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Officials Install Graffiti-Resistant Fences to Deter Vandals

August 21, 1996|JOHN COX

Until recently, chain-link fences and fresh coats of paint were the standard remedies for vandalism in western Paramount.

If their choice of landscaping ruled out the former, even the most vigilant homeowners could count on repeat visits by taggers, San Marino Avenue resident Yolanda Zuniga said.

She remembers watching several months ago as city workers whitewashed graffiti in front of her neighbor's home. "Right after they painted, [vandals] were there to tag on it again," Zuniga said.

But in a new twist on an old tradition, city public works officials may have found a solution that deters taggers while providing the area with a unified look: graffiti-proof picket fences.

The idea struck city workers this summer as they undertook a street widening project in what could be one of the city's quieter neighborhoods, said assistant city manager Linda Benedetti-Leal.

Although the area is home to many families who like to mingle with neighbors, she said, a multitude of chain-link fences seemed to divide neighbors and destroy any chance at visual harmony.

At the conclusion of the street improvement project, when it came time to replace fences that had been leveled during construction, workers asked residents if they would favor shorter picket fences. The response was overwhelmingly positive, Benedetti-Leal said.

Six weeks and $36,000 later, fence installation is nearly complete at 30 houses on three different city streets. The result--42-inch-tall white fences made of a sturdy polyvinyl material that wipes clean--has already prompted calls from residents in other neighborhoods.

If enough residents want them, and if Paramount officials can find the money, fences could be installed throughout the city, Benedetti-Leal said.

For her part, Zuniga has nothing but praise for the picket fence that went up in front of her home last week.

"[The fences] give the city a better appearance," she said. "It makes it look nicer, cleaner."

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