'Pothole Vigilantes' come out at night to fix Oakland streets

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Research from the transportation nonprofit TRIP finds that rough roads contribute to more than $1,000 for the average driver in the Oakland-San Francisco area every year.

An anonymous group is taking on that issue by fixing potholes on their own in Oakland.

Ask the so-called Pothole Vigilantes duo about what they're doing late at night out on Oakland streets, and they'll say: community service.

"We love the city, we hope they fill (the potholes) faster. And if they are not going to do it, we will do it ourselves," says one of the men.

"We have lived in a few other places, and none of them have been as bad in terms of road repair as Oakland," says the other.

For the past three weeks, these two men, who don't want to be identified, have being taking up the task of filling in potholes. So far they have filled six, mostly near Lake Merritt.



"Literally just buy the mix in bag. You pour it into the pothole, tapper it down, drive over it right away, and it's done. You don't even have to mix it," says the same man.

His partner says they buy their mix from the same quarry that the city buys from, so, "I would assume that this is a safe bet that this is up to (the city's) code if they are buying it."

In an email to ABC7 News, Sean Maher, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, says, "This kind of activity tells us what we often hear from our community: they are frustrated and fed up with the pavement condition in their neighborhood. We can't condone, and do not recommend, that residents do this work themselves, not least because it raises safety issues while people are working in the streets."

But many residents seem to be siding with the Pothole Vigilantes.

"(We) knocked on few doors to see if other neighbors thought it was good idea. Eight out the 10 people that we asked donate money, so we were like, 'OK, wow! Eight out of 10! We are on to something," says one of the men.



Cody Krietzer, who has lived in Oakland for the past two years, is one of the people who donated money.

"It's been so long since the streets have been so bad. Nobody is willing to do it. I think it might be illegal, for now, but also so many people (have had their tires) damaged... my roommate's tire blew out twice," explains Krietzer.

The group has posted fliers along the streets where they have filled potholes and on Instagram. They are hoping people will donate more so they do more pothole repairs. Even if they don't have the city's approval.

"We are not supposed to be doing it, but also, I would say it's a good deed, right. We are not doing anything to hurt anyone, we are doing it to help out the community," says one of the men.

Oakland residents can call 311 to report potholes.

On Tuesday, Oakland city council is set to vote a new paving plan. If approved, it will pump $100 million into fixing Oakland streets over the next three years. The plan is controversial, however, with heavy debate over which streets and neighborhoods will get repaired first.

The Pothole Vigilantes' next pothole repair project will be Wednesday night.
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