Graffiti-covered train cars sit for years near Arvin

ARVIN, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Empty train cars have sat for years on some tracks near Arvin, and neighbors say they're a real eyesore and a magnet for crime.

It's a problem Eyewitness News has investigated for more than two years, and we've kept asking Amtrak officials when all the cars will finally be moved.

"There's people coming here on the weekends," a worried neighbor said on Wednesday. "I'd say twelve or 18 years old, and they're spraying graffiti there."

The spur of track is just off Tejon Highway near Buena Vista Boulevard. Twenty-five cars are parked on the track, and each one has been tagged. Most have a lot of graffiti.

"It's getting worse," the neighbor said. He's afraid of crime in the area and did not want to be identified.

The man says 36 cars showed up on the track in November 2008, He contacted Eyewitness News in November 2010, and he was plenty frustrated then.

At the time, an Amtrak spokeswoman said that type of car was no longer in use by the company, and they were being stored at the site near Arvin.

In 2010, some of the box cars were open, and neighbors worried about people staying in them. They said that could easily be a magnet for crimes in addition to vandalism.

Eyewitness News kept checking with Amtrak, and by August 2011 we learned 21 cars were moved. The worried neighbor thinks it was fewer than 21 cars.

Continuing to check with Amtrak, Eyewitness News was told six more cars would be moved in December 2012.

The neighbor doubts that happened, pointing to the 25 cars still on the rails. Eyewitness News checked all the cars Wednesday, and none appeared to be open. Many appeared to have small locking devices on the doors.

But, Amtrak couldn't offer any more good news on actually moving the eyesore.

Spokeswoman Vernae Graham said in an email on Wednesday nothing has changed since Eyewitness News had asked for an update three moths ago.

"The San Joaquin Valley Railroad owns the space. We lease from them," the email reads. "The cars will be stored until they're sold. Yes. They have been secured."

Graham had told us the cars were moved before, after they were sold off.

Meanwhile, neighbors complain the problems have spread out. Graffiti can be seen on some nearby street signs, a railroad sign, and some trucks on a lot owned by Kirkley Trucking.

"We're aware it's happening," Laura Lee Kirkley said about the tagging on their trucks. "We try to get it off as fast as possible."

She said the train cars are certainly easy for vandals to access, and called the graffiti on them "awful." Kirkley also said it's sad Amtrak is leaving the cars on the track there, and wonders why Amtrak isn't worried about their liability.

The neighbor said teenagers had also broken beer bottles on a nearby street last weekend, and argues it's the empty train cars that may draw more problems to the area.

There are several dozen homes near the parked train cars. Most of the graffiti is on the side of the boxcars facing a big field, but some is starting to show up facing Tejon Highway.

The worried neighbor is simply fed up that it's taking so long to move the empty cars. He thinks it's the wrong place to store the equipment.

"I'm just sick and tired of them being there," he said. "It's been how long? Four years? They have to be taken away, hauled away somewhere else."