East 7th St. alley posing problems for businesses, police

Police say an alley off Seventh and Red River Street is host to a variety of criminal activities (KXAN Photo)
Police say an alley off Seventh and Red River Street is host to a variety of criminal activities (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Chances are, you walk by it when you park your car for a concert at Stubb’s or a night out on Sixth Street, but an alley off Seventh and Red River Street has local business owners calling police daily. The alley splits between two businesses: Sidewinder and Beerland. Police say it’s a hotspot for drug use, prostitution and alcohol consumption.

Just this week, Austin police say a man resisted arrest when a bicycle officer tried questioning him about possible drug use. Those who work in the area say it’s getting out of hand.

“It’s really creepy, it never ends. I’ll be here at three in the morning and it’s just like a circus,” said Brandon Sosa. “Something needs to be done and I don’t think anything is going to be done anytime soon unless it’s brought to the public’s attention.”

According to Cpl. Chris Carlisle with the Austin Police Department, the homeless population likes to gather near the alley because of the weather. “That tree provides them with shade and a water break.”

Police say the alley is hidden from the department’s HALO cameras and the homeless population in the area know that. They use the alley to conceal themselves while dealing and smoking crack cocaine.

Most of Austin’s 41 HALO (High Activity Location Observation) cameras focus on areas from Fourth to Seventh Street in downtown.  “From what I’ve been told from our police department and from HALO, they did a study recently on the best new locations to put HALO cameras. This alleyway and this block number came up as one that’s going to get a new camera,” Carlisle said.

The corporal said the street is also considered a popular area for K2 use and was a focal point during the department’s recent bust.

For now, police say they have certain officers assigned to help local businesses deal with any complaint calls and they are having conversations about what to do to improve the problems in the alley. Carlisle said, “If we were to put up some lights at the end of the alley, that could help. Also the alley is gravel, if we could somehow get the alley blacktopped where it’s smoother for bikes to ride down that would help out.”

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