OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Two men who call themselves “pothole vigilantes” are taking matters into their own hands by filling potholes around Oakland.
The two men, who wish to remain anonymous, said they have been working at night, in the dark, for the past two weeks. They learned how to fill potholes by watching a few videos on Google and YouTube.
“It's quite easy... All you gotta do is just brush the debris out, fill the pothole up and just tamper it down,” they said.
The covert operations have happened mostly around Lake Merritt. The men said they were fed up with the city’s failure to fix the problems.
“We try to do it after 9 p.m. after the traffic dies down and then we put our hazard lights on to make sure it's safe,” they said.
The duo created an Instagram account which shows their work. They’ll filled six potholes at three different locations near I-580 and Oakland Avenue, Moss Avenue and Harrison Street, and Van Buren Avenue and Perkins Street. They are taking donations through Venmo and GoFundMe to buy materials.
“It's actually the same material that Oakland uses,” they said. “Oakland is the biggest buyer of the quarry we go to, but for some reason we don't see it on the streets.”
There has been a strong response from the public, with many people donating money or suggesting locations that need potholes fixed. Cody Kreitzer lives in Oakland and said his friend has had car tires blow out in the past due to the potholes.
“We’re actually trying to come up with some money to help out,” Kreitzer said.
Sean Maher, spokesman for Oakland’s Public Works and Transportation Department, released the following statement to KTVU:
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 the good news is that more resources are on the way: the City Council will vote Tuesday, May 7 on a new paving plan that would invest $100 million in Oakland streets over the next three years, roughly tripling our spending on roads. Most of this paving -- $75 million – would go to paving smaller, local streets that have gone neglected in many cases for decades. All of the funding for this work comes from Measure KK, which voters passed in 2016.
Maher provided a link that includes details on the paving plan.
“They have a three year plan, but it takes 5 to 10 minutes to fill them so we’re just going to keep filling [the potholes] until people aren’t annoyed by them,” the pothole vigilantes said.
The duo is buying materials in bulk and plans to fill more potholes this week. They said it costs anywhere from $50 to $100 to fill a pothole, depending on its size. Their goal on GoFundMe is $50,000 because they eventually want to develop a pothole reporting app for the public.