Tag Archives: advocacy

Arizona State Capitol

Valley Partnership on conquering the hill

Valley Partnership defines itself as an advocacy organization with responsible development at its core. Behind the organization’s educational Friday Morning Breakfasts, networking mixers, fundraisers and annual community project, Valley Partnership has three committees that work year-round on the organization’s advocacy efforts on a federal, state and cities/county issues.

“Keeping with Valley Partnership’s focus on supporting water security for our economic vitality, economic development tools such as state land funding and consistent policies on taxes and fees, we had a successful year to build toward 2016 with the federal government, Arizona State Legislature and Valley cities,” says Cheryl Lombard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership.

Law of the Land
Arizona is the sixth-largest state, yet only 17 percent of its land is private. The role available land plays in economic activity is incomparable to East Coast states, says DMB Associates Executive Vice President Karrin Talyor.

States on the East Coast are nearly 98 percent private land, meaning there is a higher percentage (or less land) that exists as productive tax-producing land. Such disparity can make it difficult to draft legislation that can fairly apply to all states, says Taylor.

“When you overlay the federal land, conservation land, clean water and critical habitats, there’s nothing left,” says Taylor. “You overlay all these regulations and you wonder, ‘How do you pay for economic activity?’”

Taylor says there is the possibility of more land that may be taken away from productive use in the name of conservation before the end of President Barack Obama’s second term. She notes that former President Bill Clinton created the Sonoran Desert Monument before the end of his term. It was a designation that she says removes land from being leased for grazing, mining or other economically vital purposes.

Valley Partnership’s Federal Affairs Committee, which Taylor helped form about three years ago, is a gathering place for representatives from different delegations to discuss these topics.

“Part of it is raising awareness,” says Taylor. “We routinely have four or five representatives from delegations every month to exchange information. I don’t know if some of these staffers get together in other situations.”

The Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) is one such group that attends committee meetings.

“Valley Partnership Committees (give) ASLD the opportunity to meet with local government representatives and discuss issues of mutual importance including land planning efforts that can enhance the value of ASLD land and increase economic opportunities,” says Bill Boyd, legislative policy administrator for ASLD. “Valley Partnership provides a forum helping ASLD to be active in the local business community by sharing information about land acquisition and development opportunities while contributing to an ongoing understanding of the condition of the local and regional economy.”

Cue the Water Works
In 2014, Intel Corporation, Sundt Construction, Carollo Engineers and the city of Chandler entered into a unique public-private partnership to tackle one of the biggest resource issues facing Arizona — water.

When Intel expanded its Ocotillo Campus in Chandler, its facility was going to create more waste streams that would add pressure to the city’s reverse osmosis facility (CHRO), which treats water for reclamation.

Salinity and total dissolved solids, referred to as TDS, are rising in reclaimed water throughout the Valley and most growing cities. Reclaimed water is what’s used to irrigate public spaces in the city of Chandler. As reclaimed water quality drops, water shortages sit on the horizon. This is particularly an issue that arises when an industrial facility like one expanded by Intel increases its own need for water. Therefore, Intel went to work on developing the Ocotillo Brine Reduction Facility, which would accommodate the increased waste streams and also contribute to upgrades at the CHRO facility. In the end, The OBRF project also eliminated discharges from the CHRO facility to the sewer – improving operations at the city’s water reclamation facility.

This project is an example of what Valley Partnership’s members are about. Sundt Construction, one of the oldest Arizona-based construction companies at 125 years old, is ahead of its time in bringing together the private and public sectors to build a project that’s responsible and sensitive to the future of Arizona.

lawyer

Valley Partnership counts its legislative wins

 © Erika Nortemann/TNC

© Erika Nortemann/TNC

By Cheryl Lombard, CEO and president of Valley Partnership

Federal:
VP’s role:
–Provided a forum for a continuing and constructive dialogue between federal congressional representatives and the development community with our monthly meetings.
Provided formal comments on the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule (“WOTUS”) and it potential damage to Arizona’s economic vitality.
–As a long time supporter of the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, also known as Resolution Copper, we were very happy to see it passed by Congress and signed by the President.  The project will create 3,700 direct, high-wage jobs and a $61 billion fiscal impact to Arizona.
–Participated in the Spring Congressional Western Caucus Policy Roundtable on Land, Energy & Water. Spoke on impacts to Valley development by the EPA WOTUS and the proposed Desert Tortoise Endangered Species listing.

State:
VP’s role:
–Supported the extension of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) 4-cent ad-valorem tax from 2017 to 2045. This tax is levied by CAP in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties to pay for the canal infrastructure and to secure water operations for these counties. It is essential to ensure consistent water supplies for the Valley.
–Supported various changes to Arizona income taxes to allow a taxpayer, beginning in tax year 2015, to take an expense deduction to the amount allowed under federal law if the maximum deduction allowed were $500,000 and the limitation were reduced by the amount of the property placed in service in the tax year exceeds $2 million. It also repeals obsolete sections of the tax code.
–As a long time supporter of self-funding of the Arizona State Land Department, we were happy to see as part of this year’s state budget, a measure placed on the 2016 ballot to allow up to 10 percent of the money from land sales to fund the department.

Valley cities and county:
VP’s role:
–Actively engaged in development impact fee update discussions in cities, including Phoenix, Peoria and Tempe with a particular focus on a new element included as a result of a statutory change — charging non-residential development for infrastructure related open space and parks.
–Continued engagement with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) on the Access Management Guidelines to regulate spacing of ingress and egress along ADOT-controlled roadways.  The goal is to have guidelines that provide flexibility and context-sensitivity.

Cheryl Lombard, Photo by Mike Mertes for AZ Big Media

The changing face of development: Cheryl Lombard

If Valley Partnership is the voice of responsible development in the Valley, new CEO and President Cheryl Lombard is expected to be the deep breath behind it.  In mid-March, she transitioned from being director of government relations at The Nature Conservancy in Arizona to the leader of Valley Partnership.

“We were looking for a transformative leader that could really build on the organization’s more than 25-year history,” says Chairman of the Board Scott Nelson of Macerich. “Someone who was well connected and respected in the community, especially in the role of advocacy, which is one of our organizational pillars. We truly believe there is an opportunity to take Valley Partnership to the next level as a voice in the community and a value-add proposition to our partner companies. We are extremely confident that Cheryl can deliver on those promises.”

Lombard has led companies and clients through challenging entitlement cases and large master-planned community developments in California.

“Her understanding of the government agency, municipal and community touch points and how they relate to the development process is paramount in the underlying goals of Valley Partnership,” says Nelson.

While at The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, Lombard helped develop, lead and execute the strategic initiatives for the organization.

“Her Nature Conservancy involvement with local, state and federal legislation and policy making will be a tremendous asset to Valley Partnership,” says Nelson. “Her role required her to bring different stakeholders and viewpoints together to work on and advance issues impacting the organization.”

Lombard holds a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law, a Master’s in public administration from California State University and a Bachelor’s degree from American University.

What attracted you to working with Valley Partnership, given your previous role at The Nature Conservancy?
I gained years of experience in the development industry as a public affairs executive and attorney in California, helping acquire entitlements through some of the most challenging bodies. My 10 years with The Nature Conservancy made Valley Partnership the perfect fit to utilize my experience representing all sides in the development process.

What Valley Partnership Political Action Committee (VPAC) efforts we can expect with you as president and CEO?
VPAC is a great tool that allows us to participate in the political process at a different level, while also furthering Valley Partnership’s reach. We anticipate enhancing VPAC for the 2016 elections to actively support state and local candidates and potentially ballot measures that share our principles and priorities.

What specific issues is Valley Partnership advocating  in 2015?
The biggest is how we prepare for the future and our water so we continue to maintain economic vitality. Arizona has led the way in the West with its leadership in dealing with a continuing drought. We need to ensure funding is sufficient to our state agencies and water providers to ensure our water security.
Next are economic development and the tools we need for infrastructure, a well-funded Arizona State Land Department, and consistent policies on taxes and fees. As we prepare for the 2016 legislative session, we want to work closely with the chambers and other commercial real estate development organizations to assemble a unified agenda.

 How does Valley Partnership partner with — and distinguish itself from — the other commercial real estate and development organizations in Arizona and the Valley?
Valley Partnership is an advocacy organization that is an umbrella group and honest broker for the development industry. We are the only group who can lobby at all levels of government and have members from the commercial, industrial and master planned real estate development industries. Other groups are slightly narrower in focus or membership. However, partnerships, collaboration and coordination with all of these groups is extremely important to all of our success.

What role do you see Arizona’s higher education institutions playing in the Valley’s development and growth? How do you think the recent budget cuts to education may affect such development?
The leadership and forethought of Arizona’s higher education institutions in the development of downtown Phoenix and Tempe have had a tremendous impact in kick-starting surrounding commercial development. It has made the universities a nationwide example of how public and private investment can be done. Recent budget cuts have made it even more important for our higher education institutions to focus on how to make the most of their assets and be true entrepreneurs.

Valley Partnership - 25Years

Valley Partnership: President's Message

25 Years of Commitment

Beginning at the end of 2011, I was charged with the responsibility of reviewing the 25-year history of Valley Partnership in anticipation of the yearlong celebration of our Silver Anniversary.

The only records kept by a small organization with a historically small staff were the binders of corporate minutes (required by law) and some photographs — not pictures on websites, CDs, JPEGs or TIFFs — of events and Community Projects. I dreaded the thought of combing through tedious legalese and staged pictures of people holding shovels pretending to do heavy lifting at some children’s facility one day a year.

I was wrong.

Reading the corporate minutes from 1987 through 2011, each year came alive with the personalities of the Chairs of the Board of Valley Partnership. They were business people who led the organization and the commercial real estate industry in some of the direst times and in some of the most successful. I read of the dedication of the Partners who served on Valley Partnership committees with missions ranging from Government Advocacy to Business Development to our Community Projects.

Although 25 years have passed and the Valley has grown beyond the boundaries that existed in 1987, one thing has been consistent: Valley Partnership is a partnership among strong individuals who are dedicated to the four corners of the Valley Partnership Mission:

  • Advocacy
  • Education
  • Networking
  • Community Service

I hope you enjoy this look back over the past 25 years, particularly the comments of the past Chairs of the Board of Directors, a collection of prestigious commercial real estate professionals who committed a significant amount of their career and time to Valley Partnership.

I invite you to join Valley Partnership for the next 25 years and become a part of the Valley of the Sun’s Premier Advocacy Group for Responsible Development.

Richard R. Hubbard
President & CEO
Valley Partnership

For more information about Valley Partnership, visit the Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012