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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).

Questions?  Visit us on Facebook   facebook logo

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!