Below Are My Answers to the Paradise Valley Independent's Questions for Candidates. I have provided much more detailed and specific answers to the questions than have the other candidates for Town Council. The topics of the questions, all of which are printed below, are as follows:
June 15 -- Quality of Life Issues
June 22 -- Priorities and How to Achieve Them
June 29 -- Critique of Municipal Operations
July 8 -- Zoning Rule Changes and Policies
July 13 -- Changes and Improvements at Paradise Valley Town Hall
(There were no questions for the July 20 edition of the newspaper)
July 27 -- Trash and Recycling Services
August 3 -- Short Term Rental Housing
June 15, 2016 Questions and Answers: Topic -- Quality of Life Issues
•What do you believe to be the biggest threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?
One of the primary quality of life reasons that caused me to run for council was to protect the mountains and prohibit dynamiting the mountains.
Last summer I successfully led residents in our community against the 64-foot-high structure that was proposed to be built high up on Camelback Mountain. The applicant sought five significant variances to the Hillside Building Ordinance for a spec house.
The project would have changed forever the view of Camelback Mountain.
Our entire community was awakened to the real threat to the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our town. It caused many neighbors to become actively involved and learn the process that could allow such extreme projects that deviate so materially from the spirit and intent of the Hillside Building Ordinance.
Within six months of defeating the first proposal, a second project was proposed at a different location at the highest level on Camelback Mountain and included a 500-foot driveway scar across the mountain with a 300-foot long house on a 52 degree slope.
Our entire community again successfully stood together against the variances and proposed dynamiting. I earned the nickname “No Blast Julie.”
The town is currently experiencing a transformation of rebuilding. Engineers, builders, and architects bring much needed expertise to the future plans of our town, but we also need what I can contribute, which is a perspective of the citizens to the town process and quality of life issues our town wants to preserve, particularly protecting our Mountains and upholding the Hillside Ordinance.
•As an elected leader, what steps would you take to resolve that issue?
I am a fourth generation Arizonan who will work to set the pace on preserving quality of life issues by protecting the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our town by prohibiting dynamiting our mountains; expanding notice requirements when variances to the Hillside Building Ordinance are sought, which increases transparency to and involvement of our residents, avoiding variance requests to the Board of Adjustment in August to give residents an opportunity to be informed and provide input; moving Hillside Committee concept plan review for mountainside construction before variances are considered by the Board of Adjustment; enhancing the safety and security of residents both in construction and in living in our town; addressing drainage, erosion and infrastructure; upholding the spirit and intent of the Hillside Ordinance to respect our town’s Heritage; and adopting a town ethics and disclosure policy.
Each of these actions will help us enhance quality of life for all our residents and visitors from around the world. Together we need to exercise responsible and vigilant stewardship of the mountains and low density residential character that make Paradise Valley unique.
June 22 Questions and Answers: Topic -- Priorities and How to Achieve Them
*If elected, what will be your No. 1 priority while serving on Paradise Valley Town Council?
My No. 1 priority for all of us is our quality of life. There are many things we can do to not only maintain, but improve our community in order to make Paradise Valley an even better place to live. I will work hard to protect the mountains for everyone — whether you live on the mountain or simply enjoy the ever-changing views of Camelback and Mummy mountains.
I will also work to protect the low-density residential character that makes our town unique. As a fourth-generation Arizonan and 13-year resident of Paradise Valley, I understand the importance of being faithful to our town’s heritage.
Our mountains and residential desert ambiance are what attracted many of us to Paradise Valley years ago, and are also essential to maintaining the vitality of the town’s resorts that generate revenues to avoid a property tax while providing for public safety and other town needs.
Within the past year, I have led efforts to defeat a proposed 64-foot structure on Camelback Mountain. That would have been as high as a six-story building. Shortly after that proposal was withdrawn because of our community’s opposition, we faced a proposal to dynamite a 480-foot driveway and building site for a 100-yard-long structure higher than any house on the north side of Camelback.
Proposals such as these would forever scar the views of Camelback from a large part of Paradise Valley. In addition to preserving the mountain views, we must address drainage, erosion and infrastructure issues to improve the quality of life. When it comes to our high quality of life, these are just some of the key issues facing us. I intend to set the Pace by leading the way to work with the Town’s residents, the Mayor, my future colleagues on the Town Council, the Town staff and others to accomplish these goals.
*What will you do to accomplish the goals of that priority?
Whatever it takes. I owe it to the people of our community to make Paradise Valley an even better place to live. I will use my skills and experience in law, business, communications, and public service on various city committees, to get things done cooperatively and by building a consensus for practical solutions. Some people who run for office make promises they cannot keep. I am a big believer in the philosophy words and deeds must match. I look forward to using my opportunity to serve on the town council to take real action on all of the quality-of-life issues that are so important to all of us.
Specifically, I will propose the following steps so that the town and its boards and committees will be faithful to the spirit and intent of the hillside zoning ordinance:
June 29, 2016 Questions and Answers: Topic -- Critique of Municipal Operations
*What is your No. 1 critique of the municipal operations at the Town of Paradise Valley?
We are fortunate that our municipal operations serve our residents well. One item to enhance the quality of life that caused me to run for council is to improve the process to protect the mountains and prohibit dynamiting. This past year, our community faced a threat to the scenic mountain vistas important to our town residents, visitors and our wonderful resorts.
This issue recently arose because the town is confronted with some challenging lots that have never been built upon. Last summer, I successfully led residents against the 64-foot tall spec house high on Camelback Mountain.
A few months later a second project was proposed for the highest level on Camelback Mountain and included a 500-foot driveway scar across the mountain with a 300-foot long house on a 52-degree steep boulder field. The two projects would forever change the view of Camelback Mountain.
I approached the situation collaboratively and brought residents together to address the issues and bring meaningful solutions to the table. We observed a town process that could be improved upon to reduce conflict, ensure transparency, increase resident and stakeholder involvement, and obtain substantive and complete information.
The first avenue to address these extreme variance requests was the Board of Adjustment, but the board was not allowed to consider some of the residents’ concerns because the board is legally allowed to address only six factors before granting or denying variances.
The Board of Adjustment’s limited scope prevented it from considering the community’s concerns about safety from the use of dynamite in a boulder field high on Camelback Mountain. This limitation was not the board’s fault as safety is legally not part of the variance review.
This caused frustration for board members and residents regarding these two construction proposals. Residents’ only option to challenge a decision by the Board of Adjustment is to file a lawsuit.
The Hillside Committee’s concept review of some issues should occur before the Board of Adjustment action so that the board and applicants will have the benefit of the Hillside Committee input.
*What would you do, if elected, to correct the shortcoming you believe exists?
I regularly serve as a facilitator and problem solver in my professional and civic life, and I will enhance the quality of life through modifying the town’s process by:
1. protecting the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our town by prohibiting dynamiting our mountains;
2. moving Hillside Committee concept plan review for mountainside construction before variances are considered by the Board of Adjustment;
3. avoiding variance requests to the Board of Adjustment during August to give residents a greater opportunity to be informed and provide input;
4. expanding notice requirements when variances to the Hillside Building Ordinance are sought, which increases transparency and involvement of our residents;
5. enhancing the safety and security of residents both in construction and in living in our town;
6. addressing drainage, erosion and infrastructure, including the impact of new construction affecting others; and
7. upholding the spirit and intent of the Hillside Ordinance to respect our town’s heritage without any property tax.
These action items will help us enhance quality of life for everyone. I have the experience and passion to serve the residents regarding quality of life issues our Town wants to preserve, particularly protecting our Mountains and upholding the Hillside Ordinance.
July 8, 2016 Questions and Answers: Topic-- Zoning Rule Changes and Policies
*Do you think the Town of Paradise Valley should be open to new zoning classifications that could spur new resort development and untapped commercial opportunities?
No. I do not favor new zoning classifications to spur new resort development or commercial enterprises. My priorities are to preserve the low density residential character of Paradise Valley and buttress the vitality of the economic, social, and aesthetic contributions of our existing resorts. We need to focus on limited government to ensure no property tax so that the town does not expand commercial enterprises as an alternative to imposing a property tax. Managing the town budget and staying fiscally conservative will be a priority for me.
The new Mountain Shadows and Ritz-Carlton resorts include commercial and large residential components. Rather than opening the door to new zoning changes to promote additional commercial enterprises, we should evaluate and ensure the resort projects under construction are the quality that our town desires and expects.
Paradise Valley’s resorts are located next to low density residential neighborhoods with beautiful homes in high quality neighborhoods. The homes on some of the higher volume streets for traffic serve as Town ambassadors that help define Paradise Valley. We owe a duty to the residents of those areas to help preserve their quality of life, rather than allowing new zoning for additional commercial enterprises. The traffic management that occurs every weekend near the Cholla and Echo Canyon trailheads show the challenges of managing the impact of additional traffic. We do not want any of the streets carrying through traffic in
Paradise Valley to develop into something like Scottsdale Road. We need to preserve our quality of life and that is why I am running for council.
*What role do you think zoning plays in the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?
Responsible zoning decisions are essential to our quality of life. The town recognized this objective when enacting the visionary Hillside Zoning Ordinance. Zoning should not be abused by out-of-state real estate speculators to obtain variances to flip properties without regard to our Town’s heritage. A major reason I am running for council is to preserve our low-density residential character and to preserve the views of our mountainside areas that are enjoyed by ALL Paradise Valley residents and guests.
To utilize zoning to preserve our quality of life, I propose the following:
1. Move the Hillside Committee concept plan review for mountainside construction so that it occurs before zoning variances are considered by the Board of Adjustment. This will ensure more information about proposed projects before key irrevocable decisions are made.
2. Expand the notice requirements to town residents of zoning requests and building plans that could affect them, especially because most properties are an acre or more and the current distance requirement is not sufficient to ensure notice to surrounding neighbors.
3. There should be transparency and accessibility regarding building plans and information. We have a lot of talented and experienced people in our town who can provide comments and meaningful input if sufficient time is available and access to the information is more convenient.
4. Prohibit dynamiting the mountains.
5. Require an assessment of the impact on neighbors of zoning and building plans, including drainage, erosion and infrastructure.
6. No Board of Adjustment meetings to request variances in August.
To illustrate the impact of zoning decisions and the need for reforms, last summer a proposal was submitted to the town to approve a 64-foot tall spec home high on Camelback Mountain–the height of a 6-story building! I led the community efforts to defeat this proposal. The applicant had no intention of living on the property and it was an out-of-state investor who wanted to get the extreme zoning variances approved so the plans could be flipped.
Next came a proposal to carve and dynamite a 480-foot long scar high across Camelback Mountain for a driveway and to construct a 300-foot long house higher than any existing structure. This would forever change and dominate the views of Camelback for all residents of Paradise Valley. As illustrated by these examples, responsible zoning procedures are important to protect the interests of Town residents and to preserve the quality of life in Paradise Valley and this is what I stand for.
July 13 2016 Questions and Answers: Topic -- Changes and Improvements at Paradise Valley Town Hall
*What needs to improve at Town Hall and how would you make that improvement if elected?
There are several steps I will take at Town Hall to improve our quality of life. First, I will work to protect the mountains. Second, I will foster resident involvement in our town’s processes. Third, I will work on my high priority of security for our residents. Fourth, I will bring my legal experience in employment, benefits, and government contracting to benefit the town.
We need to support our resort industry and the mountain views are a reason people visit Paradise Valley. Successful resort experiences generate revenues and result in no property tax, if coupled with limited government, fiscal accountability, and a keen eye on our town’s budget.
I will continue to foster increased resident involvement in our town’s processes, as I have done this past year when I led efforts that resulted in a large increase in resident participation.
The collaborative and facilitative approach I brought led to many resident meetings and happy hours to learn and share information and identify potential solutions. I arranged meetings with the town manager and staff, as well as increasing communication among residents with our town’s boards and commissions — the people who could make a difference regarding residents’ concerns.
I encouraged town residents to utilize their skills and experience to serve by applying for boards and commissions, and they did. We provided input on quality of life issues regarding trash pick-up, enforcing the Hillside Ordinance, maintaining low density, evaluating erosion and drainage options, coordinating utility work on the streets of our town, beautifying street corners and visual corridors, addressing unattractive utility boxes, and more. This all occurred in the past year because of my leadership.
We are fortunate that we have an accessible Town Hall to provide quality resident service. Resident involvement in partnership with the town improves results.
Third, I am a big proponent of security in our town. I strongly support the efforts of our police department and Officer Kevin Albert, with his diligent community outreach, coupled with increasing technology, as critical to ensuring the safety of residents.
I arranged for a neighborhood meeting with Officer Albert who explained affordable security tools. I founded the Nextdoor email communication system for our neighborhood to help with security alerts and exchange of information among neighbors in our community, as well as encouraging residents to sign up for Code Red.
When alarms or damage occurs, I contact the police, record license plates or take photos of perpetrators. Again, actions speak louder than words, and I have taken action to support security in our town.
*How will that improvement play a role in the future prosperity of the Town of Paradise Valley and serve the residents you seek to represent?
I regularly serve as a facilitator and problem solver and will work to preserve our quality of life and prosperity by:
1. Protecting the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our town;
2. maximizing resident involvement;
3. increasing the exchange of information among residents as to how our town process works and accessing information and people who are the decision-makers;
4. Enhancing transparency of information;
5. Ensuring accountability of fiscal decisions;
6. Fostering success of our resorts to avoid any property tax;
7. Encouraging security technology to protect our residents;
8. Reinforcing neighbors to be connected online through Nextdoor and Code Red to receive security alerts, tips and emergency information;
9. Moving Hillside Committee concept plan review for mountainside construction before variances are considered by the Board of Adjustment;
10. Addressing drainage and erosion;
11. Providing Council-level oversight of employment, benefits and government contracting matters.
As a lawyer who represents businesses, state and local governments in employment, benefits, OSHA and government contracting matters, I can ask questions and focus on issues reducing the town’s risk of liability and curtailing costs.
I am a collaborator and problem solver and have worked under five mayors to make a difference on municipal planning, zoning, design, and execution for more than a decade and can bring my experience and grassroots outreach to our Town to preserve our quality of life!
July 27, 2016 Questions and Answers; Topic -- Trash and Recycling Services:
*What do you think of the town’s current free-market system as it pertains to both trash and recycling services for local residents?
It is good when our residents have free choice to make their own decisions about services. Residents currently choose their own refuse service and whether to recycle and handle billing.
As a community, however, the downside of having garbage trucks driving on our residential streets everyday adversely impacts the quality of life for our town by increasing wear and tear on streets, noise due to the frequency of garbage trucks in neighborhoods, and sight of garbage containers daily.
First, having five different trash haulers operating daily in neighborhoods costs more money in street maintenance on our town streets. One municipality study shows that limiting the number of garbage trucks on streets extends the useful life of the streets by 5 to 10 years. This factor alone saves our residents significant money.
Another study shows that garbage trucks stress the pavement more than 9,000 times as much as an SUV because of the stopping and starting and turning and backing up of the big heavy trucks. One city takes the volume discount a signal hauler achieves and has it paid back to city as a franchise fee and uses it towards road maintenance.
Second, residents have complained about the noise factor. Having different garbage company trucks operating daily on our streets means that residents and visitors hear the garbage truck daily instead of twice a week.
Third, many residents and resort guests do not want to see garbage cans on streets everyday. Limiting garbage pick up to specific days results in a couple of days a week with no garbage cans in front of residences in a neighborhood. These factors and potential cost savings are incentivizing the Town to evaluate options to improve the quality of life for all residents while saving monies and I applaud the dialogue.
•As the town looks to possibly amend its existing system and potential service providers, do you think the town should pursue a single-carrier system gained through a formal bid process?
I serve on Mayor Collins’ HOA Advisory Committee to learn and share ideas on preserving our quality of life. On behalf of our neighborhood, I attended and spoke at the town’s Community Conversation on garbage in April.
Our neighborhood supported pursuing a single-carrier system in our community to save monies on the wear and tear on streets, reduce noise by limiting frequency of trucks and changing time of pick-up because of reverberations off the mountains, improve aesthetics, and to capture volume discount pricing because of the savings that would result from economies of scale for a single hauler handling a section of our town.
I also saw an opportunity to enhance security for our residents if we went a single hauler in sections of our town and that is why I requested that any trash haulers approved by the town agree to have meetings twice a year with our town’s police department to train their drivers so that trash haulers can be an extra eyes and ears in our neighborhoods and report suspicious activity.
The town has opened the dialogue on talking trash and many neighbors seem to support a single hauler for their area. The town should issue a detailed RFP to trash haulers who will submit proposals if it proceeds with a single hauler option for one or more sections of our community.
The RFP needs to be thoughtful and include fine details to address concerns of residents in their respective neighborhoods. The town controls the terms and the RFP needs to be done correctly to ensure a smooth transition for residents. Quality of service should be a selection criteria, as well as pre-qualifications for any company submitting an RFP. The RFP needs to include options for those neighbors who live on steep or narrow roads, which may require smaller vehicles.
Quality of life for our town involves many areas and refuse pick up is one that we should gather citizen input, ensure that neighborhood needs are met, and protect our streets to save money. When issues like this arise, I commit to doing my homework, being fair, accessible, honest and fiscally conservative and will make decisions in the best interests of the town and its residents. I look forward to putting my experience to work for residents on these types of quality of life issues as a town council member.
August 3 2016 Questions and Answers: Short Term Rental Housing and the State Law (SB 1350) That Restricts the Town's Legal Authority to Regulate Rental Properties
How do you interpret SB 1350 and do your believe that it poses a legitimate threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?
Yes, the new statute adversely impacts the quality of life in our town. The law mandates the existence of a short-term rental market in Paradise Valley.
The new law also affects Scottsdale and Sedona, which have precluded short term rentals for decades. The Arizona Legislature overrode local control and choices when enacting the law.
The law was enacted as a “striker amendment” so it did not go through the full hearing process at the Legislature.
Disturbingly, the law provides protections for online lodging marketplaces by restricting our town’s ability to obtain information about the rental operations within our town. Transparency for rental operations should be available and not a secret.
The new law provides that cities and towns can impose a transaction privilege tax, sales, or franchise tax, but with limitations. But, the law restricts the town’s ability to verify information for the business ventures in our town.
The new law allows residences to directly compete with our town’s resorts. Paradise Valley derives approximately 40 percent of its revenue from our exceptional resorts, which helps our town avoid any property tax. We must protect the unique experience Paradise Valley offers residents and the resorts.
Cities and towns will shoulder the increased expenses of extra police, fire and code enforcement relating to the short term rentals business. The new law could divert police, fire and code enforcement from other public duties when they deal with abusers. We must preserve our quality of life and the pristine environment for our neighbors and our world class resorts.
•If elected, how will you allay resident concerns about short-term rental properties and potential uses for those properties within Town limits?
The purpose of the new law was purportedly to ensure property rights of homeowners who wanted to rent out a bedroom or house for a short-term rental. It was not intended to convert private residences in our town into commercial properties.
Many of the short-term rental markets are operated by commercial enterprises in numerous locations. There is a potential for the law to be abused.
Our town’s codes protect against commercial uses such as converting a home to a wedding venue or party house. If a home crosses the threshold to becoming a commercial property, neighbors will be the first line of defense to observe changes and report them to our Town’s Code enforcement department.
Neighbors should strive to be good neighbors and communicate with each other if possible and avoid issues. Occasional visitors and an atmosphere of a tranquil environment is likely not going to cause concerns for neighbors. It is the abusers, party houses, commercial enterprises and mini-hotels that will cause concerns in neighborhoods.
HOAs and CC&Rs should trump the new law. I serve as a representative from the Stone Canyon neighborhood on our Mayor’s HOA Advisory Board and will evaluate options and implement strategies depending on a neighborhood’s goals.
Neighbors can utilize the following types of evidence, however, to assist the town in enforcing its codes and laws against abusers:
1. Log dates, times, and descriptions of violations;
2. Identify vehicles and license plates involved;
3. Save information from camera systems;
4. Obtain incident reports from security patrols;
5. Capture photos or video of violations; and
6. Contact the Police Department or town’s Code Enforcement.
Our town will need to vigorously enforce existing codes relating to violations by abusers including, but not limited to:
2. Parking and traffic;
3. Missing permit requirements for special events such as weddings or parties;
4. Trash and debris;
5. Disturbing the peace and other potential violations;
6. Ensuring Business and Sales tax licenses are obtained;
7. Seeking fees, costs, and fines against repeat violators; and
8. Individuals may pursue potential injunction or lawsuits involving loss of enjoyment of a residence’s property if a party house pops up next door.
One town resident, a Realtor, who I spoke with already has endured far too much abuse with a repeat offender who has set up a party and wedding house without permits adjacent to the resident’s backyard. This situation caused the resident to lose the enjoyment of her own backyard and the serene Paradise Valley environment she has the right to enjoy.
As a town council member, I would commit to working with our legislators and government relations professionals to address some of the deficiencies in the new law, and work with the mayor and council members and staff to utilize tools we have to prevent abuses and preserve our quality of life.
August 9, 2016; Paradise Valley Independent: Julie Pace: I will bring added value to Paradise Valley Town Council
By Julie Pace
I am running for town council because I love Paradise Valley and have a passion for preserving our quality of life. As a fourth generation Arizonan and 13-year resident of Paradise Valley, I understand the importance of being faithful to our town’s Heritage.
My top priority on the Town Council will be to preserve and enhance our unique quality of life in Paradise Valley.
Our mountains and residential desert ambiance are what attracted many of us to Paradise Valley, and are also essential to maintaining the vitality of our town’s resorts. The revenues generated from our resorts help us avoid a property tax and support critical town services.
Also, I will work hard to protect the low-density residential character that makes our town unique.
Preserving our unique quality of life in Paradise Valley begins with strong public safety services. Due to the current town council leadership and the outreach efforts of our police department, we have seen significant improvements to our public safety services.
We need to build on these improvements, and as a member of the town council, I will ensure that public safety remains a top priority and work hard to enhance this critical service to keep our residents safe and secure. As your councilwoman, I will focus on finding ways to enhance our public safety services to keep Paradise Valley families safe and secure.
I am a collaborator and problem solver, and have worked under five mayors to make a difference on municipal planning, zoning, design, and execution for more than a decade.
My experience is unique because I have represented both the private sector and local governments in government contracting matters. This is relevant to service on the council because how our town spends taxpayer dollars in procuring goods and services is important for fiscal responsibility and public accountability.
I look forward to using my education and experience to serve on the town council to take real action on the quality of life issues that are so important to all of us.
If given the privilege and honor to serve on the Paradise Valley Town Council, I will be accessible to residents and work cooperatively with the mayor, council, and staff to preserve our quality of life, enhance public safety, and address drainage and infrastructure issues while continuing to avoid a property tax.
PACE stands for Passion, Action, Commitment and Execution. Learn more about my campaign for Town Council at www.PaceForPV.com or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would be honored to have your support and ask for your vote by early ballot or on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 30.