I have noticed a lot of graffiti lately in El Centro. Can the minors on probation go out and clean graffiti? If not, are there any programs to clean the city of this eyesore. — Sick of It, El Centro
Graffiti is always there; sometimes we notice it and sometimes we don’t. Just like the programs meant to clean it up; sometimes we use them and sometimes we don’t.
As far as youthful offenders cleaning it up as part of their probation, it does happen. According to Imperial County probation officials, probation is about rehabilitation and not punishment, and often some of that rehabilitation takes the form of paying restitution for damages or taking part in community service, such as graffiti paint-out events.
That said, the city of El Centro, through its Redevelopment Agency, has had an extremely successful graffiti abatement program operating for at least four years. One of the tenets of the program has the Probation Department partnering up to get those probationers to clean up graffiti.
The RDA program has been recognized nationally and averages something like 60 calls a month, said Deborah Harrold, RDA community development specialist II.
In fiscal 2010-2011 (July 1, 2010, to now), there have been 681 calls for service around the city. That translates to 1,818 gallons of paint used to cover up some 384,000 square feet of graffiti, according to a report from the RDA.
Harrold said the program paints out graffiti for both businesses and residents. Someone just has to call in to the RDA and report the graffiti, and with one or two days, Harrold said, crews will be out to paint it over.
She said it’s important to get at the graffiti quickly to deter it. She said leaving graffiti to languish is like an open invitation for more.