Graffiti – Take Back Your Neighborhood

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By PETER ROSENTHAL, President
V.I.P. Trust Deed Company
April 2002

Contrary to what many of you believe our beautiful area does not HAVE to turn into a third world country. If there is graffiti on your building, curb, lamppost, neighborhood building, or stop sign; you probably resent it. If nothing else this is a form of VISUAL pollution. You probably feel “somebody should do something about it.” You’re right; that somebody is YOU. Some cities have an active graffiti program and hotline but even those programs are only effective with citizen vigilance and constant reporting. Frankly, GRAFFITI BREEDS GRAFFITI and the trick is to eradicate it as soon as possible. There is a good expression “if you get rid of it in 2 weeks, it will be back in 2 hours: if you get rid of it in 2 hours, it may come back in 2 weeks.” I am a (self-proclaimed) expert in graffiti eradication as I founded a volunteer anti-graffiti group approximately 12 years ago. Our group of 5 – 10 volunteers IMMEDIATELY eradicates reported graffiti in the Montrose, La Crescenta, and La Cañada areas in addition to portions of the 210, 134, and 2 freeways. In case you think these areas are a “piece of cake” we also handle 90% of the horseback trails in Griffith Park and parts of the L.A. River.

Enough back slapping: the purpose of this column is to convince you that graffiti eradication is EASY and REWARDING. Our volunteers carry a small kit consisting of a Tupperware or Rubbermaid type leak proof rectangular paint container and a reusable paint pad. We don’t get dirty; and can even eradicate small areas in a suit and tie. In addition we carry a small container of Lacquer thinner and a roll of paper towels plus one or two cans of spray paint. Graffiti on SLICK surfaces (street signs, glass, or floor tile) is usually easily wiped off with Lacquer thinner. Curbs are easily painted over with a paint pad and gray water based paint. Graffiti on a pole or pipe can be easily covered over with a spray can. Some of us carry several spray cans including gray, black, red, yellow and white to touchup red curbs wrought iron fences etc. I personally carry a can of gray spray paint on my horse’s saddle. It just takes a minute to paint over a pipe that was “hit” in the last day or so.

Though our group has committed to a large geographic area YOU PERSONALLY can commit to your building, the curbs on your block, or, whatever. Not only is it personally rewarding to get rid of this blight, it also brings out the best in your neighbors. People will stop and thank you and/or chat. You will be surprised at how quickly a two or three person team will emerge. If your neighborhood already has a “neighborhood watch” go to one of the meetings and suggest a small “subgroup” for graffiti removal.

A word of caution: if your neighborhood is in a heavy graffiti area or in a heavy gang area please consider personal safety. Obviously you should not remove graffiti at 9 p.m. on a dark street corner. On the other hand most punks are not even awake at 7-8 a.m. In the event that you are interested in starting a group in your area or just want to clean up “your block” give me a call. I will be happy to spend some time with you and go over materials, methods, paint donation sources, etc.

Peter Rosenthal
VIP Trust Deed Company