TUCSON -- Mayor Bob Walkup has been called Mr. Greenjeans before, but now he says he wants Tucson to go green.
Walkup talks about a regional land use plan. Sounds good. Pima County has a good one, the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, but the city has opted to not join it, even though the Planning Commission, where I and others strive to serve the common good, recommended joining the plan to Mayor and Council in 2006.
Instead of joining the county's award-winning effort, the city is right now spending significant money to do its own weaker plan to facilitate doubling city population on to state lands on the south and east sides that were annexed to be within city limits. Not much green about that, except the money being spent by the city and to be made by developers.
Maybe part of the new green attitude will include finally listening to the experts on the Planning Commission and join the SDCP.
We'll see what the council and Mayor do today with water rates. City Manager Mike Hein is recommending an 8% rate hike plan that would still omit many important conservation and environmental projects agreed upon by a diverse committee of stakeholders.
People in Tucson and Pima County are smart, and they are not too excited to 'save' water just so politicians, bureaucrats and developers can blend it with bad CAP water and treated sewage and give it to the next million people they want to move in to metro-Tucson.
The council must ask the manager and Tucson Water: why is water quality going down while rates are going up?
It is also hard to take city calls for water conservation seriously when Tucson Water doesn't even have staff anymore to enforce extreme water waste.
Tucson Water must move away from the flawed urban sprawl-addicted funding model, and instead focus on providing the highest quality water at the lowest price to existing residents and businesses.
We can do better, but only if there is true leadership, not just talk.
I believe the Mayor and Council's heart is in the right place on this, and also that they must push the City Manager harder.