Graffiti Abatement Team to the Rescue

August 26, 2015

*Ring, ring*

“Graffiti Hotline, how can I help you?”

Graffiti is one of those things that once you are aware of it, you can Never. Stop. Seeing. It. Light poles, windows, parking meters, fences. You will start seeing it everywhere. No doubt it is a part of our culture but it is also a burden on our businesses and community.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, graffiti is the most common type of property vandalism – making up 35% of the total. But graffiti isn’t simply writing on a wall, it has a real impact on our community.

Graffiti gives the impression that nobody cares, it reduces a community's sense of safety, and can attract other types of crime. Graffiti comes in several flavors: gang, hate speech, lifestyle taggers, and generic messages (non-threatening messages like "Carmen loves Eddie" or "Class of '15 forever"). Chalk and stickers can also be considered graffiti. The vast majority of graffiti is lifestyle-based even though many people perceive that all graffiti is gang related. Gang related or not, all types of graffiti hurt and cost the City of Santa Cruz over $70,000 annually.

“Graffiti contributes to lost revenue associated with reduced ridership on transit systems, reduced retail sales, and declines in property value. In addition, graffiti generates the perception of blight, and heightens the fear of gang activity.” — US Department of Justice

The process is simple: someone sees graffiti and calls the graffiti hotline (831) 420-5303 or emails us at [email protected]. ED staff then enters the work order for removal from public property. If the graffiti is on private property, we’ll notify the owner and help the owner connect with resources to remove the graffiti quickly and thoroughly so it doesn’t attract repeat vandalism—we strive to remove within 24 hours!

If tags are reported on property outside of the city, we collaborate with the corresponding agency to get it removed; Santa Cruz County Abatement Program, the City of Capitola, CalTrans, and the METRO to name a few.

56,752 square feet of graffiti was cleaned last year through the Graffiti Abatement Program.


Because graffiti affects everyone, the continued success of the City’s graffiti program is dependent on community members helping to keep the City clean of graffiti by calling in any tags you see. There is also a volunteer program for those wanting to become directly involved. FREE Abatement kits are available at the Economic Development office at 337 Locust Street.

If you are interested in learning more about the Graffiti Abatement Program or becoming a volunteer, please email us at [email protected] or give us a call on the hotline at (831) 420-5303.

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