Tag Archives: Carolyn Oberholtzer

Reading between the lines of process and progress

The members of Valley Partnership are optimistic that 2015 could finally bring the arrival of the elusive economic recovery that has yet to take hold in the Phoenix Metropolitan. The organization will be working on many fronts to foster a favorable environment for development and redevelopment to ensure process does not stand in the way of progress.

At the local level, the Valley Partnership City/County Committee will continue to work closely with municipal partners to address ways to expedite development without compromising careful consideration of development proposals. As the volume of development has ticked up for commercial projects, neighborhood groups have activated, calling on city councils to tighten regulations on existing and future projects. The committee is focused on new municipal regulations to address these issues and will work with councils, staff and citizens to navigate a path forward that is sensitive to neighborhood concerns while enabling growth.

The Valley Partnership Legislative Committee will maneuver through similar terrain as the 2015 legislative session begins. Valley Partnership will be urging a “do no harm” approach to legislators, with a proactive push toward the continued streamlining of regulatory requirements. We also will advocate for the continuation of policy set in the Brewer Administration in the form of an executive order that halted all non-necessary regulation by state agencies. This “rule-making moratorium” expired on Dec. 31, 2014, and governor-elect Doug Ducey has pledged to consider continuing the measure. Valley Partnership will support the continuation of this policy and other efforts to eliminate regulations that unnecessarily impede progress.

Finally, the Federal Affairs Committee is engaged with Arizona’s congressional delegation to comment on and influence regulations coming out of Washington that will negatively impact Arizona’s economy. Specifically, sweeping new rules could vastly expand the way the Clean Water Act applies to “waters” in the state, the impact of which could be compounded by the designation of several new endangered species.

As always, Valley Partnership remains committed to its mission of responsible growth and working with members to make 2015 a prosperous year.

Carolyn                                                Alisa
Oberholtzer                                        Lyons
Partner, Bergin, Frakes,                       Principal, SLOAN LYONS
Smalley & Oberholtzer                         Public Affairs


Valley Partnership Amplifies Voice of Responsible Development

Karrin Taylor

Karrin Taylor

Vanessa Hickman

Vanessa Hickman

Carolyn Oberholtzer

Carolyn Oberholtzer

Richard Hubbard

Richard Hubbard

When municipalities have development-related issue at stake, one of the first organizations they call is Valley Partnership. Advocacy for responsible development is the driving force of the 27-year-old organization, which often takes a stance on behalf of its busy members. The issues range from state legislation and statewide issues such as land reform efforts, Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET), copper theft and economics of Luke Air Force Base. Leading into 2014, the organzation is in the midst of community district financing.
Many members have taken turns sitting on VP’s advocacy committees, with a focus on city and county to federal influence, but no one has more ears to the ground than DMB Associate’s Karrin Taylor. Taylor is the immediate past chair of the board and has sat on multiple committees.

“(VP’s advocacy) started out many years ago working at the local level and coming out of an era when anything related to development or developers wasn’t seen in best light,” says Taylor. The most robust is the City County Committee, Taylor says, which is represented by a laundry list of the Valley’s municipalities. About four years ago, Valley Partnership got involved on a federal level with the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts. The committee has since turned into a roundtable for the congressional offices as well as a forum for educating members of the development community, Taylor observes.

“Through that legacy, we’ve become the voice of the development community and local jurisdictions. Before they proceed with ordinances, they call us,” she says. “Valley Partnership really represents the entire industry. We’re seen as the one that has to look at things holistically.” Valley Partnership’s working relationship with the cities is based on communication and trust, says the organization’s CEO and President Richard Hubbard.

“Using regular meetings between private sector developers and municipal staffers, we are able to discuss and resolve potential issues related to commercial real estate regulation prior to those issues becoming problems. Through more than 27 years of this process and the resolutions of dozens of complicated issues related to oversight of commercial development, experience has led both developers and the cities to rely on each other’s expertise with the common goal of effectively building quality projects.”

As mentioned earlier, one of Valley Partnership’s slogans is that it advocates for developer issues so its members can focus on business. When an issue arises, Taylor says, Hubbard will give a “call to arms” so members are aware of an issue and committee members can work on an industry response. “We rely on them to take the leadership role and managing issues as they arise,” Taylor says. “The relevance of the organization as a reasonable and educated voice of issues facing the development community (is its greatest achievement).”

Taylor serves as President of the Foundation for Environmental and Economic Progress (FEEP), which represents major landowners and stakeholders across the country in the advancement of balanced federal environmental law and policy on endangered species acts and wetlands issues. Hubbard served as the Deputy Arizona State Land Commissioner and during his time generated more than $1B in sale and lease revenue for the trust’s beneficiaries, Arizona Public Education. It was the most profitable period of the department in its century-long existence. In a similar vein, current Arizona State Land Commissioner Vanessa Hickman has been on the board of Valley Partnership for 2.5 years and prior to that was a member in the private sector.
Among the organization’s most significant advances at the legislature, says Hubbard, is the years-long work to preserve the GPLET.

“Our developer partners have used the GPLET tool to develop some of the most important real estate projects in the Valley,” he says, adding, “We are also the biggest watchdog of preserving reasonable impact fees applicable to commercial real estate. Valley Partnership has also worked to support other economic development incentives designed to bring new employers to Arizona including the formation of the Arizona Commerce Authority.”

What comes to mind for Hickman was the northern expansion of the Black Mountain Freeway. Valley Partnership backed the development due to transportation’s role in allowing for economic growth and clearing traffic congestion. On that issue, Valley Partnership drafted a letter to the City of Phoenix advocating for the project to move forward.
Valley Partnership has also taken a stance on the extension of long-term leases. The organization advocated the legislature change the statutes so that during the recession people could pay their rent with more time.

Land-use and entitlement lawyer Carolyn Oberholtzer, partner at Bergin, Frakes, Smalley & Oberholzter, has been a Valley Partnership member since 2004 and has sat on the board for four years. She works with municipalities and counties on development project phases and has handled entitlements for some of Arizona’s largest masterplanned communities, commercial, industrial and renewable energy facilities. She was retained by Valley Partnership in 2007 to work on a parking calculations issue in Buckeye that she says could have potentially hurt retail development in the city. Oberholtzer worked in tandem with VP’s on-staff lobbyist.

Oberholtzer, with Hickman, sits on the City County Committee and worked on impact fees and what the effect would be on large land owners and the ability to plan on infrastructure in the future. The committee worked diligently, Hickman says, on what the legislation would look like. “We really engaged with this latest go around with the impact-fee legislation,” Oberholtzer adds. “Some of the stakeholder groups were bitterly divided. We got involved to iron out a solution. We’re living with the results. It’s not perfect legislation but that’s where we try to be most helpful. Where there are areas of disagreement between developers and municipalities.”

“I think the members, we, all have our respective missions and goals for the organizations we represent,” Hickman says. “We live in Arizona and we want this to be a beautiful place to work and raise our families, so to understand that development happens in a progressive way and is thoughtful and well-planned and not done in a way that will adversely impact our community partners and state.”


Arizona attorneys open new Phoenix firm

A new law firm, Bergin, Frakes, Smalley & Oberholtzer (BFSO), recently opened its offices in the heart of Phoenix’s Camelback Corridor, with a focus on real estate, litigation and government relations services.

Although the law firm itself is new, BFSO’s partners are longtime Arizona lawyers and colleagues who have handled cases for a wide spectrum of development, business, financial and government clients in their respective careers.

“We decided to open our own firm to put our 50-plus years of experience in real estate and development, commercial transactions, and civil litigation to work for our clients,” said BFSO partner Carolyn Oberholtzer. “We are dedicated to providing trusted, reliable counsel to help our clients accomplish their goals and protect their interests.”

Focusing on civil and commercial litigation, both Brian Bergin and Kenneth Frakes are native Arizonans with long tenures as litigators and a wide range of experience spanning several decades. With a legal master’s degree in taxation, Michael Smalley concentrates on tax planning, corporate structure and governance, real estate and banking, as well as handling all transactional and finance matters for BFSO’s clients. Oberholtzer is a land use and municipal relations attorney who has been handling zoning, entitlement and municipal cases across Arizona for the last decade – from master-planned community and large-scale retail zoning cases, to annexations, special use permits and variances, and development agreements.

For more information about Bergin, Frakes, Smalley & Oberholtzer, located at 4455 East Camelback Road, Suite A-205, Phoenix, Arizona 85018, contact the law firm at (602) 888-7855, email them at info@bfsolaw.com, or view their website at www.bfsolaw.com.