A decade ago, many Baltimore alleys were havens for drug use and prostitution. Fed-up residents are shutting them off with locked gates, reports the Baltimore Sun. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to this block,” said J.D. Bowen, a construction superintendent, the gated alley behind his home. Without it, “I don’t know if we would’ve stayed in the city after we had a child.” The city has 600 miles of alleys, public rights of way used in most neighborhoods for trash pickup or parking.
The idea of gating these spaces is gaining traction and has the support of the Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration, which is trying to streamline the process. “We want to see it for the appropriate neighborhoods,” said Steve Sharkey, director of the Department of General Services. “If people in the neighborhood want it, and the city agencies and utilities are accepting of it, we do want to see it happen.” Residents must get 80 percent of their neighbors to sign off on a project. The new bill would reduce that to 75 percent.