Your chance to support urban food production in Tucson

The Planning Commission is holding a Public Hearing on proposed Urban Agriculture zoning rules. The new zoning laws will make legal a lot of things that are currently done but are actually illegal (just overlooked). The Planning Commission set a new hearing date: SEPTEMBER 16, 6 PM, at the Mayor and Council Chambers, 255 W Alameda.

Two years ago, the voters adopted Plan Tucson, the General Plan to guide the City government for the next 10 years. It calls for the City to promote urban agriculture. You can find out more about the new rules in this excellent summary of one of the key issues (small animals) by Merrill Eisenberg.

Get involved:

  • You can attend the meeting, and tell the Mayor and Council what you think.
  • And you can sign a petition to support the new rules

Want to support rooftop solar and fight climate change? You’re invited!

Join Sustainable Tucson, Sierra Club, and Tierra Y Libertad Organization to support solar and fight coal!

Help us plan a media event and rally in front of Tucson Electric Power (TEP) headquarters to tell TEP to stop attacking rooftop solar and to divest from the San Juan coal plant.

What: Planning meeting for future media event and rally in front of TEP’s downtown headquarters
When: Monday, July 13, 5:30-8 pm
Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.
Where: Joel D. Valdez Main Library, lower level meeting room
101 N. Stone
Parking: free — lower level off Alameda St.
Bike/Transit: Walk two blocks east from the Ronstadt Transit Center, just north of new protected bike path on Stone Ave.

Join us! Free and open to the public! For more information, contact: – (520) 620-6401

Our goals are:

1) Force TEP to retract the June 1, 2015 ‘grandfathering’ date for new rooftop solar customers (net metering)


2) Force TEP to divest their stake in the polluting, out-of-state San Juan coal plant.

At this Planning Meeting, we will review the issues, create effective messaging for the rally and for a media campaign leading up to the event, and plan the logistics for the rally.


This spring, TEP submitted a plan to state regulators that would end net metering, the process that allows rooftop solar customers to receive fair credit for all of the energy their solar panels produce. New solar customers after June 1, 2015 would no longer be able to ‘bank’ the solar energy produced by their panels and use it later. This proposal was unfair and was opposed by many Tucsonans, and TEP withdrew most of their proposal. However, TEP told state regulators that they intend to submit the proposal again in 2016, keeping the June 1, 2015 ‘grandfathering’ date. The result is that between now and the end of 2016, when a decision is scheduled to be made, new solar customers won’t be able to make an informed decision about how much solar to install. Most potential customers will choose to defer on solar. As a result, local solar companies will lose business and Tucson will lose clean energy jobs.

TEP has been attacking rooftop solar while staying invested in a costly, polluting coal plant in New Mexico called the San Juan Generating Station. Operators of this greenhouse gas-producing plant have come up with a plan for partial closure, keeping part of it running. Many investors, utilities, and municipalities walked away from the deal when it was revealed that continued operations at San Juan would cost about $1 billion more than anticipated. TEP, on the other hand, plans to continue to generate about 15% of Tucson’s electricity from the San Juan plant’s dirty coal. Help us promote a better plan!

Rooftop Solar Update

The ACC has received well over 400 letters opposing TEP’s proposal to charge an extra fee (read “penalty”) to owners who install new rooftop solar systems, and at the hearing in Tucson on June 10, ACC staff recommended that any consideration of that fee take place in the context of a full rate hearing. The judge will make a recommendation to the Commission, which will then consider how to proceed. See article in the Arizona Daily Star

In the meantime, please continue to send letters or emails to the 5 commissioners opposing the TEP fee proposal and supporting expansion of rooftop solar. Information and guidelines can be found on the Sustainable Tucson website
For even more information, or if you prefer to submit comments on line, you can also go to the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter website:

Join Sustainable Tucson and the US Green Building Council-Sonoran Branch

What does LEED Platinum housing look like? What’s being done to help the growing numbers of grandparents raising their grandkids? Join Sustainable Tucson and the US Green Building Council-Sonoran Branch for a tour of Primavera Foundation’s Las Abuelitas Family Housing. The tour will be led by Savannah McDonald, of Poster Frost Mirto, Inc., the architects of the project.

The event is free but space is limited so pre-registration is required – and spaces for the tour are going fast. Go to the event page to register.

-A mixer with summer heat-quenching Aguas Frescas served by Dish-for-Dosha will follow the tour. –

When: June 18, 2015
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: Las Abuelitas Family Housing
440 E. 26th St., Tucson, AZ

Tour is now full. Please join us for the mixer at Las Abuelitas Community Room.

Architecture and Sustainability in Tucson’s Built Environment

Our built environment — housing, public facilities, commercial buildings — is vital to sustainability in our cities and towns. But what goes into making that built environment sustainable? What makes a building “green”? How does a building qualify for LEED certification? And what does LEED certification mean?

Beyond these technical questions, we want to examine broader social and environmental issues relating to our built environment. Can sustainable buildings, for example, affect our health? How can multi-family or low-income housing be made “green”? And even, can energy-efficient buildings impact climate change?

Join us at the next Sustainable Tucson meeting for an exploration of these and related issues, at the first event in a collaboration between the Sonoran Branch of US Green Building Council – Arizona and Sustainable Tucson on “Architecture and Sustainability in Tucson’s Built Environment.”

At this first event, the Sonoran Branch of USGBC-Arizona will present a panel discussion addressing local, sustainable buildings and green certification systems. The panel will offer perspectives from professionals in several fields within the residential and commercial building industries.

Richard Franz-Under, Green Building Program Manager for Pima County Development Services and a USGBC LEED Accredited Professional, will moderate the panel. The panel will feature:
• Nicole Brule-Fisher: a Realtor with RE/MAX Trends and President of Tucson Association of Realtors; the first Tucson Realtor to become a certified Eco-Broker and the first to become a National Association of Realtors GREEN designee
• Andrew Hayes: working with Hayes Construction, a custom home building company that provides earth-friendly practices in its projects and incorporates no-cost solutions to make homes more energy efficient
• Thomas C. Mannschreck: president, CEO, and owner of Thomas Development Co., a Boise, Idaho-based real-estate development company, and of Thomas Investments Limited Partnership, a family-held, real-estate investment entity; through Thomas Development Co., developer of four LEED Platinum multi-family housing projects for low-income seniors and families
• Rob Paulus: an architect, developer, and musician; founded Rob Paulus Architects to create unique, award winning, and regionally-specific architecture; active in promoting high quality design with appropriate density for our community.

Check out a recent Arizona Daily Star article on Tucson Association of Realtor and Sustainability.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

The second event in “Architecture and Sustainability in Tucson’s Built Environment” will be a free tour on June 18 of Primavera Foundation’s Las Abuelitas Family Housing, a LEED Platinum project by Poster Frost Mirto Architects that provides housing for low-income grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. A mixer will follow the tour.
For more information about the tour, please visit the event listing Space will be limited for the tour, so registration (available at the event listing) is required.

The Economics of, and Threats to, Rooftop Solar

[You can see the presentations below. ]

• Are new proposals to state regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission by Tucson Electric Power and Trico making it more difficult and expensive for Tucsonans to “Go Solar”?
• Are local solar jobs at stake?
• What is the value of rooftop solar?
• Are you concerned?

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s May 11th meeting to become an informed citizen.

Speakers will include:

• Bruce Plenk: Local solar consultant (Solar Possibilities Consulting), current chair of the Southern Arizona Solar Partnership, and member of the Tucson Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission
• Russell Lowes: Sierra Club Rincon Group Energy Chair, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter Solar Task Force Chair, and Research Director at
• Ron Proctor: Core team member Sustainable Tucson, Co-chair City of Tucson Climate Change committee, homeowner with 1Kw PV grid-tied system since 2006.

The meeting will also outline opportunities for advocacy on these important issues, including suggestions for crafting your message to policy makers.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Take Action Now. The Arizona Corporation Commission has to approve efforts to stifle distributed solar with new fees. They will be holding public hearings soon and your emails to the Commissioners will be counted and noted. Act Now

Russell Lowes –
Bruce Plenk –
Ron Proctor –

Lessons from Sustainable Urban Design: Films and Discussion

As activist citizens, we have been working towards sustainability in many ways, particularly looking at issues impacting life in our city, including the work of the Broadway Coalition featured at last month’s General Meeting.

This month, we’ll carry on the discussion started by that examination of the Broadway Corridor, by looking at some positive examples of steps that various cities have taken to create more sustainable and livable communities — plus one less-than-positive example. After viewing film segments showing what has been done around the world, we’ll open the discussion to consider whether any of those steps are happening also in Tucson, and whether they could — and should — happen here.

Linda Samuels from the UA’s Sustainable Cities project will join us for this community discussion.

The selection of film segments will feature:
• Bogota, Colombia
• Copenhagen, Denmark
• New York City’s High Line
• Jane Jacobs
• Phoenix, Arizona
• Singapore
• Curitiba, Brazil
• Portland, Oregon & City Repair

Join us for this look at some exciting urban alternatives and continue the conversation of what we can do to create changes that we want to see in our city.

Location: Downtown Main Library, lower level meeting room.
Doors open at 5:30. Program starts promptly at 6:00.

Broadway Coalition Vision: Let’s Make the Broadway Project Sustainable Now!

Please ACT NOW: Email your objections to the City’s Broadway Plan. Here is a model letter with email addresses by Broadway Coalition member Laura Tabili to help list the community’s concerns.

“Broadway Corridor Plan Aims to Demolish 37 Tucson Buildings” reads the Arizona Daily Star lead headline from Feb.24th. City of Tucson staff and consultants are proposing an alignment of the 2-mile project that contains unjustified widths and unnecessarily destroys historic buildings and businesses. Also troubling, this staff plan varies from what elected city leaders have voiced is their preference — the most narrow solution for six lanes which meets the safety concerns for all modes of mobility.

Many people in Greater Tucson are asking, “Why are we widening roads that don’t need it, especially when our existing roads are in such a state of disrepair? ” “Why not eliminate potholes, rather than small businesses!”

The sustainability community is asking, “Why is the City promoting a wide, car-oriented design when future trends indicate accommodation to more “people and place”centered mobility and low carbon living?” If Tucson is going to actually respond to the challenges of global warming and climate change, don’t we also have to build a “climate-friendly” transportation system?

Clearly, an irreversible Tucson Tragedy is in the making if we don’t act soon.

Come hear members of the Broadway Coalition describe their vision for the Historic Broadway Redesign Project including improvements for bicyclists, pedestrians, autos, and transit riders and creating vibrant places where people want to go to meet, shop, and enjoy life. Hear the Coalition rally the community to communicate to the City of Tucson that very little widening if any is necessary to make Historic Broadway the next great destination of historic significance and thriving small businesses.

The Coalition has already convinced the City, County, and RTA that 8 lanes is excessive. Now we just need to show that the narrowest width alignment is best for all.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6 pm.

We hope to see you all there.

To read the City Staff report and alignment maps, go to:

The deadline for public comment on this alignment is midnight, March 11, 2015. Send comments to:

Email to by midnight, March 11,

Hand-delivered hard-copy to the address below by 5pm on March 11, 2015

By postal mail to the address below – must be postmarked by March 9, 2015. Address to use:  Tucson Department of Transportation, 201 N. Stone Ave, 6th Floor, Tucson, AZ  85701

Monday, March 9th, 5:30 – 8:00
Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

An Energy Partnership / Climate Solution for Tucson?



(Note Special LOCATION, DATE, & TIME)
February 18th     
6:30pm to 8:30pm
University of Arizona, Center for English as a Second Language (CESL), Room 103



Do you know that the production of electricity in Tucson accounts for over 60% of Tucson’s climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions?

Imagine the City of Tucson joined in a “clean energy partnership” with Tucson Electric Power and Southwest Gas, sharing a goal to reduce greenhouse gases in our region 80% by 2050 and “do our part” to stem the worst effects of global warming. Imagine the local jobs created in the solar industry, energy storage and clean mobility, energy efficiency, building retrofits and appro-priate design.

Imagine the partnership is made up of high-level representatives of TEP and SWG as well as from the Mayor’s office and City Council – with the Board be made up of decision-makers from their respective organizations.

Just such a partnership has already begun in Minnesota between the City of Minneapolis, Xcel Energy (their electricity provider) and CenterPoint Energy (their natural gas supplier).

Sustainable Tucson and other Co-sponsors are bringing John Farrell, policy director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and one of the participants in this first-in-the-nation partnership, to tell the story about how this came to be and what the future holds for Minneapolis.

Join us the evening of Feb.18th to learn about this important turn in City/Utility relationships and to show support for climate solutions here in Tucson.  In preparation, watch John make the economic case for solar energy in Tucson:

Help bring John to Tucson.

Contributions to Sustainable Tucson are tax deductible and can be made through our fiscal sponsor, NEST Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit, and by using the Donate Now button on the left of this page.

If you are more of a time volunteer, we are looking for partners to table at outreach events like the Peace Fair, and participate in our annual Envision Tucson Sustainable festival. For helpful opportunities to create a more Sustainable Tucson contact: Paula Schlusberg at

Doors open at 6:30. Program starts at 7:00.

Co-sponsors to date:

Local First Arizona

Tucson Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission

City of Tucson Ward 3 Councilmember Karin Uhlich

Southern Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce

University of Arizona Office of Sustainability

University of Arizona Students for Sustainability

Sierra Club

Mrs. Green’s World

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Progressive Democrats of America

Center for Biological Diversity

Southern Arizona Green for All

Citizens Climate Lobby – Tucson Chapter


Click on the link below and print the following image as a flyer. PLEASE distribute this link and flyer widely:


For parking, see the  UA parking map at this link:


Next Sustainable Tucson General Meeting: CLIMATE CHANGE HEROS AND LOCAL ACTIONS

Global Justice Center, 225 E. 26th St.
(Note different location for this month’s meeting)

Sustainable Tucson begins 2015 with our usual optimism, continuing to believe that when we join our efforts, we can create a better world in which we all can live in peace, love, and joy. Our everyday lives provide us opportunity to nurture those attributes of health and well-being. And when we are secure in our individual worlds, we can use them as spring-boards to build our larger, supportive, and resilient communities.

We also live in an increasingly connected world with challenges larger than our local com-munity. Global Warming and problems associated with climate disruption are mov-ing more and more citizens to personal action.

Sustainable Tucson’s January meeting invites you to meet fellow Tucsonans who are engag-ing the problem of Global Warming at neighborhood, city, national, and international levels. We hope that hearing their stories and finding out about opportunities where you can en-gage will help strengthen and grow our joined effect to shift our community to a more sus-tainable model.

Speakers will include:

  •  Mary DeCamp, participant in the 2014 Great March for Climate Action, and 2011 Green Party Tucson mayoral candidate.
  • John Jorgenson, participant in the 2014 Great March for Climate Action, walking from Los Angeles to Washington, DC (March-November), and local educator.
  • James Jordan, National Coordinator for the Alliance for Global Justice, participant in the recent Lima (Peru) Climate Summit.
  • Vince Pawlowski,, Tucson Coordinator.

Information will also be available about recent activities of:

  • City of Tucson Climate Change committee: recent recommendation to Mayor and Council to set a city goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility: Building Resilient Neighborhoods: The Ex-treme Weather Challenge workshop.
  • Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Tucson Chapter: Political will for a livable world. Creating national Carbon Fee and Dividend legislation.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

The Yes Men Are Revolting – Sunday Jan 4 at the Loft

at The Loft Cinema, 3233 East Speedway Boulevard, Tucson AZ 85716

Start the New Year Right: Gear Up to Fight Climate Change!

The Yes Men Are Revolting

On Sunday, January 4 at 1:00 p.m., Sustainable Tucson will partner with the Loft for a special preview screening of The Yes Men Are Revolting, with the duo of pranksters tackling the urgent issue of climate change. Join us for a comic and thought-provoking film, followed by Q&A with Yes Man and co-director Andy Bichlbaum. Stop by the Sustainable Tucson table before the film and learn more about what’s happening in Tucson to fight climate change and promote a sustainable future, including details about our next General Meeting. Physicians for Social Responsibility will also partner for this event.

Click here for information about the film:

Continue reading below for more perspectives on climate change and climate action.