Alley question

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Has any block in Flatiron or Fishtown had its alley closed off by neighbors recently, does anyone know?

If so, I'd like to know what issues came up with it with putting up a locked gate where neighbors share a combination or a key. Some people's alleys are actual streets, some are 3' alleys which are a shared responsibility in a deed restriction, some alleys don't open into the street because of a blocking structure.

I know a gate poses an impediment to PPD if they need to get in that alley quick--they have to find a neighbor first with a key to the gate or go through a neighbor's house to get back there if they're searching for someone. But on the other hand, it reduces the likelihood they have to go back there to search for someone because access is restricted.

I'm not saying I'm pushing for a gate--I want to know if anybody's done it recently and what the results of it are.

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YJB 2k12's picture
Kenzo's picture

YJB 2k12 wrote:
I think the majority of the 3' alleys are gated with a lock

Ours happens to not be from one end. The other end of the alley was gated years ago. I'm going to canvas the neighbors after I find out what the deal-yo is with the corner vacant property.

Some blocks were simply gated by 1 or a small group of neighbors and everyone was given a key, other blocks have held petitions.

I'm gonna do the petition route and if more than 5 neighbors object then the deal is off.

I found someone who can get a nice gate, concrete anchors and do the lock and he's here in the neighborhood, donations for the gate are $0-$5 per property, but no more than $5. All property owners on either side will receive 2 keys to the gate and they are responsible for the keys in perpetuity. Renters will need to pass the request on to their property owner.

To keep it low maintenance and high safety it will just be an iron bar gate with a low surface area that graffitti artists are likely to ignore and allows people to see inside the alley, painted black.

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bonzombiekitty's picture

I wondered something similar in the past. I used to live in a crappy basement apartment near Rittenhouse Square. Our apartment had a back patio area with a fence and a door that opened up to an alleyway (3' or 4'), there were were maybe 5 buildings in total on my side of the alley that had a similar set up, on the other side of the alley was a parking garage, which had an emergency exit open into the alley. I'd use the alley all the time because I had a bike that I didn't like to leave upstairs and due to the tight, winding stairway, would be a PITA to get it into my apartment.

Someone ended up putting a combo lock on the chain link gate, and I wondered what the legality of that was since 5 properties had access to alley and one property had an emergency exit to the alley (that in particular concerned me, if there was a fire people might get stuck in the alleyway), I would assume that all properties that have access to the alley need to be able to open that gate (at least from the inside). Someone kept breaking the lock off.

Now when I walk by, that chain link gate has been replaced by a metal door.

Ftownzzz's picture

we had put a gate up on the alleyway beside our house which is technically a city alleyway. it runs along the side of our house and the backyard of about 5 others. We didn't use a key but we had a latch that only opened from the inside. This way the only way it opened was if people went out their backyards and lifted the latch. it was a good deterrent for some time and did serve the purpose of keeping strangers out of there and people from urinating in there who were hanging out on our block at night (o yes- that was the main problem). It was up for maybe a year and a half, never heard a peep from the city. We finally removed it, b/c the kids that lived in on the street continued to karate kick it until it opened (resulting it breaking the latch and wood) instead of walking through their garbage and dog fece filled backyards to unlatch it. 300 bucks wasted. I won't do that again...

jbette01's picture

YJB 2k12 wrote:
I think the majority of the 3' alleys are gated with a lock

I have to disagree, I think its very uneven. Some with a lock, some with nothing, some only with a gate and no lock.

austen's picture

Ftownzzz wrote:
we had put a gate up on the alleyway beside our house which is technically a city alleyway. it runs along the side of our house and the backyard of about 5 others. We didn't use a key but we had a latch that only opened from the inside. This way the only way it opened was if people went out their backyards and lifted the latch.

This is what I have for the easement next to my house. My corner neighbors (house fronts on York) tried to put an outside lock on it. I told them no way. The easement serves the houses on my street, in order to have a second access to the street. Their house has two exits already - one on York and one on my street. They do not have claim to the easement, thus cannot put a lock on it.

Kenzo's picture

We can't do the inside latch b/c some property owners wall themselves off from the alley completely so it has to be a 2-way bolt. It's not going to be impenetrable, just enough frustration that someone thinking of going back there that shouldn't be there to move along.

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Ftownzzz's picture

gotcha Kenzo. let us know what you decide on and who puts it up. we've got some newer neighbors now who are tossing the idea of trying to put a gate up again and chipping in on the cost.

Pure_Fishtown's picture

It appears the city recognizes shared-gated alleys but I just can’t find any regulations on erecting a gate.

These are from the Streets Department:

Alleys, driveways and/or retaining walls are private property. They belong to you, the property owner. The City does not own or maintain them. It is your responsibility to maintain them in a safe and sanitary condition.

The owners of all abutting properties, generally, have the right to use the entire length of an alley way or driveway (This is written in your deed.)

All costs for repairs or reconstruction to an alleyway or driveway are shared by those property owners having deed rights and otherwise for the use of said alleyways, driveways, and retaining walls. Even if only parts of an alley, driveway or retaining wall need repair, all responsible property owners must share the cost of the repair.
Which can be found here: http://www.phila.gov/streets/AlleyDrivewayRetWall.html

Mission Statement:
"Every Light, Every Night"

For all defective street light requests please contact the Streets Department's Customer Affairs Unit at 215-686-5560 between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. For requests made after 5:00 PM please
call 3-1-1.

Our Street Lighting unit also replaces bulbs in alley lights. If you would like to submit an alley light request, please contact our Customer Service at 215-686-5560, or for requests after 5:00 pm, call 3-1-1. Citizens are asked to please be sure to have gates unlocked and a clear path to the light fixture.

You may also submit your street light and alley request(s) online.

The 100,000 streets lights are owned by the city and repaired by a combination of contractors, electrical utility and city workers. The contractor responds to all service complaints, inspects the system for lights not working and replaces all defective lamps and photocontrols. The electric utility (PECO) provides power to all street lights and repairs all aerial and underground utility lines. City workers repair all knockdown street light poles, defective luminares and replace obsolete equipment with modern fixtures.
Which can be found here: http://www.phila.gov/streets/StreetLighting_Mission.html

FREE Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

kingtaco's picture

My house has a breezeway next to it that runs from Firth to Freedly which is gated and locked. The previous owners said that people were getting up to some nonsense in the alley, so he and the neighbors whose backyards it runs past decided to gate it off. It's a key at the front and a combination lock at the back. The only time I've opened it is to clean the years of garbage out of it that was allowed to build up before I moved in. I've heard my neighbor across the street kicking people out of his alley at 3:00AM so I can understand wanting to gate it off. Frankly, I'd like nothing more than to fill the whole thing in with cement, but that's another story.

Kenzo's picture

Thanks for the help everybody

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