This is a proposal by The Planning Center that would be on 35.59 acres adjacent to the La Mariposa Resort on Houghton Road, adjacent to the Agua Caliente Wash, and less than 0.5 miles south of Tanque Verde Road. They are proposing a “luxury casita community” with 179 units that will require rezoning for increased density on those lands.

Last year, The Planning Center requested a rezoning of 19.79 acres located on the northwest corner of Houghton Road and Corte Vista Las Mariposa, from SR to R-2 in order to develop 132 of the proposed 179 units. This parcel is located on the flood plain, and was found to NOT be in compliance by the Tucson Rezoning Examiner at their hearing on December 9, 2021.

The Developer opposed this decision and provided further information. Following a second online hearing on January 6, 2022, the Tucson Rezoning Examiner approved the application for rezoning despite 68 written protests. In addition, nine (9) people spoke in opposition to the rezoning from adjacent neighborhood associations (Powder Horn Ranch and Forest Grove Loop). One of the main concerns is that this proposed development is located on the Agua Caliente Wash Flood Plain which could have significant flooding impacts on adjacent areas. The next step is for the Tucson Mayor and Council to give or deny final approval.

These are the important concerns and issues regarding this potential development. Please feel free to use this information to send your letters of concern to the addresses and emails at the end of the letter.

  1. Potential flooding impacts to neighborhoods both downstream and upstream, including Castle Rock, Forest Grove, Woods Place, Bonanza Avenue, and Woodland Road. There are historical flooding issues in Powder Horn Ranch and other neighborhoods adjacent to the Agua Caliente Wash and its floodplain. This area is currently designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas “AE” and “A” on the FEMA Flood Insurance Risk Map.
  2. Safety Concerns including:
    1. Increased traffic congestion in the Houghton Road and Tanque Verde Road intersection, and no proper turning lanes into or out of La Mariposa Resort or this development from Houghton Road. This would be especially dangerous during school start and dismissal times, and for emergency vehicle usage.
    2. Increased traffic and flooding issues on Bonanza Avenue (previously known as Jones Rd). There have been two water rescues in Castle Wash at Bonanza Avenue during the last 12 months.

  3. Riparian, conservation, and archaeological impacts, particularly to the Isabella Lee Nature Preserve, listed in the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and by Tucson Audubon Society as an important wildlife and riparian area. It is designated a Birding Hotspot, and is within the priority Arizona Important Bird Area (IBA) of the Tanque Verde Creek.

  4. The proposed rezoning and development are not in compliance with the guidelines regarding housing and development in the Bear Canyon Neighborhood Plan (BCNP; see Page 16 of the BCNP, Amended October 23, 2018), particularly in regard to density and single-family owner-occupied homes. In addition, La Mariposa Resort has potential plans for further developments, including, but not limited to, a hotel, an 18-court tennis facility, apartments, and other structures in the same flood plain. It should be noted that two previous rezoning attempts for this area have been denied by Tucson Mayor and Council.

  5. Non-compliance with the BCNP, that states “Until such time asdetailed hydrologic studies are accomplished, no change in land use densities or zoning should be allowed except to reflect existing uses.” We understand this requires FEMA to conduct a flood risk assessment known as a “Conditional Letter of Flood Map Revision” (CLOMR) prior to rezoning and development of this property. In violation of the BCNP, the City of Tucson has issued a permit to commence preliminary work such as grading and infill for this proposed development.

  6. Total reliance is being placed upon a single civil engineer contracted by the Developer using a Flo-2D modeling program to allegedly verify that there would be minimal risk of potential flooding from this commercial project to the surrounding areas. Previous flood events have shown how ineffective it is to model flooding in our desert environment and terrain in such a large watershed as the Agua Caliente Wash. This was outlined in the BCNP.

In view of historic drought conditions, and increasing wildfires in the Santa Catalinas, the following factors may influence any output from computer flood modeling programs:

  • The time interval for microbursts;
  • The significant increase in water runoff from the Santa Catalinas due to the loss of vegetation from recent major fires;
  • The noticeable increase in sediment and debris transportation resulting from the recent wildfires as seen from the recent summer monsoons and winter rainstorms as witnessed on January 1, 2022, on Bonanza Avenue and in the Isabella Lee Nature Reserve;
  • Unauthorized dumping by landowners on or near the Agua Caliente Wash causing the creation of new water channels;
  • Poor management and maintenance of retention basins;
  • Increase in water flow from Tanque Verde Road drainage across Bonanza Avenue into the Castle Wash following the widening of Tanque Verde Road.
  1. There has been a lack of communication with the neighborhoods that are or could be negatively impacted by this Development. Furthermore, contrary to the Pima County Flood Management Mission and Goals, and the BCNP, the Pima County Regional Flood Control District has not been involved in this rezoning process.

  2. Social Justice Issues. As we have all witnessed an increase in the intensity and frequency of natural disasters, we have also seen how these events disproportionately affect high density rental communities. Tucson faces a shortage of affordable housing, but building in a floodplain during a climate emergency, is a poor solution to this problem. If our city cares about social justice and climate change, this proposed development should be denied. 

Addresses to send letters or email to:

Pima County Regional Flood Control District
201 N. Stone Ave. Ste 7
Tucson, AZ 85701

     Director Suzanne Shields
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     Deputy Director Eric Shepp
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     Advisory Committee Coordinator Tammy Jorde
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Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy
District 4
33 North Stone Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
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Tucson City Council Ward 1
Lane Santa Cruz
940 West Alameda
Tucson, AZ 85745
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Tucson City Council Ward 2
Paul Cunningham
7575 E Speedway
Tucson, AZ 85710
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Tucson City Council Ward 3 
Kevin Dahl
1510 E Grant Rd
Tucson, AZ 85719
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Tucson City Council Ward 4
(Vice Mayor) Nikki Lee
8123 E Poinciana
Tucson, AZ. 85730
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Tucson City Council Ward 5
Richard Fimbres
4300 So Park
Tucson, AZ 85714
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Tucson City Council Ward 6
Steve Kozachik
3202 E 1st St
Tucson, AZ 85701
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Mayor Regina Romero
City Hall
255 West Alameda
Tucson, Az 85701
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City manager Michael Ortega
City Hall
255 West Alameda
Tucson Az. 85701
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Director Zoning Office
Scott Clark
Public Works Building
201 North Stone
Tucson, Az 85701
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For more information, see:

City of Tucson Mayor and Council Meeting Agenda
https://tucsonaz.onbaseonline.com/1801AgendaOnline

Stop Casita Village at La Mariposa website. You can also view and sign their petition at the website.

December 15, 2021, Zoning Examiner's Reconsideration of the project
January 18, 2022, Final Rezoning Examiner's Report