Phoenix City Council votes to expand program to close residential lanes

PHOENIX — Like most cities, Phoenix has created lanes as service walkways for residents and utility corridors. It still is, but in recent years, alleyways have become a growing headache for neighborhoods and a challenge for the city to maintain.

Along 10th Street near Ruth Avenue in Sunnyslope, five in all were among the first to be closed by the city.

“There was a three-month period, from October to December in 2018 or 2019, where we had 19 residential burglaries in these five side-by-side alleys,” said Jeff Tisot of the East Sunnyslope Neighborhood Association. “After the driveway gates opened, we had no residential burglaries.”

In return for the barriers, residents are responsible for maintaining the walkways and dropping off their trash curbside for pickup.

There are 867 miles of alleys in the city of Phoenix. Most of them are unfenced. Which leaves it up to neighbors who live along the alleyways to deal with illegal dumping, crime, drug use and, in some cases, homeless encampments.

At Sunnyslope, the doors do the job they’re supposed to.

“You don’t hear the dogs barking. We have security lights in the alleys and they don’t come on anymore. There just aren’t people wandering around where they shouldn’t be anyway” , said Tisot.

Across the city, 47 alleys have been cordoned off. 17 others, like the one near Ocotillo Road and Flynn Drive are being closed. Work on these gates should be completed by the end of September.

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council allocated an additional half a million dollars for the project. It is expected that there will be enough money to seal an additional 45 lanes.

If your neighborhood wants your alleys to be fenced, you will need to complete an online application. More than half of the owners on each side of the lane must sign in support.

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