OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – The City of Oakland recently switched the responsibilities of removing abandoned cars from the police department to the city’s department of transportation.

Annually, the city averages about 20,000 service requests related to abandoned vehicles, and, up until February, about 2,500 vehicles were towed off the streets each year. But Mayor Sheng Thao expects that number to grow exponentially now that those duties rest with the city’s department of transportation’s new vehicle enforcement unit.

”It went from 150 cars per month to headed towards over 300 cars per month. And, so, we are ramping up,” Mayor Sheng Thao said. 

In 2021, the city council authorized this year’s transfer of auto abatement to the department of transportation as part of the city’s reimagining public safety effort. Mayor Thao and city officials highlighted the improved services on Edes Avenue in Southeast Oakland Tuesday while the new 13-person unarmed crew, not cops, cleared cars.

“So they can be freed up to do what they do and into the department of transportation so that transportation experts are managing our public right of ways,” Deputy city admin Joe DeVries said. 

Tuesday’s clean-up is part of a weeklong series of events showcasing services making Oakland cleaner and safer leading up to earth day.

“From our pothole blitz yesterday, to abandoned auto recovery cleaning today, to illegal dumping, to beautifying our parks in our community spaces this week, it is all hands on deck,” councilmember Treva Reid said. 

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The new unit also doubles the number of scofflaw vans, responsible for “booting” cars that have five or more outstanding citations.

”We want to ensure that we have an equity framework and ensure that all families in the City of Oakland have a good quality of life,” Thao said.