Deluge of cars blights streets 

More than 23,000 vehicles were abandoned on the streets of San Mateo County from June 2008 to June 2009, creating blight that local agencies worked to remove with the support of state funding.

Within one three-month period, San Mateo, the county’s second-largest city, had the most abandoned vehicles with 1,269. The city with the largest population, Daly City, had considerably fewer abandoned vehicles: 242. South San Francisco, which has the third-highest city population in the county, had the second-highest number of vehicles towed from April to June 2009 — 961, according to a report from the City/County Association of Governments.

South City Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto said that by removing vehicles throughout the county, streets become safer for all residents.

“Most likely these vehicles are blighted, but if they are stolen, it helps law enforcements’ recovery,” she said. “We realize it’s a problem and we are all working hard to clean it up.”

The Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Program, funded by the state, was established in the 1960s to remove wrecked, abandoned, inoperable or public nuisance vehicles, according to the California Highway Patrol — the state agency that runs the program.

The abatement program is funded through a $1 fee that is added to the registration costs for all vehicles registered within the county. For the fiscal year 2008-09, San Mateo County received $678,415. Statewide, the program released reimbursements totaling $18.3 million.

After deducting administrative costs, revenues are disbursed to municipalities — half based on population, half based on how many vehicles are removed. The amount per car is still not much: San Mateo received about $26 per car taken off the street from the state funding source, according to the most recent quarterly report.

Vehicles are abandoned on city streets, along highways, in public parks and in parking lots, according to law enforcement officials.

Of those vehicles found in San Mateo County from April to June through the Vehicle Abatement Program, the owners were located and they removed the car in 90 percent of the cases.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has a hot line that residents can call if they believe a car in their neighborhood has been abandoned at 650-599-7489. In most cases the vehicle will not be able to be removed until at least 72 hours have passed, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The California Vehicle Code states a vehicle is abandoned if it moves less than one-tenth of mile in a 72-hour period.
Matsumoto stressed the importance of residents helping local authorities locate these vehicles for removal.

“We can’t see them all, that’s why we need people to call,” she said. “Tips can be left
anonymously.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Vehicle abatement

Abandoned cars abated within the fourth quarter of FY 2008-09 by participating city*:     

Cities Population Total abated
Belmont   25,648 156
Brisbane   3,744 80
Burlingame      28,322 249
Daly City 104,820   242
East Palo Alto    32,083 322
Foster City  29,900   509
Half Moon Bay  12,739   35
Menlo Park  30,750   58
Millbrae  20,735   93
Pacifica  38,739   379
Portola Valley  4,553   0
Redwood City  76,087   620
San Bruno  41,515   481
San Carlos  28,265  

120

San Mateo  94,315   1,269
San Mateo County 64,756   288
S.San Francisco  61,824   961
Woodside 5,507   5
Total   704,302   5,867

   
*Not all cities participate in the state’s Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Program

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