What has been the biggest concern for the future of Ahwatukee for years will remain at the top of the list moving into 2013. There has still been no decision made on whether or not the South Mountain Freeway will run down Pecos Road.

A group called GRIC Landowners, made up of owners of allotted lands on the reservation, have put forth an initiative to the tribal council, asking for the freeway to be built on their land and on a portion of tribal land, with some conditions the state must meet. This month the council will decide to accept the initiative as is or send it to a public vote. It is expected to go to a public vote as early as February.

In the mean time the Arizona Department of Transportation has been working on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Pecos Road alignment. That is expected to be released in 2013 as well.

Besides keeping the Loop 202 off Pecos Road, City Councilman Sal DiCiccio said his focus in 2013 will be on domestic violence, trade with Mexico, and making sure the city of Phoenix has the best customer service possible.

DiCiccio has been working with other council members to find short-term and long-term solutions to domestic violence in the city. The Sojourner Center recently had to shutter 80 beds after finding out about an unexpected budget shortfall. This immediate need caused domestic violence to become a topic of discussion for the Phoenix City Council, which ultimately decided to go through a bidding process to award $200,000 to a local shelter and work with the Sandra Day O’Connor House to create a long-term plan for funding. The O’Connor House will be returning to the council with some suggestions in early 2013.

Councilman DiCiccio has been working throughout 2012 to make doing business with the city of Phoenix easier. Business owners can now get their business started through the city within 24 hours and DiCiccio said he hopes to expand that in 2013. In June of 2013, DiCiccio said he hopes everything will be able to be completed online.

Similar to the way opening a business has been streamlined, DiCiccio said he plans to make sure each department in the city is addressing customer needs efficiently. He said the council plans to appoint a person to help with the process of seeing what city departments operate 24 hours and which ones could.

During the 2012 election voters chose Democrat Kyrsten Sinema to represent the newly formed Congressional District 9. Sinema has promised to work across the aisle in Washington to “get things done.” She has already met with mayors of the cities her district covers and said she plans to appoint a representative to each of the mayors to begin day-to-day communication.

Ahwatukee Foothills may see some new development start to happen in 2013. New homes are expected to be popping up across Ahwatukee in the next year. Lennar Homes has approached the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee with proposals to build homes on empty lots and that trend is expected to continue into 2013. Doug Cole, chair of the committee, said he expects to see more infill happen with the smaller parcels of empty land in Ahwatukee.

“Ahwatukee is a very desirable place to live,” Cole said. “With the housing market turning around there is demand for new product but there just aren’t large parcels to develop in Ahwatukee anymore, absent those that the school districts own.”

Cole said he estimates there are four large parcels of land left in Ahwatukee Foothills, three of which are owned by the school districts. He does not anticipate any development happening on those parcels in 2013, but only time will tell.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

‘Make a New Year’s resolution to have a local 2013

As 2012 comes to a close, many of us will make resolutions for the new year to lose weight, read a book, learn a language, or one of a million other goals we have put off to improve our well being. However, there is something we can do to make a far greater impact on our own lives and in our community: pledge to shift 10 percent of the money you spend from national chains to independent businesses.

Studies show that for every $100 spent at a chain, only $13 stays and benefits the local community. Conversely, that $100 spent at local businesses keeps $45 in the local economy.

It is estimated that if an average American city shifted 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy. This equates to more jobs created, dependable services, and an improved standard of living.

Easily shift 10 percent of your spending this year by pledging to lose that weight at a local gym, buy that book at an independent bookstore, or learn a new language from a local instructor. Find other ways to shift and 2200 independent businesses at www.localfirstaz.com.

• Kimber Lanning is founder and director of Local First Arizona.

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