Erasing Graffiti

By Greg Sorini

Graffiti, it’s ugly, it’s expensive to remove, and it’s a crime. Here is some background on graffiti. According to the City of San Diego, they spend “ . . . more than $1 million each year on graffiti abatement education and enforcement. This amount does not include the millions more spent by other public agencies, utility companies, and private property owners to remove graffiti from their properties. Nationwide, the American public spends nearly $12 billion each year to fight graffiti.”

Graffiti is usually done by gang members or taggers. They may write their nickname, usually one short word, or by the name of the group or crew they are part of, usually three to four initials. They attempt to tag as many places as possible and have their tags seen by as many people as possible.

The city has ramped up the fight against graffiti vandalism and they need your help. Graffiti causing $400 or more in property damage is now considered a felony. The city has also implemented the Spray and Pay Reward Program. Citizens can receive up to $500 for providing information leading to an arrest and conviction of anyone they have witnessed committing graffiti vandalism. This program is funded through fines paid by taggers. Additional details on this and other graffiti control efforts can be found on the city’s web site www.sandiego/gov/graffiti/.

Although we have had limited tagging in University Heights, we do see it periodically. Graffiti is considered to be a sign of urban decay and vandalism. It sends a message about the community, namely, we are a bad neighborhood and we don’t care. Getting rid of the graffiti as quickly as possible is critical. Since taggers want people to see their tags, removing the graffiti quickly defeats that intent and will ultimately deter them from striking in the same place.

Here are some of the resources you can use to fight graffiti in our neighborhood:

• For graffiti vandalism in process, call 911 (yes, you can call 911 for this)

• Graffiti Removal – Graffiti Reporting and Removal Hotline: (619) 525-8522

• Urban Corps Graffiti Removal Hotline: (800) 829-6884

• Reporting online – San Diego Street Report for iPhone also in the App Store: Use your cell phone to submit pictures of graffiti. Create a work order with city. Can also be used for potholes, malfunctioning street lights, cracked sidewalks, etc.

• Email a photo and location of the graffiti to SDPD Officer Bill Miles at This will help identify and log repeat offenders.

• Free recycled paint to cover graffiti: (619) 527-5419

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