Feb. 25: Council To Hear City Mgt. Report On City Hall's Graffiti Removal Efforts; We Post Written Report Verbatim
SUBJECT: Status Report on Graffiti Removal Efforts (Citywide)
(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.
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 Year||Number of Removals||Percentage Increase From Prior Year|
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.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT THE CITY COUNCIL:
Receive and file this status report on graffiti removal efforts.
CHRISTINE F. SHIPPEY
DEPUTY CITY MANAGER & ACTING DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS
ANTHONY W. BATTS
CHIEF OF POLICE
APPROVED: GERALD R. MILLER, ACTING CITY MANAGER