Fresno residents block alleys to fight crime

FRESNO, Calif.

Resident Kathleen Smith told Action News the alley is a nuisance: "We've had a lot of dumping, graffiti, people going back and forth in the alley all the time. They drag couches, people dump couches and they live there. Drugs, other things going on."

Fresno City Council Member Blong Xiong has heard residents complain about crime: "Especially at night there are unsavory characters that do operate in the alley where its dark and away from prying eyes, it causes issues and concerns for the residents."

Construction crews are working to put a stop to those problems. Installing gates on each end of some alleys.

Blong Xiong: "It's not as simple as people think, that you can just call in and get everybody approved, it's a process that takes a while."

Alley closures have taken up to two years to be approved. 90 percent of the residents in the affected area have to agree, and they have to put up some money, about a hundred dollars per home in this neighborhood.

Smith says it's worth it: "We are very happy. We all contributed to it, all the neighbors a little bit and so I was more than willing to do that."

The gates will be locked and each resident will have a key. So will the Fire Department, garbage collectors and utility workers since power, gas, water and sewer connections are often located in the alleys.

Council Member Xiong says he gets about 20 requests a year for alley closures in his district. 13have been completed this year.

Some residents find alleys convenient, but they provide easy access to burglars and with rising crime and vagrancy problems they are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

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