Feb 14, 2024 - News

Philadelphia received almost 40k abandoned vehicle complaints in 2023

Data: City of Philadelphia's 311 monthly reports; Chart: Axios Visuals

Abandoned vehicle complaints rose in 2023, once again leading all Philadelphia 311 service requests.

Why it matters: Abandoned vehicles have plagued the city for decades and removing them ranks among the top priorities for Mayor Cherelle Parker's new administration.

  • Abandoned vehicles are potentially hazardous to neighborhoods, contribute to blight and take up valuable parking spaces.

Driving the news: Nearly 39,400 complaints about abandoned vehicles were reported in 2023, up 5% compared to 2022, per the city's monthly 311 reports.

  • The other most popular complaints were about illegal dumping, graffiti removal and rubbish collection.

Of note: 311 requests don't represent the total number of abandoned vehicles because requests can be duplicates and figures could be inaccurate due to delays in data entry.

The big picture: Parker has pledged to remove abandoned vehicles as part of her Clean and Green Initiatives.

What they're saying: Parker spokesperson Joe Grace tells Axios that staffing shortages, particularly in the police department, have contributed to the growing abandoned vehicle problem.

  • The Police Department's Neighborhood Services Unit, tasked with investigating and removing abandoned vehicles, did not respond to our requests for the number of vehicles towed last year and the current backlog of requests.

Flashback: Complaints about abandoned vehicles rose during the pandemic, outpacing other quality-of-life issues like rubbish removal and illegal dumping.

🪝How it works: Vehicles are considered abandoned after 48 hours on public property or 24 hours on private property.

  • You can report an abandoned vehicle by calling 311 or completing the city's online form.
  • Police can remove a vehicle within 24 hours after receiving a request or immediately if it poses an imminent safety or health hazard.

Yes, but: In recent years, wait times to remove vehicles have grown and police have towed fewer compared to the past.

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier tells Axios she wants the city to address abandoned autos better by adding more civilian personnel to follow up on complaints.

  • "What's at stake is the liveability of our neighborhoods," says Gauthier, whose 3rd District in West Philly has been a hotspot for abandoned vehicles for years.

What we're watching: The Parker administration will unveil an "aggressive" new policy to address persistent quality-of-life problems, like removing abandoned vehicles, Grace said.

  • He did not provide a timeline.

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