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eNewsletter – published March 16, 2015

The Record of Decision has been released!

ADOT released the Record of Decision (ROD) for the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) on March 10, 2015. As expected, the decision is to build the SMF from the intersection with the I-10 and the Loop 202 San Tan Freeway, west along Pecos Road, cutting northwest through 3 ridges of South Mountain, then turning north and meeting the I-10 west at 59th Avenue.

Do not despair! This step was the next necessary step in the process outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We have waited many years to get to this point. Now, we can finally prepare to take ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to court and stop this poor excuse for a freeway once and for all!

For more detail on PARC’s grounds for taking ADOT and the FHWA to court, see our article "Legal process against South Mountain Freeway just getting started" in our last newsletter. Also see the second article in this series, "ADOT distorts purpose and need for South Mountain Freeway," at the end of this newsletter.

  Rock & Roll at Nabers
   

March 28th Come Rock and Roll to Stop the Freeway!

Join PARC and friends for a Rock & Roll "Stop the Freeway Bash" on Saturday, March 28th from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm. Have lunch, drinks, and fun while listening to 5 kids rock bands and one adult rock band from the Music Maker Workshops in Ahwatukee. We will ask for a $5 minimum donation at the door, and PARC will receive 20% of the bar/food receipts generated by our group. We will also hold a 50-50 raffle, and we will complete the silent auction bidding for the painting of South Mountain (see "Silent Auction – local artist donates painting of South Mountain for fundraiser" below).

Nabers is located just across the freeway at 825 N 54th St in Chandler between Chandler Blvd and Ray Road. Nabers identifies more with Ahwatukee than with Chandler and belongs to the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce. Come support your local business, support your children and the Music Maker Workshops, and support PARC at the same time!

Silent Auction – local artist donates painting of South Mountain for fundraiser

painting

Local artist Rich Fischer has donated a beautiful painting of the west end of South Mountain (the part that would be destroyed by the SMF) to PARC to help us raise funds for our fight against ADOT and the SMF. The painting (with frame) is valued at approximately $600.

We will auction it off via a Silent Auction that will run until March 28th at our "Come Rock & Roll to Stop the Freeway" concert at Nabers, where the painting will go to the highest bidder. Winner need not be present.

Bids will be updated daily on our Facebook and Twitter accounts until the 28th, and new bids can be made via our Facebook group page, Twitter (@PARCtheSMF), or email to PARCtheSMF@aol.com at any time before the 28th. On the 28th, bids may be texted to 602-692-3303 until 2:00pm when the winner will be announced.

If you wish to examine the painting before entering a bid, use one of the above-mentioned methods of communication to arrange a viewing. We cannot leave such a valuable painting in a public place, but we would be happy to bring it to the parking lot of the Pecos Post Office at a convenient time for viewing.

  H&R Block

Still need to do your taxes?

Help yourself and PARC. Print the H&R Block flyer (miniature seen here) on the PARC web site (under Archived Info in the right hand margin) and take it to your local H&R Block office. Alternatively, copy the ID number 40010001081108 and take this newsletter with you. H&R Block will do your taxes and donate $20 to PARC.

Club West residents approve PARC funding through HOA

On March 5th, Club West residents passed a resolution for their HOA to provide up to $25,000 funding for PARC over the next year. That is approximately $10 per household. Thank you Club West residents! Please keep in mind, however, that individual funding is important for PARC as well.

Lakewood residents have yet to vote for a resolution that would assess each household $200 for the HOA Board to use toward freeway issues. Some of these funds would go to PARC, as the Lakewood Board is trying to ensure that Lakewood would not lose its lakes. Please be sure to vote, Lakewood residents!

Remember, funding is critical for PARC at this important time. Please be as generous as possible!

ADOT distorts purpose and need for South Mountain Freeway
by Dr. Pat Lawlis, President of PARC

This is the second in a series of discussions on seven areas of issues with the proposed Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway (SMF). These articles are also being submitted to the Ahwatukee Foothills News as guest editorials.

To begin the series, I discussed the fact that Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children’s (PARC’s) chances of winning in court are extremely good because of the combination of these seven areas of grounds for suing the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):

  • Distortion of purpose and need for the SMF
  • Air pollution
  • Negative health effects – especially for children
  • Destruction of wells
  • Danger from hazardous materials
  • Desecration of South Mountain
  • Destruction of quality of life (noise, crime facilitation, home values)

This time I will concentrate on ADOT’s weak attempts to provide a purpose and need for the SMF. Purpose and need are the first requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the governing law for the development of a new freeway. Without purpose and need, a new freeway cannot be justified.

About 30 years ago, ADOT decided on the need for the SMF and that it would be located from I-10 and the Loop 202 San Tan Freeway down Pecos Road, through three ridges of South Mountain, meeting I-10 again at 59th Avenue. By 1988, ADOT began purchasing land for a right-of-way along 59th Avenue and along Pecos Road. Perhaps this activity could be regarded as "just in case" purchases except that ADOT has never purchased right-of-way land for any other possible SMF alternatives.

The problem is that NEPA prohibits ADOT from deciding the location of a freeway until they have completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is to consider all possible alternatives, including every possible location for the freeway as well as alternative forms of transportation. ADOT published the Final EIS for the SMF in September 2014. Since from the very beginning they had decided on the specifics of the SMF, it was no surprise that the EIS found "reasons" for eliminating all other possible forms of transportation and all other possible locations for a freeway. ADOT’s "reasons" are very flimsy, however, for many of the alternatives, and they will not hold up in court. For example, the current truck bypass – from I-10 at Casa Grande, west on I-8 to Gila Bend, then north on SR 85 to where it intersects with I-10 at Buckeye – was eliminated as a possibility because it is outside of Maricopa County.

Speaking of truck bypasses, it takes no genius to determine that the SMF is intended as one. With a major commercial area around 51st Avenue on the west side of South Mountain, companies like the "tank farm" are chomping at the bit to have a shortcut for their gasoline tanker trucks carrying hazardous materials (hazmats) to the East Valley. The EIS excludes tunneling through South Mountain as an alternative for the SMF because hazmats cannot use freeways with tunnels. The EIS also dismisses out of hand all alternative forms of transportation, such as light rail, that would move people around. Clearly, the SMF is for hauling freight, using hazmats as well as the big rigs of the trucking companies near 51st Avenue. Of course, ADOT has never admitted that the SMF is intended as a truck bypass because Phoenix already has one of them, and it is far outside the metropolitan area as it should be. So ADOT continues with the ruse that the SMF is intended as just another freeway.

ADOT evidently figured that they would have no opposition to their EIS, so they developed a really shoddy document. The Draft EIS that came out in 2013 used census data from 2005, rather than the readily available 2010 data, to try to support traffic projections for 2035. Considering that the traffic projection models they use are only valid for projections of about 2 years into the future, even once they updated the data in the Final EIS, their projections were useless. The ineffectiveness of ADOT’s long-range traffic projections was illustrated by the fact that, using the 2005 data, their projections for 2010 were off by more than 10%. Extrapolating 25 years into the future compounds the error 5 times over, so the traffic projections for 2035 could be off by more than 50%!

Even though ADOT has been able to manipulate one of their modeling techniques (however inappropriately) to try to "justify" a need for a freeway in 2035, they have been unable to get their models to show that the SMF would bring any of the traffic congestion relief that they promised. In their Final EIS, in Table 3-8 Regional Travel Times 2035, on page 3-34, ADOT projects that in 2035, with the SMF in place, a trip from Ahwatukee Foothills Village to Downtown Phoenix (or vice versa) would save a driver one minute! Further, the reader is supposed to be impressed by the total number of minutes that would be saved by 135,000 or so drivers!

These are but a few examples of the type of logic ADOT uses in the EIS for the SMF. With all ADOT’s missteps in the EIS regarding purpose and need well documented and well refuted by experts in traffic engineering, demographics, and modeling, PARC is well prepared to contest the SMF in court in the area of purpose and need.

Yet purpose and need is just the first area in which PARC has a winning case. My next installment will discuss the area of air pollution.

 
 
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eNewsletter – published February 28, 2015

  vote

Some HOAs asking homeowners to vote about PARC funding

The Club West and Lakewood HOAs are asking homeowners to vote on whether to provide funding for PARC. If you live in one of these areas, don’t forget to add your voice of support for PARC by voting!.

  truck pollution
   

PARC participating in Transportation Day

PARC will once again have a booth at the 15th Annual Transportation Day, Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 9:00am to 1:00pm at God’s Garden Preschool, located at the Horizon Presbyterian Church, 1401 E. Liberty Lane. Organizers anticipate 3000 to 3500 attendees. It is a wonderful opportunity for PARC to talk with parents of youngsters up through age 10 about one form of transportation that would be harmful to Ahwatukee – the South Mountain Freeway.

We appreciate those who have volunteered to help. We will be setting up starting at around 7:00am (just to be sure we get the space we want).

  concert
   

March 28th PARC concert fundraiser at Nabers

Mark your calendar. Nabers, a popular place for music and eats, will be hosting a PARC fundraiser event on Saturday, March 28th from 11:00 to 2:30 – lunchtime. Join us for lunch, drinks, music, fun, and information. The Music Maker Workshop’s rock & roll bands will be playing, and other events are in the planning stages. We will ask for a $5 minimum donation at the door, and PARC will receive 20% of the bar/food receipts generated by our group.

Nabers is located just across the freeway at 825 N 54th St in Chandler between Chandler Blvd and Ray Road. Nabers identifies more with Ahwatukee than with Chandler and belongs to the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce.

Legal process against South Mountain Freeway just getting started

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is hoping they have convinced the public that the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) is a "done deal." While it is true that ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will soon be releasing a Record of Decision (ROD) concerning the SMF – and everyone expects it to say that the SMF will be built – this event marks the beginning of the real work for which Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) has been preparing for years. The ROD is the end of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It marks the beginning, however, of the legal process that is permitted by law.

PARC has responded to the Draft EIS released in 2013 and the Final EIS released in 2014 with in-depth expert commentary identifying the unresolved issues brought to light during the EIS process. For the most part, ADOT has not resolved these issues. That means that PARC’s expert comments regarding the unresolved issues provide a basis – a very strong basis – for legal action against building the SMF.

With the release of the ROD, PARC anticipates filing an administrative appeal, once again citing the unresolved issues. With ADOT’s expected act of denying the appeal, all administrative avenues available for stopping the SMF will be exhausted, and PARC will finally be free to file a lawsuit against ADOT and the FHWA in federal court. The first action of the suit will be to request a temporary injunction against any building activity on the SMF.

PARC is poised to start the legal process that we expect will stop the SMF for good. Pessimists say that suing the government is a useless exercise, but they are wrong. A good body of case law exists on other freeways that have been stopped. In most of these cases, a freeway was stopped just because one important issue was not resolved. PARC has at least seven (7) areas of issues with the SMF, and any one of them can stop this freeway! Putting all these issues together makes PARC’s chances of winning in court extremely good.

In future weeks, I will provide an in-depth discussion of each of these seven areas of issues, one at a time, to keep you properly informed. I will also be submitting these discussions to the Ahwatukee Foothills News as guest editorials.

These areas of issues are:

  • Distortion of purpose and need for the SMF
  • Air pollution
  • Negative health effects – especially for children
  • Destruction of wells
  • Danger from hazardous materials
  • Desecration of South Mountain
  • Destruction of quality of life (noise, crime facilitation, home values)
  Donations are tax deductible!
please donate
   
 

Meanwhile, with an administrative appeal to be prepared and a court case to be filed very soon, if you ever have considered stopping the SMF a worthy cause, now is the time to donate to PARC! Even small donations help because they add up to significant amounts. Larger donations, however, are also necessary for PARC to raise the kind of funds needed to get this court case started and to keep it going. PARC has already spent approximately $175,000 to prepare the responses to the Draft and Final EISs. It will take at least that much again to see this case through court. Surely, most Ahwatukee households can manage $100 right now. Small businesses are donating $500 to $1000. Please be as generous as you can.

 
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eNewsletter – published February 4, 2015

  kids cheering
   

PARC is finalist for Ahwatukee Non-Profit of the Year Award

The Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 16th Annual Chamber Day of Champions on Friday, February 6, 2015. Businesses and individuals will be awarded for 2014: Business of the Year, New Business of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Educational Mentor of the Year, and Non-Profit of the Year. PARC is among the four finalists nominated for the prestigious award of Non-Profit of the Year.

Don’t forget this coming Saturday
South Mountain: Hike It Don’t Drive It!

trailhead
 

The Bursera Trail hike will be Saturday, February 7th from 9-11 AM. The hike starts and ends at the Bursera Trailhead at 19th Ave and Chandler Blvd.

Enjoy beautiful South Mountain Preserve Park and learn how the proposed Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway (SMF) will affect this natural resource and the Ahwatukee community. After hiking approximately 2 miles on the Bursera Trail, you will come to an overlook where you can see the west end of South Mountain and visualize the path of the proposed SMF. A guide will be at that location to describe the proposed freeway route. A Park Ranger will also be available to educate hikers about the park and its many natural wonders.

The return hike will be a return on the Bursera Trail, making the total hike about 4 miles long. It will be a hike of moderate difficulty. For more adventuresome hikers who like long, challenging hikes, one could continue on the Bursera Trail to where it ends at an intersection with the National Trail. Travel east from there to the intersection with the Pyramid Trail, and follow the Pyramid all the way back down to the trailhead (map will be available at the trailhead).

Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) and the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council (PMPC) are sponsoring this hike. They will have a table at 19th Ave just outside the parking lot to provide hikers with information about the hike and about the SMF. Hike is free. Of course, donations are always welcome! “Save Ahwatukee” T-shirts will be available for the special price of a $10 donation per shirt.

Hike will begin at the Bursera and Pyramid Trailhead at the parking lot where 19th Ave meets Chandler Blvd. If you are coming from farther east in Ahwatukee, follow Chandler Blvd all the way to 19th Ave and turn right into the parking lot. If you are coming from farther west in Ahwatukee or from outside the community, follow Pecos Road to 17th Ave, turn north to Chandler Blvd, then west to 19th Ave. If the parking lot is full, there is a lot of parking on Chandler Blvd.

PARC participating in Transportation Day

PARC will once again have a booth at the 15th Annual Transportation Day, Saturday, February 28, 2015 from 9:00am to 1:00pm at God’s Garden Preschool, located at the Horizon Presbyterian Church, 1401 E. Liberty Lane. Organizers anticipate 3000 to 3500 attendees. It is a wonderful opportunity for PARC to talk with parents of youngsters up through age 10 about one form of transportation that would be harmful to Ahwatukee – the South Mountain Freeway.

As usual, volunteers are needed to help in the booth. If you are available for set-up, starting no later than 7:30am, or to talk with people as they come by during any part of the 9am to 1pm event, please return this email to PARCtheSMF@aol.com.

ROD still expected by end of the month.

The Record of Decision (ROD) on the proposed South Mountain Freeway (SMF) from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is still expected by the end of February 2015. Of course, every expectation is that it will say that the SMF is approved. That will just be the beginning, however, of the legal fight against the freeway.

With its extensive examination of the Environmental Impact Statements on the SMF and thorough documentation of the proposed freeway’s shortcomings, PARC is well positioned to challenge the SMF in court.

 
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eNewsletter – published January 21, 2015

  aerial view
   

ADOT and the FHWA expect ROD in February

The latest ADOT indication is that the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway (SMF) will be out by the end of February 2015. Meanwhile, ADOT is at work trying to purchase more land on the western end of Pecos Road (where the proposed freeway would turn from Pecos Road to go through South Mountain – see photo) and PARC is at work developing strategies for an administrative appeal and a court case to follow.

We expect a flurry of activity regarding the SMF during the first half of 2015. Meanwhile, we are still in need of much funding! Please consider a generous donation! You can donate by credit card online using the button in this newsletter or send a check. Our mailing address is at the bottom of this newsletter. Unfortunately, the issue of the SMF will not be resolved quickly, so it requires continued financing. Thank you for your support!

South Mountain: Hike It Don’t Drive It!

Bursera Trail hike February 7th

trailhead
 

Mark your calendar for Saturday, February 7th from 9-11 AM. The hike starts and ends at the Bursera Trailhead at 19th Ave and Chandler Blvd.

Enjoy beautiful South Mountain Preserve Park and learn how the proposed Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway (SMF) will affect this natural resource and the Ahwatukee community. After hiking approximately 2 miles on the Bursera Trail, you will come to an overlook where you can see the west end of South Mountain and visualize the path of the proposed SMF. A guide will be at that location to describe the proposed freeway route. A Park Ranger will also be available to educate hikers about the park and its many natural wonders.

The return hike will be a return on the Bursera Trail, making the total hike about 4 miles long. It will be a hike of moderate difficulty. For more adventuresome hikers who like long, challenging hikes, one could continue on the Bursera Trail to where it ends at an intersection with the National Trail. Travel east from there to the intersection with the Pyramid Trail, and follow the Pyramid all the way back down to the trailhead (see map).

Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) and the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council (PMPC) are sponsoring this hike. They will have a table at 19th Ave just outside the parking lot to provide hikers with information about the hike and about the SMF. Hike is free. Of course, donations are always welcome! “Save Ahwatukee” T-shirts will be available for the special price of a $10 donation per shirt.

Hike will begin at the Bursera and Pyramid Trailhead at the parking lot where 19th Ave meets Chandler Blvd. If you are coming from farther east in Ahwatukee, follow Chandler Blvd all the way to 19th Ave and turn right into the parking lot. If you are coming from farther west in Ahwatukee or from outside the community, follow Pecos Road to 17th Ave, turn north to Chandler Blvd, then west to 19th Ave. If the parking lot is full, there is a lot of parking on Chandler Blvd.

We can still use volunteers to help with the hike. We need one or more volunteers to be at the overlook on the Bursera Trail to explain the freeway route to hikers. Many hikers also enjoy having a "guide" to describe the hike all the way up. Additionally, we need volunteers at the table on 19th Ave. Since those who park in the parking lot will not go past the table, we need one or more volunteers to walk through the parking lot to hand out information.

Sal DiCiccio expresses PARC support

In a recent discussion of the SMF with PARC President Pat Lawlis and Treasurer Jim Jochim, Sal DiCiccio wanted to be clear that he supports PARC.

Sal, our Phoenix City Councilman from District 6, has been criticized as possibly having a conflict of interest over the SMF because of land he owns at Pecos Road and 40th Street. He rejects this criticism, however, because he says his investment in the property in question will work out for him regardless of whether the SMF is built or not. He and his partners in the real estate are planning to attract several businesses to the land, starting with a gas station that will be built soon. In the near future, they are hoping to attract a hospital and one or two additional tenants. Sal emphasizes that the businesses will be built regardless of whether the freeway goes in or not.

Sal has a history of supporting PARC. He has donated to PARC, making him a member, and he has brought in some additional funds as well. Several years ago, he also worked very hard to bring about a compromise that would have put the SMF on land further south on the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC). Of course, the compromise did not succeed and that solution is no longer viable because the GRIC has voted against having the freeway on its land. With the information provided by PARC’s experts about the wide-ranging effects of air pollution from a freeway to the south of Ahwatukee, it is good for us that the GRIC also sees the SMF as undesirable.

In October, when PARC addressed the City Council, it was Sal who requested that the SMF be put on the agenda for a vote at a subsequent meeting. The item did not get to the agenda because of opposition from other council members.

Sal continues his opposition to the SMF on Pecos Road and through South Mountain, and he continues his support for PARC.

  concert
   

Planning underway for a Concert March 28th.

Our attorney, Howard Shanker, is in a rock band! Who knew? His band, along with all the Music Makers kids rock bands and possibly other bands are looking to put on a concert tentatively Saturday, March 28th. We need volunteers to coordinate this as a PARC fundraising event. We can probably charge a cover charge and have a silent auction or a 50/50 raffle as a part of the event as well.

Any takers? Please let us know.

 
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eNews – published December 29, 2014

  Happy New Year!

PARC wishes you a Happy New Year!

2015 will be a very important year, as PARC plans to take ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to court.

  comments
   

Additional Comments on the FEIS for the Proposed Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway

As you may know, ADOT extended the comment period for the FEIS until December 27th. ADOT failed to address 10 sets of comments on the DEIS in the original FEIS, so ADOT published a Volume IV (Errata) to the FEIS to address the missed comments. As the extended comment period is closing, PARC would like to share with you the additional comments our president sent to ADOT:

The FEIS makes a mockery of public comments on the DEIS. These comments are evidently just annoyances that require excuses and justifications – and that is all the FEIS is, a plethora of excuses and justifications intended to confuse the reader and muddy reality. It begins with unsupportable justifications for needing a freeway and excuses for ruling out many other reasonable locations for potentially building a freeway.

A good example of the FEIS attempt at muddying reality is the claim that the Phoenix Police have found no correlation between crime rates and freeways. This claim is easy to refute in Ahwatukee! Police logs of Ahwatukee crime reported in the Ahwatukee Foothills News show the vast majority of crime near the I-10. Also, Phoenix Police officer allocation in Ahwatukee shows a much greater concentration of officers assigned to patrol near the I-10. So the Phoenix Police are quite well aware of the correlation. Perhaps politics will just not allow them to admit it! The FEIS is full of implications that outside organizations support FEIS conclusions, yet these implications are based on a confused version of "reality" that exists only in the FEIS.

It is clear that all FEIS excuses are leading to a justification for a major truck bypass in the location of the "preferred alternative." Such unreasonable excuses and justifications can only be the result of behind-the-scene political and/or financial pressure to choose this unsuitable and unjustifiable location for a freeway whose very existence is difficult to justify.

The FEIS is fraught with inadequate analyses and a lack of meaningful preliminary designs making it difficult for a reviewer to determine anything substantial about the freeway plans. It also contains many contradictions, such as the assertion that accumulated small differences are important when they further a case for justifying a freeway but not important when they work against the case.

For the most part, the FEIS analyses look at areas outside of Ahwatukee, throwing in an occasional Ahwatukee reference to make it look good – just as most of the FEIS is little more than a feeble attempt to make the "preferred alternative" look good. For example, air quality analyses purposely do not study the Ahwatukee environment in detail. The reason seems quite obvious – the results would not further the case for the freeway.

The FEIS for the proposed Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway is a farce. The only reasonable alternative is a "No Build."

If ADOT and the FHWA continue with this farce, it will go to court where individual criminal activity within government agencies may be uncovered in addition to ADOT and FHWA incompetence.

Patricia K. Lawlis, Ph.D.
President, PARC

PARC anticipates a lawsuit against ADOT and the FHWA next year.

Unfortunately, PARC has no expectations that the Record of Decision (ROD) to be released by ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) within the next month or so will respond to reason any more than the FEIS responded to reason. Hence, PARC will forge ahead with appealing the decision to build the South Mountain Freeway. After the appeal is denied, PARC will also file suit in federal court. These actions will both likely happen within the first half of 2015.

Meanwhile, our fundraising is not quite keeping up with our expenses from the FEIS response, let alone preparing us for court. We maintain a very low overhead because we are all volunteers and major expenses such as printing costs have been absorbed by some of these volunteers. We do fundraising as we need it, and we need it now.

Please consider what you have to lose and donate what you can. Remember that all donations to PARC are tax deductible.

  sweetheart hike
   

Plans for another Sweetheart Hike February 7th.

Many of you enjoyed our hikes last winter, so we are looking at another Sweetheart Hike in February. We are avoiding having the hike on Valentine’s Day itself since that is a special day for many and it is also part of a holiday weekend in 2015. So the Sweetheart Hike will occur on Saturday, February 7th. It will be jointly sponsored by PARC and the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council (PMPC), one of our partners in the fight against the freeway.

We are just beginning the planning process, so we are looking for volunteers to help in the planning as well as during the hike. Our preliminary idea is to offer two possible trails to hikers: the Bursera Trail (out and back) or the route up Telegraph Pass and down the Pyramid Trail. We will have T-shirts and bumper stickers available for hikers, with other ideas also a possibility.

Let us know if you want to help with the hike. More specific details will be forthcoming next month.

Goldman Ranch HOA meets to discuss devastation.

Goldman Ranch stands to lose about 90% of its homes if the South Mountain Freeway is built. The Goldman Ranch homes are just east of the Mountain Park Community Church that would also be lost to the freeway.

In early December, PARC set up a meeting for the Goldman Ranch HOA so the homeowners could discuss their mutual problems and interests. It seems that at least some of the Goldman Ranch leadership is ready to throw in the towel and give up on their homes. They even had the poor judgment to invite ADOT and some real estate sharks to the meeting.

The meeting was well attended, and in spite of the hostile environment, PARC gave a good representation of our mission to defeat ADOT. Goldman Ranch HOA will probably not provide financial support to PARC, even though our work will be beneficial to their homeowners whether or not they are forced to sell their homes. Many Goldman Ranch homeowners, however, were very supportive of PARC, and the most important thing is for them to get good information and support. We hope they will also individually support PARC.

 
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eNewsletter – published November 12, 2014

Summary of the second PARC public meeting.

  meeting
   

The October 29, 2014 public meeting was very well attended. PARC attorney, Howard Shanker, again talked about the legal process for stopping the SMF, and people asked lots of questions.

As in the first meeting, Howard discussed the legal process that works like this:

  1. ADOT submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public comment (this occurred last year and PARC submitted a 318-page document to ADOT in response),
  2. ADOT submitted a Final EIS (FEIS) responding to the comments it received on the DEIS (this occurred Sept 26th and the public has until Nov 25th to comment on it – PARC will again submit a comprehensive set of comments, and individuals are encouraged to submit their own comments as well),
  3. ADOT, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will submit a Record of Decision (ROD) probably early in 2015 (PARC will counter with an administrative appeal shortly thereafter),
  4. PARC will sue ADOT in Federal District Court (Phoenix), including filing an injunction to prevent any building activity – this process is measured in months or even years,
  5. If District Court ruling is appealed (expected), it will go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (San Francisco) – again this process is measured in months or years.

Some questions and responses from the meeting:

Q) What is the GRIC doing about the SMF now?
A) The GRIC continues to oppose having the SMF on their land, and they also oppose having it on Pecos Road and going through South Mountain. Many GRIC members are also PARC members, and they are adamant that the freeway must be stopped!

Q) Some 200 residents are already receiving letters from ADOT saying their houses will be taken for the freeway. Does this mean the SMF is a "done deal?"
A) NO! ADOT has often gotten ahead of itself on the SMF, but nothing will be "final" for a long time. The court process is a very long one!

Q) If PARC can already show that ADOT is breaking the law in trying to push this freeway through, why don’t we go to court now?
A) This is a civil suit, not a criminal one (although criminal suits have not been ruled out for later). We must exhaust all administrative options using the process laid out above, according to the governing law (the National Environmental Policy Act – NEPA), before we can file suit in court. Meanwhile, the responses PARC and individuals from the public are making to the DEIS and FEIS provide the basis for our future court suit.

Q) Is PARC getting any support from elected officials?
A) Elected officials have been "cautious" about saying anything. When talking in Ahwatukee, they often express views against the freeway. However, we have yet to see one who is willing to stand up and say to the general public of the Valley of the Sun that they are opposed to the freeway.

Sal DiCiccio’s new aide attended the meeting and expressed Sal’s strong support for PARC and opposition to the freeway. However, he was reminded that Sal has also not said these things anywhere but in Ahwatukee! Sal has also not yet responded to a request for the city to do a traffic study in the area around 32nd St. This would have been very useful in responding to the FEIS. On the positive side, Sal is pushing for the City Council to vote on their support or opposition to the freeway. While the city cannot stop the freeway by itself, it holds a very influential position on the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) – the organization pushing for this freeway.

When should we be worried?

It is very important to understand that as we work our way through this NEPA process (described above), there will be times when ADOT will announce that the SMF has been approved and they are ready to start building it!

Especially in number 3 above, when ADOT and the FHWA submit a Record of Decision that says they will build the freeway, it will appear that they have won. They will provide a lot of fanfare to try to deflate those who were hoping the SMF would be stopped. But that is just the beginning of PARC’s real fight!

After we make our administrative appeal regarding the ROD, still in number 3 above, the appeal will be denied. Once again, it will look like ADOT has won. Not so.

It is after all of that, in number 4 above, that ADOT gets stopped in their tracks. They will make no big fanfare when PARC sues them in court – but we will announce it to the world!

Then we will all be in for a really long court process. ADOT will undoubtedly try some legal tricks along the way. They could possibly even win the decision coming out of federal district court in Phoenix. Unfortunately, our Arizona judges are not completely divorced from politics.

However, once the case goes to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, we expect to get a fair ruling. We are very confident that we will win this case in the end!

timeline

  commenting FEIS

Still time to comment on the FEIS.

There is still time to comment to ADOT on the FEIS. Be sure to say in your comments that you are a member of PARC. Comments can be sent to:

South Mountain Freeway Project Team
Arizona Department of Transportation
1655 W Jackson St, MD 126F
Phoenix, AZ 85007

or they may be emailed to projects@azdot.gov

Festival of Lights Kickoff Party.

PARC will continue to be active after the FEIS comments are in and even after we take our case against ADOT to court. Our next event will be the Festival of Lights Kickoff Party where PARC will, once again, have a booth. The event will be November 29th at Desert Foothills Park.

  lights
   

Come and visit us, have a discussion, stick around and talk to people who walk by thinking the SMF is a "done deal." This event will be another important way to inform the public about what we are doing. You would be surprised at how many people still say they know nothing about PARC’s work to oppose the freeway.

The event will also be an important fundraiser, and we will once again have T-shirts available for anyone donating at least $20.

 
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eNewsletter – published October 21, 2014

One more PARC public meeting coming up.

On October 29th, PARC will hold its last of two public meetings to update everyone about the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) and discuss what the future holds. PARC decided on two meetings to provide two chances for citizens to attend. To make it as convenient as possible, the first was at the Club West HOA building and the second will be at the Foothills Golf Club.

PARC attorney, Howard Shanker will once again provide an update on the legal process and how it will proceed. See the following article for a summary of the first meeting.

PARC PUBLIC MEETING:

Wednesday, October 29
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Foothills Golf Club
2201 E Clubhouse Drive

PARC only has until November 25th to provide a response to the FEIS. With this response, PARC will have built a necessary, powerful foundation for a legal challenge to the SMF. PARC expects to win this case in court!

Needless to say, now is an important time for fundraising. The response to the FEIS will be costly. Please consider an online credit card donation or a check. You can either bring a check to the meeting or mail it to PARC at PO Box 50455, Phoenix AZ 85076-0455. Thank you for your continued support.

Summary of the first PARC public meeting.

  meeting
   

The October 15th public meeting was well attended. PARC attorney, Howard Shanker, talked about the legal process for stopping the SMF, and people asked lots of questions.

The legal process works like this:

1) ADOT submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public comment (this occurred last year and PARC submitted a 318-page document to ADOT in response);

2) ADOT submitted a Final EIS (FEIS) responding to the comments it received on the DEIS (the FEIS was released Sept 26th and the public has until Nov 25th to comment on it – PARC will again submit a comprehensive set of comments, and individuals are encouraged to submit their own comments as well);

3) ADOT will submit a Record of Decision (ROD) by the end of the year (PARC will counter with an administrative appeal, probably early in 2015);

4) PARC will sue ADOT in Federal District Court (Phoenix), including filing an injunction to prevent any building activity – this type of legal action is measured in months or even years;

5) If the District Court ruling is appealed (expected), it will go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (San Francisco) – again this type of process is measured in months or years.

The bottom line about the FEIS is that it resolves none of the DEIS concerns. Demographic data was updated from 2005 data to 2010 data, but ADOT drew the same misguided and misleading conclusions from it. As with the DEIS, the FEIS provides flawed analyses, generalities, and heavy-handed justifications.

As an attorney, Howard spoke cautiously about expected court outcomes; he said we have a "very strong case." Steve Brittle (environmental activist) was enthusiastic as he said PARC’s case is the strongest he has ever seen. Steve has been involved with nearly 100 environmental cases that have gone to court and ended in favorable outcomes.

Some questions and responses:

Q) Aren’t there some endangered species living in South Mountain that could stop the building of a highway through there?

A) We know of some threatened species but not any endangered ones at this time.

Q) What is the GRIC doing about the SMF now?

A) The GRIC continues to oppose having the SMF on their land, and they also oppose having it on Pecos Road and going through South Mountain. The GRIC government is pursuing its own legal process against ADOT, but many GRIC members are also PARC members.

Q) Some residents are already receiving letters from ADOT saying their houses will be taken for the freeway. Does this mean the SMF is a "done deal?"

A) NO! ADOT has often gotten ahead of itself on the SMF, but nothing will be "final" for a long time.

Q) Shouldn’t the HOAs be helping with funding the PARC legal process?

A) PARC is receiving about 2/3 of its funding from 4 HOAs. That funding works out to about $4 to $5 annually per household. PARC relies on individuals to contribute the remaining 1/3 of its needed funding. Please consider making an online credit card donation.

Phoenix City Council fails to vote on SMF.

  meeting
   

As reported in the last newsletter, many PARC members attended the October 1st Phoenix City Council meeting. PARC had 10 members who spoke to the Council along with a supporter from the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council (PMPC). Councilman Sal DiCiccio of Ahwatukee asked for a vote on the freeway issue at the next formal Council meeting.

At that next Council meeting, on October 15th, several residents of Laveen and other parts of the valley also spoke against the SMF. We expected the SMF to be on the agenda at that meeting, but it did not happen. The Council appears to be stonewalling the issue.

A Council vote provides all of us who are opposed to the freeway with an opportunity to be heard! We may not win a vote, but at least the Council members would be forced to show their true colors about the issue! If you are willing, please contact each Council member and the Mayor with an email or a phone call and let them know you want a vote to be taken on the SMF issue. Also let them know what a bad idea the SMF is! (See our last issue for suggestions.)

Contact information is:

council.district.1@phoenix.gov   Thelda Williams   602.262.7444

council.district.2@phoenix.gov   Jim Waring   602.262.7445

council.district.3@phoenix.gov   Bill Gates   602.262.7441

council.district.4@phoenix.gov   Laura Pastor   602.262.7447

council.district.5@phoenix.gov   Daniel Valenzuela   602.262.7446

council.district.6@phoenix.gov   Sal DiCiccio   602.262.7491

council.district.7@phoenix.gov   Micheal Nowakowski   602.262.7492

council.district.8@phoenix.gov   Kate Gallego   602.262.7493

mayor.stanton@phoenix.gov   Greg Stanton   602.262.7111

Let the Council know they are accountable to the public!

 
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eNewsletter – published October 6, 2014

IMPORTANT ALERT!  Our opportunity to be heard!

  1. PARC to hold public meetings: Wednesday, October 15 and Wednesday, October 29, 2014.  More details below
  2. Phoenix City Council to vote on SMF! Please join us by contacting Council Members and the Mayor!  Details below

PARC to hold public meetings

PARC will hold two public meetings to update everyone about the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) and discuss what the future holds. PARC decided on two meetings to provide two chances for citizens to attend. To make it as convenient as possible, one will be on the west side and one on the east side of Ahwatukee.

PARC attorney, Howard Shanker will provide an update on the legal process and how it will proceed. Now that the FEIS has been released, we will finally have the opportunity to get this proposed freeway issue to court and get it resolved once and for all!

PARC PUBLIC MEETINGS:

Wednesday, October 15
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Club West HOA Building
16400 S 14th Ave
(end of 14th Ave next to the park)

Wednesday, October 29
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Foothills Golf Club
2201 E Clubhouse Drive

PARC has until November 25th to provide a response to the FEIS. With this response, PARC will have laid a necessary and powerful foundation for a legal challenge to the SMF. PARC expects to win this case in court!

Needless to say, this is a very important time for fundraising for PARC. The response to the FEIS will be costly. Please consider an online credit card donation or a check. You can either bring a check to one of the meetings or else mail it to PARC at PO Box 50455, Phoenix AZ 85076-0455. Thank you for your continued support.

Phoenix City Council to vote on SMF!

  Save South Mountain
   

Many PARC members attended the October 1st Phoenix City Council meeting. PARC had 10 members who spoke to the Council along with a supporter from the Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council (PMPC). Only about half of the 3-minute talks fit in before the meeting, so attendees had to wait through the 2-hour meeting before the other half got to speak!

Council members heard excellent presentations from the hearts of the speakers. The council listened! Councilman Sal DiCiccio from Ahwatukee asked for a vote on the freeway to be taken at the next formal Council meeting.

A Council vote provides all of us who are opposed to the freeway with an opportunity to be heard! If you are willing, please contact each Council member and the Mayor with an email or a phone call and let them know what a bad idea the SMF is! Contact information is:

council.district.1@phoenix.gov Thelda Williams 602.262.7444
council.district.2@phoenix.gov Jim Waring 602.262.7445
council.district.3@phoenix.gov Bill Gates 602.262.7441
council.district.4@phoenix.gov Laura Pastor 602.262.7447
council.district.5@phoenix.gov Daniel Valenzuela 602.262.7446
council.district.6@phoenix.gov Sal DiCiccio 602.262.7491
council.district.7@phoenix.gov Micheal Nowakowski 602.262.7492
council.district.8@phoenix.gov Kate Gallego 602.262.7493
mayor.stanton@phoenix.gov Greg Stanton 602.262.7111

Below are some suggested points you could make (information provided by PARC’s experts). You can talk about just one or two of them or about all of them. Be passionate about this issue!

  • The SMF fails to improve on traffic congestion anywhere in the Phoenix area,
  • The SMF would create a dramatic increase in Phoenix truck traffic both on the new SMF truck bypass and on the I-10 in the West Valley,
  • The SMF would deteriorate air quality beyond allowable limits,
  • The SMF would bring proven health dangers for students attending schools near the proposed freeway, specifically 15 schools with over 13,000 students,
  • The SMF would cause unnecessary destruction of both plant and animal habitats within South Mountain and destruction of wilderness areas revered by Phoenix citizens, along with the desecration of land sacred to Native American populations,
  • The SMF would create significant, new dangers of hazardous material transport within highly populated and highly vulnerable areas,
  • The SMF would fail to provide any significant benefits for the outrageous cost,
  • ADOT’s proposal for the SMF shows a complete disregard for the laws that are meant to protect our environment and our citizens.

The City Council may well vote in favor of the SMF because ADOT has been telling everyone what they want to hear – that the freeway would improve traffic congestion and lessen air pollution. Most Phoenix citizens who do not live in Ahwatukee have probably not looked closely enough at those statements to realize that they are not true. That means the Council members may believe their constituents are pro freeway.

Our information blitz may or may not make a difference, but it would be a real coup for PARC if the Council voted against the freeway. The Council cannot stop the freeway, but they have a powerful voice on the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the organization that is pushing the "need" for the SMF. So the Phoenix representative to MAG could put some pressure on MAG and ADOT to do the right thing. It’s a long shot, but the worst that can happen is that PARC gets a lot of publicity so more people become informed about the dangers of the SMF.

 
 
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eNewsletter – published September 26, 2014

Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released by ADOT

Last year, ADOT released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the South Mountain Freeway (SMF), and PARC responded with a scathing 318-page document detailing the problems with ADOT’s freeway plan.

On Friday, September 26th, ADOT released their Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), and the public has 60 days to respond.

PARC has brought back its experts who examined the DEIS to examine the FEIS to determine how ADOT has addressed the problems identified in the DEIS. These experts will detail the problems with the FEIS document. Our collection of expert commentary, along with other supporting documentation, will be sent back to ADOT before their deadline of November 25th.

Working with experts doing a thorough investigation, which is required in preparation for taking ADOT to court, is necessary and expensive. Needless to say, financial support is needed now more than ever!

What happens now?

After PARC and other members of the public respond to the FEIS, the issue will go back to ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). ADOT and the FHWA will be expected to consider all comments received. Then, ADOT will make a final Record of Decision (ROD) to build or not to build the SMF.

ADOT has made clear that they expect the ROD to be made before the end of 2014. Without a doubt, ADOT’s decision will be to build the SMF.

Once the ROD is released, it will be time for PARC to take legal action. PARC will get a court injunction to stop any action on building the freeway. The analyses of the DEIS and FEIS will provide the basis for PARC’s strong case as we take ADOT to court.

Reminder – Phoenix City Council meeting October 1st at 2:45pm

Many PARC members will be speaking during the Citizen Comments time at the next Phoenix City Council meeting. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 1st in the City Council chambers (round building) at 200 W. Jefferson St. While the official meeting begins at 3:00pm, the Citizen Comments time actually begins at 2:45, and any of the 3-minute talks that are not finished before 3:00 may be delayed until after the official part of the meeting (which could be a couple of hours later). Anyone who can be there for support will be greatly appreciated!

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eNewsletter – published August 26, 2014

A Message from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)Below is an email PARC received from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (PIRG):

Americans have cut back on driving for nine years in a row. So why does the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) keep projecting rapid increases in driving?The DOT has overestimated how much Americans drive for 61 consecutive forecasts, resulting in billions of dollars being wasted on unneeded new highways, and lagging investment in transit and maintenance.

As the DOT updates their next forecast, we need to tell them to get it right.

Tell the U.S. Department of Transportation to stop their bad driving forecasts, which lead to unneeded highways and underfunded transit.

How wrong has the agency been? The total vehicle miles Americans have driven hasn’t increased by even one percent in any year since 2004. Yet the agency officially forecasts that driving miles will increase much faster than that every year through at least 2030. Why? They don’t say.

In the 61 forecasts released by the DOT since 1999, actual driving totals have come far below forecasts every single time. This year’s forecast was bizarrely even wrong about the past, projecting that Americans drove five percent more in 2012 than they actually did.

The highway lobby loves it. But transportation tax dollars should match how we actually get around — and right now, that means new rail and bus routes or improved paths for bicycles and pedestrians, and maintaining and repairing our existing roads and bridges. Alternative kinds of travel are growing increasingly popular, especially among the Millennials — who will be the chief users of our future transportation system.

Tell the DOT to stop ignoring the continuing trend of declining driving, and to get their travel forecast right.

To be fair, the forecasters at the DOT aren’t the only ones to blame. State governments make bad forecasts too, and when the feds aggregate them together, it’s a case of garbage in, garbage out.

Nevertheless, it’s time for the DOT to start making good forecasts, instead of just relying on state projections stuck on cruise control in the past. That way, we can get the investments in 21st century transportation that we need.

If we speak up, I know they’ll listen.

Thanks for your support,

Diane E. Brown

Arizona PIRG Executive Director

lights

PARC and the Festival of Lights

Last year, PARC had a booth at the Festival of Lights Kick-Off Party the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We distributed a lot of information, talked with a lot of people, and sold a lot of “Save Ahwatukee” T-shirts. It was a rousing success, so we’re going to do it again!

This year’s party will be on Saturday, November 29th. The booths are all on Marketplace adjacent to Desert Foothills Park, and the festivities run from 11am until 7pm. We will have a 10′ X 10′ booth, with setup starting around 7am.

Once again, we are looking for volunteers to help in the booth. We will have a lot of information in the booth and a PARC officer will also be in the booth at all times to help answer questions. We would like to have 2
volunteers there at all times as well to help with the crowd that we expect to visit us. This year, even more than last year, we expect a lot of interest in our information. At the time of the event, it will be clear to almost everyone that ADOT is ready to start building the South Mountain Freeway and PARC is the only force standing in its way.

Please let us know if you are interested in helping in the PARC booth.
Don’t forget, you can support PARC in many ways.

Funding for the fight ahead is very important too.

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eNewsletter – published August 02, 2014

PARC preparing for FEIS releaseFirst, ADOT said the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) would be out in February. Then, they received 8000 comments on the Draft EIS (DEIS), including PARC’s 318 page report and the EPA’s severe criticism of their method for determining air quality. These comments made ADOT revise their estimated time of release of the FEIS to late July or early August. Now, they have delayed the release again until “mid to late September.” They still appear to be determined to have a decision before the end of the year.

PARC is ready to gear up again as soon as the FEIS is released. Even with all the time ADOT is taking supposedly to respond to the DEIS comments, it is impossible for all the problems with the Pecos Road alignment to be mitigated. Of course, PARC expects the FEIS to contain a lot of “baloney” with severe spin to try to convince readers that ADOT has everything under control. Nothing, however, will get by our experts who will once again review the document. We will have 60 days to respond after the FEIS is released, and we should have no trouble meeting that deadline.

PARC fully expects that ADOT will respond to our FEIS comments by indicating that our concerns will be mitigated. After the expected Record of Decision (ROD) – that the SMF will be built in spite of continued substantial objections – PARC will take this issue to court. PARC’s comments on the FEIS will provide the legal grounds for our lawsuit.

Stay tuned. PARC really needs your continued support – both moral and financial. The legal steps will undoubtedly take many months, and they will be very expensive.

Council visit set for OctoberPARC has talked about making presentations at a Phoenix City Council meeting in September. Because of conflicts, we have gone just a wee bit past September to Wednesday, October 1st. PARC has a good set of presentations already developed and a good list of potential presenters. We will revisit the presentations before the meeting to be sure they are appropriate and that all presenters are able to attend. The FEIS will probably be out by then.The Council meets on Wednesdays at 3:00 PM. Citizen comments are heard starting 15 minutes before and, if necessary, immediately after the meeting. If you are available at that time of day and you would like to be a presenter, PARC would be happy to have you make a 3 minute presentation. You may develop your own or we will develop new presentations as necessary.

If you want to attend the Council meeting for support but you do not want to be a presenter, we will be delighted to have your show of support! The Council meets at 200 W Jefferson St.

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eNewsletter – published May 27, 2014

fall desert

City Council visit on hold until fall

We had hoped to put together a coordinated set of presentations for the Phoenix City Council before they went on their summer recess. We ran out of time to get it all properly coordinated, however, so we are putting it on hold until the Council returns in the fall. By that time, we may have a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) to comment on. It will also be closer to elections, so the Mayor and Council members may be more apt to listen! Meanwhile, we have a good set of presentations already prepared, and we have time to work on more. We can also put together a good list of potential presenters.

The City Council usually meets on Wednesday afternoons at 1:30 PM. This was one of the problems we had in trying to coordinate with those who volunteered to be presenters. It is at a very difficult time for many to be able to attend. If you are one of those whose schedule is flexible enough to be able to attend a Council meeting and you are interested in being a presenter, please let us know. You can use return email or you can post to our ongoing conversation on our Facebook page. We want to be sure we can be ready to roll as soon as the Council returns to session this fall.

If you want to attend the Council meeting for support but you do not want to be a presenter, we will be delighted to have your show of support! It will not be necessary for you to let us know that you will be attending ahead of time. Just keep reading your newsletters. We will announce our planned visit to the Council there. We will also announce it on our Facebook page.

PARC participating in the Silent Auction for the Festival of Lights May 31st

The Festival of Lights (FOL) will be holding their annual Wine & Beer Tasting Festival & Charity Silent Auction on Saturday, May 31, 2014, from 7 to 10 PM at the Foothills Golf Club. Their silent auction is one of their big fundraisers for the year, and it is also a good opportunity for an organization like ours to get visibility.

PARC has put together a nice Wine & T-shirt Basket that we have donated to the FOL for their silent auction. If you have an opportunity to attend the event (it costs $40 or $50, depending on where you get your ticket), please look for our basket. You won’t be disappointed by the event. In addition to the silent auction, the evening will feature up to 50 different beers and wines with appetizers from a dozen local restaurants. There will also be a live band. For more information, check out www.folaz.org.

eNewsletter – published April 11, 2014

ADOT is persistentADOT continues to say they will produce the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) this summer. Jim Jochim, PARC Treasurer, makes clear in an article in the Ahwatukee Foothills News on April 6th, that ADOT probably cannot reach that goal if they take the more than 8000 public comments they received seriously. It would take a substantial amount of time for ADOT to analyze and properly respond to these public comments, including more than 300 pages of PARC comments. If ADOT chooses to do a “quick and dirty” response to all these comments, that is their prerogative. Unresponsiveness will just give PARC more ammunition for when we take ADOT to court.
PARC preparing to take our case to the Phoenix City CouncilAfter a flurry of outdoor events through the winter months, PARC will take to mostly indoor activities now. Last year, we spent some effort taking our case to the governing boards for our school districts, and we succeeded in getting support from both the Kyrene and Tempe Union districts for a “no build” on the freeway. Now we have a more daunting challenge – trying to get support from our Phoenix City Council.It seems that Mayor Greg Stanton and our City Council are content with playing the politics of taking no stance on important issues like the SMF. Rather than seeking information on what the SMF would do TO as well as FOR the city, they are content with letting the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and ADOT run the show – something like the tail wagging the dog. Phoenix has a powerful voice in MAG, and ADOT’s role is to implement the regional transportation plan developed by MAG. Yet our City Council is sitting by and letting MAG run amok with plans that would, among other things, engulf our metropolitan area in LA-like pollution.

Our Ahwatukee representative on the City Council, Sal DiCiccio, is a member of PARC, yet he makes no public statements about the SMF. Reports are that he takes a pro-freeway stance to freeway supporters. We know he has a conflict of interest because he owns property at Pecos and 40th Street.

Mayor Stanton was once the Ahwatukee representative to the City Council. In that capacity, he made the famous statement that the SMF would be built “over my dead body.” Yet now that he is mayor, he is silent. It seems he is just another politician who does not mean what he says. He just wants to say what will garner him the most support. Well, Mayor Stanton, unless you change your tune, you can no longer count on support from Ahwatukee because your silence has betrayed us! And in so doing, you have betrayed all of Phoenix! While ADOT is lying to everyone about what a great thing this SMF would be for our Valley, you and our City Council are supporting the Great South Mountain Freeway Fraud by your silence!

Enough! ADOT continues to say what people want to hear – that the SMF would improve traffic congestion and air pollution. But we know those ADOT promises are lies, and we have exposed them in our well-documented comments to ADOT. No matter. ADOT continues to say those things and people continue to believe them because that is what they want to believe. It is time for PARC to make the case to the City Council and insist that they pay attention to the realities of the proposed SMF:

  • No traffic congestion relief
  • Greatly increased truck traffic in the Phoenix area
  • Increased valley-wide pollution, with Ahwatukee becoming a mini-LA
  • Over 14,000 children in 10 Ahwatukee schools near the SMF with a significantly increased risk of major health problems
  • Destruction of 3 ridges of South Mountain, including part of South Mountain Park and Preserve
  • Significant risk of disastrous hazmat spill in Ahwatukee
  • Severe increase in crime in Ahwatukee

We can back up each of these points and more, and we think it would be most effective if we make our case in a series of 3-minute talks to Mayor Stanton and the City Council, with each 3-miinute segment presented by a different PARC member.

If you would like to be a part of this presentation series, please let us know (with a return email, a Facebook post, or other). We are currently expecting a visit to the City Council sometime in May or June.

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eNewsletter – published March 14, 2014

Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) due this SummerWe have every reason to believe that ADOT wants to put the FEIS out as quickly as they can. Yet they have delayed the document delivery from February to April and now to mid-summer. This is a good indication that they are having difficulty in finding answers to the 8000 responses they got to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from last year. Yet it also means that they continue trying to find answers – whether they are reasonable or not – to justify their South Mountain Freeway (SMF). It will be interesting to see what kind of new approach they use in the FEIS to try to make the SMF seem like a good idea. Whatever it is, we will be ready for it.

Once the FEIS is out, we will be able to definitively refute ADOT’s best ideas – those that supposedly have fixed all the problems previously identified. That will give us not only the ammunition we need to use in court to stop the freeway, but it will also give us the opportunity to examine possibilities for filing fraud charges against ADOT and/or MAG (the Maricopa Association of Governments) for the dishonest way this freeway has been thrust upon the public.

Stay tuned. And don’t forget to donate to help us get ready for our next expensive step – reviewing the FEIS! Mail checks to: PARC, PO Box 50455, Phoenix, AZ 85076-0455

Freeway update at public meeting On Wednesday evening, February 19th, PARC provided another of its public updates on the SMF at the Club West HOA Club House. The meeting provided a forum for discussing the current status of the freeway process, future PARC funding, and a question and answer session.
Transportation Day

Transportation Day at God’s Garden Preschool

PARC had a booth at Transportation Day on Saturday, February 22nd. It was a beautiful day and a great event, with an estimated 3000 to 4000 people in attendance. We continue to find many people who are unaware of the SMF or who think it is a “done deal”, so many new people were informed that day. The preschool raised about $20,000 at the event, and we also raised $300 for PARC.

volunteers

Walk to Save Pecos Road

It started out as a rainy day in the early morning of Saturday, March 1st. By the time of the walk, however, it was just a cloudy, nice day and the walk went off without a hitch. The attendance was not what we had hoped for (why are Arizonans so afraid of the rain?), but we still had a great group of volunteers and walkers who showed up along with some who just stopped by to donate to Save Pecos Road.

Many thanks to the Arizona Senior Olympics (ASO) for taking care of all the logistics of the event, including getting Pecos Road closed to traffic. The ASO had a great event and so did PARC. We made $700 that morning.

Money Mailer

More ways to spread the word about PARC and the SMF

We are working on even more ways to get the word out about the SMF. Recently, you may have seen PARC information in the Money Mailer.

Click to view (printable pdf).

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eNewsletter – published Feb. 13, 2014

Mark these dates:

  • Wednesday, February 19th, 7:00pm – PARC Public Meeting
  • Saturday, February 22nd, 9:00am – Transportation Day
  • Saturday, March 1st, 9:00am – Walk to Save Pecos Road
sweetheart hike

Sweetheart Hike on Saturday, February 9th stressed love of South Mountain

Over 70 people participated in the Sweetheart Hike that PARC organized for the love of the mountain. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the hike. PARC shuttle drivers made sure everyone got to the trailheads and then back to their cars after the hike.

PARC’s objectives were to raise some funds and spread the word about the need to save South Mountain from the ill effects of the freeway. We collected over $1300 from hike donations. Not only did the Ahwatukee Foothills News provide front-page coverage before the hike, but ABC Channel 15 had some nice coverage on their news the evening of the hike as well.

PARC to update public about freeway fight at Club West HOA Club HouseOn Wednesday evening, February 19th at 7:00pm in the Club West HOA Club House at 16400 S. 14th Ave., PARC will provide another of their updates to the public regarding the current status of freeway issues. We covered much of this in our last newsletter, but the public meeting gives everyone a chance to see and hear from those in PARC who are engaged in the freeway fight. It also provides a forum for questions and answers.

Although no one likes to have to talk about fundraising, it is an important aspect of winning our fight against ADOT. At the meeting, we will discuss the importance of HOA donations as well as individual donations. No one needs to donate a lot as long as a lot donate.

save Pecos flyer
Click to view (printable pdf).

Don’t forget the Walk to Save Pecos Road on Saturday, March 1st

We provided details about this event in our Save South Mountain newsletter distributed January 13th. You can find a copy of this newsletter on PARC’s website.

Don’t forget to get sponsors for the walk. Sponsors can either pledge a certain amount per kilometer or just a lump sum. All sponsor funds raised will go to PARC, so sponsor checks should be made out to PARC.

eNewsletter – published Jan. 29, 2014

Mark these dates:

  • Saturday, February 8th, 8:00am – Sweetheart Hike – for the Love of South Mountain
  • Wednesday, February 19th, 7:00-8:30 pm – Meeting to Update the Public (details next time)
  • Saturday, February 22nd, 9:00am – Transportation Day (PARC booth – details next time)
  • Saturday, March 1st, 9:00am – Walk to Save Pecos Road
cut thru mountain
See PDF for full-size images.

Hike on Saturday, January 18th a huge success

Over 50 people showed up to hike the Bursera Trail on South Mountain’s Main Ridge South to see where the freeway would destroy the two main South Mountain ridges. After a 2 mile hike up the trail, we came to an overlook where we could see the ends of both the Main Ridge North and the Main Ridge South. The north ridge would be cut through by the South Mountain Freeway 220′ deep and wide enough for 8 lanes of traffic plus a median, shoulders, and ditches to catch falling rocks. The south ridge would get a 190′ deep cut with the same width. The third ridge that would be cut is the Alta Ridge, which would get a 70′ cut, but it was not visible on this hike.

The Sweetheart Hike – for the Love of South Mountain is Saturday, February 8thWith the number of people who came to an informal hike (see above), we expect a good turnout for our much more advertised Sweetheart Hike. See our previous newsletter for more details about this hike.trail
Freeway update – PARC working for youAlthough you have been hearing about the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) for a long time, it’s time for a current status, complete with a reminder of how we got here.When ADOT released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the SMF in April 2013, PARC brought together several experts in various areas covered by the DEIS. These experts examined the document and provided comments on any issues that they saw. They found more problems with ADOT’s DEIS than anyone expected, and that information was detailed in PARC’s 318-page response to the DEIS.Of particular interest is that PARC’s traffic engineering experts have determined that the SMF would result in no appreciable improvement in traffic congestion anywhere, including on the I-10 and on arterial streets.Further, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examined the DEIS and came to the same conclusion as PARC’s air quality experts: ADOT does not know how (or chooses not) to do proper air quality modeling. Hence, EPA gave the DEIS its lowest possible rating – inadequate. Correct modeling shows that air pollution would get worse rather than better, particularly in Ahwatukee and the West Valley.PARC’s expert on the health effects of air pollution determined that children attending schools within ½ mile of the SMF would have inhibited lung growth and development and be at high risk for developing or worsening asthma. Ten Ahwatukee schools with over 14,000 students are within ½ mile of the proposed SMF route.Today, Ahwatukee has virtually no threat from hazardous materials. The SMF would bring many gasoline tankers from the 51st Ave “tank farm” as well as numerous other hazmats carrying sulfuric acid and chlorine gas. These would pose a significant threat in case of an accident on the SMF truck bypass. Even ADOT admits that 10% of the 135,000 vehicles on the SMF every day would be trucks – that’s 13,500 trucks per day. It’s not unreasonable to expect that at least 1000 of these would be hazmats. Sooner or later, this is a recipe for disaster – literally. A chlorine gas spill in Ahwatukee could be fatal for thousands of residents, especially those within 1 to 3 miles of the spill. The DEIS doesn’t even have a plan for how to deal with a hazmat disaster on the SMF.

Currently, PARC is waiting for ADOT to respond to the more than 8000 comments they received on their DEIS, including the PARC and EPA comments. ADOT must detail in a final EIS (FEIS) how they propose to fix the problems that were identified. This FEIS is now expected around late July or early August of 2014. Once ADOT releases it, PARC will have this FEIS examined again by the experts to see where ADOT’s response is acceptable and where ADOT continues to fall short.

The process of closely examining ADOT’s proposal and requiring all problems to be fixed helps all citizens of the Phoenix metropolitan area. If any freeway problems cannot be mitigated, then the freeway should not be built.

PARC expects that ADOT will not be able to mitigate all the problems of the SMF nor will they be able to show a need for the freeway. Hence, PARC is preparing to take ADOT to court to stop the SMF and save Pecos Road and South Mountain. PARC believes that stopping this freeway will be a service to all Phoenix area citizens who have a stake in the health and well being of their community and its natural resources.

To complete its mission, however, PARC needs to raise a significant amount of additional money. We already spent $100,000 for expert and legal fees just to review the DEIS, and we estimate we will need at least $500,000 total to see this issue all the way through to a “no build” decision. We must once again pay to have the FEIS reviewed, for it is the findings of the DEIS and FEIS reviews that result in ADOT improving their plans for the SMF. These findings also establish the grounds for suing ADOT in court when their plans continue to be unacceptable. Court and legal fees will comprise the remainder of the estimated total cost.

What if the SMF is resolved soon and/or PARC raises more money than is needed?Some people still hold out hope that the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) will agree to put the SMF on their land. PARC thinks the chances are extremely slim that the GRIC would change their minds and agree to this. Perhaps more importantly, even if the GRIC wanted the SMF on their land, the chances are a lot slimmer yet that ADOT would be interested. ADOT’s interest is in the current process, which is for the SMF to be built on Pecos Road and through South Mountain. ADOT will likely see this proposal through to its final resting place in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.We cannot completely ignore the possibility that we could have a quicker resolution, however, even if the odds are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery. After all, people do win the lottery. Of course, if we could feel confident that someone in PARC would win the lottery, we wouldn’t need to do any fundraising. We would just wait until the lottery was won and ask the winner to fund PARC with what it needs (it should be a very welcome tax write-off). That’s not very realistic, however, and neither is the possibility that PARC won’t need every penny it raises. Nevertheless, let’s look at the process and the funding expectations.PARC is currently experiencing a steady trickle of donations, mostly due to the fact that we have been continuing to have fund-raising events. This rate of donations is allowing us to maintain our web site, to continue to accept credit card donations, to produce this newsletter, and to continue to prepare for our upcoming fight with ADOT.When ADOT puts out their next document, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), PARC will again need to have it examined by experts, and that process will cost about another $100,000. So do we wait until the FEIS is released before we try to raise that much money? We believe that to wait would be foolish since it would be nice to have some resources we can count on when we need them.Last year, PARC got significant financial help from several HOAs when funding was needed for reviewing the DEIS. These same HOAs are already considering ways that they may be able to assist with the funding for the FEIS review as well. HOA funding is extremely important, but it is not enough by itself. It is the combination of HOA donations and individual donations that will make our work possible. Are you prepared to help?If you want to wait until after the FEIS has been released to donate, we suggest that you start to put money aside now so you can be prepared to donate promptly when the time comes. We need whatever you can afford and as often as you can afford it. $10, $25, $100, more? Weekly, biweekly, monthly? Can you forgo one latte once a week? One evening per month of taking the family out to dinner? Anything else that you could forgo and never miss?

Do you have trouble keeping the money you have put aside for a special purpose? How about opening a savings account just for that purpose? Or keeping an envelope in your desk where you slip money as you save it on a regular basis (but don’t tell anyone else where it is and don’t rob it from time to time either)? Then when the money is needed, you will have it! Or – if you don’t really think that saving will work for you – just donate to PARC on a regular basis!

Funding the continued review of the SMF documents is critical for your home, the well-being of your family, and the well-being of Ahwatukee as a community. We are counting on you!

Oh, and what would happen if PARC really did end up with a surplus? We would have a meeting of all members (that’s everyone who has donated) to decide.

eNewsletter – published Jan. 13, 2014

Mark these dates:

Arizona Deserttruck pollution

Would you like to see where the freeway would destroy South Mountain ridges?

When: Saturday, January 18th, 9:00am

Where: Chandler Blvd at 19th Ave (Chandler dead-ends here)

Why: To see where the freeway would destroy 3 ridges of South Mountain

Amenities: None

Some PARC members will be meeting to hike to the top of the Bursera Trail. From this vantage point, one can see across the top of the west end of South Mountain and see where the freeway is planned to cut through. There is no need to let anyone know if you plan to attend. Just be sure to be there by 9:00. No fees, but also no amenities. Come prepared for a 3.6 mile hike up and down the mountain. It will be moderately strenuous. PARC T-shirts will be available for those who want to donate at that time.

Hike with us – for the Love of South MountainWhen: Saturday, February 8th, 8:00amWhere: Starting at the Telegraph Pass trailhead (Desert Foothills Pkwy & 7th St, north of Chandler Blvd)Parking: Desert Foothills Park (on SW Marketplace, just west of Desert Foothills Pkwy and just south of Chandler Blvd)Shuttle Service: Desert Foothills Park to and from trailheadsWhy: Fundraiser for PARC because we want to save South MountainDonation (get a “Save Ahwatukee” T-shirt):

  • $20 Individual (1 T-shirt)
  • $30 Couple (2 T-shirts)
  • $40 Family (4 T-shirts)

Registration: Prepay donations on our website, include “hike” along with T-shirt size(s) in the description

Amenities: Restrooms – yes; Water – yes; Food – no

If you like to hike, this is for you. Hikers will start at the Telegraph Pass trailhead, then proceed at their own pace and hike their own distance. The main hike will go up the Telegraph Pass trail, follow the National Trail west, and then come down the Pyramid Trail to end at the 19th Ave and Chandler Blvd trailhead. Hikers who wish something a little less strenuous can come back down the Telegraph Pass trail.

Be sure to bring water! Try to be parked at Desert Foothills Park by 7:45am so we can get you to the trailhead for the 8:00 start time.

You will hike at your own risk, but PARC volunteers will be around to provide any assistance needed. We will provide shuttle service and water, and we will not leave anyone on the mountain.

5k walk

Walk with us – to Save Pecos Road

When: Saturday, March 1st, check-in at 8:00am – event starts at 9:00am

Where: Park ‘n’ Ride on Pecos Road at 40th Street

Why: Fundraiser for PARC because we want to save Pecos Road

Partner: PARC is co-sponsoring this 5K inter-generational walk with the Arizona Senior Olympics (ASO)

Registration: Pre-registration up to February 26th on-line at seniorgames.org (select event “Walk to Save Pecos”) or register on-site

Fee: $15 for 18 and over, $12 for 10-17 year olds, includes an ASO T-shirt

Entry Requirements:

  1. Each person must register as an individual
  2. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate
  3. Check-in prior to the event is required

Amenities: Restrooms – yes; Water – yes; Food – no

If you like to walk, come and join us to help save Pecos Road. This will be a 5K walk, not a race. It will be at your own pace so you can enjoy the surroundings and contemplate on what Ahwatukee would be like without Pecos Road.

Pecos Road is just as important to the ASO as it is to residents of Ahwatukee. Each year the ASO has biking and running events for senior athletes that use Pecos Road as the venue. There is no more suitable venue in the Phoenix area.

When the ASO asked PARC to join with them in sponsoring an inter-generational (age 10 and up) walking event on Pecos Road, we jumped at the chance. Pecos Road is important to all of us, and what better way to make that point to the community than while raising some funds to fight against replacing Pecos with a freeway.

As co-sponsors of this walking event, all entry fees will go to the ASO, while all sponsor money collected will go to PARC. So it will be very important for PARC if you could get sponsors to donate something for every kilometer you walk. Every little bit helps.

PARC will have a booth at the Pecos Park ‘n’ Ride where participants will be able to talk with us and/or purchase PARC “Save Ahwatukee” T-shirts and “Save South Mountain” bumper stickers. PARC will also be assisting with on-site registration, distribution of water to participants, etc.

Please join us – and remember to get sponsors!

school rally

PARC generates media buzz with “Freeway Toxic Zone” rallies at schools

On November 20-21,2013, several PARC members demonstrated by carrying signs saying “Freeway Toxic Zone” and handing out “postcards” with information about how and why PARC is fighting the freeway. These demonstrations occurred at Kyrene del Milenio, Kyrene de la Sierra, and Kyrene de la Estrella Elementary Schools as well as Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School. The postcards were handed to parents as they were dropping their children off at school.

Over and over again, PARC demonstrators heard “Thank you for what you are doing” from parents as they took the postcards telling them how to get more information. We only had an occasional heckler.

Gail Cochran coordinated the demonstrations for PARC, and she was interviewed by Channel 15. PARC president Pat Lawlis was also present, and she was interviewed by Channel 5 and Channel 12. All 3 channels aired a short segment on the demonstrations.

We will press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence!