To the editor:
It seems odd that the local print media had been so publicity friendly to the Bike Ranch people while not finding their way clear to publish a single one of the several well researched opposition pieces submitted. This was punctuated with a piece from the developer’s paid architect, among the most recent shills for the cause. He attempted to stress the efforts of technical compliance while totally ignoring the obvious conflict with 5 of the 7 stated purposes of the Buffer Zone Ordinance (BOZO). And they also refuse to say what happens to the adjacent 26 acres now concealed from examination because of a subdivision of questionable intent.
The ‘minor resort’ project has been headed for approval since the hearing administrator announced his blessing in mid April; yet, here’s another peculiar situation. It seems the administrator is in the same business as the developer’s consultant. No one doubts his qualifications, but he brags on his website that he has been the only one to date who has managed to overcome the restrictions of one of the most restrictive “’big box” ordinances in the country. That certainly raises the question of bias and the integrity of the process. The bias issue is elevated further when he dismisses “. . . the notion that the minor resort is nothing more than an intensive, bustling commercial hotel in disguise.” Well, it is certainly not a ranch or a Miraval Resort, not on 19 acres! The actual hearings reminded me more of court proceedings in a land down under.
The larger issue of what will best serve the public interest has been lost in this orchestrated dance. In my view, the primary issue ignored by the Bike Ranch discussion is concisely stated in a California Law Review article under Land Use Planning, regarding Piecemeal Land Controls: “Since the middle 1960’s, legal scholars have complained that local land decisions can make a mockery of orderly and predictable planned development. Individual land decisions, the critics say, amount to deals with landowners and developers; these deals gut the local plan (if indeed any exists) and are merely ad hoc impulse choices that neither safeguard the surroundings for present and future residents, nor enable those residents and would-be developers to predict future actions.”
That is exactly the point and is precisely what we got from the board of supervisors decision July 2nd under the leadership of Steve Christy. He dared not challenge the media/developer narrative and refrained from considering the concerns of his constituents. Richard Elias, however, displayed his sensitivity and courage with a concern for residents and the far-reaching implications of this decision. Sadly, his “no” vote, along with Sharon Bronson’s, was not enough.
The approval of this project makes a mockery of the BOZO statute and diminishes the effectiveness SR zoning. It does nothing to safeguard the surroundings for present and future residents, which should have been a primary concern of the board of supervisors. And as for the few minimum wage jobs that might be created, without financial sustainability, they will soon vanish. That kind of sustainability is dependent on obtaining a huge financial investment for a very risky and speculative venture. Additionally, major efforts must be taken to secure a huge influx of new tourists in order for the enterprise to survive. Good luck with that, particularly in the summer months!
Eli Karson, Tucson