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Laurie Ender: Graffiti group chalks up a win

Live From City Hall

Posted: February 25, 2010 10:00 p.m.
Updated: February 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

The city of Santa Clarita's Graffiti Task Force celebrated another banner year in 2009, with 177 arrests made and more than 7,500 tags removed from Santa Clarita streets.

One of the major factors in the Graffiti Task Force's success is community involvement. The task force received more than 5,000 calls to its Graffiti Task Force hotline (25-CLEAN) and more than 1,000 online eService requests from residents reporting graffiti. More than $4,000 was also paid out to community members who reported taggers as part of the city's "Fight Graffiti, Get Rewarded" campaign.

Thousands of local volunteers also got their hands dirty to help clean up the city in 2009 and assisted in several graffiti removal projects. Through these collaborative events, including 13 Teens Against Graffiti projects, residents helped remove more than 1,000 tags from local flood control channels.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was also a large factor in the Graffiti Task Force's effectiveness.

Sheriff's Department graffiti detectives, members of its COBRA unit, and the community interaction team met regularly with city staff to organize surveillance operations and night clean up events, which resulted in the removal of more than 200 tags.

Through its alliance with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and its specialized units, the Graffiti Task Force assisted in facilitating 32 arrests, including six prolific taggers responsible for more than $42,000 in local damages.

The task force also works hard to stop graffiti before it starts with awareness presentations in local schools. Nearly 2,000 students from local schools and the Newhall Community Center participated in graffiti awareness presentations in 2009.

Information about the Graffiti Task Force was added to the William S. Hart Union High School District Web site and more than 300 junior high students learned about the consequences of graffiti at the city's 2009 Youth Summit.

In addition to proactive efforts, the Graffiti Task Force works promptly to remove graffiti from public places within 24 hours from when it is reported. The task force also issued 36 private property graffiti abatement notices - met with 100 percent compliance - to local private property owners as part of the city's graffiti ordinance, which requires property owners to remove graffiti within seven days of when they are notified.

The Graffiti Task Force added a new tool to its graffiti abatement arsenal in 2009 with the unveiling of its paint matching trailer. Equipped with the ability to match paint on-site, the trailer enables immediate graffiti eradication by eliminating the need to locate and purchase paint to match a tagged surface.

By compiling data from 2009, the Graffiti Task Force was also able to localize areas where graffiti activity is most prevalent, identifying Whites Canyon Road, Camp Plenty Road, Lyons Avenue, Northbridge and Old Orchard paseos as graffiti "hot spots."
We hope that 2010 will be equally successful and community members are encouraged to keep an eye out in the city and report graffiti whenever they can by calling the city's Graffiti Hotline at (661) 255-CLEAN (5326) or via the ity's e-service request program at santa-clarita.com/graffititaskforce.

With continued help from diligent community members, the Graffiti Task Force can continue to keep Santa Clarita streets beautiful and graffiti-free for years to come.

Laurie Ender is a Santa Clarita City Council member. She can be reached at lender@santa-clarita.com. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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