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Solutions to the graffiti problem

March 11, 2007

Re "Cities are answering the scrawl," March 5

Kudos to Los Angeles and Graffiti Tracker Inc. for getting serious about the tagging problem. What isn't mentioned in the article is what form of punishment or rehabilitation taggers are subject to once they are caught and convicted. Instead of paying city workers to clean up the graffiti, the taggers themselves should be sent out to scrub off their own work and repaint, just so they can see what a fun job it is.

I have no sympathy for these "building rapists" and think the more severe the punishment, the better. This is one crime that has no plausible justification and demonstrates an absence of human respect.

JULIE ANN HASSETT

Los Angeles

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Officials cited in Monday's article suggested that immediate graffiti paint-outs have become insufficient to discourage taggers. When I introduced my Uniting Neighbors to Abolish Graffiti program (UNTAG) in L.A.'s 13th Council District in 2003, my goal was to cut tagging in half within two years.

My staff surveyed every street in the district, counting 20,763 tags in one day. Two years later, using the same methodology, we counted 9,419 tags -- a drop of 55%.

What worked? New technology helped. We installed video cameras at hot spots throughout the district, discouraging further tagging. But cameras are too expensive to cover every intersection in even a relatively compact council district. The key was combining technology with immediate paint-out and community organizing.

My staff and I recruited more than 250 block captains from the neighborhoods I represent. Each took responsibility for reporting graffiti in his or her neighborhood. Two years later, the numbers don't lie. Uniting neighbors works.

ERIC GARCETTI

President

Los Angeles City Council

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Your readers can actually do something about graffiti in their neighborhoods. Los Angeles residents can dial 311 and ask for graffiti removal. If you give a list of the addresses where you've spotted graffiti, the city pledges to remove it within four business days, making your neighborhood a less-hospitable place for the scrawlers.

SUELLEN WAGNER

Studio City

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