Increased police patrols to control a summer run-up in crime in south Scottsdale neighborhoods have helped, but there are still pockets of problems, police and residents say.
One area that officers are focusing on is bounded by Virginia Avenue, Scottsdale Road and 68th and 72nd streets. Many area residents have noted the improvement.
“The traffic is half, and my front lawn is no longer a sidewalk,” said June Wybranski, whose lived on Virginia Avenue since 1954. “People were parking in front of my house, and they didn’t pick up after themselves. There’s still a lot of activity over there, but the police worked on this place. I have to hand it to them.”
Hal Talmadge, who has lived across the street from Wybranski for 35 years, said he hasn’t noticed much of a change in the area. Speeders and noise from car stereos are still an issue, he said.
“At least I still don’t hear the screeching of tires on the curve on the street,” the 76-year-old said. “I’m almost getting too old to fight the war. We’re all more or less sitting ducks here.”
Ken Nordick, who has lived on Virginia for about 50 years, said the neighborhood has seen its share of changes, but his street has remained safe. However, his neighbor, Juan Ventura, said cars, likely headed for a nearby grocery store at night, speed along Virginia, making it dangerous because there are too few street lights.
“It’s pretty dark through here,” he said.
The larger police presence was meant to cut down on increased drug-trading activity and thefts, mostly near Virginia and Scottsdale Road.
This year, police responded to 294 calls for service on East Virginia Avenue. Forty-seven were crime related, according to information from the Scottsdale Police Department.
More than one-third of the calls, or 100, led police to the 10-unit Palm Cove Apartments complex at 7221 E. Virginia, the lone apartment building in the neighborhood, police information showed.
Steve Gallant, city building inspections supervisor, said the owner of the Palm Cove, Anthony Giorgianni, corrected code violations, including eliminating an illegal addition to the building that was done without a permit.
Giorgianni, who also owns Greasy Tony’s restaurant in Tempe, said Friday he believed police initially were harassing him and the tenants.
“We’ve been fixing things up at the building and changing things around,” Giorgianni said. “It’s going fine. The police were coming around a lot for a while, but since we’ve brought some things up to code, they haven’t been.”
Four units were deemed uninhabitable in mid-August, but three were brought up to code later that month, Gallant said.
In addition to cutting down on crime, the city used numerous zoning and property code violations to clean up the eyesores of abandoned cars, discarded furniture and piles of trash.
“We could make arrests there all the time, but that’s not the answer,” police Lt. Steve Popp said. “We’re looking at long-term results. We want to make the neighborhood better for people who live there. It’s not far from Coronado High School. Now, we’re getting better results with the property owners.”
Popp said as many as 10 arrests were made in a single night along the 7200 block of East Virginia.
“Things have improved in the last six months,” said police officer Tina Hale, who is taking the lead in helping clean up the area. “We noticed increased activity in that area started around July, and now we don’t have as much. We haven’t gotten any calls to go there in awhile.”
One of the troublesome issues has been the lack of a neighborhood block watch captain for some time, Hale said.
Police Sgt. Mark Clark said problems in the neighborhood partly stemmed from a transient population, some of whom were living in the area for as little as a week.
When police responded to incidents in the neighborhood they discovered some of the small apartments had been converted into five-bedroom dwellings, Hale said. Tenants were renting rooms by the day or week, she said.
“It was not breeding a good neighborhood,” she said. “Residents were complaining.”
Police plan next to clean up houses nearby in the 7800 block of Beatrice Street and on Almeria Road, Clark said.
Officers also have beefed up patrols in the Paiute neighborhood a few blocks north of Virginia. The neighborhood is bordered by Indian School and Thomas roads, 62nd Street and Scottsdale Road.
Unlike Virginia Avenue, the Paiute neighborhood is anchored by a neighborhood center at 6535 E. Osborn Road, featuring community programs and after-school activities for children.
The area is mostly quiet for residents on the west side of Osborn. However, a wall along a portion of Indian School between 64th and 68th streets, and the alleys in between, tend to breed illegal activity, said Marlene Wright, who lives in the 6500 block of Fifth Street.
“We haven’t seen any problems,” said Wright’s husband, Keith, who has lived in a culde-sac off Navajo Trail for 12 years. “I have seen more bicycle police officers in the area. I thought, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ But hey, if they want to beef up the area, it’s fine with me.”
When she walks to the Circle K on 68th near Goldwater Boulevard, Marlene Wright said she notices more transients walking along the alleys near Indian School. She’s heard from others that more problems plague the east side of Osborn.
William Rankis, who recently moved into an apartment in the 6300 block of East Angus Drive, said the increased police presence in the neighborhood has made more residents aware that they are being watched.
“There’s problems everywhere,” Rankis said. “I’ve never had problems, but I’ve seen problems . . . rowdy kids. There a lot more problems where people are clustered together. I’ve seen the police come around a little more. Every little bit helps, right?”