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Laurie Ender: Efforts to keep Santa Clarita graffiti-free

Live from City Hall

Posted: February 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Have you ever heard of the broken window theory? 

The central theme of the theory is that when neighborhoods appear to be broken down, disordered and generally unfriendly, they serve as a magnet to delinquent behavior and crime.

This paradigm is tailor-made for the issue of graffiti. That is why our city works so hard with the community to promptly remove it.

The city of Santa Clarita prides itself on keeping our community virtually graffiti-free.

As a part of the city of Santa Clarita’s zero-tolerance policy, the city will eliminate vandalistic tags and markings quickly to continue to keep our community clean and safe.

The city’s aggressive and comprehensive approach to graffiti includes: efficient removal by a well-trained, inspired work force; effective collaboration with other agencies; proactive planning; preventative outreach to local youth; and encouraging community involvement.

The city of Santa Clarita’s Graffiti Task Force is celebrating another banner year, tallying 189 arrests in 2010. Last year also saw 9,819 tags removed from Santa Clarita streets; a 76-percent increase compared to 2009.

Like most successful programs and groups in our community, graffiti removal is a collaborative effort. 

The amazing Graffiti Task Force is comprised of a dedicated group of people who meet quarterly to discuss and develop solutions to graffiti-related issues.

The Graffiti Task Force is made up of city staff and numerous community partners, including Los Angeles County, College of the Canyons, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and the William S. Hart Union High School District.

One of the major factors in the Graffiti Task Force’s success is community involvement.

The task force received more than 10,000 calls to its Graffiti Task Force Hotline and online eService requests from local residents reporting graffiti.

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 16 private-property graffiti abatement notices, and met with 100-percent compliance from local 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.

In addition to proactive efforts, thousands of local volunteers also got their hands dirty to help clean up the city in 2010, assisting in several graffiti removal projects.

Through these collaborative events, graffiti-removal staff conducted 16 Teens Against Graffiti projects, with over 250 volunteers removing over 600 tags from wash channels in the city.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station was also a large factor in the Graffiti Task Force’s effectiveness.

Sheriff’s Department graffiti detectives, members of its COBRA unit and Community Interaction Team, met regularly with city staff to organize surveillance operations and night cleanup events.

This led to the arrests of five prolific taggers — responsible for more than $250,000 in damages — and the disbanding of three tagging crews that operated within Santa Clarita.

In 2010, the city’s Transit Division saw a 25-percent decrease in graffiti vandalism on city buses compared to 2009.

Maintenance staff reported an average of 30 buses per month had window guards replaced due to graffiti etching.

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 2010.

Over 300 junior high school students participated in a graffiti-awareness presentation during the 2010 Youth Summit that discussed the consequences of graffiti, and how to participate in the city’s Teens Against Graffiti program.

In 2011, 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 city’s eService request program at santa-clarita.com/graffititaskforce.

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

Laurie Ender is a Santa Clarita City councilmember and 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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