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Bisbee Wire #20

editor: Fred Miller     November 30, 2019    #20 November 2019


The iBisbee committee is disbanding, subject to the pleasure of the council. I've done a longish summary below. If you read it, it is clear that despite many attempts, economic development in Bisbee is difficult...with the exception of Tourism. Even that can be troublesome. This year is a good example of what can happen without keen attention and nurturing. Some of the gains of the past four years have been diminished and it has economically hurt businesses as well as the City.

During this year the council and the former interim CM had/has been reluctant, at best, to deal with tourism issues. After months of council dilly-dally there has been; a tourism director vacancy for 10 months; refusal to acknowledge a tourism department rather than a 'visitor center' catchall name; the Visitor Information Office is closed on weekends; little tourism marketing; a frivolous spend of tourism budget money for a part time person to sit at the visitor center; and a budget cut for advertising. Consequently visitation to the city this summer was mediocre. The one bright spot is that a marketing contract was finally awarded to a local firm.

I think this stems from a persistent anti-Tourism thread in Bisbee that seeps into council decisions despite overwhelming evidence that Tourism is the only economic driver of consequence. There also seems to be a lack of understanding that Tourism can be controlled-it doesn't have to take over Bisbee-and be developed into something beneficial for residents and visitors. It all depends on how the city is marketed combined with vigilance about negative impacts on residents.  Doing nothing/kicking the can down the road, for some though, is an option, as we have seen with tourism infrastructure and the unrestrained growth of short term rentals. Speaking of which...

...the new regs on short term rentals gets a second reading at the council meeting. (Shockingly! I was wrong in the last Wire, SRT owners do have to get a business license.) After the regs pass the city will do some advertising informing SRT's of their obligation to get a biz license, get a TPT number, have the TPT number on their listing, and registering the contact info for the onsite management of the property. There are other stipulations also. So hopefully in the coming months, the city will have a decent picture of who, and where SRTs are located. If you have issues about SRTs, let your councilperson know. As with any problems documentation is key; pics, vids, dates, times, license numbers, names, etc.

And the no-longer-new City Manger, Theresa Coleman, is getting lotsa good comments and no one yet calling for her ouster. She has begun informal listen/talk sessions at the library on the first and third Thursday at the library from 4-5 pm.  It would seem that she should be starting to getting the hang of Bisbee and separating the talkers (many) from the doers (not as many). That will help her productivity for sure. 


Of Interest: Items 6, 7, 8, 9, funding various art projects If you are interested in some of the public art that the BAC is funding, take a look at these projects. Item 10... iBisbee committee disbanding (see longer rap below) At the last meeting the iBisbee committee has voted to disband. The members felt the committee had run its course and was no longer effective. Item 12... Changing Shearer Av. from a one way going south to a one way going north, thereby creating four additional parking spaces (which appear to be back in spaces). The proposed change is for one block of Shearer-that now goes from the large public parking lot downhill past Canyon Rose Suites and other business in the Allen block building and a left on Subway out on Main St-to going north uphill one way to access parking. However the consequence of this is that any traffic, from the parking lot or from Opera, Shearer, or Tack trying to get down to Main street will have only two ways to get to Main st and out of town. Down Tack Av. which is a narrow twisty one car wide street onto Subway or go up Shearer to Clauson and exit at High Desert Market. Currently traffic out of the parking lot cannot go up Opera as being proposed, because of Howell is one way coming into the lot. (Opera goes up past Central School to Taylor and then down to Brewery gulch This does not seem to be a good solution for residents or visitors. Item 14...a revised animal control regulations


GENERAL BUSINESS: 1.        ACCOUNTS PAYABLE:  Subject to availability of funds 2.        Approval of the Consent Agenda  A.     Approval of the Minutes of the Regular Session of Mayor and Council held on November 5, 2019 at 7:00 pm. B.      Approval of a Park, Facility, and Right-of-Way Use permit for the Return of the Turkey Vultures Parade from Main Street to Subway Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 3:00pm to 4:00pm this includes set-up and breakdown.  

OLD BUSINESS 3.        Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance O-19-06; Amending the City Code, Article 7, Light Pollution and Providing for Repeal and Severability. Theresa Coleman, City Manager 4.        Discussion and Possible Approval of Ordinance O-19-08; Amending the City Code, Chapter 8, Business Regulations and Adding Regulations Related to Vacation Rentals. Theresa Coleman, City Manager

NEW BUSINESS 5.        Notice of the Appointment of Councilmember Louis Pawlik as Mayor Pro Tempore for the upcoming year.  David M. Smith, Mayor

6.        Discussion and Possible Approval of the Recommendation from the Bisbee Arts Commission to fund a Grant Application for Ken Boe in the amount of $500.00 from the Bisbee Arts Commission Fund. Bill Higgins, Council Liaison to the Bisbee Arts Commission  7.        Discussion and Possible Approval of the Recommendation from the Bisbee Arts Commission to fund a Grant Application for Cado Daily in the amount of $295.00 from the Bisbee Arts Commission Fund. Bill Higgins, Council Liaison to the Bisbee Arts Commission 8.        Discussion and Possible Approval of the Recommendation from the Bisbee Arts Commission to fund a Grant Application for Francis J. Kiman AKA Pablo Pencil in the amount of $500.00 from the Bisbee Arts Commission Fund. Bill Higgins, Council Liaison to the Bisbee Arts Commission 9.         Discussion and Possible Approval of the Recommendation from the Bisbee Arts Commission to fund a Grant Application for Tonette Derocher in the amount of $500.00 from the Bisbee Arts Commission Fund. Bill Higgins, Council Liaison to the Bisbee Arts Commission 10.    Discussion and Possible Approval of a Notice of Intent to Adopt Ordinance O-19-09; Dissolving the iBisbee Committee.  David M. Smith, Council Liaison to the iBisbee Committee 11.    Discussion and Possible Approval to Purchase a Bus Shelter from Arizona Correctional Industries to be installed at Safeway for bus riders. Jesus Haro, Public Works Director 12.    Discussion and Possible Approval to change the one-way direction of Shearer Avenue from south (down the hill) to north (up the hill). Jesus Haro, Public Works Director 13.    Discussion and Possible Approval of an Addendum to the Service Agreement with Cintas Corporation to provide uniform rental, facility services products rentals and laundry service. Jesus Haro, Public Works Director 14.    Discussion and Possible Approval of the Notice of Intent to adopt Ordinance O-19-05; Amending the City Code, Chapter 6, Animals, and providing for repeal and severability. Theresa Coleman, City Manager 15.    City Manager's Report:


BISBEE IN THE HUNT This info comes from Jen Luria. Unfortunately I did not get the Wire out in time so deadline for submitting their form has passed. If interested, you might check the website and see if you could still qualify for possible inclusion. This is their website to see what they have done for businesses in other towns. For more information "Bisbee has been chosen as one of the top 10 towns in the US to compete for the Small Business Revolution show. If Bisbee wins first place, the show will come in and invest $500,000 into six of our businesses. The Small Business Revolution team from Deluxe will be visiting Bisbee on December 3rd to meet with town leaders and visit as many small business owners as possible. How can you be involved? The team from Small Business Revolution will visit as many small businesses as possible to get a better sense of our business community.  They are looking for recommendations on which businesses to visit, so please fill out and submit this form if you would be interested in receiving a visit from their team.  Please note: this submission does not guarantee the small business will be featured in the show, nor does it mean they won’t feature a business who does not submit this form. Submissions are due November 29th. Season 5 Timeline Below are important dates as we work toward announcing the winner for Season 5. January 14: Announce Top 5 + public voting begins January 21: Public voting closes January 28: Announce winning town We are excited to participate in this contest as it is more than another accolade, it is actual financial investment in our town. It is certainly worth a shot!  For more information on the show visit They have created a hashtag specifically for Bisbee so please use #myBisbee to help support the contest and promotional efforts through social media. Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to pass this along email to other businesses so we can make sure to include as many people as we can.Let’s win this thing!"


STATE OF THE CITY Mayor David Smith will host a presentation and discussion on Sunday December 15 from 3:00-5:00 at the Senior Center, 300 Collins Rd.

................................ Y THRIFT STORE TEMPORARILY CLOSED Some turmoil at the store  at  between the staff and the board. Drop offs can be arranged. ................................

32-38 MAIN FOR SALE The building at 32 Main housing the Tang Gallery and 38 Main-the location of Look Gallery-are up for sale. Asking price is $775,000 for the two solar powered buildings. The sale is both buildings because 32 Main does not have its own plumbing. Formerly the JC Penny store, and more recently Atalanta Books store for several years, it is one of the largest commercial spaces in Bisbee. .............. SALES TAXES UP ACROSS ALL CATEGORIES The actual sales for August have been tallied by ADOR and reported in October. (Sales are always two months behind when money exchanged hands) Sales were up substantially from a year ago. Even allowing for a lower bed tax (2.5%) taxes were $12k/$9k; lodging taxes were $17k/$10k; restaurant & bar were $44k/$37k; and retail was $80k/$66k. It was the best month of a lackluster summer.


The formation of the iBisbee committee was a response to the lack of an economic development department/person in the City as well as a moribund tourism 'department' that was mired in outdated ineffectual marketing and constrained by a miniscule advertising budget with an indifferent city manager. Much of the initial impetus to form a budget/economic development committee came from a now-defunct business group, Better Bisbee/Better Together. The iBisbee committee was established by  then-Mayor Badal and then-councilperson David Smith. Most committee members were business people. The committee functioned through a time that saw six city managers, three mayors, several different councilpersons as well as significant changes in the city's administration. The instability in the administrative apparatus was responsible for a lack of consistency and responsiveness that significantly hampered efforts to develop Bisbee.

Nevertheless, during the six year run (I was a committee member for five years) there were several major accomplishments, a few potential projects that showed promise but were ultimately scuttled, and a few projects that failed. During that time several prospective developers were invited and visited for various possible projects. Nothing came to fruition from these visits.

Initially, there was a year-long summation of what economic development tools and sectors were available in Bisbee-basically a resource inventory. Based on that inventory the committee developed an interest in three areas; the tourism sector, a long term care facility, and senior housing.

They co-commissioned  two studies in conjunction with Copper Queen Hospital that showed there was a market for a assisted living facility. Although there were several developers brought to town to look over potential sites, nothing was developed. This effort was hampered by the then-mayor Oertle's views on economic development.

A promising senior housing project of 50+ units on Freeport land fronting Hwy 92 that would have been donated to the City, had likely State funding, but foundered after two years of effort. There was of shortage of funds to buy and move a couple of large buildings that were unfortunately centrally located on the donated property and the non-profit housing foundation that was to do the construction lost interest from lack of progress.

The tourism sector held the most promise and yielded the best results. The committee was responsible for a change of tourism marketing of Bisbee-a rebranding-that resulted in significant increase in tax revenue to the city and increases revenue for businesses. The committee also originated and advocated for, and voters approved, a four year 1% increase in the bed tax specifically used marketing for overnight visitors. And as a result of iBisbee prompting and lobbying there were; upgrades to, increased social media use, better statistical reporting, a hire of an experienced tourism director, established  a visitor Information Office in the Mining Museum, and an increase in the city's advertising budget.  There was also an attempt to  create a hiking trail in conjunction with Freeport that would highlight Bisbee history, mining history, and feature reclamation work done by Freeport. It was part of a conversation that thought outdoor recreation was one area of expansion. That project was scuttled (after a year's work of building the trail with the help of many Bisbee Boy Scouts and volunteers) by legal issues raised by Freeport's Phoenix lawyers. The committee, in 2014/2015 was fortunate-with much effort-to land the Technological Assistance Panel of the ULI (Urban Land Institute) and bring them to town to help problem solve economic development. (ULI is comprised of members in the private and public sectors that have experience in land use, real estate development, and sustainability) There was significant work done by all members of the committee to assemble resource documents that were provided to ULI. Their visit resulted in reaffirming, but with more detail, much of what the committee was doing. Tourism, small business development, rehab housing, healthcare, and small plot agriculture. There was significant value in the panel discarding possible development ideas from the committee that were not realistic. In 2015 the committee successfully advocated for a zoning change in the 80 acre parcel owned by the City adjacent to the airport. That was an effort to ready the area for possible development.

There was a concerted effort to work with the U of Arizona Tech Park, School of Mining, and Freeport to explore setting up an area and center for mining research. The research would have been for end of life mines, water use, solar use, reclamation, and other areas. There would have been development of the San Jose area with a possible hotel and buildings. After 1 and 1/2 years of meetings, the project was dropped likely because of a inability of Freeport and the U of A to come to terms with property use and potential patents coming from the research. The committee undertook work with Local First Arizona in 2016 to 2018 to develop a 'buy local' campaign as well as a project designed to broaden resident input to the committee and a 'destination' marketing program. After a couple of years trying to make it work, the projects were terminated. It did result in Local First paying for a part time assistant to the tourism director. The engagement took up a considerable amount of committee time. In 2015/16, although the committee suggested to the administration that another bed tax be put before the voters as the current one was expiring, the administration failed to bring it before the council and consequently there was nothing on the ballot. Because of that failure the city has lost a significant chunk of tax revenue.

There were many others things tried or investigated; Foreign Trade Zone, Promise Zones, creation of a 'economic development toolkit' to give to people interested in investing in Bisbee, electric car chargers, suggestions for a restructured Cochise County Tourism Council, Made in Rural America Grants, increasing tourism from Mexico, to name a few of the many items that came before the committee.

During 2019, the committee tried to get the new council to look at the tourism director position and fill it promptly. However after a protracted discussion over several months involving two city managers, it was decided by the council to put the marketing tasks out to bid and fill the tourism director position. To date that position has not been filled even though it has been voted for by the council. The  marketing contract has been awarded to a local firm. And as a result of the dilly-dally the city has lost significant revenue.

This brief summary does not capture the diligence with which the volunteer committee investigated potential economic benefits for Bisbee. It does however capture the difficult task in developing economic sectors in Bisbee not associated with tourism.

During the last six years, persons on the committee have given their personal time to attend monthly meetings as well as many ad hoc meetings, spent  their own money, put on many miles in travel time to meetings in Tucson and Phoenix. They tried in the best way possible to be of community service by growing Bisbee creating a better life and more opportunity for residents.

A special thanks goes to Stan Stern, the chair of the committee from inception, who ran meetings with grace, professionalism, timeliness, and occasionally, an iron hand. His numerous contacts from 50 years of experience in government and the financial sector resulted in many visits by people he cajoled into checking out Bisbee. His guidance was impressive, educational, and helpful to committee members.

These are the people who have served on the committee during the past 6 years (I think I got everybody): Stanley Stern, Carrie Gustavson, Kathy Sowden (all from inception to disband) Rob Page, Denise Loth, Stephanie Peavy, Will Nathan, Howard Gardner, Elias Jouen, Scott Ries, Pete Goldlust, Bob Klein, Cynthia Conroy, Fred Miller.

The committee also had city liaisons; Councilpersons David Smith, Doug Dunn, and current Mayor David Smith. Nina Williams was a faithful, diligent, and efficient city staff person providing minutes, electronic set up and occasional admonishments about the open meeting laws.

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