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Phoenix neighborhood begins pilot program to close alleyways

Phoenix neighborhood begins pilot program to close alleyways
Posted at 9:10 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 07:03:10-05

 The City of Phoenix has partnered with one of its neighborhoods on a long-discussed program to counter crimes and blight in local alleyways. 

"It's just a dark highway for crime," said Luke Bevans of the alleys that run through his neighborhood near 15th Avenue and Dunlap. 

"I've witnessed multiple homeless camps, exposed needles, you see graffiti," said Bevans. 

But it was what his security camera's witnessed back in 2016 that kicked this latest plan into high gear. 

"We had somebody access our alley, hop over our neighbor's fences and expose themselves to two little girls," said Bevans. 

A horrifying reality check for this family-oriented community. 

But today there's hope that newly-installed security gates may alter that reality for good. 

"That's what really prompted the gated alley program," said Bevans. 

For two years Bevans and his neighbors worked with city leaders, collecting signatures of support to install six-foot gates at the alley's access points. 

"We added these roll bars to prevent anybody from leveraging themselves up," said Bevans demonstrating the roll bars positioned atop the gate. 

"In the very beginning when the community was engaging with the council they identified six alley's where they were really experiencing the heaviest issues," said Brandie Barrett with Phoenix Public Works. 

Barrett says two neighborhoods are now part of a pilot program. Community members were required to collect signatures from 51 percent of the homeowners who back up to the alley. 

Over the next year, the city will track the numbers to determine the program's future. 

"How does this work, what are the impacts, we'll be tracking metrics, how do the gates impact crime, how do the gates impact graffiti, how do they impact illegal dumping," said Barrett. 

According to the Department of Justice, restricting or eliminating alleyway access has shown to decrease crime in major cities across the country. 

Neighbors were on the hook for the cost of the gates--which ran about $2,000 each. They used community grants as well as donations to pay for those costs. 

For Bevans, he hopes the gates make a major difference that way even more communities can tap into this latest plan. 

"I'm so thrilled the city has worked with us on this, I know it will be successful and we'll make sure it is," said Bevans.