My oil spill vandalism melodrama

A week ago some fucker poured oil down our driveway during the night. Do you believe that shit?


We can't figure out how else an oil slick would mysteriously appear one morning.

I called the San Francisco Police Department from work and the dispatcher told me I could file a vandalism complaint, but that I would have to be home when the officer arrived. She advised me to call again when I got home from work, and to take pictures. She also suggested I call the Department of Public Works for clean up.

So, I called the SFPD after work, but I got a different dispatcher who told me that this wasn't vandalism and there was nothing she could do for me. She even put me on hold to call the Ingleside station to get confirmation that this isn't vandalism. Okay, so I can go to the Ingleside police station and pour oil on their driveway and they can't stop me?

I was surprised to get two different answers about what is or is not vandalism in a ten hour period. So I e-mailed the police the following query, with the above picture attached:

This morning I discovered someone poured motor oil
down my driveway (picture attached). Obviously, it's
a crime to pour oil on someone's driveway. My
driveway empties right into my storm drain. You can't
pour motor oil down a storm drain.

I called police dispatch when I got to work and the
dispatcher told me I could file a vandalism report,
but that I would have to be home for that, and I
should call again when I get home from work.

When I called after work, a different dispatcher told
me the police cannot file a vandalism report for oil
poured on my driveway and that I should call the
Department of Public Works and they would come clean
up the oil. (She put me on hold and said she called
the Ingleside Police Department to check and that's
what they told her.)

I thought I would check to see if a third try produces
a third answer. Can I, or can I not, have a vandalism
report filed for oil poured on my driveway?


A day later, I received the following reply, posted here without alteration:

i believe motor oil should fit in as a "caustic substance", so it
should be
a violation of 594.4 PC (penal code). a report should be taken. If
feel that someone did it because of race/sex/sexual preference it can
reported as a hate crime also. SF Fire Code 5202.8.1 prohibits waste
from entering any drainage.

after you file the report, you can call DPW to clean it up.

consult with a supervisor at Ingleside Station for a report, at least
vandalism. Depending on the officers observation, the fire code may or
not apply.

I thought about calling police dispatch again, but then I thought, you know, they're probably busy solving homicides, investigating the city supervisors, et cetera. Why don't I just go to the station, with pictures, and file my complaint there? Because it's not really something they need to see. But by then, I was over it.

Now that I'm looking at the SFPD webpages, why oh why didn't someone just tell me to file my report online? Sigh. Now I can do that.

I did call the Department of Public Works, and they said they would come clean it up [in due time]. He said it would be fine for me to try cleaning up myself, although he had no suggestions. He took my information and gave me a confirmation number.

So I did a Google search on "cleaning oil stains on concrete" and went to this ehow page and tried 1 and 2 (cola, then baking soda). That didn't really work, so I went to my friendly neighborhood Cole Hardware and the clerk sold me this eco-friendly Pour-N-Restore Oil Stain Remover.


It worked!


Although I think we will repeat treatment to get that last bit by the storm drain.

This product has the added benefit of smelling nice and citrusy.

This also gives me the opportunity to share with you my native shade planting for a north-facing wall.

The large shrub is Calycanthus occidentalis. Its wine-scented flowers were included on May's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.


It still has flowers and flower buds on it today.

Also, this trailing herb is Satureja douglasii, a.k.a. Yerba Buena. Before San Francisco was named San Francisco it was named Yerba Buena and this is the plant it was named after. S. douglasii grows in shade up and down the west coast and has a strong, somewhat minty smell that a gardener at the Botanical Garden told me reminded him of the sanitary pucks used in mens room urinals. He's right about that. So now I have that lovely association in my mind, and maybe you will do. Ha, ha!


Salvia spathacea. Next to the north-facing wall, I don't get flowers stalks on these until August or September.


Behind and around it, Oxalis oregana, Redwood Sorrel, found in redwood forests.


Some fern I'm not sure about, and Gaultheria shallon, salal. The foliage is used in floral arrangements and they call it Lemon Leaves.


The salal will get much bigger and need some management in the coming years.

And this is Vaccinium ovatum, commonly called Evergreen Huckleberry.


This and the salal are heath family plants like, heath, rhododendron, madrone, and manzanita. I saw a lot of this at the Bloedel Reserve although I didn't take many pictures of it. This will get big too and need some management.

Also in this bed, lots of the mystery...saxifrage?



Blackswamp_Girl said...

I love that planting on the north wall, Chuck. Particularly the calyc.. whatever. Allspice. We can grow the carolina allspices here, and after seeing yours I'm really tempted to pick one up at the garden center. Do your huckleberries give edible berries at some point, too?

By the way, I would like to have a government job with government benefits... and it should be a step up for them because I can actually type grammatically correct sentences with correct capitalization and punctuation. (Not on comments, as you can see... but in real life I can, I swear.)

chuck b. said...

The Carolina allspice is much more common in the trade for whatever reason. Without pruning, spicebushes form thickets, but you can do some really elegant pruning--at least with the California one. And I'm told in total shade, it grows like a vine...

The huckleberry will make edible huckleberries...someday! So will the salal. I hear they're both very tasty.

JvA said...

What a bizarre event. Motor oil in your driveway. I don't even know what to think about that.

Hey, how did your pie turn out?

chuck b. said...

I don't think the police did either.

It was so hot I decided to made ice cream instead. Turns out apricot is not especially flavorful as an ice cream. But the vanilla came through, and homemade ice cream is always really amazing no matter what the flavor.

JvA said...

Homemade ice cream, yum.

I made a lot of pies at the end of last summer. We have a couple Italian plum trees in the back, so I started making up plum pie recipes. My favorite pie involved throwing the plums into homemade pie shell (made with flakes of frozen butter) -- skins and all -- and adding lots of spicy crystallized ginger.

LostRoses said...

I know what happened isn't funny, but the way you wrote about it cracked me up! All's well that ends well.

chuck b. said...

No matter how bad it gets, I can always turn it into a blog post.

That's my new life plan.

mmw said...

Good plan.

I wish I thought of it before I killed my Vaccinium ovatum.

I never realized Calycanthus is so sexy. I might have to squeeze one in somewhere.

lisa said...

Way to handle the drama! Do you think it was retaliation from your neighbor?

chuck b. said...

I don't think this was a retaliatory strike. It came too soon after we made the complaint. He wouldn't have gotten wind of the complaint that fast.

This is someone who changed their own motor oil (and next door neighbor dude isn't that kind of person), and didn't want the hassle of disposing of it properly. I just can't imagine why they made such a mess pouring it down the driveway. It's too weird.