The demolition of Jefferson Park homes is not and can never be an issue between University of Arizona students and Jefferson Park homeowners. As a Jefferson Park homeowner, it troubles me that it has begun to appear that way to the greater Tucson community. We need to be clearer.
I have lived in Jefferson Park since 1992, and have always had UA students next door, across the street, behind the alley or down the street.
Some student renters have been model neighbors and I have felt blessed each time for what I knew would be a year of peace.
Other student renters have been horrible. These students created tough years of endless trash in the streets, on our property and in the alley, property destruction and sleepless nights of multiple calls to the police for disturbances.
But let's be explicitly clear on this one point: Our yard signs do not read "no more students." They say "no more mini-dorms."
Let's also be clear: "Renters" and "students" are not synonymous. The Jefferson Park neighborhood is home to adult and family renters as well. Just like homeowners, some renters have great pride of ownership while others, just like homeowners, care little for their properties or their neighbors. Just like homeowners, some have lived in this neighborhood for many years while others come and go quickly.
As for the homeowners, many of them are academic and non-academic employees of the University. A high percentage of the homes in Jefferson Park are owned by University of Arizona alumni. Our connectedness to the university is a strong part of our character, charm and history.
More clarity: The demolition of Jefferson Park is not an issue between student or non-student renters and homeowners. All have a valid and appreciated role in this neighborhood.
We do live in a university neighborhood. We do know that we will always share our neighborhood with students. But we did not buy our homes to become neighbors with what appears to be an unstoppable number of mini-dorms.
Once we put aside our armor in what I believe to be a variety of misguided arguments between students, renters and homeowners, what emerges is one solitary issue:
A fight against greed is ancient and common and is not limited to Jefferson Park. It is the fight between decent and civilized human beings and people who live a life guided by the core value of gluttony. Greed says, "More, more more," while decency says, "That's enough." Courts and legislation have been mediating these foes throughout history.
In the absence of strong and ethical legislation, greed can prevail. Greed, unchecked, is systematically destroying our midtown, UA, eclectic, historic and charming neighborhood.
One of my favorite movie quotes about winning an ethical fight was from a 1980s movie, "War Games." After exhausting all logic pertaining to nuclear war strategies, a computer concludes that the only way to win is not to play the game.
Let's not play. Let's not play with developers being allowed to manifest their greed and let's not play with the problems we face with some of the irresponsible student renters.
The preservation of our neighborhood is not a game. It is a passionate pursuit of reason and it is a reflection of the larger community of Tucson.
We need the support of elected officials who are willing to take a stand on the side of what is ethical and civilized. The world and my neighborhood do not need one more war. We simply need public awareness and the support of our lawmakers and gatekeepers to do what is right.
Phyllis Brodsky is a Tucson educator. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org