Council member Kelly Allen Gray raises the city's attention to the state of alleys in residential areas.
The proposed 2016 budget for mowing alleys about $410K, and the number of alleys to be maintained is 832, but it was twice that last year...
I suppose there are three ways to deal with alleys. Some homeowners in affluent neighborhoods might like to have the alley used as a common driveway to rear-facing garages, although this might necessitate expensive modifications to their existing properties. There are some blocks in heavily blighted areas with one or no houses remaining on a block where new construction projects could use this sort of design as a sales amenity. Another way to deal with alleys would be to deed them to owners, but as the article points out there is a cost to replatting, which could be apportioned over time via the water bill, but for now this option has been shelved by the city. Of course the option of doing nothing is the cheapest and easiest, and this is the course the city has chosen up to this point. Poorly maintained alleys can be health and safety hazards, harboring feral animals, trash and debris, and criminal activity.
Gray is right, the city needs to get a grip on this problem. The continuing costs associated with maintaining unproductive property is wasteful, any of the two uses other than inertia would add to the property value and reduce negative aspects of the neighborhood. The costs needed upfront to address the alley problem would be recouped over time in reduced maintenance costs.