A Neighborhood Fighting to Enforce Zoning Regulations
Written by NSN Coordinator   
Here's a continuing story about how one neighborhood has tried to resolve issues related to a problem property.

Robert Bowers, Chair of the Toumey Park Neighborhood Association, provides the opening narrative:

In early 2005 the Compassion Hope Center (CHC), part of the Giving Tree / LLC GT Outreach Inc, bought a former church in the Toumey Park neighborhood at the corner of Eastland and Swan (map). In mid 2005, the Center distributed a flyer in the neighborhood claiming to be working with TUSD on providing meals during the summer to children on "free lunch" and distributing food and goods to the homeless and needy. A check with TUSD revealed that the agency had nothing to do with TUSD, and that TUSD had problems with this agency in another neighborhood, but deferred on discussing "for legal reasons." This was not the first misrepresentation of the purpose of the agency, but was dismissed by the agency director as a error by her staff (she had no staff).

Here are the problems about the Center as reported by neighbors in 2007 and forward:

  • CHC being used as a shelter; possibly also a rented duplex next door.
  • Clients from CHC sleeping in the park.
  • Clients from CHC loitering in the neighborhood.
  • Clients from CHC using drugs in the park.
  • Clients from CHC inappropriately approaching children and neighbors at homes, on streets and at bus stops.
  • Fear of neighborhood children and families using the park to avoid confrontations.
  • Clients of CHC loitering at bus stops to the point where children would not use them, and Sun Tran relocated one with no effect.
  • Clients of CHC having sex openly behind a neighbor's house.
  • A business in the neighborhood harassed by aggressive panhandling.
  • Clients of the CHC smoking, drinking and using drugs on private properties and in utility easements, leaving trash.
  • Clients of CHC harassing people in their homes at very late (or early) hours.

The biggest problem which this agency presents is the operation of a continuous nightly shelter for the homeless, which the limited exemption from the City's Land Use Code does not permit. After nearly 3 years of complaints to the City, and attempts to get the zoning code enforced, we are close to resolving the problem.    Continuation . . .

Update from Bob Bowers on December 20, 2009

The Giving Tree was given a new Certificate of Occupancy for the property at 4650 E Eastland in September 2009 with the condition that they cannot operate a shelter at night, and the building can only be open between the hours of 7 am and 11 pm. (It actually closes earlier most of the time.) Food and other necessities are distributed to the needy. Meals are also served. The neighborhood continues to have some traffic of homeless people, but it is much reduced. Most of the problems reported here are eliminated or significantly reduced.
An unsolved problem with the agency is parking. They do not have sufficient parking on their property to meet the requirements of the Land Use Code, which would currently be the amount of parking of the church which was located there previously for many years. The City did not take this into consideration in issuing the original or current Certificate of Occupancy. Cars are frequently illegally parked closer than 30' to the intersection, on City right of way on the west side of the property, and on the sidewalk fronting on Eastland.
Eastland Ave. is a secondary arterial street for emergency services. Frequently Eastland Ave. has been blocked for two-way traffic by cars associated with the agency being parked on both sides of the street, a few times for most of the block. Neighbors are concerned that the 4600 block or more of Eastland could be marked "No Parking" as a result of the impediment to emergency vehicles. Technically the Fire Code requires any street less than 28' wide to be marked "No Parking" on both sides; the street (an artifact of the early 50's) is only 26' wide.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 December 2009 )
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