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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?

Darren September 27, 2011 at 10:22 PM
I'm not sure what exactly should be done. Over the summer, I accosted a group of young guys tagging the wall behind swimming pool in the middle of the day when the pool was actually open. They were completely unfazed. Their response to me was that they were simply doing "roll call," as if that represented some legitimate reason to deface public property. The staff inside the pool said they would report the issue to the Department of Recreation and Parks, but by the time anyone responds the boys are long gone. If these guys don't have any problem tagging in broad daylight when plenty of people are around, I'd be surprised if cameras or cacti represent a serious deterrent. Perhaps Officer Orange could offer his professional advice and/or maybe local youth services organizations?
Peter Finestone September 27, 2011 at 11:09 PM
Wait how bout a electrical wall or fence so when they tag they get a shock or better yet electrocuted. Wait i forgot , street art is considered " art" by many morons. Suffice to say nothing will work until these losers get a shock.
MW September 28, 2011 at 02:22 PM
How about adding extra patrol? Extra cameras? Cactus are a great idea as a deterrent. How bout getting the high school principal involved in protecting our park as I'm sure a large number of his students make use of the park?? Heck I'm sure a few students have taken part in defacing the park. As the mother of 2 kids, I would love to keep our park safe & clean for our children. Let's protect what we have!!
MW September 28, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Also. . . How about the Department of Recreation and Parks team up with one of our local officers who regularly patrol this area? So we can stop the people who care so little for our neighborhood park. As some one who lives two minutes from the park the only way we personally have been able to combat graffiti is by removing immediately. Basically there is no glory period, it's removed as soon as it's seen. They can't brag about it cause it's gone. We wash the tags off of our trash cans and when they tag our wall we paint over it right away.
Michael Larsen September 28, 2011 at 04:03 PM
MW, you've got all the right ideas. The ERNC has been working on this for years, but the problem is daunting and the excuse is always "not enough money". The impact on the park by the school is the most obvious place to start addressing this. Unfortunately we have a principal who has made it clear that he is not interested in being part of the solution. In order for changes to be made, there needs to be a groundswell of community support making it clear to the City and LAUSD what we want and expect at our local park. The ERNC is a good vehicle for this. We just need a lot more people involved.
Paula Grepo September 28, 2011 at 04:41 PM
I also believe that community involvement is very important. Would contacting the school board about the principals stance do any good??? What does he (or she) do when school property gets tagged? Also, the idea about bouganvilla is very good. I have bouganvilla on two sides of my property and it keeps a lot of intruders out...animal and human. This natural fence can grow just about anywhere, is inexpensive and grows quickly, and looks good when it blooms. The thorns can slice through clothing (and skin) and sting for a while, as I can testify when I do yard work.
Michael Larsen September 28, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Paula, It never hurts to voice your concerns. What's more effective is when a larger, organized group brings concrete ideas like bouganvilla and expectations to the City and LAUSD.
Peter Finestone September 28, 2011 at 05:21 PM
I like my ideas in theory, but Paula's ideas a lot more sensible
jayres September 28, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Planting cacti, thorny bushes, bougainvillea, etc is treating the symptoms, not finding a solution to the problem. Where is the respect for property? How about personal accountability? If I got caught doing something like this my dad would have taken a leather belt to my backside(that's right a good old fashion ass-whippin'), then he'd volunteer me to clean and repaint the wall, or do labor intensive work to pay off the cost of repairing the wall. Since we clearly can't count on some parents to do their jobs any longer, perhaps its time to hold them accountable for their child's action. If a child is caught defacing/destroying property, his parents should be forced to compensate the city for the cost of the repairs. When their child's behavior starts hitting their pocketbook, they might start to care about what their child does with his free time. Also, forced community service for the child and parent might be a good idea. The parent would be reminded his/her failure is just as much to blame as the child's action. It might also help open up a nice "dialog" between parent and child. Whatever the solution, its time for the people who work hard to make a better life for themselves/families/community to say enough, we shouldn't have to put up with this. It time to start inconveniencing the lives of the offenders not the offended...Sign me up for a community run sting operation.
CG September 28, 2011 at 05:42 PM
I think cactus is a great idea, but lights would be a greater deterrant on that particular wall. That wall is always hit at night, and it's hit more like 3 times a week...not the once a week mentioned above. I'd love to know if anyone has actually been caught on camera vandalizing the wall behind the pool. That area will continue to get hit until taggers start getting held responsible. I would be happy to contribute to a fund if I knew that it was ear marked for Yosemite Park only. And lastly, I'd mention that confronting taggers is a bad idea. That's how people get hurt. Just report it later on ~ I've found reporting graffiti on the city's website to be very responsive...sometimes it's gone the same day ~ and you can do it anonimously.
preemero September 28, 2011 at 05:43 PM
I work for rec & parks I also live in ER my job is to remove graffiti the best solution is to plant a climbing ivy. The dept used to do it at other parks but lately has abandoned that idea. The dept now has us paint over it. Instead of confronting taggers you should call authotities like the dept of public safetyor police good luck finding a solution.
Michael Larsen September 28, 2011 at 05:52 PM
I agree that confronting taggers is a bad idea. There is a $1000 reward from the City for turning in taggers. Maybe we could publicize that fact to the students who likely have "inside"information about the identity of specific taggers. $1000 is a lot of money. Also, the school pays the City $200,000 per year to use the pool for their swim class. Maybe some of this money could go to counteract the negative impacts.
Mark September 29, 2011 at 12:11 AM
1. Buy many gallons of yellow paint. 2. Paint over graffiti. 3. Repeat as necessary.
Joie La Monte September 30, 2011 at 01:38 AM
we
Joie La Monte September 30, 2011 at 01:49 AM
We spy them and slow them up with tranquilizer darts.. Only long enough to write (tatoo) their faces with words that match their mentality or maybe clown makeup? Puts new meaning to "Crazy Clown Posse".
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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