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Nearby neighborhoods naysay nonresidents

For long-time residents of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood, the end of summer is marked by a flood of U-Haul trailers bringing students back to Tucson. While many students keep their back-to-school antics in check, some never fail to start off on the wrong foot with their new neighbors.


Bob Schlanger, a 25-year resident of Jefferson Park and president of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, said this year the start of school brought the usual beer bottles, cans and red cups left behind by students who live in his neighboorhood.

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Schlanger is not alone in his feelings of exasperation with some UA students, but the issue extends beyond after-hours noise. Members of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association are becoming increasingly concerned with the growing level of development that is bringing more students to their neighborhood.


Lisa Jones, head of campus community relations for Jefferson Park, said that it is not the students that are at fault but rather landlords and developers who tear down single family homes and replace them with large structures — known as ""mini-dorms"" — that house four or five students.


""Developers are playing monopoly with the neighborhood,"" she said.


Jones and Schlanger said they see the increasing density of students as a problem for a historic neighborhood that has limited space.


""It's not so much the students in particular,"" Jones said, ""but rather having a lot of people living in a small area.""


To address the problem, the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association is in the process of designing a new building manual that will restrict the size, occupancy and design of new structures built in the neighborhood.


Feldman's, another centrally located Tucson neighborhood, recently completed a similar design manual that was approved by a Tucson City Council sub-committee. The Feldman's manual will go before the Mayor and Council for final approval in late October.


City Council member Karin Uhlich, a proponent of the Feldman's design manual, said that its goal is to both encourage and accommodate higher density buildings in a way that maintains the quality of life for students and their neighbors.


If the Feldman's design manual gets the green light from the Council, developers will be subjected to building restrictions that will prevent them from building large occupancy structures in the neighborhood. Developers say this could cause potentially disastrous repercussions for the city and the majority of residents living close to the university.


""Potentially, the liability goes into tens of millions of dollars,"" said Mike Goodman, a principal developer in the area.


Goodman, a longtime property owner in Feldman's and Jefferson Park, is concerned that neighborhood design manuals that restrict homeowners from modifying their property will have a devastating effect upon the city's economy.


""Twenty percent of the Tucson economy is from development,"" Goodman said. ""If developers can't make a profit, then they won't build.""


Richard Studwell, a developer in the Jefferson Park Area, said that the interests of the vast majority of occupants in the area, the students, are going unnoticed. Students make up over 70 percent of the population in Feldman's, he said, and are entitled to live close to where they work and study.


Both Goodman and Studwell said the homes they build are high quality and enhance the overall value and character of the neighborhoods. They said if the city passes the Feldman's design manual, it could be more expensive for developers to build housing for students.


""The issue is a red herring,"" Studwell said. ""Owner occupants who make up the neighborhood associations want students out.""

 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/16)
1,145 25 2.2%
Total (8/2)
19,921 377 1.9%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 16, 2021