GREEN VALLEY, AZ - An independent study supports the long-held belief by some business owners and real estate agents that a border checkpoint in southern Arizona has hurt property values in Tubac and Rio Rico.
The study examined sales of homes in Green Valley, Tubac and Rio Rico from February 2009 to April 2012.
It showed that Tubac and Rio Rico home values rose and fell "in lockstep" with Green Valley prices in a 12-month span, according to the Green Valley News and Sun.
The study's executive summary says "interviews with a broad cross-section of community members revealed significant opposition to the checkpoint and included claims that its presence has had a negative impact on residential real estate prices."
The $1.5 million Border Patrol's checkpoint at Interstate 19 went into service in 2010. It's about 25 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border and it replaced a smaller mobile checkpoint the Border Patrol had been operating nearby.
The study, "The Border Patrol Checkpoint on Interstate 19: A Case Study of Impacts on Residential Real Estate Prices," was designed to create a methodology for assessing the impact of checkpoints around the country, said study author Judith Gans, manager of the Immigration Policy Program at the Udall Center.
A statistical method called regression was applied to isolate the impact of the checkpoint from, for example, commercial development and resulting tourism in Tubac, as well as many other factors that affect home values, Gans said.
"This regression analysis does clearly suggest that the checkpoint is associated with fairly large negative impacts on the difference in housing prices in the Tubac/Rio Rico area compared to those in Green Valley and that those negative impacts are increasing over time," the study says.
"I think it is generally a deterrent to people wanting to come down," said Tubac real estate agent Gary Brasher, one of the checkpoint's more steadfast critics, in response to the new report.
Brasher, a board member of the Tubac Chamber of Commerce, said there is no doubt in his mind that the I-19 checkpoint has discouraged potential shoppers and home-buyers from coming south to Tubac, even though longtime residents may not see a big difference.
Former Tubac chamber of commerce president Garry Hembree, owner of Old Presidio Traders, said he knows of people who live north of the checkpoint saying they no longer visit Tubac.
"I know a number of people feel that way about the checkpoint," he said. "There's no way it cannot have affected our business since they made it permanent. I don't know how they put that up without considering that."