How to Counter Graffiti at Yosemite Park

Would planting cactus or thorny bushes in front of the most vulnerable walls deter taggers?

The big, yellow street-facing wall of the , adjacent to , is probably one of the most eye-catching sights on the mile-and-a-half stretch of Yosemite Drive between Eagle Rock Boulevard and Figueroa Street.

“Every week or so, the wall gets hit by graffiti,” says Eagle Rock resident David Drum, who lives near Eagle Rock High and took a photograph depicting the latest act of vandalism on Monday (see above). “The city comes back and paints it again—this has been going on for, I think, at least two years.”

Perennial Menace At The Rec Center

Tagging has been a huge problem at the Yosemite Recreation Center, especially on the wall behind the swimming pool complex located on the park’s south side. In an attempt to monitor—and discourage—tagging, the Department of Recreation and Parks installed a 24-hour surveillance camera between the swimming pool and the amphitheater at the park’s southernmost end this past April. (A previously existing camera within the swimming pool complex was moved 20 feet east, closer to Eagle Rock High, to enable the two cameras to monitor a wider area.)

Proposed Solutions

“Why doesn't the city install cameras—or plant some cactus or bougainvillea [bushes] below the wall to discourage taggers?” asks Drum, whose debut novel, Introducing the Richest Family in America, was the subject of a profile on Eagle Rock Patch in February 2011.

What do readers think? Wouldn’t planting cactus or other prickly plants close to certain walls at the rec center be a low-cost, environmentally-friendly deterrent to tagging?

Further, given the City’s strained budgets, would you be willing to pitch in a few dollars if a community fund were set up for this purpose?

Finally, what do you think of the idea of getting corporate sponsors to fund the planting of cactus around the walls of the rec center most vulnerable to tagging?

Arthur Snyder October 10, 2011 at 10:05 PM
During my years as the 14th District Councilmember, this problem was a constant challenge. Let me give the benefit of my experience. First: Don't say that we must really change society in order to tackle the problem. That is only avoiding it. There is grafitti in the catacombs of Rome. It is a permanent problem of every society. A discussion of the whys of grafitti or tagging is beyond the Yosemite Playground subject. But there is a method of dealing with it. It has been used in many prominent locations at my suggestion--e.g. The Broadway warehouse center near Lincoln Park, the Fire Department Training Tower facility in Lincoln Heights, the Pan-American Bank Building in Boyle Heights. It is not without cost, but the cost is low compared with the unsightly condition of public buildings. There must be a resolve to continuously deal with it, not simply have a clean-up day every summer. Second: Understand the problem. Each gang member or grafitti artist wants to see his name where a lot of people will see it. It says "I am TTom! I exist! Know of me! I am here!" I won't go into the psychological roots of that, but understand it as the root of the need to paint names on walls. And this is where it begins. Third, understand that there are two passive approaches to stopping grafitti. I'll tell you about them in the next section of my comment on this subject. See you there! Art Snyder
Arthur Snyder October 10, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Third, understand that there are two passive approaches to stopping grafitti. First is to provide a surface that is not attractive to grafitti. This is done by selecting a medium green or medium brown color that doesn't show well. Not white. Not yellow. Not black or dark colors. With those colors you are inviting grafitti. Second is to physically block the surface from access by the taggers. Setback from the sidewalk or paved area is best for what invariably works--the planting of barricade plants. Your writers have a good sense of this, but the very best plant has proven to be the Natal Plum, a dark green evergreen bush with red fruit in season, and 1.5 to 2" sharp, dagger-like thorns and a moderately fast growth. These should be planted densely about 18" from the wall they will protect. You may have to replace some of them while they are reaching growth. But once they are mature, there is no tagger that will do what will be necessary to get through it. But what if there is no place to plant barrier plants? I'll tell you that in the third and final section of my comment on this subject. See you there! Art
Arthur Snyder October 10, 2011 at 10:27 PM
But what if there is no place to plant barrier plants? The answer is the most simple of all--and not terribly expensive if you follow the exercise. Give to whoever is the first person in the facility in the morning as a FIRST duty the job of checking for grafitti, and if it is on the wall ANYWHERE, get out his 5-gallon paint bucket, with paint that precisely matches the walls, and paint them out. If you have chosen a perfectly matching paint with an effective covering characteristic, you won't be able to see the tags at all. And that, you see, is the reason that, after fighting the program, perhaps day after day for a month, the tagger will go away. Why? Because he wants his name to be seen, and so it is useless to keep painting on your wall--it will never be seen there! So he'll go somewhere else. If this program is carried out faithfully, it never fails! And while I'm here--let me express my profound thanks to my neighbor on Round Top, who has taken it on himself to carry out the overpaint portions of this system--without anything but his own satisfaction as his reward. Best regards, Art Snyder
Hailey Diaz February 26, 2013 at 09:27 AM
I am so sick and tired of seeing graffiti! Every time I walk my dog, it never falls, I always see graffiti. On each occurrence the City has someone come over to repaint but by the next day new graffiti is up. In some cases the same day! It’s a vicious cycle costing money, time and labor. I say let's try a different approach and plant the climbing ivy as earlier suggested, both on the wall behind the swimming pool and the wall facing Yosemite Drive. Both areas have abundant space for these types of plants. Remember, Taggers are always looking for an empty wall where they can tag. This will minimize the open walls space to do so. In the long run, this should reduce the cost of new paint and man hours for a crew to come out to clean up. I’m sure we can find volunteers to help get this project started.
jon Button February 28, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Forgive my tardiness to the party, I live near the rec, center but don't walk behind the pool that often. I did so last night and was appalled by the amount of tagging. I like the ideas that Arrhur and others have, particularly the thorny plants. I'd certainly volunteer to help make that happen!


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