Deterring Vehicle-Based Robberies

Vehicle barriers (Jersey barriers or K-rails) are allowed in the public right-of-way when recommended by a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Assessment and with an approved Obstruction Permit.

Posted: February 10th, 2023 9:28 AM

Last Updated: September 28th, 2023 11:46 AM

Bollards are durable vertical posts which can be surface mounted or permanent. Surface mounted bollards are often used to prevent motorists from parking on the sidewalk along narrow streets or to restrict vehicle access to pedestrian plazas. Permanent bollards are constructed-in-place and are frequently used to protect sensitive infrastructure from deliberate motor vehicle-based violence.

Surface mounted bollards tend to breakaway upon impact with a moving vehicle and can pose a threat to people walking on the sidewalk. Surface mounted bollards in the right-of-way are not appropriate to deter vehicles from deliberately crashing into storefronts.

Permanent bollards often require substantial excavation of the sidewalk area and subgrade construction to ensure the bollard can withstand the force of a motor vehicle without becoming a potentially hazardous projectile. Subsurface utility lines, utility access panels, street trees, subgrade transformer vaults, basements, and subgrade elevators compete for subsurface right-of-way and often preclude permanent bollard installation in the public right-of-way. For these reasons, permanent bollards are often installed on private property. The City of Oakland may permit permanent bollards in the right-of-way upon review and approval of a revocable Major Encroachment Permit and associated indemnification agreement and bonds.

Before approving an Obstruction Permit for vehicle barriers in the right-of-way, OakDOT and the City Administrator’s Office work with applicants to conduct a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) analysis that identifies recommendations for improving safety and deterring crime.

The City of Oakland Department of Transportation’s (OakDOT) mission is to assure safe, equitable, and sustainable access and mobility for residents, businesses, and visitors. OakDOT.

OakDOT is partnering with the City Administrator’s Office to recommend environmental design interventions—including vehicle barriers like k-rails and jersey barriers—to deter vehicle-based robberies that involve deliberating crashing into storefronts. OakDOT has developed a permit mechanism to allow business and/or property owners to install vehicle barriers in the right-of-way.

To provide a mechanism for business owners to utilize the City of Oakland (City) right-of-way to deter vehicle-based robberies that involve deliberately crashing into storefronts, OakDOT proposes pursuing the City’s Obstruction Permit. Typically, the Obstruction Permit is used to accommodate construction in the right-of-way, allowing applicants to block or obstruct the sidewalk, travel lane, or on-street parking spaces. While Obstruction Permits are typically temporary and for a duration of up to six months, they can be renewed/extended beyond six months, as necessary. OakDOT recommends utilizing the Obstruction Permit process to review and potentially approve concrete or other vehicle barriers in the right-of-way.

On streets with relatively wide sidewalks, a vehicle barrier may be acceptable adjacent to the curb. These Sidewalk Obstructions that preserve a 5’-6”-wide minimum pedestrian walkway carry a permit fee of approximately $540 per the Oakland Master Fee Schedule. Review and potential approval of a Sidewalk Obstruction Permit takes approximately 10-15 days.

In locations where an applicant may propose utilizing an on-street parking space, permit costs can be substantially higher to compensate for the loss of on-street parking in the neighborhood and potential on-street parking revenue. Per the Oakland Master Fee Schedule, the fee to privately occupy and obstruct an on-street metered parking space for 30 days costs approximately $1,840. Review and potential approval of a Parking Obstruction Permit takes approximately 10-15 days.

The options presented above are intended to help businesses respond quickly to security concerns.

The City of Oakland does not provide materials or design services.