Graffiti, which appears on walls, buildings, and even trees might have a shorter shelf-life courtesy of the city of Chula Vista’s newly formed Right of Way unit.
“The ROW crew was established because of an opportunity that arose due to the retirement of the graffiti coordinator position that previously combated graffiti, primarily through the assistance of volunteers,” wrote Iracsema Quilantan, director of the public works department, via email. “In addition to graffiti removal, this crew will perform weed abatement on city medians, debris removal in entryways and street sweeping coordination.”
Volunteers will play a key role in ROW’s graffiti removal.
“I work with the public works manager to coordinate the volunteer efforts. The Buff-a Block program and the Art-on-a-Box program forms are used to coordinate volunteers,” said Marc Amio, public works specialist.
Stelle Andrade, advisor for the graffiti clean-up will be coordinating volunteers at a meeting on March 23. Andrade is with the Institute for Public Strategies.
Graffiti removal times are prioritized.
“There are different classifications of graffiti,” said Amio. “If it’s profanity, it gets removed immediately. We also aid in police investigations and upload photos to the graffiti tracker.”
Graffiti Tracker is a comprehensive, web-based system designed to identity, track, prosecute and seek restitution from graffiti vandals according to Amio. The system is primarily used by the Chula Vista police department and public works department.
The city of Chula Vista responded to an uptick in the number of reported markings.
“There was a 16% increase of graffiti from 2017. We eradicated over 1,100 graffiti,” said Amio.”We encourage the public to use ACT Chula Vista (an informational, interactive page on the city’s website) to report graffiti.”
Graffiti was helpful in alerting officials of possible illegal activity.
“Recently a commercial business alerted us of graffiti and suspicious activity at a drainage inlet at the corner of H and across the street from the trolley depot,” said Quilantan. “The large amount of graffiti found at the inlet and the appearance of it resembling a makeshift gathering place was quite different. There was a shower curtain at the entrance of the inlet and more elaborate graffiti was found inside. The site resembled a hideaway for living or perhaps some other disguised site of illegal activity. We are working with the PD on this site and will continue to monitor it.”