Tucson City Counsel Keeping Broadway Acquisition Information From Public

There is an update to this post here.

The City of Tucson has already acquired numerous properties for the widening of Broadway Boulevard. In fact, "[t]he City currently owns 25% of the properties along the north side of Broadway." This is good practice; sometimes properties in the path of a road-widening project can be purchased for a fair price before the property is actually necessary for construction. In these advance-acquisition cases, property owners and the government condemnor deal amicably and avoid the conflict litigation offers.

The City of Tucson owns all of the property along Broadway Boulevard shown here in blue. 

The City will likely acquire even more properties through negotiated purchase before the construction begins on Broadway. However, the City Council has now decided to hide the price the City will pay for these properties. 

The City is exempt from providing the usual public information (called an affidavit of value) all property sales are normally required to include when recorded with the Pima County Recorder.  A.R.S. 11-1134(A)(3). As recently as 2005, however, the Tucson City Council included the purchase price at which the City would acquire Broadway Boulevard property in the resolution authorizing the acquisition. By 2009, the City had decided to obscure its activity in the marketplace by omitting the purchase price of property the City was to acquire at the northeast corner of Campbell and Broadway, instead authorizing the purchase of the property at "the market value of the property."

Compare the 2009 description (top) of the City's purchase with the 2005 description (bottom)

This is poor practice. First, the City is authorizing purchases of property without explicitly limiting the amount of money the department conducting the transaction may pay. Second, the City opens itself up to criticism by claiming its "policies prevent early acquisitions" or the City "has no money for advance acquisitions" when the City is clearly performing advance acquisitions and cannot even state publicly what it is spending on the advance acquisitions it has authorized. Finally, the other property owners on Broadway Boulevard deserve to know what the City is willing to pay for properties in the path of the project.