Clean up crew suffers a setback in the ground war against graffiti

Cleaning up tagging and graffiti  on sidewalks and streets across Echo Park and other several other Eastside neighborhoods will be taking much longer after a high-pressure water blaster used to remove the spray paint was stolen. Central City Action Committee, the Angeleno Heights-based agency hired by the city to clean up much of the area’s graffiti, said that one of its two water blasters and trailers was stolen last week after thieves broke into a locked maintenance yard.  The agency said replacing the old equipment will be difficult since the insurance coverage won’t come close to paying the estimated $12,000 to buy a new washer and trailer. As a result, it’s taking twice as long – almost two weeks – to respond to requests to scrub out sidewalk tagging, a problem that has grown in recent years, said David Bermudez, who heads Central City’s anti-graffiti crew.

So far this year, Central City has received 868 requests to clean up sidewalk tagging, a job that is handled with the aid of the water blaster. In addition, the blasters are used to clean up tagged trees, brick walls and other surfaces.  As crews have become faster to paint over graffiti and tagging on walls, many vandals have changed their tactic, using sidewalks and streets as their canvas because it will take longer to remove. Bermudez said he has seen an increase on sidewalk tagging near bus stops used by school students. “It takes longer to get to it,” Bermudez said.

Bermudez said the stolen equipment was more than 10 years old. It included an aging trailer that Bermudez had painted blue and a white, plastic 300-gallon water tank that stood on its end.  Despite its age, Bermudez such equipment will mostly likely be resold and used by individuals to pressure wash parking lots and other pieces of pavement. “They can make some money using it,” he said.

The old equipment might end up might end up generating cash for someone else but it has put Central City in a financial bind. Executive Director Maryanne Hayashi said there is no room in her budget to buy new equipment. So, for now, Central City will have to rely on one water blaster to serve an area stretching from Westlake to Highland Park.  That means a lot of people are waiting for the sidewalks to get cleaned up. “We are backlogged now.”


  1. Tagging a tree has to be one of the most depressing morally bankrupt things I can think of. Can we get permission to shoot the taggers with pellet guns??

  2. Taggers should be publicly flogged and then branded on the cheek with a “v”, for vandal. They are a blight on our city. How much money is spent cleaning up after these fools that could go to libraries, parks and other things to benefit our neighborhoods?

  3. im so sick of tagging. honestly, if i saw a tagger in the streets, i might just run them over with absolutely no remorse. all taggers should have a permanent tattoo on their face

  4. YES YES and YES… to all above, shooting, flogging and running them over… The punk ass taggers who represent the local gangs is the first step to the drive by shooting. It is not art, it is not freedom of speech, it is a complete disrespect. If I see any person tagging I will call the police, take a photo of the punk ass, or even stop them with force. Face it boys, you are no longer wanted and many pissed off people will make you know that.

  5. Mr. X aka "Mystery Man" aka You saw nothing

    My older brother used to tag/ graffiti, among other things, when he was in his teens. I highly disapproved, I was worried about his future and stopped looking up to him. Well now he has a degree from a top university, had one of his term papers used by graduate classes… he’s doing pretty well and is a positive contribution to society. So maybe running over taggers, treating them awful, or stamping them with tattoos is the best option.

  6. So, because your brother is now a college grad that somehow mitigates the tagging? I don’t get it. We are all paying lots of $$$ to clean up after these f**kers, and I’m sick of seeing them deface our community.
    We need leadership in this city that will take these criminals down.

  7. University of Phoenix is not a top university.

  8. Hey, I don’t like tagging at all and where I live is for whatever reason a big target. That being said, the level of violent discourse is pretty disturbing. If a tagger is caught, they should be punished according to the law. I think Mr. X makes a decent point that some taggers are just kids, or dumb ass young adults who are acting in ways they may some day come to regret. There are also taggers who probably never come to regret it. Either way, no violence, ok?

  9. Punishment does not equal violence. There needs to be bigger, badder punishments to persuade folks that defacing property that does not belong to you will not be tolerated. I’m sick of seeing my neighborhood defaced by these losers and paying for it.

  10. “Punishment does not equal violence.”

    Yes it does, when it involves “permission to shoot the taggers with pellet guns”, flogging and branding, and running them over.

    I’m down with prosecuting those caught to the fullest extent of the law. I’m not down with the advocation of violence, hyperbolic or not…

  11. Listen, taggers obviously don’t give a shit about the law, and it is very hard to catch them in the act without potentially putting yourself in danger. This is coming from someone who has also engaged in a few youthful acts of vandalism, so yes I know that they aren’t all gang members or miscreants.

    But the bottom line is that it’s pretty easy not to get caught by the police – make sure they aren’t around and be quick! However, if people knew that next time they take out the spray can or paint marker they might feel a few stings from a bb gun (over the clothes only!), they might think twice. It’s called behavioral modification. I know it would never happen, but it’s honestly a pretty good idea.

  12. Honestly, it’s a pretty terrible idea.

  13. Look, the reason people act like this is because they know they can get away with it. Your “faith in law and order” attitude is what allows it.

  14. It’s a bad idea because I don’t think its sensible to pick and choose when one gets to engage in vigilante justice. It’s ironic that you have lack of faith in law and order, yet you likely live on the “Eastside” largely due to an increased law and order presence in the area.

    Just because the police can’t catch every tagger doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to start shooting people with pellet guns.

  15. If states can make you provide id to buy Sudafed, etc. maybe California should do the same with spray paint? Anyway, pass a law that makes the punishment for tagging public flogging and branding. Then, it’s punishment not violence.

  16. How is branding not violence?

  17. You must be over 18 to buy spray paint in California: California 594.1.

  18. Actually I live on the “Eastside” because I found a good deal, and I make very little money so that’s essential ($690 for a big studio 6 years ago!).

    Of COURSE this is a hypothetical solution, and no its not sensible to allow vigilante justice because it would be impossible to monitor who is doing what or why. I was just saying that in a perfect world it would be great if there was a cause and effect relationship between criminal behavior that was immediate as getting a little pain or discomfort upon action. NOT violence, or intention to inflict real pain or injury.

    It’ not that I have a lack of faith in law and order across the board, but in this particular issue is it crucial to have complete community involvement due to the nature of the crime (SO many incidents).

    The most we can do now is report it and hope the city can race over before the resident gang sees the offending graffiti and an issue is created. It’s just a frustrating situation and I think the consensus is that people affected by it wish there was something more they could do. We see from the article above how tenuous of a system the removal strategy is…

  19. There is a corner near my house in Silver Lake that constantly gets tagged. Some one in the neighborhood has been doing their own version of “vigilante justice” that makes me laugh every time I see it. They spray paint all these little smiley faces all over the tough-guy tags and write happy sentiments like “Merry Christmas” and ‘Love” other pleasantries interspersed with the smiley faces. I know it isn’t the perfect solution and it is, of course, more tagging but I think these same people call it in to be covered over and in the interim it is pretty funny…

  20. I’m with Michael – some of these comments seem way out of proportion.

    How about a little empathy for kids who obviously need something better to do with their energy??

  21. Take them out for ice cream then. And make folks show id to buy spray paint for age verification and to sign a ledger like for sudafed, etc.

  22. Sarah, I hear you on most of the kids, who are not involved in gangs. But it’s hard to have empathy when you see a bunch of tags crossed out and tagged over and then there’s a shooting on your street a few days later. There is a limit to how understanding one can be or should be.

    There is obviously a larger societal problem at hand here (bad parenting/disenfranchisement, etc.), which I DO have empathy for, but in the meantime everyone who IS obeying the law and living in harmony with their neighbors has to deal with this. It would be great if having someone sign a document when they buy spray paint would be the solution, but that hasn’t exactly worked with guns…

  23. Mr. X "OoOoOOo, Spooky!"

    Bit late on the party, but my brother is not only a university grad, I just mention that because you guys seem to severely underestimate the ability of some of these youths’ potential. And Otter, University of Phoenix is not a university at all. I’m sorry you feel compelled to point out the obvious that it is not a top university, did you go there?

    I used to hate taggers like some of you, I thought “send them into space shuttles to orbit space crap for the rest of their lives away from Earth” or other dumb things being mentioned here. I accused them of having no concern for the community and called them a waste of resources. This is true for some. Other it is not. Honestly I am more scared of you guys calling for violent action than I am of these taggers. And to think most of you operate machines capable of killing everyday, cars. One of you even called for running them over! To think you guys are one annoyance away from killing someone is sick.

  24. All of you posting messages of hate, hurting taggers and can’t stand it no more remarks are the same people who don’t VOTE, cuz you think goverment sucks. Don’t DONATE, cuz you tight. Don’t VOLUNTEER, cuz you lazy. All your ramblings and bitching only amount to NOTHING! Talking about my community, my neighborhood you don’t even step out of the door to your house cuz your so antisocial, yet the avenues of computer technology has given you an escape from the real world. How about this, when you see tagging instead of complaining get some soap and water and good old ELBOW GREASE…nah not you lazy bums, God forbid you take initiative to improving your neighborhoods. Wait their not yours they belong to us taggers. jajajajajajajajaja……

  25. Silent, i dont know what the hell you’re talking about. i vote, i volunteer, and i donate to charity. these idiots that write on walls need to take responsibility and become better human beings. im glad Mr.X’s brother got it right, but im not holding my breathe for the other dumbasses that rule the streets.

  26. I agree with D. I vote, volunteer & donate, too, and I hate graffiti. It is literally & figuratively a blight. I don’t know what the answer is, but I wonder what Mr. X’s brother would have to say. I’m pretty sure he would not say it’s ok to tag. Seems to me some of those former taggers who are now splendid quality members of society might have some good answers? Elbow grease is good, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

  27. Hey ‘Silent’ you’re supposed to spray it, not sniff it.

  28. D: Back in the 60’s they where sending Latinos to the vietnam war, but the battle was not ours, the battle was at the home front here in the states where we where being striped from our rights to equality. But i digress, it is better for you to fight the battle in your own neighborhoods, starting with something simple as getting to know your neighbors no matter how difficult the task may seem. You do vote, volunteer and donate and kudos to you for that, but change in your hood starts with you, not elsewhere so that you can feel good about it.

    Sandy: Im an ex gangmember and i fed of the fear of others, especially those who hid in their homes. Now a family man and only hoping to be a good role model to my children; case in point, not just my children but to those who lack the family role models in their homes. I being 35 years old hang out with the youth on Saturdays at Belmont High to play basketball and try to keep the neighborhood kids out of trouble. Again something so small for your own hood can go along way. Is there a change only to the twelve ive managed to keep of the streets.

    Aldo the Apache: Don’t be a dumbass.

  29. All you who don’t like the writing on the wall, need to move out of the CITY, That is city life no matter where you go, New York, Paris, London, Mexico City, All large cities have this same problem, you need to find a small safe town to move to.

  30. They’ll all end up in suburbia anyway. Every city is faced with tagging. And there’s a difference in it all. Is it for turf, is it from a gang or crew, is it a peace (a more graphical, artistic expression), is it in glass, what is it? At the end of the day, yeah it’s all property damage. I’m not for it, but there are some amazing peaces I’ve seen..and a lot of it is done by kids. Yeah, like none of you haven’t done anything reckless and stupid. Tagging is bad but getting belligerently drunk on my east side of town and being a rude hipster is okay? Right. We should shot you people with a bb gun…behavior modification.

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