Tucson maps its future

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson city leaders will pour over their plans for the future in a scheduled study session this week.

It's called the General Plan.

And it's just that, general.

But it can highlight areas of concern, it gives the public a chance to add input into Tucson's future and gives voters the right to approve or disapprove of the direction chosen by city leaders.

It's mandated by the state legislature that cities of significant size update their general plan every ten years.

Tucson has been working on its plan for the past two years.

During three public meetings on the plan, residents have voiced a series of concerns.

The one with the most scrutiny is, what to do about Davis Monthan AFB.

Some residents are concerned about the noise and safety created by the jets and other aircraft which fly over city limits and wants to know what the city can do to mitigate it.

The concern is with the Air Force decision to base the new F-35 jet in Arizona.

Right now it will  be based in Phoenix but may someday come to Tucson too.

The jet is said to be eight times louder than the A-10, now  based at DM.

Not much can be done about the noise level locally however.

"The city does not have jurisdiction over the federal government," says Nicole Ewing Gavin, as assistant city manger. "It's going to make its own decision about military operations and decide what airplane goes where."

She says there have been attempts at noise mitigation in the past "but the city doesn't have the money right now."

But the city will have an impact on the future of DM.

"Our role is primarily the zoning around the base to make sure future development is compatible," Ewing Gavin says.

One area which some say is lacking is a comprehensive strategy on poverty.

Tucson has the sixth highest poverty level in the nation for a city its size but the critics say the city plan doesn't do enough to attack the fundamentals.

"They don't dig deep enough," says Richard Gamache, a homeless man who has worked and volunteered at several social service agencies. "They seem more concerned about keeping poor people away from tourists than actually doing something for them."

Jason Casey, who says he's homeless by choice says, if the city gives too many benefits "it will just draw more people here."

While he says the city tries "I find that its constantly a balancing act of not giving out too much but giving out just enough to get by."

The city will also decide when to take the plan to the voters. Many are hoping for November of this year but that may not be possible.

If not, it will be 2015 at the earliest but others feel if the city waits that long, momentum and two years of work will be lost.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.