Dear PoPville – Advice on Keeping my Alley clean?

no pissing

Dear PoPville,

I’ve a got a problem and I would appreciate PoPville’s advice. I live in a row house near the corner of a major street in Columbia Heights. The problem is that me and my neighbor’s alley fence seem to be a preferred spot for inebriated individuals and the homeless to relive themselves – No. 1 and 2. In addition to using our fence as a toilet, the alley is also a preferred place to down some brews and bum wine based on the trash I pick up there almost weekly.

It’s vile – I can’t even spend time in my backyard the smell is so bad.

Is there anything I can do to make the area less attractive to guys looking for relief?

44 Comment

  • How about a fake security camera?

  • Lighting would help. You can attach a light to your house or the city will install a street light on a utility pole.

  • gotryit

    How about a real security camera?

  • What about a motion detector light?

    • ah

      I’d go with this over a city-installed light, which will inevitably shine in your window. You can get a motion detector light for $30-50 at Home Depot.

      Of course, they may just thank you for the light so they can better select their location to drop a load.

  • A steaming hot bucket of oil poured over their head should work.

  • Motion activated sprinklers!

  • I had the same problem in my former home up on the Hill. While lighting and security cameras can help with that and variety of other property security issues, nothing like a bucket full of water being tossed down on them from my back upper level balcony to get there attention. (wished I had taped it one of the times) My former partner also turned the garden hose of them a few times as well.

    • I had the same problem in my former home too and I was scared to do something like this for fear of retribution.

  • Go on itunes and download a police siren sound. Place some speakers just behind your fence, turn the volume on full blast, and let em have it. That would scare the shit out of me and hopefully these vagrants shit/piss all over themselves.

    • This is a great idea. Of course, if it’s the same person they’ll probably figure out it’s fake after a while, but if you make it inconvenient enough maybe they’d move on to another place.

  • Hmm, super strong motion-detector lights? If you wanted to get creative, if you could couple that with motion activated police-siren sounds – or, better, yet, Ride of the Valkyries, Apocalypse Now-style. That might have an effect…?

  • Land mines

    • Land mines is an awesome solution! You can also place a sign that a gun owning Republican occupies tha house!

  • How about a sign like the one used in the picture for today’s Rant/Revel (modified for your average alley dweller, of course)?

  • I’ve gone though this in Dupont. The security camera only made me more aware of what and how much really happens back there. It’s not really a deterrent. I installed a gate, which at least pushed things back a little to make it a less desirable location. People that do this are pretty brazen and don’t seem to care much about lights, other people etc. but it doesn’t hurt to try. If you give an approx. time frame, definitely have the police roll through the alley once in a while. They will certainly do that for you. Luckily, my situation calmed down, but I can relate to the frustration.

  • Riot gear.

  • binpetworth

    Do they make a Mosquito anti-loitering sound device with bum frequency? Something that emits an obnoxious high pitched squeal at just the frequency to harass the inebriated, but quiet enough not to disturb the neighbors? Maybe I need to patent this…

  • You can order skunk scent from Cabela’s:

  • Cabela’s sells skunk scent on their website.

  • 1) Water
    2) Police
    3) Medium/Large Dog (get one or borrow from a friend)

  • Of course the problem is who wants to stand guard in an alley all night.

    • You could dress some mannequins and stage some sort of Home Alone Christmas Party scene in the alley? Hide a radio in a box that is playing some talk radio?

  • Cameras, lights, signs, and dogs don’t work. We have all four in our alley, and the latrine is still apparently open. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, apparently.

  • If it’s a metal fence, I’d suggest hooking it up to a car battery.

    The mess issue may get worse before it gets better, if you do this, though.

  • Man I hate it when people relive themselves.

  • Had a homeless person leave me a present on the pavement right in front of my driver’s side car door. That was definitely a sh*tty move.

  • Motion sensor activated hose.

  • Do what they do in Amsterdam. Attach some angled metal strips so when people pee, it splashes back at them.

  • Contrary to the other comments here, I’d recommend you try with a beautification project. I have found that adding flowers, mulch, nice bushes, etc. has drastically reduced trash in tree boxes. You may have a similar result if you are able to show that the area is clearly well taken care of (e.g., fresh coat of paint on the fence or a new fence, if needed). That sends the signal that people in the area care about this spot and may be looking out for and reporting problems. Adding thorny bushes has the added benefit of acting as a physical deterrent. If you do try this route, I think PopVille would be interested to hear how it works for you. Best of luck!

    • +1
      I’ve seen this work too Showing a little care for a space does seem to make people more conscientious about what they do there, and I think it also makes it seem less private. Talk to your neighbor, maybe you can collaborate on the project!

      • I’ve tried this… it has limited effect. the guy who used to poop directly in front of my house on what is now a flower bed now poops 15 feet further away on what is and was a sidewalk.

  • Paintball gun? Not aimed at them, just away from them so they get some ricochet spray. That worked well for some “ladies” and their Johns, back when I was in college in another city. I don’t know how DC laws would take to that though.

  • When I used to live @ 13th and M back in the day and there was a huge problem with hookers, someone started doing a John-Cam. They filmed and threatened to post people. How about you start a columbia heights dong cam and use the provided security light to take awesome photos of the penii of everyone who uses the alley. Then post then on the fence where they just peed.

  • What this town needs is a few costumed vigilantes…

  • I’d love some advice as well. I’ve got the same problem in Truxton Circle.

    REAL security cameras don’t help.
    Calling the police barely helps.
    Shaming doesn’t help.
    Complaining politely doesn’t help.
    Calling homeless services hasn’t seemed to help.
    Talking to the offenders doesn’t help.

    The worst part is that “local culture” seems to support public defecation. I’m not just complaining about drunks and homeless people… I’ve caught 2 different longtime residents and homeowners pissing on my house in the 2 years that I’ve lived at this address. When I call them out, they don’t even understand what the problem is. They don’t apologize, they go “well I’m IN the alley!” Keep in mind, these are sometimes people who live within 300 yards of where they’re pissing/pooping, don’t seem to be drunk, and don’t seem to have medical problems.

    At least the bums I can feel sorry for. I don’t know what else to do.

  • A spray bottle and just yell, “no! no! bad!”

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