Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia urges careful downtown buildup
Police chief, group differ on Phoenix development plans
13 comments by Eugene Scott - Aug. 20, 2012 09:26 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
When does a vibrant downtown become too vibrant?
Phoenix's new police chief has a unique perspective when it comes the city's efforts to amp up downtown.
Chief Daniel Garcia was an assistant police chief in Dallas before coming to Phoenix. In Texas, he saw firsthand the challenges between various stakeholders in the city's bustling downtown.
He warned economic-development officials here about the potential pitfalls in developing too many different things in one area.
"You've got to be cautious to what type of infrastructure you bring into an area," he said. "Sometimes nightclubs will bring in policing issues a downtown area isn't prepared for."
However, David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, believes mixing development in downtown is the way to go.
"The critical thing you have to look at is the holistic picture of a downtown community," he said. "Typically, you do not want to so segregate uses that you only have one particular use in one area. We don't want all office uses in the core. We obviously want entertainment, residential, hotels and other things going on because that makes a better, more vibrant, active downtown that works really well."
The partnership is a tax-funded non-profit composed of business members with offices downtown.
The Downtown Phoenix Partnership wants to bring in more middle-income housing and more social outlets like nightclubs to the area.
But Garcia said it might not be possible to be a downtown known for both nightclubs and solid housing.
"You have to define what you want to be," he said. "What I mean by that is that some downtowns have a flavor of becoming nothing but the nightlife scene. Some of them gravitate to being more family-oriented with eating and having family-friendly functions and venues in the downtown area. And then some gravitate to a very local low-key dining atmosphere."
Garcia said research from across the country has shown the conflicts that can arise between downtown residents and neighboring clubs built after the residents moved to the area.
The conflicts aren't always residents vs. clubs: Sometimes, they occur between clubs themselves -- or the patrons.
"You can have two different crowds attending two different clubs playing different types of music, generating conflicts between two different types of patrons," Garcia said.
Roderique said his team is sensitive to the potential conflicts that more development can bring and is working to prevent them from escalating.
"We just had a meeting where one downtown bar owner was concerned about some of the noise late at night coming from the nightclubs. We're trying to get people together to work towards reasonable solutions for both parties," he said. "There will likely be a number of additional meetings from this. Sometimes there aren't easy solutions, but we do try to find ways to work to make it as much of a win-win as much as possible for both sides."
Garcia said his concern is not rooted in anxiety. He said his force is more than able to handle the challenges a bustling downtown could present as long as they have the manpower.
"The police department is 100 percent in favor of any economic development, but sometimes those issues do pose some challenges from a policing standpoint," Garcia said. "When you have a club that closes at 2 a.m., we can expect the need to patrol those areas, and that can be an issue that demands resources."
Roderique echoed the need for more public-safety resources as the area develops.
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