How can Tucson become more "Business Friendly" in one simple step?
It happened July 8th - by a 7-0 vote, the Tucson City Council decided to do away with the nightmare that obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy for commercial properties had become. Yippee!!!! Hooray!!!
A couple of years ago, after learning that less than 25% of all businesses had a valid C of O, a measure was passed in Council to require a new Certificate of Occupancy be issued for any commercial property changing hands. Whether lease, sale, trade - whatever - to get the permit to open a business' doors, a new C of O had to be issued.
Makes sense, unless you have no workable criteria in place to obtain one. Oops. Kinda forgot that part. The solution was to form a committee of 18 people drawn from the business world, neighborhood associations, public interest groups and other "stakeholders" to come up with an outline of the steps needed to satisfy the requirements.
The committee couldn't even agree on when the meetings would be, much less come up with a workable plan! Meanwhile, there's an ordinance on the books that has no understandable rules to figure out how to comply with.
So...the past 2 years have been a nightmare for business & property owners. You've got to get a C of O to open the doors, but nobody knows what you have to do to get one. Okay, we can't just keep every business in town that wants to open up or move into an existing structure from being able to operate, can we? Solution - we'll just require a C of O for "change of use."
Problem: change of use was interpreted so strictly that an shoe store couldn't move into a building previously occupied by a dress shop. "But they're both retail operations," you might say..."But they sell different things," the interpretation was, "so it's a change of use."
(Can you picture how much hair was lost due to pulling out large tufts with both hands?)
The towns of Oro Valley, Marana, Sahuarita and Unincorporated Pima County made out like bandits as frustrated businesses chose to locate there instead of Tucson. I have no doubt that officials of those entities regularly said (behind closed doors of course), "Thanks for the bonehead move, City of Tucson - we'll be glad to increase our tax base. Sorry about your budget woes, wonder why we're in the black? Hmm...snicker, snicker."
But that's all behind us now, isn't it? Thanks for your July 8 vote to rescind this ordinance, City Council - you're moving in the right direction...please don't do something that stupid again.