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.