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    Feb. 25: Council To Hear City Mgt. Report On City Hall's Graffiti Removal Efforts; We Post Written Report Verbatim

    (February 21, 2003) -- At the Feb. 25 NLB City Council meeting, city management is scheduled to present a report on City Hall's graffiti removal efforts. We reproduce below, verbatim, the staff report accompanying the agenda item by Deputy City Manager & Acting Director Public Works Christine Shippey and LB Police Chief Anthony Batts.

    SUBJECT: Status Report on Graffiti Removal Efforts (Citywide)


    This report is provided in response to the Mayor‘s request of November 26, 2002 regarding City graffiti removal efforts. In 1990, the Department of Public Works implemented a citywide graffiti abatement program. Since this program has limited resources, an innovative approach of using different groups including City staff, court referrals, community volunteers and other local agencies has evolved into an important and essential community service.

    The goal of the Graffiti Abatement Program is to remove graffiti ("tags") within three working days of being reported. The majority of these removals are accomplished within that time frame. Top priority is given to "crossovers" (a gang tag written over by another gang), violence-based and obscene graffiti. Removal is also prioritized by visibility, with major thoroughfares being painted first and less-traveled residential streets and alleys painted second. Unreported graffiti is also removed as the crews travel between locations.

    Court referral work crews remove graffiti, collect litter, remove illegal signs, perform alley clean-up and weed abatement, provide labor for community tree plantings in the Neighborhood Improvement Strategy areas, and assist with routine tasks within the Public Service Bureau, the Long Beach Energy Environmental Services Bureau and the Parks Recreation and Marine Maintenance Operations Bureau.

    The court referral program is a cooperative effort involving the Long Beach Municipal Court, the South Bay Volunteer Center, housed at 1407 East Fourth Street, and the City. Individuals who are referred to community service in lieu of fines or jail time register with the Volunteer Center and are subsequently assigned to the Graffiti Abatement Program. Court referral crews are utilized six days a week.

    City employees who are on "modified duty" supervise the crews. These are employees who have been injured and are not physically able to conduct their normal assignments.

    When removing graffiti, crews try to match the original paint color. Each crew is supplied with 26 paint colors, as well as the ability to mix paint at the job site. These resources, along with the practice of over-painting large areas with multiple tags, keep the "patchwork" look to a minimum. Public Works purchases water-based paint under a contract with Vista Paint Company. Additionally, Community Development provides a program whereby residents can receive one free gallon of matching paint from Vista Paint. The vouchers are available by contacting the Graffiti Hotline.

    The Public Works Department FY 02 actual expense for this activity was $365,000. Of this amount, $150,000 (41 percent) was funded by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The balance ($215,000) was General Fund dollars. There are 2.5 full time equivalent (FTE) positions budgeted in the program: a Street Maintenance Supervisor who schedules and oversees the crews, a Clerk Typist who is responsible for record keeping and taking calls from the Graffiti Hotline, and a .5 FTE Maintenance Assistant I I - Non-Career.

    Over the past three years, the amount of graffiti removed has notably increased due to a rise in tagging as shown below:

    Fiscal YearNumber of RemovalsPercentage Increase From Prior Year
    1999-200029,43253 Percent
    2000-200137,96629 Percent
    2001-200270.88487 Percent

    During the summer months graffiti incidents increase significantly, averaging more than 7,000 removals per month.

    Experience has shown that the longer graffiti is visible, the more tagging occurs (the broken window syndrome). Currently, the Graffiti Abatement Program is dependant on the availability of modified duty employees for crew leaders, resulting in a limited ability to plan resources that impacts the success of the program. Nonetheless, the Department of Public Works will continue to maintain this high profile program in order to maximize its cost effectiveness.

    The Police Department assigns two officers for Graffiti Abatement, four days a week out of the Youth Services Division of the Investigations Bureau. The annual cost of this service is approximately $160,000. Last fiscal year, the unit arrested 176 minors on graffiti-related offenses. While the proposed Three Year Financial Strategic Plan recommends eliminating this specialty in fiscal year 2006 and transferring these responsibilities to the Patrol Divisions, the Department will be studying alternative delivery methods in an effort to ensure graffiti abatement is not compromised.

    Graffiti can be reported on the Graffiti Hotline (562) 570-2773, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Hotline is staffed during normal business days and callers are able to leave a recorded message after hours.


    There is no fiscal impact resulting from this report.


    Receive and file this status report on graffiti removal efforts.

    Respectfully submitted,




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