By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Jacobs' concerns are well-founded, if Tempe's current policy of access to public places in downtown is extended to the future waterfront. In recent weeks, Tempe's crowd-control efforts have taken a bizarre twist on Friday and Saturday nights, when thousands of people descend on the city and walk the sidewalks.
Standing watch outside the bustling Coffee Plantation on weekend nights are three young men dressed in white-knit shirts emblazoned with the words "Event Staff." Their mission: to keep people from sitting on a popular public bench at the corner of Mill Avenue and Sixth Street.
Time after time, Brian Adams walks over to yet another unsuspecting person and tells him or her, "Nobody can sit there."
Befuddled, most people stand up, murmur, "That really sucks," and walk away shaking their heads in disbelief.
Adams, a cordial fellow who says he's only following orders, reports that "the people who rent this property don't want anybody loitering."
Mayor Mitchell says the city has nothing to do with the no-sitting policy, but two Tempe police officers stand nearby at all times ready to assist the men in white.
The policy is starting to wear thin on some regular downtown visitors. "They are being such jerks about it, I kind of don't want to really spend much money here," say 19-year-old Marii Covington.
Adams says the no-sitting policy will extend across the street next week to another popular area where young people have gathered--not to spend money, but to play music.
The Tempe police broke up an impromptu jam session last Saturday night, setting the stage for the bench police to move in.
"Sorry, guys," Tempe Police Lieutenant S.J. Graehling told a couple of bongo players. "You need a live-entertainment permit to do that. It costs $100.