Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Do So Many Bowers Addition Lot Owners Not Use Their Alley Access Much If At All? (54)

I have never lived in a house on an alley, so I have no personal experience with the pros and cons of that situation. Even so, it has seemed to me a plus to have alley access.

I am therefore puzzled by Bowers Addition lot owners who constrict, eliminate, or simply do not use their alley access.

This non or limited use is seen in several forms. Here are three.

One, the lot has a garage or parking space, but these are seldom if ever used. Weeds and debris mark the neglect.

Two, the lot is literally sealed off from the alley with a fence or other barrier (and the garage eliminated to boot in some cases).

Three, a second dwelling is installed at the rear of the lot, greatly reducing or even eliminating the front house’s alley access.

I am not saying that all Bowers Addition lot owners do not use their car parking and other alley access.

Without having done a systematic count, my guess is that at least one of these three constrictions is seen in perhaps three-quarters of the some 80 remaining residence lots on Bowers Addition alleys.  (In the original design, there were 100 lots on alleys, it appears.)

So, alley-access constriction or elimination is a puzzle to me. What are features of alley access and alley car parking that make it so unattractive to so many lot owners?

Let me add as an historical aside that when first marketed in 1913, the alleys were promoted as keeping the streets free of clutter such as autos, garbage, and deliveries (milk and ice men thrived). In this sense, Bowers’ vision for his Addition seems to have failed or at least faded.

I might also add that City of Davis “new urbanist” ideas for new development encourage if not mandate alleys and garages on them. Based on the Bowers Addition failure I say “lots of luck with that.”