ou all know that zoning is one of my favorite topics.  Zoning is simply a local government’s ability to regulate the use of private property.  Can you believe that such rules didn’t even exist in the United States until the early 20th century?  Today compliance with zoning and other property regulations is perhaps one of the most complex areas of law that the average citizen is likely to encounter.  What’s worse, it’s an area of law that is full of traps for the unwary.

A recent example of such a trap was brought to my attention by an alert reader, software consultant Guy Dobbins.  It seems that there is a zoning plan adopted by Pima County in 1963 called the Agua Caliente – Sabino Creek zoning plan.  This plan apparently allows land with a particular zoning classification within the plan area to be rezoned to more intensive use classifications simply by submission of a subdivision plat to the county.  In other words, the usual procedures required for a rezoning don’t apply.

The usual procedures for a rezoning are anything but simple.  The process can be quite time consuming and costly.  Reviews by county staff, notice to and meetings with neighbors, and public hearings by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Supervisors are all part of the process.  Apparently, someone at Pima County recently realized that the Agua Caliente – Sabino Creek plan allows landowners in a large area of northeastern Pima County to bypass those procedures.

The Board of Supervisors has remedied the situation by placing a six month time limit on submission of a subdivision plat as a means to seek a conditional rezoning under the plan.  This means that six months after the Board acted (in January 2006), the possibility of obtaining a rezoning without following the usual procedures will be gone.  It would have been prudent for the County to give notice of the change to all of the affected landowners, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they didn’t.

Last August I told you about another regulation adopted by Pima County that imposes certain requirements on division of land into five or fewer parcels, any of which is less than ten acres in size.  That regulation has tremendous potential impact in the suburban and rural areas of the County, yet got very little attention.  The change to the Agua Caliente – Sabino Creek plan obviously affects less land, but could have a similar impact.

It is entirely possible, of course, that many affected landowners didn’t even know that the plan existed in the first place.  Most residents don’t pay much attention to zoning until something new, or the possibility of something new, appears in the neighborhood.  Now, it’s safe to say, more people know about it.  How many of them will be spurred into action by the newly acquired knowledge that this opportunity to obtain a rezoning exists now, but will disappear in a few months?  And how many others remain unaware that their property, or their neighbor’s property, could be rezoned through this method?


The following news release, which I got from the Altoona Curve’s website, has nothing to do with real estate, but I can’t resist passing it along (I particularly like the quote from the General Manager).

ALTOONA– Inspired by a Los Angeles Angels fan who filed a lawsuit against the club because he did not receive a red nylon tote bag as part of the major league club’s Mother’s Day promotion last May, the Altoona Curve have announced that they will be holding Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night as part of their Sunday, July 2nd game at Blair County Ballpark.

The Curve’s salute to all ridiculous lawsuits ever filed will include the following:

·  A Pink Tote Bag Giveaway to the first 137 men in attendance ages 18 and over

·  The first 137 women 18 and over will receive lukewarm coffee so they will not burn themselves

·  The first 137 kids will be given a beach ball with a warning not to ingest it

·  Angels merchandise and novelty items given away throughout the game

·  Honoring some of history’s “Most Frivolous Lawsuits” during the game

A grand prize drawing in which one fan will receive a “clue” and their own frivolous lawsuit.

Additional details will be announced later.

“We realize that these giveaways as part of our Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night are fairly stupid and serve no real purpose,” said Curve General Manager Todd Parnell. “But if our fans don’t like them, then they can sue us!”

Curve President and Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg, himself a practicing corporate and sports attorney, declined to comment on his club’s promotion because of concerns that his comments could lead to a frivolous lawsuit.

The Altoona Curve have become widely recognized for the fun, themed nights, including their annual “Awful Night” and the innovative “2006 Retro Celebrity Series”, which is bringing 11 of the most popular names from some of television’s most popular shows to Blair County Ballpark during the 2006 season. The club was honored by Minor League Baseball as the winner of the 2004 Larry MacPhail Award for promotional excellence among all affiliated minor league clubs.

For more information on the Altoona Curve, visit the club’s official website at