Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Southeast Valley permit figures - Arizona Republic

A new permitting-process model with efficiencies suggested by Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio of Ahwatukee could become a model for the Southeast Valley region.

Here is a roundup of permit figures for the Southeast Valley communities.

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Above: Projects in the Southeast Valley include, from left, apartments in Chandler, a structure near a Gilbert hospital, a Mesa restaurant and a Tempe beer garden.

SE VALLEY PERMIT NUMBERS

Chandler | Gilbert | Mesa | Tempe

Above: Projects in the Southeast Valley include, from left, apartments in Chandler, a structure near a Gilbert hospital, a Mesa restaurant and a Tempe beer garden.

CHANDLER

Through mid September, Chandler has granted 528 permits of all types during fiscal 2012-13.

>> Commercial, new builds: 6.

>> Commercial, tenant improvements: 289.

>> Residential, new builds: 92.

>> Residential, miscellaneous improvements: 141.

In fiscal 2011-12, Chandler granted 5,331 permits of all types.

>> Commercial, new builds: 29.

>> Commercial, tenant improvements: 1,709.

>> Residential, new builds: 659.

>> Residential, miscellaneous improvements: 2,275.

Above: Projects in the Southeast Valley include, from left, apartments in Chandler, a structure near a Gilbert hospital, a Mesa restaurant and a Tempe beer garden.

GILBERT

Through August, Gilbert has issued 3,060 permits of any kind in 2012.

>> Residential, new build: 1,910.

>> Residential, other (additions, swimming pools): 656.

>> Commercial, new build: 111.

>> Commercial tenant improvement: 138.

>> Other: 245.

During the same period in 2011, Gilbert issued 1,946 permits.

>> Residential, new build: 1,019.

>> Residential, other (additions, swimming pools): 511.

>> Commercial, new build: 126.

>> Commercial tenant improvement: 98.

>> Other: 192.

Above: Projects in the Southeast Valley include, from left, apartments in Chandler, a structure near a Gilbert hospital, a Mesa restaurant and a Tempe beer garden.

MESA

Mesa's monthly building permits have climbed steadily over the past year and a half, from a low of 95 in February 2011 to 283 this past May.

Permits include everything from demolitions and minor jobs with no valuation to multimillion-dollar factory projects.

The most lucrative area from month to month typically is home construction. Other areas with high valuations are commercial buildings and commercial additions and remodels.

>> In 2011, Mesa issued 1,728 permits of all types. Of those, 523 were for single-family homes.

>> Through August of this year, the city had issued 1,466 total permits, including 556 for single-family homes.

Above: Projects in the Southeast Valley include, from left, apartments in Chandler, a structure near a Gilbert hospital, a Mesa restaurant and a Tempe beer garden.

TEMPE

Tempe's monthly building permits peaked in March at 113, and, for the most part, have shown improvement over last year.

Permits include everything from minor residential or commercial alterations or additions to multi-million dollar apartments.

>> In 2011, Tempe issued 875 permits of all types. Of those, 19 were for single-family homes, one for a 56-unit apartment and 12 separate permits for one 224-unit apartment.

>> Through July of this year, Tempe issued 566 permits, including 28 for single-family homes, one for a 269-unit apartment and one for a 279-unit apartment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Letter: Mesa Gateway Airport a hidden gem - East Valley Tribune

The news of three airline carriers (Allegiant, Spirit and Frontier) at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, while seemingly exciting to the community, did not really cause much of a ripple in my thoughts when recently reported by the local media. After all, the airport “is so far away” and “only goes to off-beat locations,” right? Well, I recently found out that those perceptions were innaccurate.

My wife and I recently decided to fly to Dallas, a trip that either involves making a stop on the way if we are using the low cost carrier, Southwest Airlines, or a more expensive fare (plus bag charges) if we are using the other carriers. It turned out those fares, without consideration of the bag charges, were just too expensive to contemplate. But since we really wanted to go to Dallas, we decided to check out the carriers at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

We were surprised to find that the Spirit Airlines non-stop directly to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (even with the charges to reserve a seat and check a bag) cost us one-third (1/3) of what the ticket prices were on the other carriers. This deeply discounted price just floored us. At first we felt it was too good to be true, but we proceeded figuring that there must be something really wrong with the flight, the airplane, the commute to the airport or just something. Well, the flights were late at night, but that actually was an advantage in many ways because there was no traffic getting to the airport; there was parking in a lot adjoining the airport; and going through security took about 30 seconds. It doesn’t take long when there are very few airlines and flights at an airport.

The commute there was 26 miles instead of the 15 miles to Sky Harbor, but frankly the time from the garage door going down to standing at the ticket counter checking bags was much less than if we went to Sky Harbor. The airplane was clean, new and had comfortable leather seats. Best of all, the flight left early and arrived early. I guess it is easy to be timely when you are always first on the runway for take-off.

This airport and its carriers are a hidden gem for the East Valley and frankly for most of the Valley of the Sun. I encourage everyone to check it out, try it and make it a part of their selection process. With continued patronage, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport will be an important part of air travel for our residents and will likely save them a lot of money.

Gary Freed

Mesa

Monday, September 17, 2012

Police arrest two men after chase through east Mesa - East Valley Tribune

Mesa police arrested two men over the weekend, one of which officers say led police on a high-speed chase throughout east Mesa before being apprehended by an officer’s pit maneuver in his cruiser.

Nathan Billetdeaux and Anthony White, both 25, were arrested shortly before midnight on Saturday, moments after a Mesa police officer on patrol observed the truck driven by Billetdeaux traveling as fast as 65 mph and White tossing a cigarette butt out of the truck in the 8300 block of East Main Street near Power Road. After police tried to initiate a traffic stop, Billetdeaux sped off, police said.

According to police, the truck ran red lights at Main and Power and at Power and Southern Avenue. The officer continued his pursuit and later was assisted by the police department’s air unit and other officers who unsuccessfully attempted to stop the car with stop sticks, Mesa police said.

Billetdeaux later began traveling east on the U.S. 60 before exiting onto south Ironwood Drive toward Queen Creek. The officer executed the pit maneuver and both Billetdeaux and White were taken into custody without incident.

The men said they had been drinking alcohol all day at a nearby lake and were trying to avoid being arrested, police said.

Billetdeaux is facing charges of failure to yield and DUI. White is facing charges of littering and possession of and presenting a suspended driver's license.

PD: Man with rifle held Mesa police at bay - KPHO Phoenix

Jeffrey HintzJeffrey Hintz

MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

A man armed with a loaded AR-15 rifle holed himself up in a Mesa apartment Saturday night and held officers at bay, police said.

Police rushed to the apartment at 708 N. Country Club after getting a call that Jeffrey Hintz had pointed a rifle at several people and made threatening statements.

As police set up a perimeter, Hintz slipped out of the apartment at 708 N. Country Club and ignored commands to drop his weapon, officers said.

Hintz turned and as he began to walk back into his apartment, and officers fired one beanbag round at the suspect.

About 10 minutes later, Hintz called 911 to report he had been shot, police said. Dispatchers were able to coax Hintz into leaving the apartment without his weapon and he was taken into custody without further incident.

Police found the rifle in a closet during a protective sweep. There was a loaded 30-round magazine in the rifle, however, there was no round chambered, and the bolt was stuck in the locked position because of poor maintenance of the weapon, a police report stated.

Hintz told police he had come outside earlier to check on a disturbance in the complex and admitted to carrying the rifle with him at that time, the police report said. Hintz denied pointing the rifle at anyone, police said.

The suspect also admitted to having been drinking alcohol all day and police said he appeared to be severely intoxicated.

Hintz was booked into jail on two counts of aggravated assault.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

PD: Drunk driver arrested in Mesa chase - KPHO Phoenix

Nathan BilletdeauxNathan Billetdeaux

MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

A man has been arrested after he allegedly drove drunk and led police on a chase in Mesa.

Police said an officer was on patrol in the 9000 block of E. Main Street late Saturday night when the suspect cut off the police cruiser.

The officer tried to make a traffic stop for speeding and littering a cigarette but the suspect sped off and ran a red light on Power Road. The suspect then ran a red light at Power and U.S. 60.

Once police were able to immobilize the vehicle, the driver, Nathan Billetdeaux and the passenger, Anthony White, were taken into custody.

No one was hurt.

Police said their investigation showed that Billetdeaux and White had been drinking all day at a local lake.

Billetdeaux faces DUI charges and failure to yield. White is being charged with littering and possession of a suspended driver's license.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Cubs, ASU must share stadium - azcentral

Sept. 16, 2012 07:28 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

The Chicago Cubs and Arizona State University should make one final college try to settle their differences on sharing a spring-training stadium.

A lot is riding on the outcome, which is why Mesa Mayor Scott Smith wisely is trying to bring the sides together.

What many people don't know is the Sun Devils would play many more games in the stadium than the Cubs.

So, their participation is important both for nearby businesses and to keep the stadium in use beyond the 15 games or so the Cubs will play each spring (almost all of them in March).

ASU generally plays about 35 home games from February through May. And if its season goes well enough, it would host several postseason games.

This may not matter much if both sides are set in their ways in disagreements over concessions, signage and how to work out scheduling conflicts.

They could both be scheduled for the same date a few times in March.

In these situations, the Sun Devils would start their games an hour or so after the big-league games wrap up.

In precisely the same situation with a stadium, there has been no problem when ASU hosts a few games every March at Surprise Stadium, where the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals also host games.

By taking flexible positions, both sides would be playing the role of solid community citizens.

In addition, ASU can avoid some embarrassment.

Athletic officials went so far in selling the idea of replacing their current on-campus ballpark with the idea of sharing a new stadium with the Cubs that they hosted a forum for season-ticket holders in May.

There, sitting in the blazing sun, ticket holders (many of them elderly, longtime fans) were told that an agreement with the Cubs to move from ASU to Mesa Riverview was virtually a "done deal," that only some details needed to be worked out.

Here's hoping Mayor Smith is successful at using his considerable powers of persuasion to bridge the divide.

Both Cubs officials and ASU leaders should want to get along with a guy who has a more-than-decent shot of moving to the governor's chair.

Federal program helps Mesa with crime-ridden neighborhood - Arizona Republic

by Jim Walsh - Sept. 16, 2012 10:30 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

After countless arrests but little change in a notorious neighborhood where two dead-end streets have often translated into dead-end lives, frustrated Mesa police were ready for a new strategy.

Allen and Doran streets define a harsh reality in central Mesa that is far removed from pleasant suburban neighborhoods only a few miles away. Their prison-oriented slang names describe what life has become: "Dblock" for Doran and "Felony Flats" for Allen.

slideshowMesa police fight crime in Dblock

Neither street can be seen from the nearest major intersection at Broadway Road and Stapley Drive. A series of fourplexes with asphalt front yards sit tucked behind the commercial clutter, where people mill about at night, fleeing their hot, small, swamp-cooled apartments.

But police say criminals have had few problems finding the low-income, highly transient neighborhood.

For decades, it has been known as a place where burglars and shoplifters come to trade stolen property for drugs, where prostitutes trade sex for drugs, where landlords know only the first names of tenants and accept payment in cash, where parents too often serve as poor role models for children who lost hope for a better life.

When the International Association of Chiefs of Police picked Mesa nearly a year ago as one of three cities to participate in a federally financed study, police, prosecutors, probation officers and community workers quickly embraced the project.

They picked Dblock as a real-life laboratory to test a holistic program aimed at fighting crime at its roots, realizing that arrests alone were inadequate for making long-lasting improvements in the neighborhood.

Although Dblock and Felony Flats are each just a block long, they generated 462 calls for service during 2011. The area has 274 multifamily units and about 1,200 residents.

Police considered the two streets their target area but quickly branched out after realizing they could not separate the two blocks from the surrounding area.

"We picked a difficult neighborhood," said Lt. Jeff Thompson, who supervised the project from its inception. "We picked a neighborhood that would not be a slam dunk. We wanted a good test for the program."

Working as a team, police, prosecutors and probation officers employed a community prosecution model that focused on what the neighborhood needed to improve, combining the bite of arrests with social programs to help teens find jobs and community-building to identity neighborhood leaders and to bolster pride.

The community prosecution approach used in Dblock may serve as a model for improved crime fighting in the Valley and across the country after the project is spotlighted later this month at the international police chiefs' conference in San Diego.

There are still struggles to address problems reaching back decades, but Mesa law-enforcement leaders, prosecutors and even some longtime residents believe they are steadily making headway. Already, Mesa police and the City Prosecutor's Office are making plans to target another neighborhood -- Guerrero Rotary Park -- in the fall, City Prosecutor Jon Eliason said.

Model for future?

The Maricopa County Adult Probation Office views the alliances formed in Mesa as a model for future projects throughout the Valley, with police, prosecutors and probation officers working together weekly, said Wes Shipley, supervisor of Adult Probation's East Valley office.

"It's the first time we've had all these agencies focused on one area at the same time," said Deputy County Attorney Jarom Harris, who prosecutes all felony cases in the neighborhood. Red tape has been replaced by strong working relationships among those assigned to the project, he said.

Although there have been more than 380 arrests during the yearlong project, the changes on Dblock and Felony Flats extend far beyond that.

"It's easy to arrest people. It's difficult to change things," said John FitzGerald, a Mesa police street-crimes detective who has coordinated the police focus on Dblock.

With guns strapped to their waists and legs, a small army of Mesa street-crimes detectives and an adult-probation officer descended on Dblock earlier this summer, one of dozens of strategic operations targeting drug houses and other crime hotbeds.

"You pretty much name it. I don't think we had a homicide, but we've had just about everything else," FitzGerald said.

FitzGerald said he senses a change in attitudes on Dblock, with residents more likely to call police and career criminals being forced to move because of a heavy police presence.

"I think one thing that will come out of this project is improved policing," he said, through better cooperation among police, prosecutors and probation officers.

Miriam Sanchez, a mother of three children primarily concerned about safety, said the heavy police presence didn't bother her because she stays inside at night with her kids.

"For me, it's better. They don't bother me, the cops doing that," she said.

Sanchez said she is encouraged that residents are turning out for community meetings and showing a commitment to improving the neighborhood. In the past, "I think people were afraid to speak," she said.

Sanchez said the neighborhood is improving but still has problems with drugs, vandalism and other issues. "We want a good neighborhood. We want better, not getting worse, for our kids," she said.

Highlights of the multifaceted project include:

City-code violations were used to target troublemakers responsible for dozens of calls for service, removing through evictions undesirable people considered magnets for crime. The teamwork has paid off in court, with defendants identified as troublemakers in the neighborhood getting harsher sentences than they otherwise would have received.

A fledgling employment program has provided training in job-interview skills for teenagers. Six teens from the area have been placed in jobs, two who received training found jobs on their own, and 80 were trained on how to find a job, said coordinator Ray Villa.

FitzGerald is working to make arrangements for children from the Dblock area to get rides to the Mesa Boys & Girls Club after school, providing them with a safe, fun environment.

Repeat offenders are being "trespassed" out of the neighborhood as a condition of probation. They can be arrested on sight by police for merely returning to Dblock.

Police say a culture of trust is building with residents who are seeing their neighborhood improve gradually. They note that many low-income but law-abiding residents are sick of crime and want a safer place to live for themselves and their children.

About 43 tons of trash was removed from yards during three neighborhood cleanup projects. Police and probation workers joined with probationers in the cleanup campaigns.

Once appliances, mattresses and other large items were removed, workers uncovered filth that included hypodermic needles and other dangerous items.

Community-building efforts included a series of meetings that identified leaders in the area and contacts. A public-safety newsletter was distributed to address topics like graffiti and curfew violations.

"I think we have made a lot of great relationships," said Lindsey Balinkie, a Mesa neighborhood-outreach coordinator. "It's kind of a foundation to move forward."

A success story

Officer Amanda Stamps, a beat cop who has worked the neighborhood for years, said she focuses much of her efforts urging teens to get an education, to work instead of steal for what they want and to shun bad influences.

Stamps counts Daniel Ruiz, an 18-year-old Mesa High School student, as a success story.

Ruiz didn't need to participate in the employment program because he already had a job at a nearby supermarket.

A promising left-handed pitcher who said he has been offered a scholarship by Arizona State University, Ruiz said he uses baseball to stay out of trouble but said his main motivation is making his family proud.

"I just want to finish school and be the first one in my family to go to college," Ruiz said. "I want to tell my kids I came from nothing and I went to college."

Ruiz said it is possible to grow up in a neighborhood like Dblock and succeed, but it takes discipline.

"It's just not me. I've seen what drugs and gang violence does to people around here," he said. "I don't want to be the guy at the hospital who OD'd on drugs."

Challenges remain

Calls for service from residents increased early in the program as police held neighborhood events and a Christmas toy drive to cultivate a better relationship with residents. The calls dropped in April and May, a sign of less crime, but increased slightly in June and remained about the same in July.

Although Thompson was hoping for a steeper decline, he said the relationships built among police, residents and other agencies will improve the effectiveness of crime fighting in the years ahead.

"It's still a success, it's still a win, as opposed to calls for service going up," he said.

Jackie Hinkle, an elder at the Mesa Church of Christ, said the neighborhood has been in decline for at least 20 years and the construction of too many rental units in too small of an area contributed to the problem.

"Forty years ago, it was a fairly good neighborhood. The housing was kept up real good. Everyone was proud of where they lived," he said.

But landlords failed to keep up their properties or to care about who lived there, said Hinkle, a contractor and a landlord himself in another part of town.

He said the project improved the church's outreach to the community.

"They have improved the neighborhood overall. It's whatever the church can do to help them," Hinkle said.

Rick Lisko, program manager for the police chiefs association's Intelligence-Led Community Policing Project, said he considers Mesa's project more challenging than the two others: a housing project in Newport News, Va., and a high-crime patrol district in St. Paul, Minn. He said the Dblock target area presents unique problems because there is no central organization in the neighborhood, there are language barriers and there is high turnover among residents.

"It's not a panacea, it's not a paradise, but they have made great strides," Lisko said. "They are ambitious about trying things that are very different and not afraid to fail."

Lisko plans to cite the experiences of Mesa, St. Paul and Newport News in a guidebook detailing effective methods of community policing at the police chiefs association's convention in San Diego.

"It's efficient, it's economical" to have multiple criminal-justice agencies working together to improve problem neighborhoods, he said. "This can be implemented anywhere in the country at no cost."