The Investigators

Apr 3, 2014 1:05 AM by Tom McNamara and Paul Birmingham

N4T Investigators: Crews clear homeless camp, trash from school property

TUCSON - Imagine finding piles of old junk and garbage right next to where you live. It's not only ugly, but it destroys the desert. But, what if you learned the people who own the property with all the trash, is someone who really should know better?

The News 4 Tucson Investigators were recently contacted about the huge mess on the northwest side. What we didn't expect to find was who actually owns the property where all the trash was piling up.

Ralph Hays lives right next to the property that has become a huge eyesore, as the once scenic desert is now littered with trash.

The area is located right near the corner of Oracle Jaynes Station and North San Joaquin, on the northwest side.

"It's just terrible, really. It makes you feel really bad that this could happen. You just don't think something like this could happen in your own backyard," Hays says.

Hays tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, the area has become a haven for homeless, with people coming in, and setting up camp along with leaving piles of garbage. So much so, that he and his wife can no longer find peace and enjoyment in their desert home.

"She was approached by one of these guys when she was walking one day, and he came running over, and it scared her," Hays says.

The property is located right behind a building that housed the Amphi District Alternative Program, which has been closed for several years.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators did some digging, and we discovered the area in question with all the trash sits right on property owned by the Amphitheater district.

Hays says the situation has gotten a lot worse in just the past two month, so he contacted the school district, and was able to speak with someone on the phone about all the garbage. Though, he tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, the response he got was less than promising.

"I told her what was happening. I said, your property is a mess right behind the school, and she said, we'll look into it," Hays says.

So, the News 4 Tucson Investigators contacted district officials ourselves, to see what they could tell us about the trash.

Within about 36-hours, district crews were out cleaning up the area, removing load after stinking load.

District officials didn't grant our request to go on-camera, but in a statement, Mindy Blake, a spokesperson did tell us, they simply were not aware of the trash.

"If we are aware of a situation that needs attention, we would immediately take steps to take care of it. The San Joaquin property is monitored on a regular basis, however, outside the east fence line along the wash, there is a considerable amount of foliage that blocks the view of the east side of the property, and into the wash. It is that location where there is a large amount of trash."

K.C. Custer, Pima County's Environmental Investigator says the site was pretty bad.

"Property owners need to keep an eye on their properties more often, because stuff like this will happen, and property owners are responsible for their property," Custer says.

For his part, Ralph Hays says he's just happy the News 4 Tucson Investigators got involved, and helped hold the school district accountable for the mess on their property.

"I'm amazed that things transformed so fast. Really. I told my wife, and she said, my God, that's so nice," Hays says.

The county also says their looking at other homeless camps on properties in that area. We'll keep you updated on what happens.

If you have something you'd like the News 4 Tucson Investigators to look into, email us at investigators@ or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.


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