Why are there so many abandoned cars in Oakland?

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Residents of Oakland told KRON4 they are fed up and frustrated with the countless cars left abandoned on the streets in their neighborhood.

Why are so many cars parked in one place, motionless, for months at a time?

“We have an abandoned car on every block in Oakland apartments. Whose cars are these? Over 50% is stolen. It’s crazy,” a resident told KRON4.

The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, used a unique strategy to dispose of a stolen Mercedes SUV that was left outside his home for seven months.

The Mercedes had a broken widow and received tickets every two weeks.

He wrapped the Mercedes with brown paper and handwritten messages to city leaders. “The inept town of Oakland won’t tow me!” a message wrote.

A stolen Mercedes was abandoned on a residential street for seven months before being towed away.
A stolen Mercedes was abandoned on a residential street for seven months before being towed away.

The unconventional strategy worked and a tow truck finally transported the Mercedes this week.

“To get a car towed, you have to have an Oakland Police Department officer. The OPD doesn’t have enough officers to do this stuff, so it never gets done,” he said.

The problem is particularly pronounced on streets alongside highways. Wood Street has been described as a “sinkhole” with hundreds of vehicles under I-880.

Wood Street in Oakland (Google Maps Street View)

Oakland is currently awaiting reports of abandoned vehicles, city council member Dan Kalb told KRON4.

Kalb said the city is making changes to address the issue. Beginning July 1, the city will transfer the Abandoned Vehicle Mitigation duties of the Oakland Police Department’s Vehicle Control Unit to the City Department of Transportation (OakDOT).

“We are understaffed at the OPD. If they have to choose between going to an armed robbery or an abandoned vehicle, what are they going to do? Through OakDOT, we hope they can manage this better and get to a vehicle within three weeks instead of three months,” Kalb said.

Kalb acknowledged that the number of cars parked for long periods in Oakland is increasing, in part because more homeless people have to live in their cars.

“There are vehicles that are really abandoned. And then there are other vehicles that look abandoned, but aren’t, because a homeless person lives in that vehicle. We don’t remove vehicles if someone lives there and they’re parked in normal, legal parking spots,” Kalb said.

Much like the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, Oaklanders struggle with housing, and some resort to living in the one space they have to call home.

Oakland policy states that a homeless person can live in their parked car for an indefinite period.

“We don’t push them until we have somewhere to go,” Kalb said.

Kalb encourages residents concerned about cars to report abandoned vehicles by calling 311 or filing a report online through the city’s website.

Comments are closed.