Sunnyslope residents are looking forward to the installations of gates in a portion of the neighborhood’s alleys but they could be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With most business closed or on work-from-home orders, the process has become a bit more difficult.

Residents of Sunnyslope have been working with the city for over a year to be approved for the program in March.

The gated alley program (GAP) pilot requires a lengthy process of signature collecting and the City Council’s approval and some of those processes might be hindered.

“We’re waiting for everything to open,” said Jeff Tisot, president of East Sunnyslope Neighborhood Association and Block Watch. “We just can’t do things right now, we have to wait.”

Residents from the Royal Palm neighborhood were the first in Phoenix to be part of the one-year pilot program.

“The process was a huge challenge,” said Hillary Rusk, a member of the Royal Palm community. “The city was learning as they went, we were learning as we went, also.”

In 2017, Phoenix City Council approved the program and then in late 2018 the gates were installed.

Despite the long meetings, phone calls and signatures, residents from Royal Palm attribute a decrease in crime to the gates.

Phoenix Police show reports of a few vehicle theft reports in the last year in the Royal Palm area, but no home burglaries, illegal dumping or other crimes.

Tisot said his neighborhood experienced various accounts of home burglaries last year so gating the alleyways is crucial to cutting crime and obtaining privacy.

Some routines, such as trash collection in alleyways, will be moved to streets in front of houses. While this could cause some inconvenience to residents, Tisot said it will help trash collectors by being in a larger space and keep damage to alleys minimal.

A $400,000 grant was approved for the expansion of the pilot, but Tisot anticipates some cost might come from out of pocket.

The design of the gates is left to the neighborhoods and an estimated cost of each gate ranges anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000.

Other Phoenix neighborhoods and cities in the Valley are looking to implement similar alleyway gating strategies.

“We have to be successful at it before it opens up to the city,” Tisot said.

The GAP pilot is still in the beginning works. Before other communities are approved, data will need to show the gates’ success in deterring criminal activity and providing better convenience to residents.