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  Phoenix's woes grow with city
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ContributorThomas Walker 
Last EditedThomas Walker  Dec 22, 2006 11:30am
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MediaNewspaper - Carlsbad Current-Argus
News DateFriday, December 22, 2006 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionPhoenix - Pete Biddle swings his big Buick between slouching stucco buildings and moves a loaded .45 from the floor onto his lap as two men loitering around a garage shoot a menacing look.

It's 11 a.m. and this is the only way - a pistol at hand - that the 60-year-old retiree will go down this alley, 200 feet from his front door in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale.

He points to a spot in his condominium's parking lot where there was a double homicide last year. Just a few months ago, he said, managers found a prostitute working out of an abandoned laundry room near the condo's pool.

In all, there have been 68 recent arrests at his complex, according to a police nuisance order that catalogs 253 criminal incidents ranging from drug possession to child molestation. In a city where crime is rising and traffic jams start at 3 p.m., Phoenix is the former upstart struggling with its new role as a major American metropolis.

Having grown by nearly 500,000 people since 1990 to become America's fifth-largest city, Phoenix is strapped with a crime rate that, according to FBI statistics, now tops that of New York, Los Angeles or Baltimore.

Phoenix "has grown too much too fast with no proper planning," said Biddle, a former commercial pilot, furious at the decline of a once-quiet neighborhood.

The city's boosters have always thought of it as a model for the new American city.

"Our success has been that we are a melting pot," said Mayor Phil Gordon, originally from Chicago.

"We may be only a 60-year-old city, but that's also been our success," he said. "It's new people and new thinking. That's tough in other cities."
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