Balboa Heights Neighborhood Profile

Balboa Heights by Marlene Avelino


Balboa Heights Boundaries

Balboa Heights is situated between Glenn St South to Grant, and East/West between Stone and Oracle Road. El Guero Canelo, Kings Donuts, and La Parilla Suiza are all local restaurants inside the neighborhood boundaries and are highly recommended! Most of the homes were built in the 40s and 50s; with a mix of single family homes, multi-housing, and mobile home parks in the neighborhood. According to, Balboa Heights has about 2,500 residents and about 20% own their homes. 


Naida Jane Baker Splash Pad

Balboa Heights Park is nestled on 1.7 acres on Castro. Amenities include a playground, a half basketball court, picnic tables, and a splash pad. The splash pad is named in honor of Naida Jane Baker, an unwavering advocate for the health and safety of Balboa residents. She started the Balboa Heights Neighborhood Association in 1992 and served as president of the association for 25 years. She focused her energy on bringing funding, volunteers and other resources to the area.

The park itself is the result of Marty Birdman’s passion for his community. In 1996 after a child was struck while riding a bike, Marty was moved to take action to create a place in the neighborhood for children to play safely.

He went on to raise $100,000 with the help of 50 people, TEP donated an abandoned lot, Southwest Gas employees donated their labor and a park was born.


Marty Birdman Center at 2536 N Castro

Three years later in 1999, Marty once again saw a need in the neighborhood, this time a neighborhood center. He engaged the University of Arizona’s architecture college for help in the design process. The college then created an independent study course in which students designed the center with input from the neighbors. The students didn’t just design the center, they helped build it with Marty teaching them how to tint mortar and tie rebar. Originally named the Balboa Heights Center it was later changed to the Marty Birdman Center.


Alex Barton, Hilary Madrid, Susan Alexander, Derek Dooley, Frank Orchek and Molly the Dog with her owner

Lee Oler, a resident of Balboa Heights since 1978, has fond memories of the Marty Birdman Center. She recalled a particularly  talented Recreation Coordinator named Ron Gardin who was great with the kids, coordinating events and activities. Ron played football for the U of A Wildcats and went on to play in Superbowl V for the Baltimore Colts!


La Placita de la Luna, where the recent election for the NA board took place