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2/17/2013 9:05:00 PM
Rehab centers back on Prescott Council agenda
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - In a new meeting format this week, the Prescott City Council will take on several issues that have generated debate in the past.

Rehab centers, the Granite Street Parking Garage, and government access television will be among the issues on the agenda for the council's "caucus" meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Councilman Charlie Arnold, who has spearheaded the recent discussion about issues surrounding rehabilitation centers in Prescott, said Friday that this week's discussion would allow the council to consider its options on the matter.

"We will discuss what the city can do, and what it can't do," Arnold said.

When the issue last emerged in early December, officials maintained that the city's hands were tied in many respects, because the U.S. Fair Housing Act prohibits it from treating residential group homes for the disabled any differently than it treats other single-family homes.

But Arnold said a somewhat different legal perspective has emerged on the matter. For instance, Arnold said, the city may be able to require buffers between different group homes.

"We'll bring forward what some of the options are," Arnold said.

While Arnold had earlier suggested the formation of a private-sector group - facilitated by the city - that would work to resolve issues with group homes, he said he has been awaiting the arrival of the new city attorney before organizing such a meeting. (New City Attorney Jon Paladini took on the position in January).

Arnold said Friday that he expects to set up a "stakeholder" discussion by about the first week of March.

Also on Tuesday's agenda will be a discussion of the downtown parking garage - its entry/exit layout, security, fee days, and downtown employee parking.

Arnold said he has heard concerns from downtown business owners about the parking fee their employees must pay to use the garage on busy weekends.

Currently, parking is free at the garage most of the time, but the city charges a $5 fee for about two-dozen downtown events. In all, the city charges fees in the garage on about 35 weekend days.

Tuesday's meeting will take place in the city's new "caucus" format, which will involve a roundtable discussion among council members.

Prescott Communications and Public Affairs Manager Melissa Preston said the city plans for the caucus meetings to take place monthly on the third Tuesdays of the month. The meetings will feature a less-formal setting for discussion of issues that have not made it to the council's workshops or voting meetings.

The council members will meet in city hall's council chambers, but will sit around a table, rather than at their regular seats on the podium.

The caucus meetings will be open to the public, but likely will not include public comment.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: New Forum Format Is Muzzling Citizens

Those with power like to spend the bulk of their time with each other, isolated from citizens who might want to voice dissenting opinions. In this case, the city council has created a new 'forum' format as a convenient way to silence public voices. It gives them a means to push any controversial issue into the forum meeting day to avoid public discussion.

This carefully-planned show is where all controversial issues will eventually be dumped. That certainly is the case regarding rehab centers cropping up like weeds. Not only did they silence public input, but they have also announced that only rehab stakeholders will meet together.

They don't even want to hear our voices.The forum is now once a month, but it will soon be more common if we don't loudly object to being silenced.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: bob grant

two pages of crybabies whining about people that need help trying to get it! This same paper will get all these same Nimbys screaming about not losing guns not paying property taxes for community needs. Hey there good? Christian hypocrites ,The square is often used by evangelicals such as potters house who try to become the next addiction for the folks being whined about!
Hey lets set up ranch sized properties with rehabs ,they can have lots of wire electrified of course .

The USA, Arizona in particular wants to do nothing and complain about it!

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Require Background Checks

How about some basic regulations for these facilities, starting with mandatory background checks of all staff and owners? Do we want felons operating these facilities?

People working with children are usually required to have a background check, and those residing in rehab facilities need the same protection that children do, due to their impairments from addiction.

Background checks are required for gun purchasers, so how about making sure these operators and staff of these homes aren't convicted felons too. And what about weapons in these homes? Why not some regulation there? These residents have definitely have a degree of impaired judgment or they wouldn't be there!

Our most important treasure is our children, and even if they suffer from addiction, the public has an interest in their safety and well-being. This should NOT be left up to the profit-making rehab centers who may be desperate for cheap staff to increase their profits.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: CItable Material

CItable material? Your dismal success rate at rehabbing these people is CItable. Notice that the only people defending these "recovery centers" are those who are "in the industry". If you are so gung ho then TAKE THE INITIATIVE and affect some change here. Get your clients(or customers) to get involved with doing something POSITIVE in this community. If you don't start doing something positive, it will only get harder for you guys to pull off this charade of "recovering people". It will be truly harder to rehab anyone when the whole town eventually turns against you. Your opportunities here are already dwindling, maybe you can turn it around.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

Sounds to me like there are too many of these gigs doing business. I remember one years ago. This dude turns his rental into a "church". They have "services" there for bums, who loiter around the edges of Taylor Hicks elementary school. Neighbors complain to city. City finally gives them the boot, but it took a long time. This kind of stuff isn't good for business. Plus most of these guys don't buy jack, they pay the landlord.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Not in my backyard

NIMBY thinking covers this story. We're good Christians, but put them 10 miles out from the city center. Don't put them in my neighborhood. Katie, bar the door. Until that alcoholic or drug-dependent person is your family member or your friend. Then they are just a good community member who slips once in a while and deserves our understanding. Maybe it's time the city becomes involved in issues, not punitively, but proactively, rather than just acting like it's someone else's problem.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: I remember when

I remember when "Rehab" homes were non profit and those that ran it cared about seeing success. Meeting were held in house and outside meeting were also required. Problems were tossed out. The funding that helped lost funding. Now is is for profit and greed is the bottom line. I can think of 3 homes in Prescott that are well run and care about helping and success of the program. The rest are high cost flop houses that are lining the pockets of the Owner.
I have never had to live at a rehab house. I how have ever been a member of AA for over 20 years and have seen this again and again

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Sightable Source

The rehab centers might not be in your neighborhood, but they're in mine, and we see them everyday as they leave their clearly marked buildings.

They walk in groups to downtown locations, and lately have been stopping by the Methodist church when the crowds gather there. God only knows why, since they must get fed at their residence. I can only guess that they may be looking for contacts/connections. The subject of their easily heard loud and coarse conversations, mostly related to drugs, rule out being there for religion. Maybe they are just freeloading, which frankly is better than grazing at the grocery stores like most of our non-rehab residents seem to make a habit of doing. (Yes, I see that too!)

This rehab racket is just a money maker and burden on the community and neighborhoods. So count me as a sightable source of information, if not a citable one. No one is making up this problem. The City needs to deal with it since they helped to create it.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: concerned citizen

I am responding to the person who brought up the point that we have ordinances set in place....well I can tell you that the "ordnance officer" cannot do a thing .......she cant even get the slum lords to mow their grass let alone do anything of this magnitude....It is a shame that all of the ordinances we do have cant even be enforced. There is absolutely no consequence to not complying......She writes letter after letter pleading with the perpetrator and many times it takes months and even years to get anything solved, if ever! I have been battling a slum lord/rehab house on my street for 3 YEARS! and NOTHING has ever been done....Nothing! She has the ordinances, but what good are they if there is no consequence to the non compliance! They just do nothing.....yet I have seen her go after another neighbor who actually was beautifying her house with a lot of money being spent and because that person was willing to try to do the right thing , they dragged her into city council to be chastised and was made to spend her time and money over the way her fence is facing!!!! She should have just ignored her....just like the slum lords do........

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: concerned citizen

Watch out a white van may be moving in next door to you!
I understand the federal governmet made the changes to what constitutes a family, i also understand that the government makes alot mistakes alot of the time. This change in what constitutes a family is one of them.
I am not sure you can fully understand what is really happening in the downtown Prescott area unless you live or work there. These rehab houses are beginning to take over and it is ruining our once quaint and safe neighborhoods. While these boys themselves may not be trouble during the day unless you think it is ok to watch these halfway houses turn to blight right next door, you should see what happens at night.
Yes it would be compelling to actually collect the needed statistics, but good luck trying to get that out of anyone, I have tried. I have been trying to collect the data on just how many there are now in just the downtown area and the City has not been forthcoming with that information, I have tried.
I met with Charlie Arnold myself not too long ago and asked multiple times who I must see to raise a flag on what is happening downtown before it is too late. Nothing happened.....I even asked to be notified when the subject came to the council, if ever, and that didnt even happen....I am a tax paying property owner and I cant even get the information for my own puposes let alone to be able to speak about it factually.
I have looked extensively into the problem and have come up with the opinion that these rehab houses MUST BE LIMITED ! ONE PER BLOCK! WE ARE A NEIGHBORHOOD FIRST!
In addition, every neighbor within 4 to 5 houses must have the direct pone number of the operator of the rehab house AND the owner of the property! There must be some accountability!
And, yes it is all about the buck, these property owners collect 1000.00 per head and can take up 8 unrelated "family" do the math!

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Breaking The Cycle

People who live in glass houses should not throw rocks.
You are assuming that all of the people on the square are homeless or are in rehab.
How do you know this?
If you want to live in Mayberry then be part of the solution. Take your community back.
Coalition for Compassion and Justice the hand out church you so protest has done an enormous amount of good in this community. They help homeowners with repairs. When the temp drops they house the homeless. Oh I know you would rather see them freeze to death and problem solved.
You should thank God that you are not in their situation. You do not have to be an enabler but you do not have to be a hater either.
If you want your town back join the volunteer police dept patrols like Neighborhood Watch.
Instead of hiding in your car or house with the door locked. You are giving them your power.
Become a volunteer in the Medical Reserve Corp sponsored by Yavapai County Community Health Services. You can go and assist in tradgedies around the world. Then come back and see that living here is not so bad.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Council sees money friends get rich

The rehabs will never go away. Kook's bff is the owner of many. You do the math.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Does Anyone Have Any CItable Material?

I see a lot of opinions on the statistics of Prescott and addiction issues in general. However, no one has cited actual material or studies. Rather, it seems that many people posting here see some sort of "troubled youth", "gang member", or homeles person and assume that the individual must be a rehab center person. I work in the industry and clients are not out roaming about. One person here mentioned Granite Creek Park. I have never ever seen residents of a rehab down there. In fact, it is banned due to a population of people being down there who could be negative influences. It feels now that rehab and treatment centers are being used as a scapegoat for peoples issues in Prescott.

If anyone can cite negative effects of treatment centers with quantifiable data, please do so. Otherwise, the opinions are just that opinions. Get educated please.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Overflowing With Regab Centers

This small community is advertised as a "retirement community, and everyone's hometown", but seems like it's overrun with bored and broke youths who approach you for money and other goods. I don't feel safe walking the streets after dark with so many walking around with nothing to do but smoke, drink, hang around using foul language, etc. This does not set a good example for people to retire or raise a family here. Maybe only have a few rehab homes and put these youths to work.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Nomas jrugies

Finally...some long overdue attention to this problem. What a waste of quality of life for Prescott the longer this profit industry based on druggies "disability" label is allowed to continue. I believe college towns tend to control this by unrelated house member clauses....

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Let's Face Facts

Mr. Ayres: Let's be honest. For the mass majority of Prescott resident not taking money directly from the addicts or their families, the "social benefits" of large numbers of out-of-town "patients" here in Prescott in "recovery", a huge percentage of which will fail miserably (the few that succeed will simply go home), that would be a darn short list. In fact, there may well be nothing on it at all. I think at one time, there were a relatively few facilites, trying to do good work. Now it is a quick buck cottage industry that the City has let explode out of control. One only has to spend some time downtown, or visit Granite Park to see the results of that bad decision.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: not in my back yard

I've spoken to a few of this young men at my church. They are brought there to attend service and that is a good thing. But they try very hard to make friends with older people. They are quick to tell you how their family is mad or dissapointed in them. Acting like they don't know why. I have seen one ask and get the phone number from one of our married members (just in case he needs someone to talk to.) Most of them do not go back to their own neighborhoods. They tell you that their network is up here now. I can't help but to wonder what that means??

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Here You Go Again

The City Council got us into this mess with the rehab facilities and it is high time they are held accountable to get rid of them! Forget about passing the buck to stakeholders. FIX THE PROBLEM. PRONTO!

Addicts are a blight to society and should be treated as such. They have no respect for life, theirs or yours. About 5% recover. Is that the kind of investment tax money should be spent on? Feed them, clothe them, shelter them so they can get high once again and contribute nothing?

The filthy language, loud, obnoxious behavior, talking about their last relapse, seeking another, talking about their jail time experience, all to be witnessed if you are around the Courthouse Square.

The increased population hanging out for the free food from the Methodist Church is another draw for all the non-productive lives to congregate and share info as to where to get their next bottle or drug fix. Like minds attract like minds in open, full throttle action.

@Another Opinion...way too many opinions submitted and know nothing about Prescott. Find another outlet for your opinions.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: How About Pictures?

How about taking digital pictures of what is going on with these gangs of young men and women, with the faces blurred out? A picture is worth a thousand words. Scenes from the public downtown sidewalks and Courthouse Square should provide plenty of evidence of what we are talking about. Or a view of the house showing the nearby residences. How come children are protected only when they are in school from drugs but not when they come home next to the rehab facility?

In addition, the City should be REQUIRED to publish the names and locations of all rehab, recovery, and group homes that they have licensed to do business here so we can tell if our neighborhood group homes are legit or operating under the radar.

With the trend of hedge funds scooping up buckets of houses for investment and having them managed as rentals, it is more important than ever to have this information. How will we know if a house isn't simply a drug house rather than a rehab house? The residents look and sometimes act alike.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: The D Man

Oh come now, it just wouldn't be Prescott these days without a few zombies shuffling around. Come for the rehab, stay for the relapse...

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Bitter Clinger

The re-hab houses should be closed down and their denizens moved out of town. There is no other option. If the operators of these facilities want to be in this business they can find a secure spot, put up fences and metal bars, and corral the miscreants there. Do I not recall the former Arizona State mental hospital in Phoenix being unused at this time. That would make a great re-hab would a bunch of temporary portable buildings on the grounds of more secure prisons.

Concentrating criminals, mental cases, drug dealers, disrespectful loudmouths, and ne'er-do-wells next to normal and honest citizens is a recipe for disaster, not a path to rehabilitation.

We all know that.

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

A lot of the local rehabs provide no treatment other than being a sober space between the hours of 6pm and some time in the morning when the residents are kicked out of the house for daylight hours. They're run more like the homeless shelters. It would be nicer if they were actual drug treatment centers.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: db prescott

Working in the Downtown Courthouse Square has bexcome more and more dangerous. On many occasions we have observed drug dealers selling their drugs in the Granite Street Parking Garage, and the steps below the Office Buildings on Gurley. When a resident of a Half way house breaks the rules, they are banned from the rehab house... end up on our streets threatening good law abiding citizens...Prescott elected officials have a duty to address this growing dangerous issue. Surely Rehab Owners make a LOT of money and provide little or NO rehabilitation.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Btian Boru

The rehab joints seem to provide an endless supply of dropouts, flunkouts, and kickouts to hang around town and Granite Park.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Another Opinion

The City Council will enforce the common sense laws already on the books which apply to ALL residential units and businesses run out of residential units.

There people expect the City to enforce loitering laws, noise laws, parking laws,etc, and if any resident does not comply, enforce the law to the fullest extent.

The City should also ensure that no more than the legal number of people allowed are residing in these residential units in our neighborhoods.

Nobody has anything against rehab homes. Most are run well. Others are without decent management and are more concerned with making an easy buck than rehabbing anyone. They need to have a spotlight put on them and their residents to make sure they are following the law. For their clients' safety as well as public safety.

The law needs to be changed so that anyone stopped more than once for antisocial behavior in public needs to be chaperoned by someone supposedly rehabbing them!!! Rehab is failing if their clients are creating enough of a disturbance to warrant police intervention.

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