Border Patrol Raids Humanitarian Aid Camp In Arizona
The camp called it an unprecedented show of force and said it was a violation of the group's agreement with local border patrol agents.
By Feroze Dhanoa (Patch National Staff) - Updated June 17, 2017 1:46 pm ET
Border Patrol agents raided a humanitarian aid camp in the Arizona desert on Friday and arrested four people who they say were in the country illegally.
The raid took place at the "No More Deaths/No Más Muertes" medical aid camp, which provides food, water and medical care for people crossing the Sonoran Desert on foot. In a statement, the camp said border patrol agents began surveilling the camp on Tuesday, setting up a temporary checkpoint outside the property line to search those leaving and interrogate them about their citizenship status.
The group said the heavy law enforcement presence is deterring people from seeking aid at the camp. An excessive heat warning is in effect across the southwestern United States and temperatures are expected to reach as high as 120 degrees.
In a statement, border patrol agents said they had used surveillance technology to track the four individuals who were walking on a known smuggling route. The agency said they were left with no recourse but to request a federal warrant to enter the camp to search for the four men after initial efforts to resolve the situation were unsuccessful.
"In temperatures surging over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the US Border Patrol raided the medical-aid camp of humanitarian organization No More Deaths and detained four individuals receiving medical care," the aid group said in a statement. "Obstruction of humanitarian aid is an egregious abuse by the law-enforcement agency, a clear violation of international humanitarian law, and a violation of the organization’s agreement with the Tucson Sector Border Patrol."
Border patrol agents said they took the individuals to a local hospital as a precautionary measure where hospital staff said they did not require further medical attention. All of the individuals were Mexican nationals and one of them is a convicted felon who had been previously deported.
Why Move to Meridian, Idaho?
Meridian may have started out as a suburb and farming community of the Idaho state capital, but its years of quiet and gradual growth are behind it. Around 2004, the suburb graduated from suburb to "big city" status when its population reached 50,000. Plus, though the U.S. Census Bureau recently listed it among the nation's fastest growing large cities, Meridian remains one of the most family friendly cities in America. Yes, there are many substantial reasons for the tremendous desirability and growth!
For all the focus on Meridian becoming a metropolitan area, however, the city has managed to retain a small-town feel during its growth spurt, contributing to its family-friendly appeal. The residents are sociable, pleasant and full of civic pride, and the cost of living reveals that there aren't any big-city price tags attached to goods and services in Meridian. For families and anyone else looking to enjoy the simpler lifestyle of a smaller town, Meridian has it all. The icing on the cake is that, at roughly 10 miles west of Boise, it's close enough to the City of Trees if you get a yen for the sporting events, concerts, or other entertainment the larger urban area frequently hosts.
Idaho has a reputation for having a lower cost of living than the national average, and Meridian is no exception. At time of writing this article the sales tax is 6 percent and property taxes for owner occupied homes is typically below 1 percent of assessed value. Furthermore, everything from goods and services to the cost of transportation is less expensive in Meridian than overall nationally, and utilities and groceries are notably more affordable due to the plentiful hydropower available in the Gem State, as well as the abundance of agriculture including cattle and dairy farms and thriving crops like potato, wheat, barley, and others.
The cost of housing in Meridian is affordable, too. Though prices are listed above the national average of $181,400, at $194,800 they are just barely above. Plus, that figure is a median price, so keep in mind that there are plenty of Homes in Meridian ID available in more expensive price ranges as well as less expensive ones, too.
Caring for your family is tough if employment and income opportunities are non-existent. The average household income for Meridian residents--higher than the national average by an impressive 21 percent--is what makes it one of the most family friendly cities. The unemployment rate isn't too shabby, either, at just 4.8 percent compared to the national average of 6.2 percent. The strong job market is supported by the health sciences and a growing tech community in the area, as well as the many local businesses that have opened their doors in town such as insurance, finance, and education.
Meridian is a great place to strike out on your own, too. In 2015, Meridian city planners embarked on a revitalization project to carry forward the momentum spawned by the construction of the outdoor mall, the Village at Meridian, and the multi-million dollar Scentsy campus. The plan to attract start-ups and young professionals is focused on creating a business-friendly environment for entrepreneurs.
Quality Health Care
Whatever stage of life you are in, access to quality health care is an essential issue. Meridian, ID properties have the advantage of not only being in the vicinity of one of the country's leading medical centers, St. Luke's Meridian, but it also boasts four urgent care clinics that treat both adults and children. Of course there are general practitioners and specialists in town, too, but with its convenient location near Boise, living in Meridian puts you only minutes away from exceptional emergency services and additional health care resources in the larger city, including a VA hospital, St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute, and multiple long-term care facilities.
Plenty of Amenities
The amenities in Meridian contribute to it being one of the most family friendly cities. As the city has grown, many restaurants, businesses, and retail establishments have opened their doors, so it has been a long time since residents have had to trek into Boise for entertainment, shopping, and quality dining. Meridian has its share of delightful diners and go-to burger joints, but the ethnic cuisine available in town is worth mentioning. Whether you want to dine on Basque food, have a craving for Italian, or would like to spend an enjoyable evening at an Asian bar and grill, Meridian has them all and more.
The crown jewel of the town's amenities, however, is the Village at Meridian, a collection of shops and restaurants as well as entertainment opportunities that make the up-and-coming city as much of a desirable destination as it is a terrific place to live. The Village houses nearly 50 shops (and counting) where you can buy anything from apparel to home decor, mattresses, and organic foods. And talk about family friendly cities: there's something at the Village for everyone in the family--including the pets! It's also a great place to nosh, whether you want a frozen yogurt, handcrafted sandwich, Asian-fusion, or feel like going a little more upscale with bistro fare and a martini.
But the Village is about more than shopping and eating. There is always something going on at Fountain Square and other locations throughout the shopping complex. From rubber duck races to a performance by the Meridian Firefighters Pipe and Drum Corps, to beer and wine tastings, and live concerts, whenever you lack something to do, the Village is the place to chase boredom away.
Low Crime Rates
Crime seems to be everywhere, but in the big scheme of things, Meridian has somehow managed to remain a low-crime area of the country and the state. Meridian is safer than 74 percent of all the cities in the U.S., with a crime rate that is 51 percent lower than the national average and it's 29 percent lower than other Idaho cities. Whatever Meridian Idaho properties you are looking at, you can't go wrong with any of the safe, friendly neighborhoods in the city. Residents feel safer in their homes in Meridian, ID, and knowing that you actually are safer just makes Meridian all the more family friendly and adds to the pleasant small-town feel it offers.
An Abundance of Entertainment
If living in the playground of the West isn't enough for you, Meridian has an abundance of tamer prospects to keep you entertained as part of its reputation for being one of the most family friendly cities. Naturally there are movie theaters, bowling alleys, and an outdoor dog park, but you could also choose to spend an afternoon at the Meridian Speedway, at Roaring Springs Waterpark, or playing mini-putt at the Wahooz Family Fun Zone. Get your RDA of culture and local artistry at the Initial Point Gallery, or take the kids to pet the animals and ride the ponies at Linder Farm. Plus, don't forget that Meridian is home to a historic creamery and that every summer brings the fun of the dairy festival.
Meridian’s strength resides in its neighborhoods. Most residents are good people and family minded that help watch out for each other and their children. There are hundreds of small friendly Meridian Idaho subdivision neighborhoods within the greater Meridian Idaho community as a whole who help provide a peaceful and wonderful way of life.
Part of the small-town vibe Meridian puts out can be credited to the friendly, generous people who live there. Residents always have a smile ready to share and are up to the task when help is needed. In fact, the people are what Mayor Tammy de Weerd says are her favorite part of Meridian, citing the community's affinity for giving back. For instance, in 2012 when the food bank was in need of upgrading, an anonymous donor purchased a new location for it. Additionally, a $25 million park was gifted to the city by a local man in honor of his father.
Delightful Weather, Enviable Outdoor Lifestyle
The abundant wilderness throughout the Gem State is typically one of the first things highlighted when listing Idaho's merits, and it helps make the case for Meridian being among the most family friendly cities. The family that plays together stays together and, with all the opportunities to enjoy the Idaho outdoor lifestyle with fishing, camping, hunting, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, boating, and more, families have superb opportunities to play.
Starting with winter activities, Meridian is only about 30 miles from Bogus Basin, the area's popular mountain ski area. Bogus isn't just for downhill skiers, however. You'll enjoy tubing, snowshoeing or Alpine skiing on over 20 miles of groomed trails--and 4 miles of them are lit to accommodate night skiers. A night skiing season pass price is truly amazing at just $99/year for the 2016-2017 ski season.
Families who enjoy ice skating can make the short drive to Idaho Ice World in Boise, but why spend the time and the gas when the Village at Meridian provides an ice skating rink for the public from mid-November through mid-February, depending on the weather of course?
When there's no more snow for winter sports, there are still plenty of outdoor endeavors families can pursue together. Meridian homes for sale are plentiful and available in many different types of neighborhoods. Campgrounds abound, both nearby and as far as you're willing to drive in any direction. Families can fish and boat at Lucky Peak, Lake Lowell, Payette Lake and Cascade Lake as well as the Payette and Boise Rivers. If fishing is your thing, there are even more opportunities to fish than the lakes and river offer, with nearly 30 Sportsman Access locations within 12 miles of Meridian or less. In fact, you can even charter a fishing trip with a Meridian-based outfitter. Kayaking and River Rafting is also a huge attraction on the Payette River, just 45 minutes north of Boise and on the famous Salmon River a little further to the north with day or multiple day rafting excursions down the “River of No Return”.
When we said Meridian, Idaho has it all, we meant it! And just remember, winters here in the valley are fairly mild so you get the best of both worlds by living at the feet of the Rocky Mountains not in them, so you can enjoy the mild climate when you want and the extremes when you are feeling adventurous. You don't need to leave the city limits for beautiful places to bike or hike, but families can always head out to scenic trail areas nearby such as Table Rock or the Boise River Greenbelt Trail for a great hike, mountain bike experience or just change of pace.
To find out more about Meridian or the rest of Southwestern Idaho give Jeff Stewart at Stewart Realty a call for a personal tour of the area and some great homes that fit your style and budget.
Article was copied from Jeff Stewart, Broker/Owner 208-602-1993 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Market
The city of Mesa sits to the east of Phoenix in central Arizona's Valley of the Sun. With an estimated population of more than 462,000 people in 2015, Mesa is the third-largest city in the state behind Phoenix and the southern Arizona city of Tucson. Mesa covers roughly 133 square miles of territory that includes 57 public parks and more than 40 golf courses.
Mesa is in Maricopa County, which is also home to Phoenix and more than two dozen other communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Real estate markets across the county took a substantial hit in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis, falling to price levels not seen for more than a decade. Since 2011, however, home prices have shown substantial growth across the county. The Mesa real estate market has seen particularly strong growth in both prices and sales volume over the five years preceding 2016.
The Mesa real estate market bottomed out in 2011 when the median sale price for residential property in the city dropped to $105,000, down from a high of $230,000 in the fall of 2006. As summer ended in 2011, the market began a sustained two-year growth trend that pushed the median home price in Mesa to nearly $180,000. Prices hovered around the $180,000 median until the summer of 2015, when more than 2,700 Mesa homes were sold in both June and July, a sales volume not seen in the city since 2006. The median sale price also ticked up, as it reached $200,000 in January 2016 for an eight-year high. Prices fell back slightly to $193,000 in April. A similar softening in prices occurred in the winter months in both 2013 and 2014, before a return to growth late in the spring.
For comparison purposes, Maricopa County reached a market bottom in the first quarter of 2011, when the median sale price for residential property dropped below $115,000. Mirroring the Mesa market, the countywide median sale price reached an eight-year high of $223,500 in the first quarter of 2016.
Property and Transfer Taxes
There are two types of property tax in Arizona. Primary property tax is available to fund municipalities, school districts and other government entities. Secondary property tax funds capital spending projects and special tax districts. As of 2016, Mesa does not impose a primary property tax, and instead collects revenue through a 1.75% retail sales tax and various other use taxes and fees. The city does collect a secondary property tax to pay for voter-approved projects. Mesa's secondary property tax rate for the 2015-16 tax year is $1.21 per $100 of assessed property value. In Arizona, the assessed value of a residential property may be no greater than 10% of its real market value, and may be less depending on other factors.
All Mesa residents must also pay property tax to Maricopa County, totaling $1.58 per $100 of assessed property value for the 2015-16 tax year. Some Mesa properties are located within special tax districts that impose secondary property taxes in addition to the countywide taxes.
Real estate sales in Arizona are not subject to a transfer tax. However, the Maricopa County Recorder charged a flat fee of $15 for the transfer of a property deed, as of April 2016.
Most Expensive Neighborhoods
Mesa's two most expensive neighborhoods are both on the north side of the city. The Mountain View neighborhood, located in the 85213 ZIP code, has the highest median residential sale price among the city's 12 ZIP code areas. The median sale price for homes in the Mountain View neighborhood during the first quarter of 2016 was $269,000. The second most expensive area in town is the Las Sendas neighborhood in the 85207 ZIP code, which makes up the northeast corner of the city. The median sale price in the area during the first quarter of 2016 was $253,000.
Top Real Estate Websites
Apart from national real estate websites, such as Trulia, Zillow and others, and marketing websites operated by local real estate agents, there are few specialty websites targeted at Mesa-area homebuyers. The Arizona Republic, the local newspaper for the Phoenix metropolitan area, maintains a real estate news and information portal on its website at AZCentral.com. Additionally, the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) offers a wealth of useful information on its website, at ARMLS.com. While the website is geared toward real estate professionals in the area, it does provide free monthly and quarterly market reports and other useful real estate information covering communities throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Mesa.
SF Armory seeks late-night permit for weekdays, neighbors worry about noise
Staying open until 2 a.m. on the weekend isn’t enough for promoters at the San Francisco Armory, who want permission to run shows and events into the wee hours of the morning every day of the week against the wishes of neighbors.
The promoters say they have spent more than $1.8 million on soundproofing for the historic Mission District building, owned by Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth, after neighbors first complained about the noise more than a year ago.
But neighbors are concerned that the soundproofing installed since April 2016 hasn’t been tested during a major event like the dance party planned there this weekend.
The inside of San Francisco Armory is frequently used as a multipurpose venue for music, sports and other events. (Courtesy San Francisco Armory)
The Entertainment Commission is expected to decide Tuesday whether to extend the hours, just days before the Armory has a special permit to host a gay pride party for as many as 4,000 revelers from 9 p.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Sunday.
“This block has had so much trouble and we finally got to a point where it was not so bad, not so scary, not so loud,” neighbor Sandra Davis said in an email to the Entertainment Commission. “Then the Armory decides to take a venue that’s almost meant to amplify the sound and turn it into The City’s number one entertainment center. Do you know how utterly frustrating that is?”
The Armory is currently permitted to host events until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and can be open for “extended hours” on three holidays a year. Promoters want to stay open until 2 a.m., seven days a week.
The conflict between neighbors and promoters started in February 2016, when the Armory hosted a series of unpermitted shows that it was later fined for, according to Entertainment Commission Deputy Director Maggie Weiland.
But Kink.com spokesperson Mike Stabile said that neighbors haven’t complained about large events over the last year, even though the Armory hosted Halloween and New Year’s Eve parties.
“There’s a sense that we haven’t been up and running or that we haven’t been doing events, and that’s not true,” Stabile said. “We have been doing them. The people haven’t been hearing them.”
Weiland confirmed that there have been no noise complaints against the Armory since the commission first approved their permit for limited event hours in April 2016.
“We have not actually received any complaints from neighbors since they came to the commission,” Weiland said. “The neighbors seem to be kind of scared, but we’re hoping for the best here.”
Stabile said the Armory has replaced the roof with soundproofing material and has also soundproofed the windows and doors of the event space, called the Drill Court. The venue also has a new sound system that allows the promoters to control the volume rather than performers or producers.
Weiland said that the commission has tested the sound and “what we’ve seen is really satisfying.” Entertainment Commission documents show a sound inspector visited the property June 9, a Friday, at around 9 p.m. and found that the Armory was in compliance with noise regulations.
Still, Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the neighborhood, said she supports the Armory using the space as a music venue but is against the extended hours for at least another three months — enough time to test the soundproofing.
“It’s a massive building and it’s very difficult to operate a business that even supports the maintenance of the building,” Ronen said. “The dilemma for the neighborhood is having some sort of business that sustains the operation or having a vacant huge building.”
Promoter Audrey Joseph said the Armory needs the extended hours to help business for corporate events as well as concerts.
“Our corporate business has suffered with the restricted hours set on our permit,” Joseph said in an email to the commission. Stopping encores at midnight during occasional Thursday concerts has also made booking shows “increasingly difficult,” she wrote.
The Armory is also asking for extended hours on three more holidays a year as well as other changes to the entertainment permit.
Vail Resorts, Summit County at odds over deal for new apartment project
Summit County officials are questioning Vail Resorts’ commitment to building workforce housing after the resort company declined to pay $150,000 to help develop the Village at Wintergreen in Keystone. Vail Resorts previously announced it had $30 million to spend for employee housing projects.
PUBLISHED: June 20, 2017 at 8:35 am | UPDATED: June 20, 2017 at 10:07 am
Following the deal between Summit County and Vail Resorts to build workforce housing at the Village at Wintergreen in Keystone, the county committed to spending $300,000 to bolster the chances of receiving approval for low-income rentals within the project.
The county was aware Vail Resorts' development partner on the 196-unit site, Gorman & Co., would make a request for the financial backing for the 40 low-income rentals. However, learning of the total, Summit's three-member Board of County Commissioners approached Vail Resorts about splitting the investment to make the highly competitive low-income application more attractive. Despite previously announcing the availability of $30 million toward employee housing projects, the resort company declined to contribute further to the Wintergreen agreement.
"I don't know where any of that money has gone," Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. "They have talked about it in press releases over and over, but I haven't seen where they've actually put in money.
"I would welcome any greater partnership with them," she added. "It seems obvious that if we're putting money in, it would be really great to have more cash to make it a better application."
“Would it also be nice if Vail Resorts threw in some money? Sure. It’s on their property, and they would be a beneficiary of it. They obviously said no, definitively, and my guess is the board was surprised they said no flatly.”Thad NollAssistant county manager, Summit County
The original pledge
Vail Resorts' original December 2015 housing commitment to the communities where it operates notes many of these projects could take years and that capital, use of its own land and leasing agreements were all in play as part of that total. The Village at Wintergreen is the first project to get off the ground within the intended Colorado, California and Utah mountain communities, and the resort company was comfortable with its pledge of the 28.4-acre property in Keystone for Gorman to build upon as well as the below-market lease.
"We are thrilled that the Wintergreen project has been approved and that it is happening because of our land lease to Gorman and that we have committed to master lease a significant number of units," Kristin Kenney Williams, Vail Resorts' vice president of mountain community affairs, said in a statement. "The fact that the county is supporting the (low-income) component of the project is terrific — the entire Wintergreen project is a model example of the creative private-public partnerships we were hoping for."
According to county documents, the land parcel where the housing development is to be built is valued at approximately $1.5 million, and Vail Resorts paid roughly $21,000 in combined property tax on it in 2016. The leasing agreement with Gorman & Co. is for about $35,000 annually for 100 years.
All parties acknowledge the deal and project would never get done without the land, which under area zoning regulations already required it be reserved for housing. It's also a major factor in the state's tax-credit agency awarding the subsidy to such projects throughout Colorado.
"We couldn't have funded the project and could not make it work financially if we had to make an outright acquisition of that land," said Kimball Crangle, Gorman's Colorado market president. "Vail Resorts is bringing quite a bit to the table … and the ground lease of the land is definitely included in the application as well."
Local aid essential
Another determination in a project receiving the tax-credit for units that range from 30 to 60 percent of the area median income, or AMI, depending on the application request and available funding, is whether there's local public financial support. The other seasonal and year-round Wintergreen rentals are capped at 120-percent AMI.
"The county has known for some time that we've been interested in competing for a tax-credit award at the Wintergreen site," Crangle said. "It's a fundamental component to address affordability and the type of rental housing in critical need in the county."
After a request from Gorman for $350,000 approaching approval of the deal on May 22, the county committed to nearly that amount in housing dollars later that week to give the tax-credit application its best chance to be green-lighted. If the approval is not granted, then the 40 units will transition to the alternative of renting to tenants earning between 100 and 120 percent of AMI and the county will be off the hook for the additional money.
Still, with so many other communities vying for limited number of available tax credits, there's no sure thing.
"We definitely knew all along there's no guarantee," Stiegelmeier said. "It's the bright, shiny candy bar that you may or may not get, and it made it more appealing. But it's kind of a gamble — you never know."
It remains the county's position, though, that with additional contributions from Vail Resorts, there would be a greater chance the low-income rentals are approved. Gorman believes it has a viable application, even if the resort company's denial has left the county with a bitter taste in its mouth.
"Would it also be nice if Vail Resorts threw in some money? Sure," said Thad Noll, assistant county manager. "It's on their property, and they would be a beneficiary of it. They obviously said no, definitively, and my guess is the board was surprised they said no flatly.
"Sometimes you have to bite your tongue and say OK, because it's the best thing for the public in the long run," he added.