into a duplex gave Andersen and Camp an opportunity to go for an Emerald Certificate because they had to completely gut all but the foundation slab, outside walls and roof. To create one 3-bedroom/2-bath unit and one 2-bedroom/1-bath unit, with a garage for each, they had to add 500 square feet, replumb the entire property to create two separate water and sewer systems, and rewire for all new electric to correct deficiencies and meet code.
The improvements that helped Andersen and Camp achieve the Emerald rating included:
- Replacing the home’s swamp cooler with a heat pump for each unit.
- Increasing the insulation in the ceiling to R-30 and adding three layers of reflective roof coating.
- Water-efficient toilets, and sink and shower fixtures. “Many time people will only install new shower heads, for example,” Camp said. “We actually go another step further and install new diverters. No matter what shower head you purchase and install, it’s going to be “low flow.”
- Installing ceramic tile floors instead of carpet.
- Double-pane windows with argon gas between the panes. “You can touch the window on the inside when it’s 110 degrees outside and it’s still the same temperature as it is in the house,” Camp said.
- Energy-efficient light fixtures and ceiling fans. “The actual light fixture is low-wattage,” Camp said. “You can use a 60 watt bulb, but it will still be energy efficient.”
- Formaldehyde-free cabinets and paint free of volatile organic compounds.
- Drought-tolerant, low-water-use landscaping with rainwater retention and a high-efficiency irrigation system.
- All Energy Star-rated appliances.
Camp said his green building work for SALT and PNIP “has transformed how we work and think.” He’s hired an energy specialist to help achieve green building certifications, and together they’re educating homeowners and construction workers about green technology. He started a nonprofit, Green & Healthy Homes Inc. (http://tucsongreenhealthyhomes.com), to raise funds to provide “a healthy living environment for low-income families, especially those with children and seniors.”
Camp praises the Pima County One-Stop Career Center for helping him hire the local and lower-income workers the federal grant required.
“You know what’s good about One-Stop?” Camp said, repeating his phone conversation with the center personnel. “’Hey, I need some guys.’ ‘How many do you need? What do you need?’
“You call them up. You send over your reference sheet. They set up a room and they set up all your appointments within a half hour. I sit in there at a desk and they bring them in. I mean wow! What an organization!”
Camp also hired “7, 8, 10 guys from the neighborhood.”
“If they could do a couple more grants like this,” he said, “I think they could really help the economy out a lot.”
For more information, please visit:
- Pima Neighborhood Investment Partnership: www.pnip.org
- Southern Arizona Land Trust: www.saltproperty.com
- JC Construction Inc.: http://www.jcconstructionarizona.net/
Downtown Tucson has another LEED-Certified Green building: Sentinel Plaza, at 125 S. Linda Avenue. The facility opened in August 2012 for low-income seniors moving from an existing building on the east end of downtown Tucson. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) gave it Gold certification for achievement in green homebuilding.
The six-story, 143-unit building is the first of its height to be constructed of Integra Block, an insulated, Arizona-produced, post-tensioned concrete block system. Recycled materials, low VOC paints and sustainably harvested woods are further examples of LEED requirements that were implemented into the building’s design.
Unlike the former Armory Park Apartments, every resident has a one-bedroom apartment. In addition, common areas like the fitness center, gathering room, and library are powered by rooftop solar panels.
In addition, the building is located in a new transit-oriented district in downtown Tucson that is certified Gold under LEED for Neighborhood Development. Sentinel Plaza affirms urban living can work for seniors. Residents have access to bus and streetcar lines, the University of Arizona, downtown, senior centers in the adjacent neighborhood, and The Loop–a linear greenway that provides open space and recreation opportunities along the Santa Cruz River.
Developer Senior Housing Group and Evergreen Partners selected Tucson architecture firm Lizard Rock Designs and W.E. O’Neil Construction to bring the project to completion.
“This is our second senior project that has been certified LEED Gold, and it was built at $110 per square foot,” says Tom McQuillen, Principal at Lizard Rock Designs. “We incorporated a lot of sustainable design features that produced a tangible benefit for the residents.” For example, a big expense for seniors besides rent is the energy bill, and McQuillen says, “We visited residents in the middle of the summer, and they didn’t have the air conditioning turned on. The building is so well insulated, they didn’t need AC.” In addition, the “tight” building design means dust doesn’t get in; ducts are also covered during construction, providing a really clean indoor air environment for seniors.
“This building shows that the Board of Supervisors 2007 Sustainability Resolution is making a difference in our community,” says Rich Franz-Under, Green Building Program Manager for Pima County. He points out that the green building program was a product of the Sustainability Resolution, created to support local builders to benefit from the LEED for Homes certification. The end result is tangible, Franz-Under says: “At Sentinel Plaza, we have energy efficient, water efficient, and healthy homes for our seniors.”
LEED for Homes awards points to projects in seven categories of environmental performance: Location & Linkages, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Indoor Environmental Quality, Energy & Atmosphere, Homeowner Awareness, and Innovation and Design.
“The U.S. Green Building Council is proud to help celebrate Lizard Rock Designs, Senior Housing Group and Evergreen Partners’ commitment to greener living,” said Michelle Moore, Senior Vice President of Policy & Market Development, U.S. Green Building Council. “Their leadership – demonstrated at Sentinel Plaza – is at the national forefront of quality; and their example can help us all to live better by reducing our environmental footprint, cutting our utility bills, and coming home to a healthier place to live.”
Under Arizona law, almost every jurisdiction in the state must update its comprehensive plan, and 2013 is the year to begin the Pima County update.
“The County’s updated Comprehensive Plan will support the Economic Development Action Plan and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, allowing businesses to compete and thrive, while maintaining community character,” says County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
Today, the County released its Notice of Solicitation for Qualifications (SFQ) No. 72825, “seeking Statements of Qualifications from qualified firms to provide comprehensive plan update services.” For detailed SFQ information, including Scope of Work, visit the Pima County Procurement webpage, under Design and Construction: http://www.pima.gov/procure/ifbrfp-dc.htm.
Interested, qualified firms should download the SFQ document from the webpage and address questions in writing to the Contracts Officer listed for this solicitation.
Planning Director Arlan Colton says, “The 2013-2014 Plan update will now address new state-mandated topics like Energy, beef up the economic and human needs components and be heavy on public participation—including open houses and social media. We want to hear from residents and businesses as we develop guidelines primarily for unincorporated Pima County’s future.”
Since 1992, the Pima County Comprehensive Plan has provided the primary land use and related policy guidance for the unincorporated County. In 2001, among other changes, the 1992 comprehensive plan was updated to consider new land uses throughout the County. The 2001 Plan integrated key aspects of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan with considerable focus paid to conserving indigenous Sonoran Desert vulnerable species and our cultural heritage.
As a living document, the Comprehensive Plan has been amended almost every year since adoption but this update in intended to focus less on land use changes and more on key policies including County social service delivery, transportation-oriented development, housing, recreation, economic development, and community design.
The policies, maps and land use legend of the current Comprehensive Plan for unincorporated Pima County can be found under the Long Range Planning icon at http://pimaxpress.com/Planning/Default.htm.