Street safety raises concerns with Oakland residents



By Priscila Martinez, CONTRIBUTOR
Residents of East Oakland all seem to share a common frustration when it comes to their neighborhood. They feel that they aren’t being heard by city officials.
Joshua Ochoa and other residents are growing in frustration as the city seems to be ignoring this serious problem, and some residents have even decided to take matters into their own hands. East Oakland natives and newcomers alike are concerned for the safety of the streets, and it seems as though those who need help the most get the short end of the stick – minorities and low income neighborhoods.
It isn’t just potholes that East Oakland residents face when it comes to their roads and streets. Street safety is a huge issue in these neighborhoods and not enough is being done by the city.
In April of this year, a mother and her six year old son were killed in a hit and run accident while crossing an unprotected crosswalk in East Oakland’s Fruitvale Neighborhood. Alma Vazquez and her son Angel Garcia passed away on the scene. Within the same week, a violent sideshow occurred, similarly, in Oakland’s Fruitvale Neighborhood. During the event that occured on International Blvd, there were guns, vandalism and even an intentional fire was started.
“The fact that these incidents are occurring is no surprise,” Ochoa, a lifelong resident of Oakland’s Fruitvale district, said in an interview. “Sideshows are a part of our culture but I think there is an obvious line for when it becomes inappropriate. But, the city doesn’t seem to care about us too much and in return I think citizens don’t care either. It’s hard to take pride in a neighborhood that seems to be Oakland’s last priority.”
Earlier this year, the city released their “paving plan”, a three-year plan which promises to spend $100 million on paving construction, which would be three times the average annual spending. The Fruitvale District is one of nine neighborhoods included in this project and will receive comparably more funding than other neighborhoods due to its poor conditions and underserved population. However, for some residents, this is not soon enough.
Self proclaimed “The Pothole Vigilantes” are two residents eager for that change. Quickly gaining in popularity are the duo we don’t know much about, but we know what they do. The Pothole Vigilantes choose to remain anonymous for the time being as the legality of what they do is in question, but they broadcast everything they do minus their faces on their Instagram page. The Pothole Vigilantes go out into the streets of Oakland to fill potholes, usually ones that are referred to them by their followers.
They do this with their own resources, many of which are provided by donations by residents of the city. They have this idea to eventually create an app where users can submit photos of potholes in their neighborhood so someone can fill it for them.
“It’s pretty amazing that there are people out there willing to donate their time to fix this problem the city has,” Ochoa said about the Vigilantes. “This isn’t the citizens responsibility, but hopefully they will inspire others to take action and will inspire the city to do well with the historical budget they were given.”