Student high-rise managers propose net over Islamic center

Published: Feb. 4, 2016 at 1:35 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - In mid-January, officials from the Islamic Center of Tucson reported University of Arizona students living in a neighboring high-rise building were throwing trash, glass bottles and aluminum cans onto the center's parking lot.

The officials said the students threw objects from their balconies on at least three occasions. The company that owns the student high-rise building is taking steps to curb bad behavior by residents.

Staff from the Islamic center, West University neighborhood association, Councilman Steve Kozachik and managers of the high-rise have been meeting to discuss ways to stop this from happening.

Property managers from GMH Capital Partners evicted four students and closed of several balconies in the building for 30 days.

In an email obtained by KOLD News 13, property managers said they had also interviewed students and sent a clear message to all residents that this type of behavior would not be tolerated, and those caught would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and face heavy fines.

Company officials said they were also "utilizing the role of positive peer group influence and ongoing education to foster an environment of responsible balcony use and general conduct."

The company was also including a document in the lease that specifically addressed acceptable balcony conduct. This included the use of derogatory language and racial epithets. The lease addendum will be a required document for all residents.

One of the ideas that is not going over so well, is a suggestion by the building managers to install some type of sun shade, canopy or net over the Islamic Center of Tucson parking lot.

"As far as putting a net is concerned, that's not going to happen," said Mahmoud Obagi, a spokesman for the Islamic center. "We're more looking forward to having balconies closed off or having a permanent structure that is ... better looking than some type of net that would really look ugly and not protect anyone,"

Chris Gans, the president of the West University neighborhood association, said a longer-term fix is needed.

"It's just a Band-Aid on a problem, it's never going to heal unless they take serious action and that means closing off balconies," Gans said.

In an email to property managers Gans said, "It appears you're placing the burden for adjoining properties to protect themselves from your residents by caging their properties in rather than adopting a proactive position to keep the balconies closed."

Councilman Steve Kozachik issued a similar response.

"The suggestion by property management that canopies be installed misplaces the burden for addressing the root cause of this problem," he wrote. "The issue is the balconies, not the parking lot. This company doesn't allow balconies on any of their other properties. The solution is to lock them off beginning with the new lease year this fall. That's a solution, not the Band-Aid they're proposing."
Staff at the Islamic center said they're working on getting bids for a concrete structure over the parking lot, but they expect the high-rise management company to pay for it.

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