Alleys in Phoenix neighborhood being gated off in order to deter transients and criminals

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- The alleys that run behind homes are often viewed as convenient space for trash collection, but some neighborhoods say these alleys have become magnets for criminals and transients.

There are hundreds of miles of alleys that run behind homes across the valley, and one area says it has come up with a solution: gate the alleyways to keep trouble out.

The idea of gating the alleys at each end has become a reality in an area of North Central Phoenix and Sunnyslope, following a pilot program. The gates off 15th Avenue, north of Dunlap in the Royal Palm neighborhood are the first gates to be put in, as part of a City of Phoenix program. Alleys run through the neighborhood, and from signs posted, one can get a sense that residents are frustrated with crime.

Residents in the area say it's a problem that has exploded since the arrival of the light rail.

"You'll find people peeking over back gates in the alley, use it as an access, egress for getting into people homes," said Mark Harding. "I've found people sleeping back here. Sometimes, they'll find discarded needles and other drug paraphernalia."

Harding signed a petition saying he wanted the gates installed at the end of his alley. Since the majority of the households on the street supported the gates, their alley was selected for gating. The gates cost about $400 per household, and six alleys will be gated along the east side of 15th Avenue, south of Dunlap.

Not everyone, meanwhile, believe it's a good idea

"I don't think it will do much good," said Lucia Perry. "I think it'll be probably good habitat for wild animals, which is kind of a nice thing, but I think the overall problem is homeless people in Phoenix."

The remaining alley gates will be built over the next few weeks, and locks will be added. Residents with gated alleys will now have their trash picked up curbside, instead of in the alley.