Nearly 15,000 potholes fixed around the Bay Area this year

Potholes are blooming as fast as spring flowers.

Though the weather is dry, the damage is already done from relentless storm water seepage that has become potholes.

Since New Year's Day, Caltrans crews have already repaired 14,700 potholes, and the number is growing.

"With the amount of freeways that need repair and our constant efforts trying to keep them up, sometimes our maintenance crews can be strung a little bit short" said Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney.

About $4.1 billion of California's gas tax revenue is for road maintenance and repairs. Now, two-thirds of that goes to the state. The other third is split 540 ways, between 482 cities and 58 counties. That's why it takes so long to get potholes repaired.

Though the state owns only 15% of the roadways, mostly major ones, they carry 50% of all traffic. But, towns and counties own 80% of California's paved roads, where the biggest problems are.

On Tuesday, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and some friends voluntarily fixed a festering pothole in his neighborhood. But in most places, that is considered unlawful.

"Well the truth is, in San Francisco and most of the state of California, it's not legal to fill your own potholes unless you have the permission of the jurisdiction that the street is in," said Rachel Gordon, director of communications and public affairs at the San Francisco Public Works.

Violations could include blocking a public road, creating a traffic hazard, improperly protecting a work site and doing work that does not meet specific codes.

In 2019, Oakland's so-called "Pothole Vigilantes" fixed a number of long-neglected potholes under cover of night so as not to get caught. Last year, a similar group did it openly in Vallejo and got a city legal notice ordering them to stop.

"We want to better our city, we want to implement change," said one self-appointed pothole vigilante.