TUCSON FORWARD, INC. http://tucsonforward.com/is a non-partisan, diverse group of over 600 forward-thinking residents of the city of Tucson whose backgrounds include small business owners, real estate developers, doctors, lawyers, educators, community and neighborhood leaders, students, and retirees.
We are very concerned that Air Force plans to bring in much louder, riskier jet fighters, and significantly increase the number and frequency of military flights over Tucson, could seriously damage our revitalization project of downtown, our large tourism/hospitality industry, and the property values, health, and quality of life of residents of the central area of Tucson, and thus decrease city revenue and the economy of the entire valley.
Over the past 35 years, the AF has repeatedly expanded the flight operations over Tucson without complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires that before any expansion of operations, an Environmental Assessment (EA) must be conducted to determine if there is a possibility of any negative impact on the environment (including humans and their properties).
If the EA indicates that there may be a negative impact, then a more in-depth Environmental Impact Study (EIS) must be conducted, and all possible impacts must be determined and disclosed to the public, and action must be taken to eliminate (or at a minimum) alleviate those impacts.
Yet the last EA for Operation Snowbird was in 1978, despite the fact that it brings in jet fighters to fly over densely populated central Tucson, and has undergone enormous expansion since then.
After decades of complaints from Tucson residents about the ever-increasing overflights and louder jets, the AF has finally conducted an EA.
However, they have used grossly inappropriate tools to measure such things as noise from overflights and the effects of increased noise on: hearing, other aspects of physical and emotional health, property values, and structural integrity of residences and other buildings.
This has led to an inadequate Environmental Assessment, and the surprising claim that increasing the number of flights and flying louder, riskier jets over Tucson will have "No Significant Impact" on the residents or environment of Tucson.
NEPA requires that there be a public comment period for the EA to allow the public a chance to voice any concerns about the plans for expansion. The comment period for this EA is set to end Nov. 24th. We are concerned, because our city officials and the media and press have not brought the issue to the public's attention, and instead, have allowed several misconceptions about Davis-Monthan and the Air Force to be viewed as facts, in the minds of the public.
Therefore, we are attempting to make sure that the entire Tucson public is made aware of all the facts regarding the expansion plans, so they can make informed comments to the Air Force, and voice their concerns.
Recently, the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance (SADA) published a document they call the SADA Community Survey, which claims that residents of Tucson (even those living close to Davis-Monthan and the Air National Guard runway out of Tucson International Airport) are so supportive of the bases, that they do not mind louder fighters flying over Tucson.... even the F-35 (which is the loudest fighter ever built, and which will come here under Operation Snowbird if the F-35 replaces all other jet fighters as the Air Force plans).
Therefore, Tucson Forward, Inc. (TFI) has just completed a survey specifically designed to determine the views of residents in 17 Tucson zip codes containing the 46 neighborhoods most heavily impacted by the military overflights from Davis-Monthan (D-M) and the Air National Guard (which flies out of Tucson International Airport). (See our blog page for documents related to this survey).
In sharp contrast to the SADA conclusions, the TFI survey has found that a majority of respondents are opposed to both the elevated noise and risk of an increase in overflights by louder and riskier jet fighters.
Additionally, the TFI survey identifies a solution to the threat of D-M closure, and reveals 63% support of this solution by residents in all areas surveyed.
The solution is to convert Davis-Monthan to an urban-friendly base by switching to on-the-ground operations, such as: regional coordination command center, simulator training, remote guidance, and collaborative research with the University, Raytheon and other high tech industries (for example, solar, and other alternative energies), while limiting in-the-air flight operations to current levels.
Tucson Forward began as a community gathered to protest increasingly frequent and louder military jet training over Central Tucson from Davis Monthan Air Force Base. As the Air National Guard increased its training of pilots, domestic and international, at the Tucson International Airport, we expanded our concerns on behalf of the citizenry under those flight paths as well. Both projects are inside the city limits and fly and train frequently over the most populated areas.
We appreciate your interest in going beyond the information provided to you by the Air Force, Air National Guard, and proponents of the F-35. The perspective of Tucson residents who actually bear the impact of military overflights, and the research residents have done to ferret out all the facts on this issue, are very important, since the military and military-dependent industries are, of course, more interested in disclosing and focusing on those facts which support their interests and plans.
We are a non-profit group of volunteers without any conflicts of interest, and are not beholden to large commercial enterprises. We are tax-paying citizens, residents, and locally-owned small business owners of Central Tucson. Because there are many facts which have not been made readily available by the military, you may not be aware of the numerous detrimental effects on Tucson, associated with the overflights. It is a very complex matter, and we are committed to providing you with those facts.
We have worked long and hard on behalf of the entire community of Tucson, to ensure that all pertinent facts on each side of the issue are fully disclosed to the Tucson public and its leaders. We believe our endeavors are worth the time and effort, because an informed electorate is imperative to the existance of democratic process.
As one of our primary concerns has been the F35, below is a discussion regarding that.
Defending Tucson communities from the F-35
Despite the political and military campaigns to sell this aircraft as a positive boon for the cities where it will be based, there is a far more serious and dark downside to having these birds roost in our backyard.
What the Air Force and local politicians haven't been telling us is that this aircraft is so loud and grossly polluting that it poses dangerous economic, public safety, and environmental problems that will drastically affect the quality of life for every Tucsonan for years to come.
Tucson Forward is a citizens group formed with the overall purpose of educating Tucsonans on the many negative impacts the F-35 JSF will have if allowed to use Davis Monthan AFB or Tucson International Airport.
The key issues this group will focus on will be:
1 - To educate Tucson communities on the negative impacts this aircraft will have on public health & safety, and quality of living due to the 120 Decibel noise levels that will constantly bombard every home, school, and business within 10 miles of DMAFB or TIA.
2 - To educate Tucson communities to the negative effects the F-35 will have on residential, educational, and business property values all over Tucson due to the fact that it is 3 times louder than ANY jet that has ever flown over Tucson before, so loud in fact that many properties close to the runways will be condemned or become completely uninhabitable according to OSHA guidelines.
3 - To find out why the Air Force and local politicians CAN NOT IN ANY WAY itemize, quantify, or substantiate the claims that having these planes based here would generate $280 million dollars a year for Tucson's economy.
4 - To show Tucson and it's elected officials that the military aircraft training will not offset the losses incurred from devalued properties, loss of tourism, loss of students at the U of A, and loss of other industrial or business ventures interested in making Tucson their home.
5 - To directly address State, County, and Local elected officials and get straight, definitive, and honest answers as to where they stand on these serious issues and why, and what they are prepared to do to protect Tucson and it's citizens from the negative impacts this aircraft will undoubtedly have on our city.
Many other communities also have military overflight issues. There are over 170 Air Force bases (!) in the fifty states, not to mention the bases of other armed services and air national guards. There is a myriad of localities in the US where citizens living under ever-increasing military overflights, are voicing the same complaints as the residents of Tucson. Immediately below are several links (an extremely small sample) for articles about overflight issues in some of those communities.
Also included are links of a powerpoint presentation regarding the F-35, which was done by Bob Webb, an expert in acoustics, who lives in Florida.