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So what happened on “Peace and Love Day” in Phoenix?

Pat Shannahan, Arizona RepublicOn July 31, Ringo Starr had fun backstage at the Dodge Theatre with Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, who gave the drummer-singer a key to the city and a proclamation for “Peace and Love Day” before the ex-Beatle took the stage to bring smiles to an adoring audience spanning all ages. 

So what happened outside of Dodge Theatre on “Peace and Love Day” in Phoenix, Arizona? 

The next day, August 1, Phoenix’s Police Department did issue some very good news: Reductions in violent and property crimes for the first six months of 2008 were the largest decreases in more than 10 years.  Reported incidents of violent crime dropped 8.5% overall, homicides down 25.7%, aggravated assaults down 14.2%; property crimes down 10.4% overall, arson cases down 12%, and motor vehicle thefts down 29%.

First Friday vendors can expect inspectors

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — Neighborhood Services Department inspectors will attend First Friday in downtown Phoenix on Friday to ensure compliance of city vending ordinances.  Several inspectors will roam Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Street between Central Avenue and Seventh Street and nearby streets during the a monthly art walk of galleries and performance spaces.  Erynn Crowley, a deputy director of Neighborhood Services Department, said if inspectors observe a vending violation, they’ll provide information, a notice of the violation and give the violator about an hour to pack up and move.  “If they refuse to move, our next step would be to issue a citation,” Crowley said.  “We’re just looking for compliance overall. If everyone is in compliance, that would be great.  There are places for them to vend legally, and we hope that’s where they’ll go.”

Roosevelt Row CDC, an affiliation of residents and business owners along Roosevelt Street, have expanded the boundaries of a First Friday street party to accommodate about 80 vendors.  The extended boundaries will be on Garfield Street between Fourth and Sixth streets, and on Fifth Street between Garfield and McKinley streets.  Vendors will be able to set up beginning at 4 p.m., and state and city representatives will be present to sign up vendors for privilege tax licenses.  Booths will be rented for $35 each on a first-come, first-served basis, said Jennifer Delgado, president of Roosevelt Row.  “We will gladly sign up vendors the day of the event for the street closure if space is available,” said Delgado.

Goldwater Institute supports Arts, Culture, & Small Business Overlay

The conservative Goldwater Institute has come out in favor of the proposed City of Phoenix “Arts, Culture, and Small Business Overlay.”  In his March 17 Daily Email entitled, “An Artful Approach to Revitalization: Freedom is the key to economic growth,” Clint Bolick, director of the Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, writes:

The City of Phoenix decided a vibrant arts district would be a nifty idea to revitalize its downtown core.  Too often, cities are tempted to achieve such a goal by taxpayer subsidies, eminent domain, tax hikes, or draconian zoning requirements.  Instead, Phoenix decided to try a different approach — deregulation.  The City is proposing an “arts, culture, and small business overlay” that eases zoning restrictions and increases the number of activities that no longer need a special permit in a small area near downtown.  New businesses such as art galleries, bookstores, and restaurants will be allowed to operate without special permission.  Restrictions on alcohol sales, musical entertainment, and outdoor dining will be relaxed.  The City also will make it easier to rehabilitate existing structures.

The City’s action is a rare win-win.  A shaky neighborhood will be revitalized. Small businesses will flourish.  Phoenix will have its own version of SoHo.  City tax revenues, depleted by recession and tax giveaways, will grow.  And less regulation, not more, will be the reason for progress.  The plan is not perfect.  Here as elsewhere, the City is ratcheting up restrictions on street vendors, thereby limiting an important avenue of entrepreneurship.  The expanded list of permissible enterprises is still too limited.  Worst of all, the relaxed rules apply only to a single neighborhood.

But expansion of private enterprise and property rights is always good news, even if it occurs in baby steps.  And when the new arts district succeeds, it will provide an important lesson to local planners throughout Arizona: the best way to create growth and opportunity is freedom.

Phoenix will enforce ban on sidewalk sales

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix officials are planning a move that will mean big changes to the look and feel of downtown’s monthly First Friday arts events.  The gatherings originated in galleries with new exhibitions, music, wine and finger food.  But, along revitalized Roosevelt Street, they spill out onto sidewalks and empty lots where vendors sell everything from oil paintings and pencil drawings to T-shirts and beaded necklaces.  Ordinances make those sidewalk sales illegal, city officials say.  And after complaints from some artists and gallery owners, the city will begin cracking down on the sidewalk sales.  On Friday and again in April, the city will issue warnings.  But, in May, inspectors will begin issuing citations, with fines ranging from $100 to $2,500.

Gina Suarez says the vendors add to the atmosphere.  Suarez owns the Paisley Violin, a cafe and art space that once operated at Second and Roosevelt streets but is now at 11th and Grand avenues.  Suarez said they don’t have vendors on Grand Avenue.  “I think it’s great that the vendors are out there,” Suarez said.  “It draws traffic and makes (Phoenix’s First Fridays) different than Scottsdale’s and Tempe’s art walks.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]