Concerned South City residents say derelict cars are an eye sore

ST. LOUIS - Residents in one south St. Louis City neighborhood say they are sick and tired of abandoned and broken-down cars littering their streets.

“They are all over the place,” said William Cook who lives on Osage Street in Dutchtown, “so there’s nowhere for us to park, nowhere for our neighbors to park, it’s just an eyesore.”

Neighbors said that abandoned and broken-down cars, either with missing or expired tags, flat tires or smashed windows are littering their streets including on Osage and Minnesota Streets.

“I am feeling frustrated,” said another neighbor, Shawn Williams. “If we are trying to spur redevelopment in this neighborhood and the developers see multiple derelict vehicles they may be less inclined to want to invest their time and money.”

Owners of derelict cars are first given a verbal face to face warning by the city, then tagged with a sticker, given 5-14 days to respond and if there is no response then the police will ticket the vehicle in question and eventually city crews will tow it.

But neighbors said that method doesn’t seem to be working.

“They’ll put green stickers on the vehicles and you’ll come back out here the next night and they are peeled off,” said Cook.

Alderwoman Cara Spencer said she’s aware of resident concerns but adds that part of the issue is residents not reporting the ongoing problem consistently.

“We need to know about it, “Spencer said, “we need to be able to send somebody out there to pick them up.”

FOX 2 called the city, inquiring about the problem and right before our interview with commissioner of streets, Kent Flake, crews came out and towed two of the three cars that residents said were sitting on Osage for several months.

“We get about 3,500 to 4,000 complaints just for derelicts that come through our streets and traffic inspectors a year,” Flake explained, “we tow about 1,200 of those and we do our best to work with the citizens and the neighborhoods.”

Flake added that one major contributing factor to the nuisance is the current shortage of workers.

“We have 14 tow truck operators that we are supposed to have but we are three short currently, “said Flake, “manpower plays into that equipment plays into that, but those are excuses we can get these picked up and we will get them picked up.”

Flake said that the city continues to encourage residents to report derelict cars seen on their streets by calling the Citizens Service Bureau at 314-622-4800 or by visiting their website.