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New Van to Be Used to Fight Graffiti Battle

October 22, 1998|DEBRA CANO

Anaheim is getting a new tool to wipe out graffiti: a van equipped to paint over marks made on any surface, matching any color.

The van will be bought with $85,000 in state funds presented to Anaheim Beautiful on Wednesday by Assemblyman Jim Morrissey, whose district includes a portion of the city.

Anaheim Beautiful will donate the van to the city for its graffiti-removal program, President Esther Wallace said.

The van will be custom ordered and is expected to be on the streets by January.

"It will be a real valuable tool in our fight against graffiti," Councilwoman Shirley McCracken said.

The van has a scanner that analyzes and matches colors to replicate the existing paint. The result: no patchwork effect when city workers paint over graffiti.

Since 1989, Anaheim Beautiful, a volunteer group that focuses on making the city cleaner and more attractive, has been instrumental in developing graffiti removal programs. In April, the group began raising money to buy the state-of-the-art van. The $7,000 raised will now be used to buy paint and supplies, Wallace said.

Morrissey, an Anaheim Beautiful member, said the technology can help curb graffiti vandalism because it can be removed quickly--depriving vandals of attention for placing their tag in public.

"I think it's depressing for people to see graffiti on the walls and it helps to bring crime into the area," Morrissey said.

Morrissey also said he will request that next year's state budget include money to buy anti-graffiti vehicles for Santa Ana and Garden Grove.

Graffiti vandalism in Anaheim have increased in the past six months, said Richard La Rochelle, code enforcement supervisor. But he said the city continues to impose its zero-tolerance policy and to offer a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of graffiti vandals. Since 1989, the city has handed out about $90,000 in rewards, La Rochelle said.

Annually, the city spends about $100,000 for graffiti removal. From July 1997 to July 1998, about 378,187 square feet of graffiti was removed at 7,266 locations citywide.

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