brought together over rats
By Bob Golfen
The Arizona Republic
April 04, 2002
trees are picked, yards are trimmed and streets are clean. Neighbors are
getting to know each other as never before.
In other words, roof rats have
been good for Arcadia.
"If anything, the little rascals
are helping us out," said Barry Paceley, one of the organizers of the
roof rat brigade. "The neighborhood looks better than it has in years.
"The neighbors are all talking
to each other and working together, and that's something the roof rats
have brought out."
The roof rat problem seems to
have settled down, Paceley said, as people have worked to eliminate
tree-borne sources of food, with an unknown number of rats killed by poison-baited
"My wife said we've had 15 of them
in all," Paceley said. "Lately, I haven't seen any."
The absence of rats is not surprising
to other Arcadia residents, many of whom feel the problem has
been overblown. Builder Greg Hancock, a longtime Arcadia resident,
said he has yet to spot a single rat in the area.
"I've never seen one of the
critters," Hancock said. "But every time I turn on the TV or read the
newspaper, I see something about roof rats. I just chuckle at all the coverage."
The issue has deflated some of the
aura of the upscale community, where the median home value is nearly
a half-million dollars and home sales exceeding $1 million are common.
Real estate agent and Arcadia
resident Sally Geyer said she believes there are isolated pockets
of roof rats but it is not a generalized problem.
"If you read what's in the paper
and hear the word 'infestation,' the mental picture is that there are rats
running down the streets," Geyer said. "I speak to everyone I meet,
and no one has seen a rat."
Tom Delnoce, an Arcadia resident
since 1976, said his neighborhood has been tarred by the roof rat brush.
"Unbelievable," Delnoce said. "Everybody
knows Arcadia now because of roof rats."
Back in December, Maricopa County
Vector Control office detected roof rats in Arcadia after receiving complaints
from residents. Since then, rats have been found from 28th Street to 63rd
Street and from Camelback Road to just south of Osborn Road, and the neighborhood
has been mobilized to set traps, clean up yards and pick the fruit off
citrus trees, one of the roof rats' favorite foods.
The overriding fear of Arcadia
homeowners that roof rat publicity would depress property values in the
popular and exclusive area seems to have been groundless. The residents
are unconcerned about the roof rat effect, Geyer said, although a few
prospective buyers have made a few inquiries.
"One lease I was handling, I had
e-mails from some people out of state that said, 'What about roof rats?'
" the agent said. "But if you put it in perspective, they live with
them (rats) on the coast all the time."
Housing analyst R.L. Brown said roof
rats should have no real short- or long-term effect on home values.
"For housing activity, it hasn't
been an issue," Brown said. "Probably for those not impacted directly,
the issue becomes one of gentle amusement."
Jon Meulemans, deputy assessor in
the Maricopa County Assessor's Office, said he has no hard figures for
any roof rat effect because assessments lag far behind sales activity.
The office just completed its valuation cycle in February for figures going
back to July.
A neighborhood as desirable as
Arcadia would have to be plagued by something a lot worse than the occasional
roof rat to affect values,
Hancock noted that roof rats seem
like a mild problem for Arizonans compared with the critters who
besiege homeowners living in the desert, including new communities
in the northeast Valley.
"There's a big difference between
a roof rat and a rattlesnake," Hancock said. "I lived in the Pinnacle
Peak area for five years. Coyotes, Gila monsters, scorpions. One
day, my basset hound went toe to toe with a rattlesnake.
"It certainly hasn't hurt their
property values any."
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (602) 444-6866.
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