The alley shared by Leaside and Liptonshire is rough and rutted in some places.

In other spots, the alley is paved and perfect.

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In her 66 years living in Lake Highlands and her 48 years as a resident of the L Streets, Sharon Medlock has seen many changes. Empty nesters have moved out to make way for growing families. Home values — and property taxes — have skyrocketed. Sidewalks are bustling as families walk their children to historic Lake Highlands Elementary to attend class or play on the playground. This month, Medlock and her neighbors are facing another change — city sanitation crews will no longer empty rolling bins from the alley. Instead, they’ll require residents on some blocks to place containers at the front curb.

Medlock has difficulty walking and says it won’t be easy to push a full trash container and recycle bin to the curb.

“I have neighbors who have offered to help me, but it is not their responsibility,” she says. “None of us is happy about this.”

Neighbor Dawn Gray says many homes don’t have garages on the L Streets, so homeowners must park along the roadway. She’s worried about trash trucks squeezing through tight opening between cars, and she’s concerned about the wind blowing rolling bins over and spilling out litter, a problem which could attract rodents and insects. Bins left toppled in the street could alert thieves to empty houses.

“Our homes are small, but we care about our property and take pride in the quality of life we enjoy in our sweet slice of Lake Highlands. We bought our home in 1998 and can honestly say that it has only gotten better over time. The idea of 50+ enormous, dirty garbage receptacles lining our street is inconceivable.”

Residents with odd-numbered addresses on the 9000 block Leaside Drive, even-numbered addresses from 8834 to 9026 Liptonshire and odd-numbered addresses in the 8900 block of Livenshire received notifications taped to their front doors May 15 which invited them to participate in a virtual community meeting with sanitation officials May 21. The reason for the change, officials explained, is the unacceptable condition of their back alleys and the difficulty sanitation trucks have navigating the passage.

“Following a recent review of alleyway conditions at your location, the Department of Sanitation Services has determined that the narrow pavement and right-of-way poor conditions, significant ruts along the pavement, and overgrown vegetation is prohibiting the safe and efficient operation of Sanitation vehicles and collection of recycling and garbage containers,” wrote Marcos Estrada, sanitation outreach and communication manager. “For these reasons, recycling and garbage collections will be relocated from the alleyway to the front of your home, effective Thursday, May 30, 2024, for your regular Thursday garbage and recycle collections.”

“Please be assured that we will make every effort to minimize any inconvenience to the neighborhood and we appreciate your understanding and cooperation,” Estrada continued.

Although the letter designated just a few blocks for the immediate change in policy, Sanitation Department Director Clifton Gillespie indicated earlier this year that widespread changes may be coming. Alley trash collection in Dallas is inefficient and cost ineffective, Gillespie told the Dallas Life, Arts and Culture Committee in February, and curbside collection, already used for 62% of collections in Dallas, is the “best practice” for residential solid waste collection because of the terrible state of alleys in our city. Moving forward, Dallas should increase use of automated curbside collection equipment as rear-load alley equipment reaches end-of-life. Only alleys which are “safe and efficient in which to operate” should be serviced, he said.

Here’s the problem: fair or not, alley conditions vary widely in our fair city. In some parts of town, mostly in the south and west, alleys are cracked, rutted, made of gravel or not paved at all. These alleys tend to be narrow, overgrown and difficult for trash trucks to navigate. In other areas, mostly in the north and east, alleys fare much better. Where alleys are in poor condition, larger side-loading trucks collect from the curb using one driver. Where alleys are passable, smaller rear-loading trucks are used with one driver and two helpers. Alley trucks are less expensive to purchase, but additional workers cost more.

Dallas’ alley service criteria requires a minimum right-of-way of 15 feet, with at least 10 feet of pavement. Rollcarts need three feet of clearance to each side and one-half foot to the rear from any fence, gas meter, telephone pole, utility box, tree, shrub, additional collection container or other potential obstruction.

Dallas is divided into five sanitation districts, and District 4 includes Lake Highlands and Far North Dallas. In D4, 64% of customers currently have their trash collected at the alley. If Gillespie’s recommendation for a citywide shift to curbside pickup is implemented over time, two-thirds of D4 residents will be affected.

“Sanitation makes point-of-service collection changes from alley to curb on a case-by-case basis in accordance with their Alley Service Criteria. There are no new procedures established,” said Jennifer Brown, assistant director interim of communications, outreach and marketing for the City of Dallas. “In this case, due to alleyway conditions, an immediate change was necessary for the safety of crews and operational efficiency. A community meeting was held with residents to explain the point-of-service change.”

“Over 60% of the city is serviced from the curb,” continued Brown. “Sanitation trucks navigate neighborhood streets much more safely and efficiently than through alleyways. Special assistance is available at no additional cost to physically disabled customers residing without an able-bodied adult living in the home. More information about the Helping Hands Program is available by calling 311 or submitting a service request online at”

Neighbors on the L Streets remain unconvinced.

“Our houses were not designed to store trash bins out front or on the side. My concern is where to place our trash bins in a convenient, non-stinky and structurally sound manner,” says Jordan Bernstein, L Streets resident for almost 4 years. “This will be an eyesore, an inconvenience and a traffic hazard.”

“This will be so messy,” agreed Melinda Gall, a resident of the L Streets since 2015 who said she’ll have to drag her bin from the alley each week since she has no place to store it in the front.

“I am in good health and able to drag my receptacle to the curb from the alley, but there are many elderly neighbors who can’t or will have to keep their receptacles in a visible spot, which will take away from the beauty of the neighborhood.”

The alley on Livenshire is pitted and broken in several places.