Mira Vista continues drive toward crime-free living
Posted: Friday, Jan 23rd, 2009
BY: Paula McCambridge, Atascadero News
Mira Vista Apartments had its Safety Social with the Atascadero Police Department Sunday, January 18th, an annual follow-up in a three-step process that turned the complex into a crime-free, multi-family housing unit in 2004.
The crime-free program was designed to "help residents, owners and the managers of rental property keep drugs and other illegal activity off their property," according to the APD. "The program utilizes a unique three-part approach, which ensures the crime prevention goal, while maintaining an approach which is very resident-friendly."
Owners and managers at the complex began the program in 2004 when statistics were grim for residents. In 2004, when the program was first implemented at that site, police received 267 calls and this past year received only 18. There were 44 crime reports in 2004 and none last year. There were 11 drug and alcohol-related incidents in the community in 2004 and none in 2008. There were 21 incidents of violent assault at the community in 2004, which included assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence and gang-related activities. In 2008, there were no violent crimes reported.
“If I were going to pick one place you would not want to have lived in 2004, this would have been it,” said APD Sgt. Joe Allen. “Now it’s one of the most coveted places to live.”
Detective Rochelle Hanson agreed.
"If I were looking for an apartment, that’s where I’d live," she said. “Four years ago? No. But now I would."
Owners and police attribute the dramatic decrease in crime to the crime-free program and the commitment of owners and managers on the site.
“Without their buy-in, it wouldn’t work,” Allen said. “They actually went above and beyond program requirements to make this a better place to live.”
Phase one of the program involved an eight-hour seminar presented by police; phase two certified that the property met security requirements for residents’ safety, and phase three is the annual crime-prevention meeting conducted for full certification.
The Mira Vista Safety Social was at the Colby Jack Café and Bakery which supported the effort.
“They did a great job,” Hanson said.
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I sincerely appreciate the dedication you and your staff have for this property and your willingness to accommodate the needs of your residents. This past year has been wonderful and I will truly miss being a part of the Mira Vista community.
We would like to thank the management of Mira Vista Apartments for their outstanding service, clean living environment, and for the opportunity to live in such a well kept area.
I wanted to say thank you as well. For the last four years I have called Mira Vista home, and I have loved it. The improvements you have made over the last couple of years have been wonderful. I have always recommended Mira Vista Apartments to families I know who are looking for homes in the area and I will continue to due so. Thank you again for a great experience.
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Ellen Holland, Atascadero News – March 17, 2006
Mira Vista Apartments holds Safety Social
Mira Vista Apartments, located in south Atascadero at 11153 El Camino Real, celebrated the final step in the Atascadero Police Department’s three-fold process toward crime-free multi-family housing with a safety social on Sunday, March 12.
"I invited my wife and children; a year ago I might not have," program coordinator Sgt. Joe Allen said. "It’s incredibly safe. Food, fun and free, those are the three requirements (of the program’s safety social)".
The apartment community was the city’s pilot for the Crime-Free Multi-Family Housing Program, which began in Mesa, Arizona and has the goal of creating apartment communities where residents experience a sense of pride and assurance that comes from living in an area free from crime.
As a part of the program’s last phase, which was initiated with an eight-hour certification class and also included crime prevention through environmental design, signs were presented to the staff at Mira Vista "to identify the property as being dedicated to crime-free multi-family housing," Allen said.
The safety social, attended by members of the APD, Atascadero City Fire Department, city staff, Mira Vista management and residents, included fingerprinting and photographs of children, a K-9 demonstration, a fire extinguisher demonstration and a tour of an empty apartment to note improvements that have been made.
"Mira Vista Trustee B.C.Montanaro and Manager Marcos Jimenez did a really wonderful job with the safety social and program," Allen said. "It was all positive feedback."
"To me, it was an excellent example of a public/private partnership where residents work with city police to make sure their neighborhood is safer and more enjoyable for all," said Mayor Tom O’Malley, who attended the safety social. "We were very pleased with the results and look forward to it being implemented city-wide. It’s more than just a neighborhood watch, it’s building community."
At the social, the APD introduced the program to residents, identified the improvements management had made, such as increased lighting and improved common areas; and explained the goals of the program as a cooperative effort with the apartment’s management and the police department to maintain the crime-free status.
"More so than (the residents) had questions, they had compliments," Allen said and added all "were very happy with the results they’ve seen over the past year."
Next year, Mira Vista will hold another safety social to inform new residents of the program and "assure the longstanding residents that we’re still committed to the same goal, making it a safe, comfortable community," Allen said.
Each year, certified properties must demonstrate it continues to abide by the program and is still in compliance or certification will be revoked.
Ellen Holland, Atascadero News-February 1, 2006
Goal: Crime-Free Community
New Atascadero Police Program is already showing promise
The Atascadero Police Department has implemented a new program that began in Mesa, Arizona and strives to create apartment communities where residents experience the sense of pride and comfort that comes from residing in a crime-free community.
" Basically, it was derived to lower the incidence of crime in multi-family residential communities," program coordinator APD Sergeant Joe Allen said. "The Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program teaches property managers and owners how the police can better work with them in achieving goals. The goal is to have a crime-free multi-family residential community."
The Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program is a three-fold process that begins with an eight-hour certification class. Allen said he chose the Mira Vista Apartments as the place to begin a pilot program because he had already established a relationship with the management and owners.
"In order to do this effectively, I wanted to start out with a pilot system,." Allen said.
Both the owners and managers of the Mira Vista Apartments attended the certification class in September.
During the class, those in attendance discussed the history of the program, crime prevention techniques and methodology, how the program works and the certification and application process, Allen said.
After the course , Mira Vista, which had already been implementing action before the program, began making the changes immediately.
Before Mira Vista representatives even got involved in the program, at least a third of the community where previous problems had occurred were evicted.
"This program formalized what we were already doing," Allen said.
The second phase of the program focuses on crime prevention through environmental design. This phase requires an inspection conducted by Allen and requires 10 safety aspects the apartments must pass in order to become certified. The required aspects include sufficient lighting, landscaping, solid core doors and having the address on the unit clearly displayed.
Installing solid core doors that include dead bolts, a 180 degree eye viewer and a security strike plate, along with secondary locking mechanisms on all sliding doors and windows, also helps to ensure the safety of residents.
The third phase of the program is a safety social where residents, management and members of the police department come together for food and fun.
The social will offer an opportunity for residents to be alerted of the program and its goals and also alert them that they will be required to sign new leases with a crime-free lease addendum.
In signing the addendum, residents agree that they and their guests will live a crime-free lifestyle, the violation of which is subject for eviction.
If the APD responds to the apartments for crimes…they give the management contact cards informing them of the nature of the contact.
For more information on the Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program, contact Sgt. Allen at (805) 470-3236.
"This keeps the informed manager able to make an informed decision," Allen said. According to Allen, criminal behavior is not a federally protected class for discrimination in the way gender and race are. "Past behavior is an indication of future behavior," Allen said.
New applicants to a crime-free, multi-housing unit would be required to complete a background check.
"We tell (applicants) upfront, if you have a criminal history, you need not apply."
According to Mira Vista Management…the program has already made a difference.
"The community is clean, it’s quiet, and people generally seem to be happier. People come home and they want an oasis. They don’t want strife or stress. We want to make this place really beautiful."