Some East Sacramento neighbors say a local market owner exaggerated claims about homeless people in order to take control of an alley abutting their homes and his business.
Compton’s Market owner Sunil Hans asked the city to relinquish its rights to the public alley, so he could install gates, claiming homeless people loitered there, while the closest neighbors said they witnessed few incidents related to transients.
Despite concerns that the gates would hinder emergency workers’ access to the alley, the City Council unanimously approved Hans’ request within six minutes of a presentation by public works engineer Thomas Adams and statement from Hans. The decision allows Hans to close an alleyway that has been a public thoroughfare since 1947.
“The reason is … to decrease some issues like illegal dumping and the theft and the transient activity,” Hans told the council Wednesday night, adding that it was an “ongoing issue.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Yet, the Sacramento Police Department has logged just one call for service to the market since January that was related to transients, when a person was found sleeping in the bathroom, according to department spokesman Sgt. Bryce Heinlein.
Ross Carollo, who owns a house adjacent to half of the alley, believes Hans fabricated the homeless problem to seize control of the alley for business purposes. Hans is expanding the store with a new deli and cafe. Construction materials and pickup trucks were piled in the alley Tuesday afternoon.
“I have not seen an increase in homeless people,” Carollo said. “I just want my peaceful life to remain peaceful.”
Another neighbor, David Garcia, alleged that Hans presented the proposal to him as only a request to install gates, not to take control of the alley from the city.
Hans did not return a call seeking comment. A grocery store at the location opened in 1957 before taking on the Compton’s name in 1973. Hans took ownership eight years ago.
Carollo said gates would hinder access for police and firefighters. Carollo enlisted the help of Sacramento area attorney Brigit Barnes to secure a private easement agreement.
The agreement means Carollo will receive a key from Hans when the gates are installed, allowing the family to continue to use the side of the alley adjacent to their home, according to Barnes.