Homeless Encampment Blamed as Oakland Removes Traffic Lights

(HorizonPost.com) – The city of Oakland, California removed the traffic lights from one neighborhood intersection and replaced them with a four-way stop sign after people kept tampering with the electrical box and stealing the copper wiring.

According to residents, city workers showed up last week to remove the traffic lights at the intersection of 16th Avenue and E. 12 Street and installed of 4-way stop sign in their place.

The downgrade to a stop sign came months after people began stealing the copper wiring and tampering with the electric boxes that provided power to the lights. Residents said the traffic lights hadn’t been working properly for months. The lights either blinked red or didn’t work at all.

Tam Le, the owner of an auto body shop at the intersection said in an interview that he took it as a sign that the city was “giving up on us.”

Le said the city tried to repair the lights a few times but every time they would get repaired, within a week they wouldn’t work again. He said the residents blamed the problem not just on copper thieves but also on the homeless who have been trying to steal power from the electrical boxes on the sidewalks nearby.

A spokesman for the city said they attempted to prevent tampering of the electrical boxes by placing heavy concrete blocks on top but the blocks would just get dragged out of the way.

Lee suggested that the solution would be for the city to clean up the homeless encampment that takes up roughly three blocks of E. 12th Street from 14th Avenue to 17th Avenue.

Le said many of the local businesses on E. 12th Street have already closed because of the homeless problem. He said if the homeless encampment moves to his side of the street, he would likely close down the body shop as well.

Between 2015 and 2022, the homeless population of Oakland skyrocketed by 131 percent, accounting for almost half of the homeless population in Alameda County.

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