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City makes progress in war on tagging

Vandals still active, but cleanup more efficient

Posted: September 19, 2009 8:22 p.m.
Updated: September 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
More gang graffiti has been spotted over the summer months in Newhall, Canyon Country and Saugus, while tagging in other areas has been on the decline, city officials said.

And while the graffiti levels citywide remain roughly constant, the Santa Clarita Graffiti Task Force has reported it has removed much more of the vandalism this year, due to more community involvement and new equipment.

From June through August, the city’s Graffiti Task Force has seen an increase in tagging on the Old Orchard paseos and an increase in gang graffiti in Newhall, Canyon Country and Saugus. There has also been more graffiti performed by tagging crews and unaffiliated taggers in Newhall and Canyon Country, according to a summer report by the task force.

However, in the Santa Clarita Skate Park — which officials have shut down several times because of tagging — has seen a decline, said the task force’s removal coordinator, Nicolas Marinelli.

After the closures, he said graffiti started occurring less often.

“People were getting tired of it. It looks like they were probably patrolling themselves,” Marinelli said.

Santa Clarita’s Graffiti Task Force receives calls and e-notices about 50 to 70 graffiti taggings a day. The city pays about $600,000 a year to clean them up.

The task force has removed 5,409 taggings from January to August this year, compared to 4,285 taggings during the same period last year.

He said the increase is due to higher level of community involvement and new equipment, rather than an increase in tagging.

“We do have a lot of volunteers who are willing to make a difference in the community,” he said.

“It makes the community safer,” Marinelli said. “The quicker we remove the graffiti, the less likely it is for the graffiti to go back up on the wall.”

The Graffiti Task Force offers several opportunities for residents to help rid the community of graffiti created by gang members, tagging crews and individual taggers the task force calls “oners.”

Residents can participate in Paseo Patrol, in which they walk through trails with a backpack full of graffiti removal materials. “They can use the supplies we’ve provided them and remove graffiti,” Marinelli said.

Local teenagers can also now participate in Teens Against Graffiti, or TAG, teams every third Saturday of the month and remove graffiti from washes in the area.

A trail-compatible graffiti removal vehicle added to the team in April and a third utility truck added last month also helps the task force remove more graffiti, Marinelli said.

The truck includes a pressure washer, paint storage space and a large tool box for graffiti removal supplies.

The team is also awaiting a paint matching trailer that it will start using at the end of September to quickly match paint colors for graffiti removal on vandalized businesses.

Marinelli said all it takes is a phone call or a message through the force’s e-reporting service to help solve the problem of graffiti in Santa Clarita Valley.

“As long as the residents continue to call in the graffiti that they do see,” Marinelli said, “that is something that would really help us.”

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