Phoenix neighborhood set to pilot program closing off public access to alleys

PHOENIX - Inside the Royal Palm neighborhood there are six entrances to various alleys that run behind homes.

The stretch exists between 13th Avenue and 15th Avenue just off of Dunlap. That alley runs behind the home of Luke Bevans, and is a source of frustration.

"It's also a highway for people to discreetly drive through the alley, commit a crime and have a getaway,” said Bevans.

For three years Bevans has been documenting intruders, wanderers and predators. He uses two cameras just to watch the alley. They sit above his motion-activated lights that he installed himself.

"A lot of people on foot going through the trash cans, looking over people's fences and a lot of bike thefts even from the back yard,” are just some of the activities Bevans says he has observed. 

After three years, Bevans is tired of standing by. He reached a breaking point last September. It was then that Bevans’ cameras captured a man hopping a fence and exposing himself to two young girls.

Now Bevans is part of a group of neighbors fighting for change.

"We've been working with the city council, Councilwoman Stark, with a gate program. To gate off the alleys, to move the trash cans from the back to the front,” explained Bevans.

It’s now a proposed pilot program sitting on the desk of the Phoenix City Council. A vote is expected on Tuesday. If passed, it would place gates at the six entrances in the Royal Palm neighborhood. Trash services would be rearranged from back alleys to front yards.

At this time, the pilot program is expected to be mostly funded by the Royal Palm group.

However, not all neighbors are on board. Carey Mungai told ABC15 he prefers the current system in place.

“There are other areas in Phoenix that don't have alleys and they have a similar crime rate,” said Mungai.

The report compiled by the city’s staff says the city of Mesa recently put gates at several of its alleys. An estimated 70 of 80 miles of alleys are fenced off.

Phoenix staff told ABC15 there are 878 linear miles of alleys in the city.

The pilot program for Royal Palm, if passed, would only last a year.

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