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Growth booms on Tucson’s Southeast

Government services must adjust
Posted at 7:38 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 22:38:13-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Southeast side has had a very strong building boom for both the City of Tucson and Pima County. That’s an opportunity and a challenge. The challenge for local government is how to make sure that boom stays positive and government services are strong.

Even in a hot home market, development on the Southeast side stands out.

Ward Four Councilmember Nikki Lee represents the area. She says she sees something new almost everyday.

“We’re the growth ward in Tucson because we have the land to do it. I can speak for myself and my family. We were on the South side of town for the time before we moved out here in this corner of the city. And we loved the open space. We loved feeling like we could breathe out here because there was openness, there was more connection to nature, which is something that we liked. And I think a lot of people really like.”

She’s excited about the potential for jobs and convenient medical care from the new branch of Northwest Hospital about to open near Houghton Road. But booming growth adds needs for governments to fill, from police and fire protection, to garbage pickup.

She says police and fire need to work hard on recruitment.

She wants to improve bus service to better tie the Southeast to the rest of the city, and hopes voters will okay Prop 411 which if approved, will channel about 740 million dollars to local streets.

Streets are part of the concern for Pima Supervisor Steve Christy. He represents District 4 on the Southeast. The unincorporated County is seeing the same sizzling growth as the city. Developments like the Rocking K have large homebuilding companies making room for even more population.

“I think it was 20,000 in my district, District 4, since the last census. So my main concerns of course are law enforcement and making sure that our county roads are maintained and and repaired in that regard to keep up with this growth and that by doing so, it continues to attract new residential developments and commercial developments as well.”

Christy says he’s working to attract more retail and improve transportation. He thinks people in areas like Vail and Corona De Tucson may want to go from unincorporated parts of the county to incorporated cities so they have more direct control of their growth.

Steve Christy says he assembled a southeast regional council to keep southeast communities informed and learn what their concerns are.

Then there’s the question of how to pay for expanding services. The County collects property tax. That increases with all that new construction. The city lives on sales tax which can increase as population grows. The city is also hoping voters will approve Prop 411 which would extend a half cent on sales tax designed to raise money for roads.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.