Thefts: On Our Own?

Those of you who follow our listserv know that Armory Park has had a recent rash of thefts and home break-ins. The problem became even more visible at a general meeting of the Armory Park Neighborhood Association. The meeting was attended by a standing-room-only crowd of our neighbors. Neighbor concerns were addressed by representatives of the Tucson Police Department and Community Bridges Incorporated.

Meeting observations – Feedback from TPD was not encouraging. The usual comments about the limited number of officers and limited funding were delivered. Since the TPD districts were reorganized a few years ago, Armory Park is now part of the Operations Division West located on Miracle Mile. We are no longer a part of the Downtown District. The south boundary is 22nd Street. To see a map of the division, click here: TPD Ops Div West (PDF).

Next, we were told that property crimes were down in Armory Park though it was acknowledged that our actual recent experiences were not consistent with that data. I looked on the TPD crime statistics on the department’s web page and found a contradictory story of recent crimes. A search for the last month disclosed 37 crime reports related to property thefts and possible violence. Of these, ten were breaking and entering. The others were various thefts, assaults and disorders. If you want to see the data I extracted, click here: Armory Park Crimes (PDF).

We were also given the usual tips on home security: locking doors & windows, lighting, bars on windows, radio or TV on, etc. Some have already done many of these things or more. As things stand, these steps will only cause the thieves to move on to your neighbors. Even the somewhat impaired thieves are capable of some rational judgement; if there is a benefit from stealing and there is no risk, why not do it. Even if we have reported crimes, there has been little or no police response. From my own observation and the experiences of neighbors, there is no meaningful investigation happening after the crime. If there is no downside for the criminals, crimes will continue.

Several officers attended the meeting and the presentation was made by a sergeant. He promised to pass our concerns up his chain of command but as leader of one out of ten squads in the division, he can only take direct actions with his subordinates. This did not make me confident that there would be any effective action. Several neighbors told their stories of criminal activity for him to pass along.

On a different but related subject, two representatives from CBI answered neighbors’ complaints about their clients who behave badly and degrade the quality of life in the northeast corner of our neighborhood. Their clients who often have substance abuse or mental health issues are brought to the CBI facility from all over the city. CBI cannot detain those who decline referral for help and wish to leave. This turns them loose at that corner of Armory Park. In the past, they have declined to adopt security measures requested by neighbors and months after being requested to improve exterior lighting at their facility, announced that the lighting is now installed. The APNA board has had discussions with CBI staff over time but my reading is that the outcomes do not satisfy our affected neighbors and have not been well communicated to our residents. The website and listserv should be used to keep residents informed on issues of concern and to encourage feedback to the board. Armory Park has many empathetic residents who value the humanitarian services of organizations like CBI. I do also, but they cannot be allowed to operate at an unreasonable cost to their neighbors.

In this regard, Michael Lex posted a useful bit of information on the listserv. He wrote, “I didn’t attend last evening’s meeting but a thought came to me while discussing the situation with a neighbor this morning. Long-time residents may recall the free food kitchen at 6th Avenue and 18th operated by Episcopal Services as St Martin’s in the early 1980s. The increase in transient foot traffic through the neighborhood and the attendant increase in crime resulted in APNA obtaining a Restraining Order, which was ultimately upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court in Armory Park v Episcopal Community Services, 148 Ariz 1 (1985). The case permits organizations such as APNA to seek redress from not-for profit entities upon proof of the creation of a public nuisance. If the suspected not-for-profit originator of the recent neighborhood crime wave can be factually tied to it, there is a legal means by which it (they?) can be enjoined.” Thanks, Michael, for the useful information.

Encouraging Signs –  Recent posts on the listserv have described a much more active response by TPD to crimes over the last few days. I won’t call this a trend until is has persisted for some time but it may improve my pessimistic view of our future. It illustrates the truth of the old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It doesn’t, however, change the basic calculation; until some of the thieves are caught and punished, they will just victimize another neighborhood. Is that what we should hope for?.

If you want to comment on any of this (agree, disagree, add on) please use the comment feature shown at the left of the article. I will respond and others may too. 

 

New Listserv

Last night’s APNA board meeting resulted in a decision which will be of interest to many in Armory Park. Deborah Oslik reported on the work of a study group she headed looking into alternatives to Yahoo for our neighborhood listserv. They experimented with alternatives and she learned the experiences of some others who had left Yahoo. Her conclusion was that while no solution will be perfect for everyone, Google Groups is the best available option. All who made the change considered the Google option superior. It works similarly to Yahoo Groups but is more reliable and is getting technical attention from Google staff. Yahoo Groups now seems to be an orphan and may not continue for long. The board passed a motion to begin the transition immediately to be concluded by 15 September.

Soon you will receive an email from Google with instructions for joining our Google group. Those with a Gmail account will have access to additional services but a Gmail account is not essential. I do recommend it, especially if you want to get listserv postings in a daily digest rather than as individual emails. Phyllis and Tod will continue as moderators and Deborah will assist in the transition.  You will get a reminder email each week until September 15th. After that date, the old listserv will be closed.

I’m sure that the new listserv will not be entirely problem free. There is such a complex combination of email clients, browsers, operating systems and more that it is a miracle that any of this works. Still, I am confident that this change was the best solution available.

Social note: An ice cream social is tentatively planned for 30 September at the St Andrew’s parish hall. Watch the listserv and websites for details.

Personal Note: Among the reasons I am changing the emphasis of this website to history and commentary is that my hearing has declined to the point where it is not possible for me to take the detailed notes of the meetings’ proceedings needed to craft accurate and complete reports. Last night demonstrated that once again.

Interesting Armory Park Statistics

Betts Putnam-Hidalgo left a comment regarding a recent article asking if the percentage of renters in Armory Park was really greater than of owner occupants. The answer is yes as I interpret this chart from City-Data.com. The statistics in this article are interesting to me but you can find even more on that site.

Owners and renters by unit type (%)

Continue reading “Interesting Armory Park Statistics”

Baffert Headlines APNA Agenda

The most important subject for the meeting was the Baffert Project at 6th Avenue and 18th Street. Both APNA and APHZAB (historic board) have sent letters to the zoning examiner for entry into the record of the hearing to happen at the Mayor & CouncilIMG_2607chambers Thursday (12 April) at 6:00 PM. Both boards will also make presentation of their concerns at the hearing. Neither board is pleased with the proposed building height of 48 feet, much taller than any structure nearby. However, the most important issue is retaining the property in the historic zone so that the APHZAB will have some voice in how the project proceeds and to avoid a newprecedent which could destroy our Historic Preservation Zone and others. The board asked for maximum resident attendance at the hearing to show that the community was very concerned about developments. There was consensus that if this rezoning is approved, there will be a succession of such actions going north along 6th Avenue (Wanslee Motors, Philbaum Gallery, Roy’s Market and more). Imagine what 6th Avenue will look like lined with buildings 48 feet tall or taller. The most public face of Armory Park will be disfigured and the western part isolated from the rest. Continue reading “Baffert Headlines APNA Agenda”

New Houses in the ‘Hood

Many of you may have noticed the construction at the corner of 5th Avenue and 18th Street. We will soon see four new houses there designed by Tucson architect, Rob Paulus. UntitledThe houses are small on the exterior with an appearance similar to many of the historic bungalows in Armory park. Actually each bungalow has 1780 square feet of living space, 3 bedrooms and 2 baths according to the Paulus website (http://robpaulus.com/projects/18th-street-bungalows/). Each house will have one off-street parking space. Continue reading “New Houses in the ‘Hood”

APNA Concerned About Baffert Project

The most important discussions of the meeting were regarding the proposed Baffert project at Five Points. While some have expressed concern about the height of the proposed building or its impact on the on-street parking situation, those are not the most important problems with this proposal.  The mechanism being used by the developer and the Tucson planning department is to remove the project’s lot from our Historic Preservation Zone. The precedent created is a threat to the historic character of our entire neighborhood and others across the city. Continue reading “APNA Concerned About Baffert Project”

A Busy Evening at APHZAB

The November APHZAB meeting was a little different than usual because it opened with a presentation by Michael Taku, lead planner in the PDSD historic office. A central message was that the board has a recommending role and is not a final decision maker. The PDSD director has the final say subject to appeal to Mayor and Council. He also asked for feedback from the board to streamline the review process. Streamlining will be easier said than done because of the many obstacles: a split building- historic permit process, shortage of staff, staff inexperience and a culture that does not seem to value customer service. I will remain a hopeful skeptic until I see concrete improvements. Continue reading “A Busy Evening at APHZAB”

Rezoning Closer to Home

Here is another rezoning issue much closer to home. Again, Steve K has done a great job breaking down the subject into understandable pieces. The key element here is the lack of flexibility of HPZ rules concerning maximum height of structures. There has been considerable discussion within our two boards, APNA and APHZAB. Various board members have different views on the matter, but most seem to feel that some form of compromise is needed. Please read through Steve’s piece carefully, then decide how you feel about the issue. Our boards need your input.  Continue reading “Rezoning Closer to Home”