Tucson City Council holds off on business district expansion, keeps transit free through December | Local news
The Tucson City Council voted to renew the Central Business District for an additional 10 years Tuesday, but opted to delay expansion discussions as community members continue to express their concerns.
The district was created in 2012 as a way to boost economic development through financial incentives. Businesses located within the district are eligible to apply for up to eight years of property tax abatement, which is called a Government Property Lease Excise Tax, or GPLET.
After a proposal was made to expand the central business district earlier this year, some community members and neighborhood associations scrutinized the incentive process, saying it contributes to the gentrification of historic neighborhoods, the displacement of residents and doesn’t hold developers accountable.
The business district encompasses downtown Tucson and its surroundings, going as far north as Miracle Mile and as far south as 29th street. These are areas that have been defined by the city as “slum areas,” or properties where “public health, safety or welfare is threatened” due to deteriorated buildings, inadequate provisions for ventilation, light, air, sanitation or open spaces, overcrowding or the existence of conditions that endanger life or property by fire and other causes.
“Many of these projects have brought about gentrification and displacement in the neighborhoods and barrios surrounding downtown,” said Karen Greene, a founding member of the Barrio Neighborhood Coalition, while addressing the council Tuesday. “This topic is of enough concern that you recreated the commission on equitable housing development, with a focus on preventing displacement. Why would it be a good idea to continue doing this kind of thing and how can you still call these areas blighted?”