San Tan Valley makes plans to become a city

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A Pinal County community known as San Tan Valley is working on incorporation to become its own city, an effort neighboring city Florence vetoed back in 2010.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation earlier this year that removed Florence’s power to veto San Tan Valley’s incorporation, and since then the movement has quickly picked up steam. Ray Torres, a committee member for Vote San Tan Valley, believes that this time, incorporation will become a reality.

Last week, Vote San Tan Valley submitted a boundary map and petition to collect signatures to the Pinal County Elections Department. The group now has five months to obtain the 10,000 signatures needed in order to trigger a public vote.

TED SIMONS: AN AREA IN PINAL COUNTY KNOWN AS SAN TAN VALLEY IS LOOKING TO BECOME ITS OWN CITY. RIGHT NOW THE UNINCORPORATED AREA'S BOUNDARIES LAY UP AGAINST A NUMBER OF CITIES AND TOWNS INCLUDING QUEEN CREEK TO THE NORTH, FLORENCE TO THE EAST AND THE GILA RIVER INDIAN COMMUNITY TO THE SOUTH. BUT A NEW LAW MAKES IT EASIER FOR AREAS LIKE SAN TAN VALLEY TO FORM THEIR OWN CITY GOVERNMENT, AND SO SAN TAN VALLEY RESIDENTS WILL GET A CHANCE TO VOTE ON THE ISSUE. JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE EFFORT IS REY TORRES, PART OF THE VOTE SAN TAN VALLEY. GOOD TO SEE YOU. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

REY TORRES: THANKS FOR HAVING ME HERE.

TED SIMONS: THE IDEA OF WHAT WE SAW, BOUNDARIES FOR SAN TAN VALLEY, WHO DREW THOSE UP?

REY TORRES: IT WAS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT PREVIOUS ITERATIONS OF ATTEMPTS TO INCORPORATE ALL THE WAY BACK TO 2004. MAPS DRAWN BETWEEN THEN AND NOW TOOK INTO ACCOUNT THE CDP, DESIGNATED PLACE THAT GAVE SAN TAN VALLEY ITS NAME, INKLINGS OF THE FIRST HEGEMONY AS A COMMUNITY. WE TOOK PIECES OF THAT COMMUNITY WHERE PEOPLE HAVE HAD EXPERIENCE WITH THAT PROFESSED OR LET US KNOW THEY WANTED US TO BE PART OF THE MUNICIPALITY. WE TRIED TO COUNT ALSO EXTERNAL PLAYERS THAT WE MET WITH: STATE LAND, OTHER PLAYERS THAT WERE PART OF THE FORMATION OF THIS MAP.

TED SIMONS: YOU ARE UNINCORPORATED RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE MOVING TO INCORPORATE. WHAT DOES UNINCORPORATED MEAN?

REY TORRES: UNINCORPORATED MEANS YOU ARE BASICALLY AT THE WHIMS OF THE OTHER POWERS THAT BE THAT DON'T NECESSARILY HAVE YOU IN MIND WHEN MAKING DECISIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, UP UNTIL RECENTLY, WE DIDN'T HAVE FIVE SUPERVISORS ON THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS IN PINAL COUNTY, WE HAD THREE. SAN TAN VALLEY HADN’T ALWAYS BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF EVERYBODY’S RECOLLECTION WHEN THEY WERE MAKING DECISIONS THAT WERE GOING TO IMPACT US DIRECTLY. WE HAVE THREE LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS FROM THE LEGISLATURE THAT SPLIT UP WHAT IS KNOWN AS SAN TAN VALLEY. WE HAVE ALL THESE AREAS FROM OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS THAT DON'T NECESSARILY DIRECTLY CORRESPOND WITH WHAT WE KNOW GENERICALLY AS WHAT WILL HOPEFULLY BE A FUTURE MUNICIPALITY.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS INCORPORATION IS CONCERNED, WHEN YOU BECOME SAN TAN VALLEY, YOU HAVE YOUR OWN CITY GOVERNMENT. FLORENCE STAYS AWAY. QUEEN CREEK STAYS AWAY. BUT THEY CAN STILL GET INVOLVED BEFORE YOU ARE INCORPORATED.

REY TORRES: ABSOLUTELY, THEY CAN. THE LINES THAT WE DREW DON'T NECESSARILY KEEP THEM FROM TRYING TO ACTIVELY ANNEX AREAS WE CONSIDER TO BE SAN TAN VALLEY NOW. IT JUST MEANS THAT THIS IS WHAT OUR INTENDED PLACE IS GOING TO BE, TO PULL IN THE PEOPLE TO VOTE ON THE DECISION HOPEFULLY WHICH WILL HIT THE BALLOT NEXT YEAR.

TED SIMONS: HOW MANY RESIDENTS OUT THERE?

REY TORRES: AS OF RIGHT NOW IT HOVERS AROUND 100,000 RESIDENTS. THE MAP PINAL COUNTY WILL BE GIVING US, THE ACTUAL NUMBERS THAT FALL WITHIN THE LINES. WE’LL HAVE THAT INFORMATION SHORTLY.

TED SIMONS: WHAT IS YOUR THOUGHT ON HOW MANY OF THOSE HUNDRED THOUSAND WANT THIS TO HAPPEN?

REY TORRES: WE HAVE GOTTEN A LOT OF GREAT FEEDBACK OVER THE YEARS AND NOT JUST WITH THIS ITERATION. THE DIFFERENCE IS, WE HAVE NEVER HAD THE RIGHT TO VOTE. THAT CHANGED WITH H-B-20-88.

TED SIMONS:TALK TO US ABOUT THAT NEW LAW. WHAT CHANGED?

REY TORRES: WHAT CHANGED WAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE FARNSWORTH TOOK IT UPON HIMSELF WITH HELP FROM PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY TO BRING THAT ABOUT ALLOWING US TO CIRCUMVENT THE PROCESS WHICH ORIGINALLY WAS IF YOU WERE WITHIN SIX MILES OF AN ADJACENT COMMUNITY THAT OPPOSED YOUR INCORPORATION THEY COULD STOP YOU. NOW THE NEW LEGISLATION STATES THAT IF THE ADJACENT COMMUNITY IS LESS POPULOUS THAN YOURS AND YOU HAVE AT 15,000 IN YOUR MUNICIPAL PLANNING ZONE, YOU CAN CIRCUMVENT THAT.

TED SIMONS: WAS FLORENCE AND QUEEN CREEK BOTH AGAINST THE IDEA OF INCORPORATION? IF SO, WHY?

REY TORRES: FLORENCE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF STATE SHARED REVENUE. BECAUSE WE BOTH HAPPEN TO BE IN PINAL COUNTY, THEY WOULDN'T WANT TO GIVE UP ALL OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF PINAL COUNTY RESIDENTS, THOSE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE, CONTRIBUTED TO THE COFFERS OF ALL OF THE MUNICIPALITIES IN PINAL COUNTY. QUEEN CREEK HAS A UNIQUE PLAN WITH WHAT IS UNDERSTOOD AS SAN TAN VALLEY. THEY HAVE DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR THEIR FUTURE POTENTIAL CITY OR THE FUTURE MUNICIPALITY THAT IS CURRENTLY SEEN AS SAN TAN VALLEY.

TED SIMONS: SO THEY ARE NOT KEEN ON THIS IDEA, I WOULD IMAGINE.

REY TORRES: THEY ARE NOT KEEN ON US EXISTING.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE PETITIONS, THOSE HAD TO BE OKAYED BY PINAL COUNTY. BOUNDARIES ALSO.

REY TORRES: CORRECT. THEY WERE TURNED IN SIMULTANEOUSLY. WE GOT APPROVAL FOR THEM. THERE WAS A LOT OF INTERACTION TO KNOW IT WAS OKAY BEFORE WE SUBMITTED THEM. THERE WAS A LOT OF WORK THAT WENT INTO THIS. IT WASN'T JUST WE DROPPED DOWN THE MAP AND WE ARE GOOD TO GO. THERE WAS A LOT OF LEG WORK THAT WENT INTO THAT.

TED SIMONS: I HEARD YOU SAY IT'S NOT AN INCORPORATION ISSUE, IT'S A RIGHT TO VOTE ISSUE.

REY TORRES: IT WAS A RIGHT TO VOTE ISSUE THAT WE GOT THE LEGISLATION PASSED, WHICH WAS FANTASTIC. NOW IT'S AN ISSUE OF SELF DETERMINATION MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. THERE IS NO GREATER CRITERIA FOR A SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY THAN HAVING SELF DETERMINATION. LIKE I ALLUDED TO BEFORE, NO SINGLE ELECTED OFFICIAL REPRESENTS WHAT WE KNOW AS SAN TAN VALLEY. NO JURISDICTION RESPONDING TO THE PEOPLE COLLECTIVELY IN THE ENTIRETY OF SAN TAN VALLEY. IT'S GOING TO BE A UNIQUE THING WHERE WE’LL NOT ONLY EXIST BUT BE PLAYERS IN CONVERSATIONS AS THEY RELATE TO EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND HEALTHCARE. ALL OF THESE THINGS PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THE MUNICIPALITY TAKE FOR GRANTED, THAT THEIR MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS DO FOR THEM WHILE THEY’RE SLEEPING OR AT WORK. THESE ARE THE KIND OF THINGS THAT THE NEW MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT WILL DO FOR SAN TAN VALLEY.

TED SIMONS: AND WHEN DO THE PEOPLE OF SAN TAN VALLEY GET TO VOTE ON IT?

REY TORRES: THE COUNTY WILL DESIGNATE THIS ONCE THEY SUBMIT TO SIGNATURES. WE ARE LOOKING FOR NEXT AUGUST EARLIEST OR NEXT NOVEMBER.

TED SIMONS: BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, DO YOU EXPECT ANY TROUBLE FOR FLORENCE OR QUEEN CREEK?

REY TORRES: WE’RE EXPECTING A LOT OF FUN.

TED SIMONS: REY TORRES, THANKS FOR BEING HERE. WE APPRECIATE IT.

Ray Torres: Committe Member, Vote San Tan Valley

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