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

Public Hearing Loss


Duh, It's Mill Ave.

There's something about condominiums that makes The Bird want to fall from the sky into oncoming traffic.

These ugly stuccoed cracker boxes have been springing up like mold all over the Valley for years, and somehow they're always way too close to our few pockets of thriving nightlife -- spots like downtown Phoenix and Tempe's Mill Avenue.

It's a situation that inevitably leads to fights between the snooty yuppies who dwell in these dreadful domiciles and the neighboring hangouts and their denizens.

Take the brouhaha that's been brewing in downtown Tempe of late. Residents of Hayden Square Condominiums have been in a tizzy over the raucous rock 'n' roll and hip-hop hullabaloo emanating from nearby nightclub The Loft, 200 yards away at Fifth Street and Mill.

Mark Davis, a real estate manager and Hayden Square denizen, boo-hooed to The Bird that The Loft's nightly lineup of hip-hop DJs and local jam bands like The Noodles and Gelatinous Groove has been creating a sonic boom of noise that's been costing him some serious sack time.

Davis and other residents have repeatedly whined to the Tempe Police Department about the racket, which usually spills out from The Loft's patio doors (kept open to allow smokers to get their nic fix while still enjoying the music). Cops have measured sound levels from 39 to 49 decibels, which is within the city's legal limits of 65 decibels before 10 p.m. and 55 decibels afterward. So what, The Bird wonders, is the big damn deal? And what the hell did these people expect when they moved this close to Mill Avenue, ground zero for Arizona State University (one of the nation's leading party schools)?

"Certainly there's going to be noise in downtown Tempe," Davis simpered to the Bird. "But [The Loft is] clearly the loudest venue."

Although The Bird was bored by Davis' dreary droning, others are more interested. He recently persuaded owners of the nearby nightspot The Library to lower their noise pollution by relocating the club's loudspeakers. Davis and his silence-loving pals then moved on to shushing The Loft.

When calling the cops didn't work, the curmudgeonly condo crew turned up at last week's meeting of Tempe's Redevelopment Review Commission, to ask that the club quit rocking out at 10 p.m. on weeknights (when all good children should apparently be tucked away in bed) and to try to prevent Loft owners Gina Lombardi and Michael Dove from obtaining a use permit that would legalize their loud jamming.

Despite impassioned pleas from the opposition, Lombardi was able to persuade the commission to approve that permit -- no surprise to this feathered fiend, since Lombardi's an old hand at snuffing out sniffy condo complainers. She owned raucous rock club The Sail Inn for 15 years, selling it last year to make way for the pending light rail.

Lombardi promised to collar the clamor by staying under decibel levels mandated by the city's noise ordinances; relocating loudspeakers; installing special volume-restricting sound equipment; and closing the club's patio doors after 10:30 p.m.

"We're trying to make everybody happy," says Lombardi. "But whenever someone new moves in near Mill and starts demanding that people turn down their music, it's just some kind of ridiculous."

Crybaby Davis says he's disappointed by the approval and might just sell his condo and stomp off in a huff. Which would leave all the mewling about noisy Mill Avenue to residents of The Lofts at Orchidhouse, an upscale development located around the corner on Sixth Street. Residents there recently put the smackdown on hippies and street kids who've been performing drum circles at the neighboring Sixth Street Park long into the night. Tempe cops have been clearing out the park at midnight, citing the city's curfew, only to have these percussive peeps move to another location along Mill.

"If you're going to live in a condominium within 200 yards of Mill Avenue, you should be expecting some background noise," grumped Gelatinous Groove guitarist Steve Allen. "Close your fucking patio door, turn up your TV, and shut the fuck up."

Or move back to suburbia, where you belong.

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