Tempe continues its war against homeless people and does some nasty stuff to chase homeless people out of tempe!


Phoenix Means Well The feathered fiend bombs a naive national homeless advocate, then woodpecks haughty City Hall suits and clueless condo yups in Tempe

By Robrt L. Pela


Those Phoenix meanies who're being so inhospitable to poor defenseless hobos ought to take a cue from the Tempe City Council, which last month approved an ordinance to restrict businesses that attract an undesirable element. (If they never show up, you don't have to be nice to them, see?!) The restrictions will require that certain new businesses -- plasma centers, check-cashing joints, hookah bars, rent-to-own operations and various types of employment agencies -- submit to a public-hearing process before they can set up shop.

In plain English, that means that Tempe can now say "no" to any business that draws what The Bird's grandma used to call "the wrong crowd."

In not-so-plain English (because of course city managers don't run around admitting that they'd rather not have transients wandering their streets), Steve Venker, the City of Tempe's planning and zoning manager, tried to explain to The Bird why this ordinance ever happened without actually coming right out and saying, "We're trying not to appeal to too many lowlifes."

The ordinance was passed, Venker said, in an effort to "protect the community from loitering and heavy traffic" and because "[these businesses] create spillover effects in nearby residential neighborhoods."


"Well, our experience with plasma centers and day labor businesses," Venker said, "has been that they're a gathering place for people who maybe don't have anyplace else to be. And that results in complaints from other business owners and people living in the area. Protection was needed."

Protection? From people who want to rent a coffee table? Whose only source of income that day might be from selling a little plasma?

"That attitude is coming from neighborhood residents who live near these businesses," Venker said, in his best "It's-them-not-me" voice. "There are homeless people who frequent these types of businesses, and after they cash their check or donate blood, they might wander into the neighborhood, and that makes people uncomfortable."

Okay. So the Tempe City Council has figured out a way to keep the number of reprobates out of town by restricting the number of places that tend to attract them. But hookah bars? Uh, the last time The Bird peeked, hookah bars were mainly peopled by college kids. Maybe the council members forgot that Tempe is home to a certain state university.

"Yeah, I didn't know college kids were considered a risky element," wheezed Mike Johnston, manager of the Red Sea Hookah Lounge on Rural Road. "We see a lot of college people in here, and they don't seem like they're gonna go mess up anyone's nice neighborhood after they leave here. I thought the City Council was supposed to take care of bigger stuff than how many hookah bars there are."

The Bird couldn't have squawked it better.


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