Category Archives: Crime

Plans continue for development at Roosevelt & 7th St. between Garfield & Evans Churchill neighborhoods

Red area indicates Roosevelt & 7th St. location of proposed abandonment zone, where current bus stop will be moved. (Photo illustration courtesy of W. Brent Armstrong)

[Source: Vanishing Phoenix] – The agenda for the upcoming City of Phoenix abandonment hearing was revealed, with a pending application from MD Partners, LLC, the developer behind the Circle K project. The shorthand for the application reads as such: “Approximately 3,534 s.f. of excess ROW along the south side of Roosevelt Street, east of 7th Street, adjacent to the parcels addressed 917 and 925 N. 7th Street.”

What this means for surrounding residents, is relatively large indent where the sidewalk currently sits, making room for a recessed bus stop. For more information, visit Vanishing Phoenix.

Councilman Nowakowski Invites Residents to Crime Summit

[Source: City of Phoenix]

Councilman Michael Nowakowski will host his District 7 Crime Summit at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Phoenix Police Training facility, 10001 S. 15th Ave. The summit will bring together law enforcement personnel, city staff and local residents to discuss crime issues in their communities, police resources, Block Watch, Phoenix Neighborhood Patrol (PNP), and Blight and Graffiti Busters programs.

Speakers will include Public Safety Manager Jack Harris and a presentation on the Police Community Engagement and Outreach Task Force. Residents will be able to speak directly with the District 7 precinct commanders (Estrella, South Mountain, Maryvale and Squaw Peak police precincts) along with community action officers and code enforcement officers.

Event schedule:

  • 8 to 8:30 a.m. – Registration
  • 8:30 to 9 a.m. – Opening remarks from Councilman Nowakowski, Public Safety Manager Jack Harris and Assistant Police Chief Andy Anderson
  • 9 to 10 a.m. – Breakout sessions for each precinct area with community action officers, Block Watch representatives and Blight and Graffiti Busters
  • 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. – Panel discussion with representatives from the Police and Neighborhood Services departments, PNP and Block Watch
  • 11:30 to noon – Lunch, followed by an optional tour of the facility

Lunch will be provided (at no cost to city taxpayers). RSVPs are requested. To confirm your attendance, call the District 7 Office at 602-262-7492 or e-mail council.district.7@phoenix.gov.

Couple invest in downtown Phoenix neighborhood, arts boutique

[Source: Georgann Yara, Special for The Republic] — When Cindy Dach and her husband, Greg Esser, bought a vintage cottage south of Roosevelt Street and west of Seventh Street in 2001, the area was sketchy, especially after sunset, Dach said.  At the time, Dach joked that when she saw a car slow she would hurry inside.  Five years later, a slowing car means a real-estate agent or prospective homebuyer is inspecting properties.  “Now it’s someone looking for one of our hidden bars,” Dach said.  “It’s funny how that metaphor of cars slowing down shows how the neighborhood is changing.”

That vintage cottage houses her shop, Made Art Boutique, part of a revitalization of funky galleries, eclectic boutiques, and bars in the heart of Phoenix’s hipster haven.  That was not the vibe when Dach opened Made Art in March 2005.  At first, the boutique opened for limited hours and focused around events and occasionally offered crafting workshops.  By that November, Dach was able to expand hours.  The business was running at a loss at first, but it stabilized in 2007.

Owning the building gave Dach the flexibility to take risks.  “It was a huge advantage,” she said.  “We knew the rent wouldn’t go up when the neighborhood changes, and we felt we could manage it within the community.  We did know we were ahead of our time.”  [Note: Read the full article at Couple invest in downtown Phoenix neighborhood, arts boutique.]

Steeper parking fines irk downtown Phoenix drivers

[Source: Jason Barry, KPHO.com] — The City of Phoenix has increased the price of its parking fines.  Last year, the city increased the cost of its parking meters from 60 cents an hour to $1.50.  Now, the cost of a parking ticket has nearly doubled.  “I thought it was high to start with,” said Phoenix driver Phil Himel.  “Doubling it seems unfair to the common person that comes down here.”

“I don’t think the punishment fits the crime in this situation,” said Tess Konomos of Flagstaff.  A typical parking ticket in downtown Phoenix used to be $31.  Now it’s $57.  The price for paying that ticket early used to be $16.  Currently it’s $37.

Mark Garcia said he had no idea the tickets were so expensive until he looked at the one on his windshield Wednesday.  The Phoenix man claims he was stuck in court for a traffic ticket and couldn’t come down to feed the meter.  “Especially with layoffs and everything, this is not the time to be raising prices,” Garcia said.  “Especially, with the economy down like this.”

City officials said the decision to raise the parking fines will generate an additonal $600,000, money the city needs to help reduce its budget deficit.  Garcia said it’s just another way to take advantage of folks who drive downtown.  “It’s way too much,” said Garcia. “It’s crazy”  [Note: View the KPHO video segment here.]

Department cuts could hurt Phoenix anti-graffiti efforts

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] — Graffiti could gain a foothold in Phoenix because of several proposed budget cuts.  Cuts in four departments could affect the city’s ability to respond to graffiti, often seen as a precursor to worse crime.  Neighborhood Services, Arts & Culture, Parks and Recreation, and Police have identified potential budget cuts that affect graffiti control.   “These are all quality of life issues that impact neighborhoods and the public,” said Erynn Crowley, deputy director of the Neighborhood Services Department.

In Neighborhood Services, three inspectors who spend time making sure stores have graffiti supplies locked up could lose their jobs.  The employees also check adult-business licenses, enforce mobile- and street-vending rules, and administer laws at special events.  The department now will react to complaints instead of actively checking for violations.  Savings are estimated at $421,000 this year and next.

In Arts, the public-art preservation program could be reduced.  One of its functions is to clean up graffiti and vandalism on public-art pieces.  The program, if the cuts are ultimately approved, would be reduced to half the size it was two years ago.  The cuts would total $60,000.

In Parks, ending a softball program would result in the elimination of maintenance staff in northwest and northeast Phoenix.  If the program ends in July, as proposed, the maintenance cuts will result in longer intervals for graffiti removal, among other items.  Savings are pegged at $179,000.

Finally, the Police Department is proposing the elimination of the bias crimes/graffiti squad. The squad investigates crimes related to prejudice and graffiti, which often is the result of gangs marking their territory. Savings in the department would total $710,000.

Altogether, the cuts would target 15 jobs and save $1.4 million.   [Note: Read the full article at Department cuts could hurt Phoenix anti-graffiti efforts.]

Reviving downtown Phoenix through art

[Source: Michael Tulipan, New York Times] — BOARDED-UP buildings and empty lots in the shadow of office towers hardly seemed a promising foundation for an arts district in rapidly growing Phoenix.  But once-neglected and dangerous Roosevelt Row, on the north side of downtown, turned out to be an irresistible lure for artists looking for cheap spaces in which to live and work.  Galleries, restaurants and a farmers’ market soon followed.

Today, Roosevelt Row is the city’s cutting-edge art destination, full of galleries like Perihelion Arts (610 East Roosevelt Street, No. 137; 602-334-6299) and Eye Lounge (419 East Roosevelt Street; 602-430-1490), which showcase contemporary, often challenging art and performances.  The area is also a popular draw during Phoenix’s monthly First Fridays art walk (artlinkphoenix.com).

Just as vital to the area’s resurgence is the Downtown Phoenix Public Market (721 North Central Avenue; foodconnect.org/phoenixmarket), founded five years ago by Community Food Connections, a local nonprofit with an ambitious agenda.  “The goals of the market were to increase access to healthy food and create a vibrant gathering space in the heart of the city,” said Cindy Gentry, the organization’s executive director.  Today, the market (open 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays) has over 65 vendors offering local produce, jewelry, herbal remedies and treats like delicious lemon strawberry basil sorbet ($2) from Crave Artisan Ice Cream, a local purveyor.

Last October, the market expanded to include Urban Grocery and Wine Bar (14 East Pierce Street; 602-254-1799), downtown Phoenix’s first grocery store in nearly three decades.  The grocery sells products from many market vendors and features an outpost of Royal Coffee Bar, as well as a wine bar serving Arizona labels (starting at $7 a glass).

For the fashion-minded, Spoken Boutique (610 East Roosevelt Street, No. 148) stocks trendy denim labels like William Rast and Bishop of Seventh, Wet Cement T-shirts and flirty dresses.  Local artists and residents drop into two-year-old Conspire (901 North Fifth Street; 602-237-5446), a laid-back boutique and coffee shop with offerings as diverse as handmade paper, quirky clothing and vegan doughnuts.

The area’s transformation was perhaps best encapsulated by Michael Carbajal, a former boxing champion and local celebrity who grew up on the hardscrabble streets of Roosevelt Row and is now a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. On a recent night’s visit to the bar at the year-old Asian tapas hot spot Sens (705 North First Street, No. 120; 602-340-9777; sensake.com) Mr. Carbajal spoke about the changes in the neighborhood. “It was rough,” he said, before dropping a shot of sake into his beer and gesturing to the sleek surroundings. “I like it better now. I can come here.”

Phoenix residents vow to fight cuts to city programs

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — As Phoenix leaders prepare to whittle $140 million in city services to help close a $245 million budget gap, neighbors say they are ready to fight for popular programs.  The proposed cuts will be announced this week, and there will be public hearings next month at which residents can voice their concerns before the final vote, scheduled for March 2.  But residents aren’t waiting to have their say.

In central Phoenix, downtown activists are worried about two neighborhood parks that they fear could become havens for crime if they lost funding.  In west and south Phoenix, residents want the city to stop trimming library hours.  And in northeast Phoenix, horse enthusiasts are concerned about a popular equestrian park…

The latest round of cuts comes one year after the city slashed $156 million in city services to close a $270 million general-fund budget shortfall.  City leaders are considering a proposed 2 percent grocery tax that could generate $50 million annually.  But even if it is implemented, the city would still have to cut about $100 million in city services.

Since cuts are inevitable, residents also worried that Phoenix may end recreation programs at University and Verde parks.  Cuts at those parks were proposed last year, but the city backed off amid an outcry from the community.  Activists recently spent most of the Downtown Voices Coalition meeting brainstorming ways to shield those parks from more reductions.  Cuts could erase years of community efforts to boost youth programs, discourage gang activity, and make the parks safer, said Reid Butler, a local developer who belongs to the group.

It’s premature to talk about specific programs because no proposals have been made, city spokesman David Urbinato said.

The Parks and Recreation Department has been asked to suggest ways to cut its budget by 30 percent.  At 30 percent, “it would dramatically reduce, if not eliminate” many parks programs, Urbinato said.  The parks would remain open, but the staffing, programs and community centers attached to them would face deep cuts.  “That’s the tragic downside.  There has been massive investment through the system” over the years, Urbinato said.

People now depend on city services more than ever, said Councilman Michael Nowakowski, noting that he and Councilman Michael Johnson represent some of Phoenix’s poorest neighborhoods in west and south Phoenix.

Residents have pressed Nowakowski to protect after-school programs and library hours, the councilman said.  People wait up to three hours to use free computers at César Chavez Library, because they have canceled their Internet service, he said.  Recently, a mother came to a community meeting with an armful of notices about sex offenders who live in her neighborhood, he said.  She wants the city to keep low-cost after-school programs open so her children will be safe, Nowakowski added.  “We need to listen to find out what are the needs and wants for the whole city,” he said.

Fraud case ends for Arizona’s Mortgages Ltd.

Unfinished Hotel Monroe project, downtown Phoenix

[Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic] — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has resolved fraud accusations it brought against an investment arm of failed commercial real-estate financier Mortgages Ltd.  The federal agency on Monday announced that Mortgages Ltd. Securities LLC agreed to an order revoking the company’s registration as a securities broker-dealer.

The SEC also sought $7.3 million in penalties and prejudgment interest but waived the amount because the investment firm demonstrated a lack of funds to pay.   The action stems from the downfall of Phoenix-based Mortgages Ltd., once considered Arizona’s largest private commercial lender.

Mortgages Ltd. distributed more than $900 million in loans for real-estate acquisitions, development, and construction projects… Mortgages Ltd.’s failure led to the collapse of several high-profile real-estate projects, including Hotel Monroe in downtown Phoenix and the Centerpoint condo towers in Tempe.  It also left the company’s thousands of investors, many of them retired, in the lurch.  [Note: Read the full article at Fraud case ends for Phoenix’s Mortgages Ltd.]

Flurry of activity set for Roosevelt Action Association meeting, Nov. 18

[Source: Catrina Knoebl, President, Roosevelt Action Association] — Autumn seems to have officially arrived, and with the new season comes a flurry of neighborhood activity.  Please read on and join us for our monthly Neighborhood meeting next Wednesday, November 18.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR NEIGHBORHOOD TREE PLANTING
Saturday, November 14, 7:30 a.m. check-in at Trinity Cathedral

Please join us for a neighborhood tree planting as part of the Mayor’s Annual Day for Downtown. The Roosevelt Neighborhood will be the recipient of 40 new trees planted on Roosevelt St. near Trinity Cathedral, Portland Parkway, and Latham St. near the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. Volunteers participating in this rewarding day of service will receive a voucher for the Phoenix Public Market as a thank you! The event is presented by the Mayor Phil Gordon’s office, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, HandsOn Greater Phoenix and the Phoenix Community Alliance.

CRIME UPDATE
There have been a number of recent break-ins in and around the neighborhood. Just last week, a resident heard a noise in an adjacent backyard, called the police and a robbery was stopped IN PROGRESS. The perpetrator was arrested and was found to have two outstanding warrants and 12 previous felony convictions. They booked him on burglary, trespassing, and possession of stolen goods. PLEASE remember that suspicious persons in the park/alley/hidden corner could have a warrant, or ill intentions for you or your property. The police GREATLY APPRECIATE us being their eyes and ears on the street. There is no such thing as an inconvenient call. Just having their presence in the neighborhood can deter would-be incidents. The number of officers that protect our neighborhood is directly related to the number of calls from its residents. Call Crime Stop: 602-262-6151.

WINSHIP HOUSE VISIONING WORKSHOP
The RAA is planning a Winship House visioning workshop in early December. Residents, City representatives, and downtown stakeholders are invited to discuss the renovation and potential uses for the Winship House, and identify its impact on the surrounding area. Want to participate or sponsor the workshop? Please send an email and we will forward details once final.

ROOSEVELT ACTION ASSOCIATION MONTHLY MEETING
Irish Cultural Center (1106 N. Central), Wednesday, November 18, 6:00 p.m.

This month we will welcome representatives of Brilliant Green Energy who will discuss how we can make our urban homes more energy efficient. The agenda is as follows:

  • Welcome/Introductions
  • Approval of Minutes
  • Community Action Officer Crime Report
  • Brilliant Green Energy Presentation
  • Winship House Visioning Workshop
  • 2nd Avenue Parking Update
  • 7th Avenue/McDowell Development Update
  • Tree Planting Recap
  • Restaurant Tour Plans
  • Announcements

All RAA Meetings are open to the public.  To subscribe to Roosevelt updates, go to http://www.rooseveltneighborhood.org

Big problem for Phoenix: Abandoned homes

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Business Gazette] — Uncut weeds, graffiti, outdoor piles of junk: These are the norms in the world of blight remediation.  But a new, potentially more dangerous problem has emerged as the economy has declined.  Vacant homes, usually the subjects of foreclosure, are keeping the city’s team of 43 blight inspectors on their toes.

At a recent Neighborhood Services Department presentation of its program, Put the Diamond Back Into Your Neighborhood, about 20 people showed up at the Paradise Valley Community Center to hear what the city offers and to share issues they are facing.  Of those who spoke, each was concerned about abandoned homes, whether down the street, on the next block, even next door.

The concerns were different from the kinds of things Neighborhood Services inspectors usually see. Vacant homes often present a combination of more common violations.  “It is absolutely a growing problem,” said Patrick Ravenstein, a neighborhood-preservation supervisor who presented the program.

He said the department’s normal concerns are related to trash and debris, outdoor storage, untamed or dead vegetation, broken fences, junk cars, vehicles parked on surfaces that are not dustproof, graffiti, and open, vacant structures.  He pointed out that residents can play a big role in keeping up their neighborhoods when those kinds of problems crop up.

Some neighborhoods do quarterly cleanups, which the city supports with tools and trash bins. Some groups have landscape crews that assist with maintaining properties for people who are unable to do so. Individuals get involved by painting over graffiti, with supplies from the city.  A new program from the city is Blight Busters, which trains individuals or groups to lead neighborhood efforts.  [Note: Read the full article at Big problem for Phoenix: Abandoned homes.]