Yari v. Crawford

Community Advocate Bill Crawford

UPDATE 3/14/12: New AZC editorial.

This morning I learned that downtown neighborhood defenders and small business advocates Bill and Debbie Crawford were served with a defamation lawsuit by Shawn Yari. Triyar Development is also listed as a plaintiff.

As you may know from extensive coverage in the Arizona Republic [and this editorial], Bill and Debbie own the award-winning Basic Training personal training facility next to Sunflower Market at Camelback and Miller. The Sunflower shopping center backs up to the “entertainment district.”

Bill and Debbie also live in the area. So, they’ve experienced first-hand the many “benefits” of the entertainment district both as residents and as small business owners.

Crawford has been outspoken about noise issues with the Yari-owned W Hotel that was threatened with foreclosure in 2009. Public safety issues, trespassing, and parking overflow from patrons of Yari-owned bar properties have spilled over into the Villa Monterey retirement community on the north side of Camelback, and Maya Condos east of Miller.

Yari also has a pending zoning request for “The Beach Club” (aka, “Scottsdale Retail Plaza“) in the same area. Neighbors have expressed concerns that this project will exacerbate existing problems originating from Triyar-owned properties.

In Yari’s complaint he alleges that Crawford,

…sought to destroy Triyar’s, its entities’, and Shawn’s reputations with a series of false and defamatory statements maliciously designed to injure plaintiffs and hurt Shawn personally…

…Crawford has falsely stated and/or inferred that Triyar, its entities, and Shawn have lied to Scottsdale representatives, bribed Scottsdale representatives, turned Scottsdale into a “sewer,” “hoodwinked” Scottsdale, engaged in “dirty tricks,” been a “purveyor of trash, noise, and bad behavior,” falsely represented that the W Hotel would be a high end hotel, improperly influenced others to foist an “unwanted agenda” on Scottsdale, caused injuries to others, etc.

The “counts” of the complaint include:

  1. Defamation.
  2. False Light.
  3. Injurious Falsehood /Business Disparagement.
  4. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

Yari has not detailed any specific damage nor calculation of requested remedy in his complaint.

Scottsdale Mayor (and candidate) Jim Lane

I will continue working on this story through the weekend. Mayor Lane has not yet returned my call. Neither has Council member Lisa Borowsky, who intervened on behalf of Yari with regard to the Blue Sky project that adjoins Yari property, and whose brother Todd owns Shotgun Betty’s bar in the area.

Lane’s campaign finance reports detail contributions from Yari and Yari associates. Lane has also recently pressed for an enhanced littering ordinance, a better public intoxication ordinance, and a “crackdown on public urination.” All of these stem from problems in the entertainment district, which Mayor Lane and the City Council created by too-numerous approvals of conditional use permits for bars in this small area. This has created the highest concentration of bars in the state.

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  1. I see where one bar in the district is going to have an enclosed area with live music in an attempt to draw a “more stable and older” crowd downtown. Could the tide be turning in the entertainment district? Is there some new area the younger crowd is moving to? They are a fickle group and not very loyal if something new comes along. Plus, they are not very profitable like the older crowd.

  2. UPDATE from Sonnie Kirtley at the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale:
    COGS Readers: If you live anywhere near the Entertainment District (or elsewhere and are concerned) and can join a public CITY meeting at 6:30 pm at the Design Center that is located on the NE corner of Indian School Rd and 75th Street (was formerly a church and still looks like one). The case 18 ZN 2011 submitted by the Triyar Group is a proposed city block entertainment swimming pool centered venue plus 3 bars on its east and one cornered on the NW side. There have been two open houses held at the W Hotel that you may have attended and submitted comments. This meeting is important because the focus is on parking and traffic issues.

    PLEASE ATTEND IF YOU CAN…. 6:30 pm Indian School/75th Street…..church-like building on NE corner

    For the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) Board of Directors, Sonnie Kirtley Chair cellular 602 717 3886 anytime

  3. Scottsdale is enjoying an increasing reputation as a place to go for bars, loud talk and loud music: all these accompanied by declining property values, a poor place to raise children .
    More of the same? Does that make sense to you?

  4. The SLAPP suit comes to Scottsdale. SLAPP = Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

    The tactic tends to be used by deep-pocketed corps against individuals and small grassroots groups who are standing in the way of something that a corp wants to do that needs the approval of a public body.

    Not sure of the best way to fight one, but since it’s an election year, the most effective way might be to defeat Triyar’s allies at City Hall.

    1. I’ll be reviewing the campaign finance reports again to try to identify some specific individuals. I know who they are, but given the litigious atmosphere I want to be certain I have the details correct.

      Other than the information I cited, I don’t know that Borowsky has further involvement. However, she appears to have a bit of a relationship and thus the action reflects on her. She still has not returned my call. Neither has Lane.

  5. My only gripe with Bill is he seems to be the consumate ‘NIMBY’ fighting everything that moves in the entertainment district, but came out supporting the Bars and entertainment at the ‘The Q’, which brings all that crap up here, so it’s OK with him if the cancer spreads!

  6. I remember Bill when he attempted a run at a position on City Council. He seemed like enough of a good guy. I kinda get the feeling that Bill still covets that City Council seat and his involvement and publicity seeking is all part and parcel of gaining a groundswell of support from downtown residents. Could this cause be his ticket? Could he be extollting it for the sake of making it more of an issue for personal political gain? I hope not.

    I live adjacent to the entertainment district and haven’t experienced near the tumult that others seem to have. We worked closely with property developers and found them to be accommodating. Causing an us and them scenario and inviting Sheriff Joe in when we have a most proficient police force in Scottsdale is a slap in the face of local law enforcement.

    If anyone is to blame for the proliferation of clubs…if there’s a blame to be assessed in the first place…it’s a lacksadasical City Council…perhaps the best that money can buy. I think Bill comes off looking less than sincere with his over the top ‘efforts’. Just my opinion, though.

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