Palmdale cracking down on taggers

PALMDALE – Eighty-five people have been arrested for spraying graffiti in Palmdale as of the beginning of the year.

There was a large case in which two individuals were caught having done over 300 acts of graffiti, said Palmdale Communications Manager John Mylnar. The city got $59,000 in restitution from this case alone.

“Sometimes you get one person and boom, crime drops,” Mylnar said.

Since July 2011, 542,000 different locations and 696,000 square feet of property that has been tagged has now been cleaned up by the City of Palmdale, he said.

Palmdale Assistant City Attorney Noel Doran said the sheriff’s department tries to document every instance of graffiti. They can match graffiti tags to previous tags they already have documented, and convict people that way.

“The sheriff’s department has done a real good job in nailing them,” Mylnar said. “If you go down to L.A., you can see they’re not as on top of it.”

Graffiti costs tax payers about $600,000 a year to cover, he said.

“All that money, if we didn’t have taggers, could go to more useful things,” Mylnar said. “If people do see graffiti, we encourage them to report it at 94-PRIDE.”

In addition to calling the hotline, people can also report graffiti online by clicking here.

The number of calls to the hotline spikes when the schools are out on holiday, Mylnar said.

Palmdale resident Michelle Storm-Larsen, who has reported graffiti numerous times, said she notices new graffiti every week during the summer.

“It’s bad,” Storm-Larsen said. “It’s going to get worse if they don’t do anything about it…and once the graffiti stays there, they keep doing it.”

If the graffiti is on public property, the city of Palmdale will send someone out as soon as they can, Mylnar said. However, if the graffiti is on private property, there is more of a process to get that removed.

“Graffiti is a nuisance, and the property owners in general are required to keep their property nuisance free,” Doran said. “It’s the responsibility of the property owner. That’s really the bottom line.”

Under certain circumstances, Doran said the city can help the property owner remove the graffiti.

When the graffiti is in view of a public right-of-way such as a sidewalk or a street, according to Palmdale ordinance 9.30.090, the city will remove it after they receive authorization from the owner.

Once the graffiti is reported, Mylnar said the city will send the property owner notification of the graffiti, as well as the authorization form they are required to sign.

The permission can slow things down because it takes time to send the notice, for the permission to be given, and for the public works team to get out to the site, he said.

Graffiti fines are dictated by state law, with penalties that can reach as high as $10,000. Click here to read the penal code for tagging.

  40 comments for “Palmdale cracking down on taggers

  1. Swarmi
    March 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    The problem with taggers is that they’re far too noided to obey society’s rules and laws. If we can find a way to manage the noid, either via education or through providing youth services for taggers then this problem can be solved en-mass, rather than by punishing taggers individually. Figuratively, taggers have no hands. Society must provide the hands. Reduce the noid, reinstate the hands.

  2. Swarmi
    March 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    The problem with taggers is that they’re far too noided to obey society. If we can find a way to manage the noid, either via education or through providing youth services for taggers then this problem can be solved en-mass, rather than by punishing taggers individually. Figuratively, taggers have no hands. Society must provide the hands. Reduce the noid, reinstate the hands.

  3. nick the spic
    March 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm


  4. Les
    May 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I am assuming most of these comments are from Lancaster. I have used Palmdale’s website and hotline several times and have almost always seen immediate results. And the paint is a pretty close match.
    I also understand the problems with the City going onto private property to cover graffiti. Heaven forbid it’s not a perfect match and the business /homeowner sues to have the entire property repainted.
    Graffiti is not the fault if the cities. It’s the fault of the graffiti vandals. The cities, at the expense of their taxpayers, are unfortunately left to clean up the mess though.

    • Adam Chant
      May 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      No, it’s all of the antelope valley. This isn’t some bash one town over another thing. I can honestly say that everyone is doing only an average job at addressing the graffiti problem in the Antelope Valley.

      In the case of unincorporated areas it’s even worse because the private contractor that gets over $550,000 a year is located in Pico Rivera. They are responsible for all of North LA county so I have seen it take a week or more to paint over graffiti in Lake LA or the outskirts of Lancaster/Palmdale. The water tank and outbuilding in Lake LA must have a .25″ of paint on them by now.

      The fact of the matter is that painting is not the best solution for beautification, but the cities don’t have the resources to do anything else. While that is understandable in certain areas alternative techniques need to be considered where the look and feel of the community will be impacted.

      Also I have been saying it for years now there should be a more proactive attitude toward clean-up. If a crew is already assigned to do the work then have them drive around and just fix it when they see it rather than wait for a report to come in. We all have camera phones now with GPS and those can be used just as easily as graffiti tracker. If they see the tag, take a photo, fill out a report and then clean up the tags.

      Every part of every city in America has a problem with tagging. It’s just that certain locations have learned the proper techniques to maintain a pleasant looking environment over just slapping a layer of paint on the surface.

      I have researched this extensively over the last 5 or so years and documented as the cities went from $150,000 a year to now well over $600,000 in costs related to graffiti abatement. When you add in private business costs it easily exceeds $2 million in losses in the A.V. from graffiti.

      Also don’t be quick to judge on either side of the artistic aspect of this; tagging is not graffiti art. 99% of what is cleaned up can not in any way be classified as art. Scrawling a line of scribble is not graffiti it’s tagging and is an insult to the skill and abilities of those who participate in graffiti art. It’s obvious to even those who dislike the blight created by graffiti that a good piece can be respected by everyone… even those who are tasked to remove it.

      • John Mlynar
        May 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm

        Compared to the tagging and graffiti I see in LA every time I go down the hill, the AV is doing a spectacular job in comparison.
        Is there room for improvement? Yes, there almost always is.

        As for a crew just “fixing” a problem when they see it, I agree if it is on City property. If it is private property, you have to have permission. It’s a property rights issue.

        I could not agree with you more about tagging not being art. Neither is graffiti for that matter if it is done on property other than your own without permission. When you deface someone else’s or public property, it is a crime. Even if it is “beautiful” is is not right to deface that which is not yours. I might think I have a great singing voice and I can sing to my heart’s content in my house, at a karaoke bar, on stage, etc. But I can’t walk into your house and just start singing. I may have a “beautiful” voice— an artistic voice— but I have no right to barge into your place uninvited and just let er rip.(And if you heard me sing, you would appreciate that!;) )

        • Stinger
          May 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

          “Compared to the tagging and graffiti I see in LA every time I go down the hill, the AV is doing a spectacular job in comparison.”

          I have to agree on that. Both cities have, indeed, been pretty on the ball about removal of graffiti in a timely fashion. Kudos to both cities’ maintenance teams.

          • Quigley
            May 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm


        • William
          May 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm

          I remember how bad it was in the AV back in the 90s. Nowadays, if I see some graffiti, it seems unusual because I don’t see it very often. Plus, Palmdale is very good about fixing it when I call the hotline.

    • Mstormy
      May 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      I have used the hot line also and all of a sudden they give me this garbage excuse of “private walls and liability”. But yet when I wrote everyone in the council and the mayor which I still don’t what he does gave me no answer. I have called the hotline number for over 10 years and all of a sudden nothing. I looked up the property line and it’s on the inside of the wall the outside seems to be city. It is just another excuse why I don’t know. So I had to ask the press. Just like the HUDGE trucks going down Palmdale blvd. This is not a truck route and pear blossom is fix yet they still barrel down it. One day they will stop it when the children get hit and someone dies.

      • John Mlynar
        May 16, 2012 at 7:54 am

        The wall is in fact private property. Both the inside and the outside. I checked it out personally. We have contacted the property owner about it. As for Palmdale Blvd., it is state highway 138 and as far as I know, trucks are permitted on state highways. Caltrans oversees that. I will try to find out for you and repost here.

        Once the High Desert Corridor is built, I think the only trucks you will see on Palmdale Blvd will be ones making deliveries.

        • Adam Chant
          May 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

          We should have a blight ordinance that permits the city or approved private contractor the permission to clean up private property in public view when it’s been covered in graffiti. Maybe add a little bit of “at the expense of the property owner under the discretion of the city should the owner fail to do so in a timely manner” verbiage and see if that flies. I personally would not want to include the expense of property owner part, but it has to be paid for some how. Though it would get really expensive for some businesses who have constant tagging.. that ironically could be prevented with a single light or camera – both of which cost less than 1 clean-up.

        • MsStormy
          May 16, 2012 at 11:00 am

          Thank you Mr. Mlynar, I looked up the truck routes in fact I believe on your web site or Cal Tran cannot remember now, along with my property line. It does not say Ave S is a truck route. I am just worried about the citizens and traffic I have nothing against people trying to make a living my father was a trucker. The way they screech down with their brakes and honk out here it is incredible also sometimes park.
          I believe just respect the road and citizens there was one accident out here and the child died as a result, I still hear the mom whaling. Not something, you want to hear. I also find that your employees picked up the graffiti by the next day which and all of a sudden; you changed your ways why?
          Thank you,

          • John Mlynar
            May 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm

            Hi Michele:
            My apologies; I thought you were referring to Palmdale Blvd., which is a truck route. I will find out what, if any, restrictions are on Ave. S.

            As for graffiti, if it is on City property, our crews are on it as fast as we can after it is reported. If it is on private property, we have to get permission. It is technically the responsibility of the property owner to remove it on his/her property. The City can with the owners permission, but that is a process that takes some time. The fastest way to deal with private property graffiti is for the owner to remove it. The City does work with people through the Adopt A Wall Program, which is a great way for a neighborhood to fight graffiti. The only way to keep graffiti out of our community and prevent its spread is by everyone—city, businesses and residents—working together.

          • MsStormy
            May 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm

            Hello Mr. Mlynar,
            This is true or brake there hands :-). I remember before they advertised Palmdale on TV they would lock up the cans and such, yes those days are gone. However, why the change? Why did you stop painting the walls were you being sued? You have done it for over 10 years with our Tax Money. Adopt the wall is good but, do I want to get killed like they are down below. My son is already afraid I might get shot. Why not let the hostel kids repaint it. Where is this form so I may sign it. Also these kids like to see how long it will stay up. And will put more then the whole town and towns will go way down.
            And where do you look at the property lines I would like to meet with you to see this. I looked on your website. Maybe you should explained it to me in person?

  5. John Mlynar
    May 15, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Good dialogue. Couple points to clarify that were made throughout…

    1. City of Palmdale’s graffiti hotline is 94-PRIDE (947-7433). Leave a message. City will respond to graffiti on City properties as soon as possible. 104 square miles to cover.

    2. There are penalties for offenders and parents. Info may be found online at under the Municipal code 9.30.100 Penalties. Once charged, it is up to the court system to punish accordingly.

    3. The City of Palmdale does try to match color. The graffiti program maintains a color list of over 250 colors that is constantly changing as buildings are built, removed or repainted. Graffiti technicians take great pride in matching the location’s original color.

    4. As was mentioned it is important to report and remove graffiti as soon as possible. Graffiti on private property requires permission by the owner and the graffiti must be a visual nuisance; that is, can be easily seen from a public right of way. The fastest way to get graffiti off private property is for the owner to remove it. Another good way is to form an Adopt-a-Wall group with neighbors. The program assists local residents who volunteer to remove graffiti in their neighborhood by providing them with free-color matched paint and materials. Info is available at 661/267-5170.

    5. Make it hard for taggers to get spray paint. Acts of graffiti are most-often committed by persons under the age of 18 years using aerosol containers of spray paint and/or etching solution. Minors frequently steal these implements of graffiti from retail stores, and, as such, retail stores that display and/or sell these implements should be prohibited from selling them to minors and should be required to take reasonable steps to prevent their theft.

    5. If you see graffiti in areas outside of Palmdale, here are some contact numbers:
    Littlerock and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County:
    T.A.G. – Totally Against Graffiti: 800/675-4357 or
    City of Lancaster Graffiti Hotline: 661/723-6200
    To report graffiti on the 14 Freeway in the Antelope Valley area call Caltrans: 818/830-6176

    In short, to keep graffiti out of our community, it takes the efforts of everyone: city, residents, and businesses coming together to report it and remove it. Just like with Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch and Park Watch, it takes the eyes and ears of all residents to keep this nuisance at bay.

    • Mstormy
      May 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      This is very well known, still would like to know why you stopped covering the walls all of a sudden. Yes it is everyone’s responsibility.I still don’t see a liability form for all to see. As I still see the graffiti not taken down they have won along with the truckers.

      • MsStormy
        May 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

        Thank you so much Palmdale City for not cleaning up the graffiti as you have been for the last 10 years. As we will now see the city go further to ….it has started.
        Thank you so so much!

  6. Jerome
    May 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    How about a story on Lancaster cracking down on Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  7. HMR
    May 13, 2012 at 8:27 am

    one big issue with the cleanup, when the mess is painted over, why don’t they use a color to match the walls? after the patch job it looks worse than the grafitti itself!

    • Adam Chant
      May 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I have to agree. Additionally when an architecturally featured surface is unpainted it’s just as bad as the original graffiti if the city or (in the case of LA county) a private contractor puts pink paint over the graffiti.
      Quartz Hill Mountain walls are excellent example of that. After someone from the last election had “LOL” painted on the wall overlooking one of the candidates homes it was attempted to be removed and eventually painted over with pink paint. Over the last few years it has become a common location for graffiti and each time it gets painted over with more pink paint.
      a Lot of the concrete light poles in the A.V. are covered in paint colors from flat white to light brown and it’s more than obvious that where the poles are painted it’s a high crime area.

      Understand however that the EPA has really tied the hands of those trying to clean up graffiti. Basically unless you are VERY skilled or take Asbestos like care of the graffiti it will quickly become what is considered a toxic waste spill. Using any media that mixes with paint to produce a new and unknown media is classified as toxic waste. Having that run into the street or directly into the ground is a very big problem. Some of the cleaning agents and media used can actually poison the water or even get CARB involved as it creates an unknown air born pollutant. So for the city and many contractors that do the work it’s easier to just slap some ugly paint over the problem rather than spend the time and effort to properly return the surface to its original condition.

      Some of the older schools and public buildings often get red paint laid over otherwise beautiful brick work and it really upsets me. Having a tree or telephone pole painted and obvious brown color is arguably more destructive than the original graffiti, but it’s accepted as the price we have to pay for this blight. The alternative solution is to use the correct removal products and techniques for each instance and go back and clean up the hundreds of light poles that are covered now. The problem is that with the cities each spending close to a million dollars a year and the county another 3/4 million for North LA county it would cost more for these government agencies to learn about and use the correct abatement solutions.

      • ed
        May 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

        We have the laws. C.P.C. Section 594, gives us all the authority and muscle we need to catch and prosecute the violators. I am sure the Sheriff’s gang squad knows who the graffiti belongs to. Most of this stuff is by teenagers, both mentally and physically. If the courts would use the Penal Code and make them clean it up themselves or have their parents clean it up or pay for the cleaning, I believe we would see a big drop in graffiti. Ask the kids, they know who is doing the damage.

  8. Gladdis
    May 13, 2012 at 12:06 am

    The City of Lancaster has people who come out and clean up graffiti within a few days OF IT BEING CALLED IN. Someone needs to take a minute to call 661-723-5985, give them the street location and what it tagging was done on. (ie. block wall, utility box, store wall) If it is private property, the city notifies the property owner. Utility boxes are done on fridays only by power company. Lancaster graffiti removal is on the ball, but they need to have it called in or entered on the City website, to generate a work order. I DO NOT work for the city, I just happen to have an interest in catching graffiti vandals.

  9. Matt Keltner
    May 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

    It would be great if the City could find some drought-resistant, fast-growing vines to put up along the walls. That would go miles in preventing graffiti and give the added benefit of making the area a little bit greener.

    The neighborhood directly across from Marie Kerr Park in Rancho Vista has some type of thick vines that grow up the wall and I have noticed their durability and aesthetic appeal.

  10. Gladdis
    May 12, 2012 at 12:23 am

    The people who remove the graffiti takes pictures and from those pictures they can identify who did the damage. Sooner or later they will get caught, The taggers I have seen are teenages riding little bikes with backpacks on, hanging around the loading dock area of stores or lurking around the side of buildins till no one else is around.Usually after dark, dressed in black trying to be invisible.

    • Yo Mama
      May 12, 2012 at 4:55 am

      See! Gladdis even has a discription of these Hood Rats. WTF?? Where’s the mayor? Where’s the Sheriff Dept.? You go, Gladd! Nail their asses!

  11. William
    May 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I reported some graffiti near my neighborhood on Wednesday and it was gone today. The thing is, I have to remember to call the hotline the minute I get home so I don’t forget.

    Some people don’t seem to know or bother to call the hotline even when it’s on their walls, sidewalk, mailbox or whatever. I don’t know if they get home late from work and don’t see it or what. I can’t imagine that they willingly tolerate it on their property.

  12. HMR
    May 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    ok, will check it out…

  13. HMR
    May 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    so, other than penalzing the homeowner, for what these idiots have done, what is the city doing to crackdown on tagging? so, they get busted and how do the taggers pay the city back? their parents have to pay? why arent these taggers made an example of? send them out to do the clean up.. all they get is a slap on the wrist..

    • lucas
      May 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm

      I agree with you 100% HMR, here is the problem, most of the time when someone report graffiti it takes weeks if not months to respond to the complaint and another thing the workers from the City of Palmdale goes by the graffiti without taking the time to take pictures nor to take the address where the graffiti is painted.
      Here in this article it shows only 000.1% of the graffiti in Palmdale and to probe to you I had the time to take some pictures myself and posted it on my fb Palmdale Graffiti.
      Check them out.

      • Gladdis
        May 13, 2012 at 12:13 am

        Courts need to change their juvenile laws. Taggers and most other juvenile offenders are back on the street before the deputies get the paper work done. City of Lancaster tried to make parents financially responsible and hit some road blocks.Restitution can be paid in tiny increments and most violaters don’t ever pay.

    • Gladdis
      May 12, 2012 at 12:16 am

      Some are arrested and sent to camp. They either go right back to it or some will have joined a criminal street gang while they were at camp.Example: the THUK tag that was so popular, then it’s main people went to jail and came out as A2K gang menbers. However, 2 weeks ago, some of the original THUK Boys showed up and tagged all around Lancaster, some had DH along side the THUK. The area around 22nd to 25th W and J4 were tagged alot as was the back of Food 4 Less and street signs all the way east past 10th W.

      • Yo Mama
        May 12, 2012 at 4:47 am

        Gladdis makes a point about Lancaster (despite the article referring to the City `O Palmdale). What’s the newly elected mayor say about tagging in Lancaster? They don’t seem to be as concerned as Palmdale. I know the hood around 3rd St. East & Lanc. Blvd is tagged regularly. Particularly the cemetary walls. What’s that city doin about it?

        • Gladdis
          May 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

          Yo Mama, do you call it in? Call it in and keep track of who you talked to and track it. See how long it takes for it to get cleaned up. Call them back if you need to.

    • Just the facts
      May 12, 2012 at 8:11 am


      For the most part, you are correct. Vandalism is a misdemeanor. Adult or minor, if you get caught, you’ll be taken in, booked, cited with a promise to appear in court and that’s it. Then it goes through the court. Usually pled out to pay for restitution and court fines. Most time, and this is the best part, the person will be put on probation with search terms for marking devices. Now if the local law enforcement is smart, they will remember these guys and now they have search terms, day or night, for marking devices. That means they can search the person or home for anywhere a Sharpie can be found. This can lead to more serious possession charges in the future like dope or weapons which is usually the case and can lead to jail/prison time.

    • Adam Chant
      May 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      City of Lancaster is charging all graffiti crimes as a felony. Palmdale probably does too, but the real problem is not with the cities, it’s the court. The court generally refuses to treat graffiti crimes with the seriousness they deserve and let offenders off with as little as a slap on the wrist.

      • Just the facts
        May 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm

        Actually, per penal code, any damage over $400 is a felony. Hard to spray paint $400. The city ordinance is just that. Does not state if felony or misdemeanor. State law would overrule anyway. Ordinance just goes into restitution and the such.

        • dealwithit
          May 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm

          Actually, vandalism is charged by the penal code, not a city ordinance. The city has computed a cost of around $431 to go out and clean up each incident.Some are obviously less and some are more to repair, but the court has accepted this as an average cost. So yes, it’s easy to charge these knuckleheads with felonies, if they are caught. But, as Adam mentioned, the courts usually plead them down to misdemeanors. And, a conviction for a misdemeanor, in 99% of the cases, does NOT allow the cops to search the homes of the offender.

          • Just the facts
            May 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm

            Maybe not in LA County. I’ve regularly seen taggers get probation with search terms for writing devices…

    • wild
      May 23, 2012 at 10:13 am

      and cut their hand off so it cant happen again!

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