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Residents are furious after city removes traffic lights near homeless encampment instead of stopping theft


Homeless encampments in one California city have led to a desperate change in traffic safety to address increased crime.

“Oakland has removed the traffic lights from one intersection and replaced them with 4-way stop signs due to people stealing copper and then tampering with an electrical box,” KPIX reported.

“Neighbors said city workers removed all the traffic lights in the last week and replaced them with four-way stop signs. The installation came after months of people stealing copper wires and tampering with the city electrical boxes that supply power to the traffic lights,” the outlet added.

The traffic light above the intersection of E. 12th Street and 16th Avenue in Oakland was replaced by a stop sign, causing surprised reactions from drivers and residents who have seen a rise in crime and thefts which many attribute to the nearby homeless encampment.

Tam Le, the owner of Le’s Auto Body & Engine Repair at the corner of the intersection told KPIX, “It’s just telling us that the city is giving up on us.”

A truck careened into the fence at the shop last year reportedly due to the faulty traffic light. Le has operated the business at the location for more than 25 years.

“The city did try to fix the traffic light at least a few times. But once they fixed it, normally within a week or so, it will go out again,” Le said. “If you really want to fix the stop sign, I think you really have to clean up this homeless encampment.”

The city had tried placing cement barriers over the electrical boxes but that had seemed to make no difference.

“This is a brand new solution to a problem that’s taken many forms here,” neighbor Mason Young told the news station, noting how dangerous it had become to drive through the particular intersection.

“We gotta stop just putting band-aids on things. Although, a band-aid is better than bleeding out,” Young said.

Despite attempts by the city to clear out the homeless encampment, it continues to grow in size, currently stretching three blocks on E. 12th Street, between 17th and 14th Avenues.

“Many businesses already closed down on E. 12th St. And I don’t know how long we’re going to be here. Because once they move to our side of the sidewalk, we will be gone,”  Le said.

The stop signs are reportedly a temporary fix, according to KPIX, but Oakland officials have not indicated when the traffic lights will return.

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