Santa Clarita is a city renowned for it's quality of life and beautiful surroundings. The streets are well maintained, the parks are neatly groomed and exterior walls and bridges are free of graffiti…almost. Graffiti is a commonplace issue for any and all cities regardless of location. High target areas include alleyways, neighborhoods and washes.
The vandals are mostly juveniles, and many of them carry some sort of gang or crew affiliation. They strike every day here in Santa Clarita, and one might imagine that with this sort of frequency, every available surface would be stained with their markings. So while the problem of graffiti is not anything surprising, how our city fights this battle is a testament to why we are winning.
Graffiti cannot be eradicated by the Sheriffs alone, just as much as it can’t by a single concerned resident with a bucket of paint. The problem is widespread and takes a joint venture on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department, the city and the citizens. The Sheriff’s Department has established the Cobra Unit, which is comprised of 6 deputies and a Sergeant. This unit handles all juvenile crime and gang activity and has increasingly taken on the issue of vandalism. Their mission has come to include identifying the particular signatures graffiti vandals leave in their work, which can be used to track the criminals when they strike. It also keeps a list of the incidents so that when they are caught, they can be prosecuted for all of their graffiti.
The City has also taken up the fight full force, implementing several programs that reduce graffiti in the city. They have established a Graffiti Hotline where people can report graffiti where they see it and the city will send a crew out to clean it up. There is also a program called “Wipe Out Graffiti” in which adults over the age of 18 can visit the community services division at city hall and receive a package of pre-moistened wipes. These wipes can be used to clean graffiti from almost any smooth surface and it allows anyone who is interested in helping the opportunity to do so as they see it. In addition, the city has committed to helping organize the citizen clean up effort.
There are two main groups in Santa Clarita who operate on a volunteer basis to clean up graffiti: The Pride Committee and Teens against Graffiti (T.A.G). The Pride committee is composed of volunteers who collaborate with the city and Sheriffs to keep the city clean on an ongoing basis. T.A.G consists of teenagers between 13-18 who volunteer on the third Saturday of every month to re-paint high target areas. Sometimes, a good tip can be the best weapon against graffiti.
High target areas in Santa Clarita have been equipped with signs denoting the crime hotlines. Residents in these areas are encouraged to keep an eye on their street and if they see a crime of any type committed, they can report it anonymously.
If graffiti artists can be caught in the act, then they can be taken off the street entirely. You can see more on the city's fight against graffiti at http://www.santa-clarita.com/cityhall/parks/graffiti.asp The graffiti hotline is 661-25 CLEAN (252-5326).
KHTS AM 1220 News