CALEXICO — Calexico City Council Member Morris Reisen said he expects locks to be up on the gates on a downtown alley no later than Dec. 16, although the city could have had them up the morning after it approved a resolution closing public access to the alleys behind First Street from Heffernan to Paulin avenues.
During a special meeting
Dec. 9, the council continued its multi-pronged efforts to secure and restore
downtown Calexico with a pair of decisions connected to the on-going Downtown Action
Plan meant to revamp the troubled shopping district.
Besides the alley
decision, the council voted to restrict traffic flow in the 300 block of First
Street from two ways to one-way, westbound traffic. That move is in
anticipation of moving where the taxicabs will park. It also helps clear the
way to eventually close First Street near Rockwood Avenue for the development
of a pedestrian-only promenade area, another element of the downtown plan.
Meanwhile, several weeks
ago, city waste contractor Republic/Allied Waste Services footed the $10,000
bill for a pair of eight-foot wrought iron gates. They are installed at the
alley entrances between First and Second streets from Rockwood to Heffernan
avenues to help stop the homeless and others from literally trashing the
Those living on the
streets in downtown have been rifling through the trash bins, scattering refuse.
Many were openly using the alleys as toilets, and others were setting
commercial trash-bin fires.
The gates, with another Republic/Allied-funded
pair to be installed at the same alley but from Rockwood to Paulin Avenue, could
not be secured with locks until the city either passed an ordinance or a
“Pretty much that would
help us with the stench, the urination, the defecation; you have sometimes the
improper use of drugs in those alleys,” City Council Member David Romero said
Dec. 9. “It will probably make it easier on our police, so they could focus on
raiteros (illegal taxicab services) and more issues in the downtown.”
The council thanked
Reisen, a longtime downtown merchant who retired several years ago, for being
the driver on the alley issue and other downtown-related efforts.
“It’s been a long time
coming,” Reisen said prior to a vote.
Locks Coming Soon
The Dec. 9 action took
the form of a resolution closing the alleys and was passed with a 4-0 vote by
the council. Council Member Lewis Pacheco was absent.
The resolution could have
gone into effect as quickly as the morning of Dec. 10, City Attorney Carlos
Campos confirmed to the council.
But when contacted about
whether the locks were installed that evening, Reisen said the city was
ordering additional locks and having them all outfitted with the same
combination. He added it would take a few days to get done, preferably no later
than Dec. 16.
The resolution is a
mouthful, but necessary, apparently, to allow the city to close off public
access to those specific areas for reasons that had to be specifically stated.
The second decision of
the meeting, to restrict traffic flow on First Street to one way in the 300
block, was presented by Calexico Police Chief Gonzalo Gerardo. It also was approved
The chief explained Dec.
10 the move will ultimately make way to close First Street near Rockwood for
the Rockwood Promenade project being developed by the city through a grant from
the Southern California Association of Governments.
The promenade, according
to city officials, is intended to create a new shopping experience for the
downtown. It will allowing small commercial kiosks, and possibly food trucks
and other dining experiences, meant to help bring new life to the area.
To accomplish that, city
officials have said they needed to address its issues with local taxi services,
legal and illegal. The council and police focused on illegal taxi services with
a new ordinance a few months ago levying heftier fines on illegal cab operators
and those using the cab services. It also laid the groundwork for moving the
legal taxicab stands to a different part of the downtown.
The Dec. 9 decision,
Gerardo said, is an extension of that. He said restricting traffic to one way
in the 300 block of First Street allows the department to confine all parked
taxicabs to the south curb of First Street between Heffernan to Heber avenues
while not impeding traffic. He also said the move to westbound-only traffic in
the area creates new opportunities for existing First-Street businesses to have
deliveries made from the street.
Gerardo said the
department is waiting until after the downtown Christmas parade on Dec. 14 to
make the changes. Those will include restriping the streets, painting curbs and
installing new signs, all of which the city is ready to do, he said. The work
should be finished by early January, the chief added.