February 2015 Updates

Southern Arizona Public Works has not had a new post in some time; this is reflective of the author's increased burden running a successful new law firm.  My clients experienced some great successes in 2014, and I will continue providing dedicated and thorough service through the rest of the year. 

The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in an Arizona-based case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, on January 12, 2015. The case involves First Amendment issues relating to speech and religion centered around the Town of Gilbert's sign code. Full coverage of the case appears in many places; one of my favorites is scotusblog.com

As a lawyer who defends the property rights of private citizens against government intrusion, one issue of major concern to me is the public's access to the court system and government in general. I was majorly disturbed recently when I discovered the cost of appealing the decision of a zoning official in Pima County to the Pima County Board of Adjustment is $1,042. Appealing these decisions to the Board of Adjustment is a necessary step to eventually receiving a full hearing in Superior Court, so the fee is unavoidable in practice.  This chart shows how Pima County's fees compare to those in other Southern Arizona counties:

One non-Pima-County-planning-and-zoning official to whom I spoke stated he would like to see these fees increase for his county, so there is some room to argue Pima County is more appropriately charging user fees to the customers for government services. As you can see, though, Pima County's fee is higher than double any other County and is more than three times that of Maricopa County.

A cynic might think this is why Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry can seem so cavalier regarding the zoning rights of county property owners; it is a good bet most people can't afford to challenge him.