Each August Tucson– like college towns nationwide– sees a flurry of activity as students move back to town and scramble to find lodging.
In recent years, local mini-dorm developers have gone wild– buying up cheap houses (thanks to record foreclosures and a glut of houses for sale), unceremoniously leveling the said houses, and constructing mini-dorms– the scurge of Tucson’s University-area neighborhoods.
This year– with a 15.9 percent rental vacancy rate– Tucson is a renters’ market. For rent signs abound. Good for students and other renters. Not so good for landlords and mini-dorm developers.
1036 E. Waverly St.-- an old house being destroyed by Michael Goodman. (Photo Credit: Pamela Powers)
Approximately 50-60 Tucsonans — representing several neighborhoods, including Jefferson Park, Feldman, Palo Verde, El Rio, and others– gathered Friday evening to morn the destruction of yet another old house (above).
Mini-dorm developer Michael Goodman and two squad cars of Tucson Police watched as neighbors sang, read poetry, and gave speeches decrying the destruction of older neighborhoods which are being scared with mini-dorms. Goodman tried to disrupt the gathering before it started by parking his big truck in front of the house where the protest was to be held. Luckily, one of the protesters got there before he did and parked in front. This allowed neighbors to set up large signs reading “Tucson has cancer” and “Pure Greed” in front of the demolition site
Police cars blocked East Waverly Street at both ends– even though the event was entirely peaceful. This most likely stopped some people from attending the event. Police also told the neighbors that they had to end the event by 7 p.m.– allowing only a half hour for the vigil. (I’ll give you one guess who called the cops.) The police presence was totally unnecessary. Why don’t the police break up the infamous mini-dorm parties?
The entire vigil is captured on the video below. At about 4 minutes you can see Tucson Police officers questioning neighborhood activist Bob Schlanger. They tried to intimidate him by asking for his identification, birthdate, etc. His reply was that he didn’t need an ID to walk down the street in his own neighborhood. (I guess he doesn’t realize he lives in Arizona.)
At about 9.5 minutes, in the video Schlanger gives a speech about activism against mini-dorm construction and the destruction of older neighborhoods in Tucson. In his speech, Schlanger announced that the city approved the building plans for 1036 E. Waverly. The single-family home above will be replaced with a seven-bedroom mini-dorm. This is a rooming house– not a single family home.
One question I have is: If this neighborhood and other neighborhoods in Tucson are plumbed for single-family homes, what happens to that infrastructure when the single-family homes are replaced large apartment buildings and rooming houses?
Pamela Powers Hannley writes the Tucson Progressive blog on the TucsonCitizen.com and contributes articles to the Huffington Post and Salon.com. She has had more than 30 years of experience in written, visual, and electronic communication—including freelance writing, photography, graphic design, and consulting. In addition to blogging for the Citizen, she is the Managing Editor of an international medical research journal.
Hannley has authored medical research articles, print magazine and newspaper stories, and numerous cancer prevention and self-help publications.
She has been a blogger since 2006, joined the ranks of Tucson Citizen bloggers in October 2010, and started contributing to the Huffington Post in 2011 and to Salon.com in 2012.
Hannley holds a masters’ degree in public health from The University of Arizona and a bachelors’ degree in journalism from The Ohio State University. She is a native of Amherst, Ohio but has lived in Tucson since 1981.