Thursday, April 24, 2008

LAHOA - Laveen Association of HOAs

What an encouraging sign that our community has unified to create yet another glimmering beacon of hope and promise!

Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the Laveen Association of HOAs - a new community group that will provide a public forum for our grass roots community leaders.  It will be comprised of representatives from each and every subdivision within Laveen, including representation from block watch groups and neighborhood associations.

The subcommittees will include Government Relations (a committee dedicated to each level of local and state government, as well as liaisons to the other Laveen community associations); Marketing/Communications (for PR and other imaging campaigns); Fundraising (to provide for operating expenses above the $100 annual dues provided by member HOAs); Membership/Recruitment; Block Watch; School Involvement; Residential Real Estate (to address unscrupulous Realtors trying to damage our reputation); Police Relations; HOA Parks (to address best practices in crime prevention for these areas); Mentoring (for new HOAs and Block Watches); and last but not least, Retail Relations (i.e. Economic Development).

I will be very active on the Retail Relations Committee, as well as contributing to the Block Watch Committee, since these are the areas most related to my personal interests and skill sets.  Also at tonight's meeting, several other people elected to lead committees, which was even more encouraging.

As the group moves forward in recruiting new members, it will be able to sell more than its energy and direction.  This group will provide an excellent opportunity for networking, better representation for community members, streamlined communication within Laveen, and increased visibility for our community as a whole.

I am pumped!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Laveen Hospital/Medical Center?

Yes, that's right....  Laveen may get exactly what it needs in the near future - a new hospital.  You can read the article here.

Now we're talking about a great economic growth generator that actually makes sense for our area (as much as the continued growth of retail/residential development).  And it makes intuitive sense from a quick look at a map of the Phoenix area (or if you need more substantiated proof, look here under "South Mountain HPSA").

Rogers Ranch Elementary School

I couldn't locate the news story, but I recently learned that a new elementary school is planned for our neighborhood.  This should be a good thing for our community and home values, although it appears that the Laveen district needs to work on its overall performance before I begin jumping for joy.

Here are a few direct benefits:

1. Parents of young children will be closer to the school, and we will have more public open space in our neighborhood (seems obvious enough).

2. The previous benefit means that perhaps the vacant and yet-to-be-built homes in adjacent subdivisions might be completed and occupied faster.

3.  Schools typically mean strict enforcement of anti-drug laws nearby, and we will see more activity in the daytime hours that so many criminals are able to commit burglaries.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Block Watch Success

Highland at Rogers Ranch Block Watch is the new group page that I set up for our neighbors to communicate about issues important to them in regard to the block watch and other neighborhood concerns. As some of my close friends and family can attest, I've made this something of a mission in the last month.

Crime has suddenly spiked in our area, where we previously had none to speak of. A year ago, you could search on the crime maps at (and other sites) and see nothing at all of significance. Now, however, it's a different story, with a sudden onslaught of burglaries, home invasions, shootings, kidnappings, large-scale drug busts, and other activities that you would expect more out of a slum than a nice middle class neighborhood.

Beginning in mid-March, apparently, several groups began targeting all of us suburbanites for these types of crimes. According to a reliable source, the police caught part of one such group that had been targeting newer neighborhoods in Laveen, Chandler, and Gilbert. And whether fortunately or not remains to be seen, but it was in the neighborhood directly east of us that they made the arrest last month. This is in the same span of time that we've seen some shocking stories of home invasions, kidnappings, and drop houses nearby.

It seems that a couple of high profile and/or disruptive incidents have finally made people more aware of a serious threat, and our community has decided that we will not be an easy target. Of 157 homes in our subdivision, Catherine and I got 32 people to sign up for the formal block watch, along with several others expressing interest. This is merely the beginning, but it's been a huge success so far. I can promise more good news soon (and hopefully no more bad news).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Berkana Lawsuit

Here's a little bit of background on the email that I previously sent out regarding our community's recent success in court, regarding the Berkana development.  If approved, the high-density housing development would be built on 27th Avenue and Baseline, which is on the boundary of Laveen Village and South Mountain Village.

The list of complaints include: high traffic (27th Ave. is only two lanes), flooding the housing market, inconsistent use for the general plan, and last but not least the potential invitation for increased crime within a few miles of several South Phoenix neighborhoods with high gang activity.  Like many growing areas, Laveen is presently stressed for basic public services like police and fire - this type of density in such a sensitive part of the community would only exacerbate these problems.  So please understand that, while Catherine and I live a few miles away from the subject property, it is still quite important to us that the residents of Laveen win this case (even if it were less important to us, I would side with the community whenever a strong benefit cannot be demonstrated to offset community concerns).

I'll post more on this topic soon...

This just in from the Coalition to Preserve Laveen Village:

Good morning all.  Below is an article written by Casey Newton that was printed in the Arizona Republic this morning.  I have also included the web link in case you would like to go there to make comments online with regard to this article. Please forward this on.

Best regards,

Randy & Jen

Coalition to Preserve Laveen Village

Phone: 602-445-6332


Development foes win key battle

by Casey Newton - Apr. 15, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Residents hoping to stop a large-scale apartment and townhouse project in Laveen have won a key victory in getting their referendum on the ballot.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that Phoenix should process the signatures they gathered earlier this year in an effort to stop construction of the project at 27th Avenue and Baseline Road. Neighbors say the project is too dense and will worsen existing problems with traffic and school overcrowding.

At issue is how many signatures are required for residents to refer a City Council decision to the ballot.

Phoenix argued that residents must submit signatures equivalent to 10 percent of votes in the last citywide election. The city says the last citywide election was in September, which included the mayor's race and a ballot initiative to fund more police and fire personnel. By that standard, 9,798 valid signatures would be needed.

The neighbors say the relevant election was in November, when two council races had runoffs. If Judge Richard Trujillo's ruling is upheld, residents would need only 2,727 signatures. Residents are confident they have that many.

By lowering the threshold to refer a council decision, the ruling could encourage more residents to take their case to the voters.

"If we're successful, this will definitely change the landscape of future referendum drives," said Randy Jones, who organized the petition drive against Berkana.

Bill Solomon, a city attorney, said he would recommend that the council appeal the decision. The council has until Monday to file a notice of appeal.

The council is scheduled to discuss the ruling today in closed session.

The project is being developed by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson. It would include 517 apartments on 27 acres. Before the council voted 7-1 to rezone the property, it was zoned for one home per acre.