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Vehicle Enforcement Unit

Reducing blight, promoting compliance, and supporting harm reduction

OakDOT’s Vehicle Enforcement Unit (VEU) is organized, staffed and equipped to handle three basic service areas:

  • Abandoned Auto

  • Scofflaw

  • Vehicle Encampment

As part of the City’s Fiscal Year 2021-2023 Budget and in fulfillment of recommendations in the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force, City Council directed staff to transfer staff positions and resources from Oakland Police Department (OPD) to OakDOT in an effort to have civilian matter experts respond to community requests for service that were previously fulfilled through Police staff.

UPDATE (December 2023): OakDOT's Abandoned Auto Unit currently removes between 10-25 vehicles a day, and is working to build this capacity. Requests for abandoned autos have doubled over the past year, and staff now estimate that there are as many as 3,000 vehicles in Oakland's streets and public spaces that are legally towable, many on the first visit. OakDOT is currently prioritizing the removal of vehicles that are stolen, hazardous, burned out, and stripped or otherwise significantly blighted. Vehicles that do not fall into one of those categories will be tagged and towed, but this may take months. Staff is working to bring an informational report to City Council in early 2024 with analysis and recommendations for addressing this growing backlog of abandoned autos. Thank you for using the Oak311 online and app service request system and for providing as much information about the vehicle as possible.

Abandoned Auto Detail

Each year, the City receives as many as 20,000 service requests related to abandoned vehicles and, in response, tows approximately 2,500 vehicles. Many Oakland neighborhoods considered abandoned vehicles the second most pressing issue after violent crime. To report an abandoned vehicle, please use the City's Oak 311 service request system.

The Oakland City Council has declared that “the accumulation and storage of abandoned, wrecked, dismantled, or inoperative vehicles or parts thereof on private or public property is found to create a condition tending to reduce the value of private property, to promote blight and deterioration, to invite plundering, to create fire hazards, to constitute an attractive nuisance creating a hazard to the health and safety of minors, to create a harborage for rodents and insects and to be injurious to the health, safety and general welfare. Therefore the presence of an abandoned, wrecked, dismantled or inoperative vehicle or part thereof…is declared to constitute a public nuisance which may be abated as such in accordance with the provisions” of Oakland Municipal Code (OMC) 10.64 and under the authority of California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22660

Effective February 13, 2023, the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) is responsible for enforcing OMC 10.64. This responsibility is limited to the public right of way (PROW) and City-owned property. The Oakland Police Department (OPD) continues to be responsible for abating abandoned vehicles from private property.

Scofflaw Detail

Smart boots make it easier to pay off citations and get going again
Smart boots make it easier to pay off citations and get going again

Since 2009, the City has used a “smart boot” solution for immobilizing vehicles. Vehicles that have five or more unpaid citations or more than $500.00 in outstanding citation fines and fees are deemed “scofflaw” and are subject to booting.

Immobilization is an effective way of holding registered owners accountable, and far less expensive and resource intensive than towing and impounding. If your vehicle has been booted, click here to learn how to pay off your fines and fees, get the boot off quickly and get back on the road.

Vehicle Encampment Detail

Image of a vehicle encampment, with several vehicles beside a warehouse
Image of a vehicle encampment, with several vehicles beside a warehouse

According to the 2022 Alameda County Point-in-Time Survey, there are nearly 2,000 vehicles being used as shelters in Oakland. Vehicles used as shelters, whether automobiles and RVs, are subject to the same parking regulations as other vehicles. When vehicles being used as shelters are not moved regularly, they become vehicle encampments. The growing number of vehicle encampments, which are often concentrated in East and West Oakland, pose major challenges.

The Vehicle Encampment Detail assists the City’s Encampment Management Team (EMT), participating in scheduled encampment closure and deep cleaning operations as well as conducting vehicle encampment assessments in support of a harm reduction strategy that both acknowledges the ongoing use of vehicles as shelters while seeking to minimize the negative impacts on the shared use of the public right of way.

For general information about the City's EMT policies and activities, please click here.


About

The Vehicle Enforcement Unit is one of five operating units organized within OakDOT’s Parking & Mobility Division. Other units include Mobility Management, Parking & Mobility Assistance Center (PMAC), Parking Enforcement and Parking Meter Collections. Effective February 13, 2023, OakDOT will assume managing City services around various vehicle enforcement programs that Police formerly oversaw, including Abandoned Auto and Scofflaw. This is expected to improve community relationships by reducing the visible footprint of OPD, while preserving police services for more critical issues.

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