Friday, May 4, 2012

Tackling Graffitti As A Community

Over the past month, the City of San Mateo has seen a surge of graffiti along various City streets, and on freeway wall maintained by Caltran. 

Working with San Mateo Senior Citizen Commissioner Tom Elliot as well as staff from the Public Works Department and the San Mateo Police Department, I took an aggressive approach to attack the sudden surge in graffiti:

  1. Requests were made to Public Works staff to expedite graffiti removal on all City property.
  2. Urgent requests were sent to Caltrans to have them begin clean-up of graffiti along the freeways.
  3. I requested a briefing from the San Mateo Police Department on the reasons for the sudden increase in graffiti in our City.
  4. I requested a joint study session with the City Council and the Community Relations Commission to start a public discussion on ways to improve the community response to prevent and report graffiti.
I am pleased to report that this week the City and Caltran took significant steps to remove or paint over much of the graffiti in our City.

On May 9 I am scheduled to meet with Police personnel to discuss the reasons for the increase of graffiti.  The purpose is to understand why the surge in graffiti as occurred, in order to shape better policy to address the issue in the long-term.  The meeting will also allow me to assess whether there are public safety concerns that need to be addressed.

On May 21, the City Council is scheduled to have a study session during our normal Council meeting.  This study session will include the members of the Community Relations Commission, and we will discuss ways to engage our community to better prevent and remove graffiti in our City.

Finally, I have drafted a letter to Steve Wagstaffe, the District Attorney of San Mateo, in which I have asked him to ensure that people arrested for graffiti are held accountable for their actions to the fullest extent of the law. 

It takes a community to combat vandalism, and the work of the Public Works Department, the Police Department, and Commissioners such as Tom Elliott are to be commended.  Graffiti is often the first sign of additional problems brewing within a neighborhood.  As your Councilman, I will continue to be vigilant and proactive on this issue.

To view the San Mateo Police MEDIA RELEASE on this issue, and for important safety tips on report graffiti, please click here

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