Increasing Crime Concerns Residents of Prospect Hill

Griselda Aguilar said crime isn’t the only reason her family plans to move out of the Prospect Hill neighborhood. But as she recalled a story about two prostitutes looking for a place to hide in her front yard, she was firm that it was a problem she is eager to escape.

“Thank God we’re going to leave this place, because we’re tired of it,” Aguilar said.

She was one of many who addressed the topics of drugs, prostitution, homelessness and burglaries at a Jan. 25 meeting at the Sacred Heart Church, co-sponsored by City Council District 5 and the Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association.

But before the meeting was over, Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association Chairman Jason Mata already had scheduled a follow-up meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the church.

Residents’ comments ranged from concerns about the overflow of the homeless from the SAMM Shelter east of the neighborhood to slow response times by the police department.

“They needed to be said so that everyone else involved, all the other public officials and the San Antonio Police Department can realize that people around there are fed up and they want action,” Mata said.

City officials who attended the meeting included Mayor Ed Garza, District 5 Councilwoman Patti Radle, various SAPD officers and a representative of the Public Works Department.

“We all have to look over our back it seems, more than we would like,” said Garza, who stayed for the first half of the meeting.

Prospect Hill wasn’t always like this, said Jennifer Garcia, a student at nearby Our Lady of the Lake University who grew up in the neighborhood and still lives there.

But things have changed.

“This is a beautiful neighborhood,” said Garcia’s father, Ruben Garcia. “That’s slowly going down the drain.”

Prospect Hill begins just west of the Commerce Street bridge and ends somewhere around General McMullen and 24th Street. Some parts of the neighborhood stretch to Guadalupe Street on the south and Culebra Road on the north.

Audience members watched as small red dots, each representing a neighborhood drug arrest, appeared on a computerized map of their neighborhood, provided by SAPD.

“These are the people that are committing your burglaries; these are the people that are committing your robberies,” said SAPD Assistant Chief Jerry J. Pittman.

Pittman said some of the high numbers mean more criminals are being arrested.

But sometimes the numbers also mean the number of crimes have been on the rise.

From 2003 to 2004, the number of documented gang member arrests in Prospect Hill jumped from 191 to 333, a 74.3 percent increase. The number of gang-related arrests and suspects went from 158 to 282, a 78.5 percent increase.

Hot spots for home burglaries centered around Zarzamora Street, just south of Culebra Road, and on Laredo Street west of Zazamora.

Burglaries of buildings, such as detached garages and sheds, were focused around General McMullen and Travis Street.

Prostitution was rampant along the Zarzamora Street corridor, south of Lincoln Courts and south of Guadalupe Street along Hamilton Street.

Pittman reassured audience members that the police department was there for the neighborhood.

To ensure that, Mata made sure no one left the meeting without first learning how to contact Pittman at (210) 207-8205.  Web Posted: 01/31/2008 2:00 CST


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