San Bernardino hopes vibrant artwork will deter graffiti and tagging – San Bernardino Sun

Last year, San Bernardino workers fielded about 15 calls a day to remove graffiti somewhere in the city, a daily average not counting the seven times a day that city workers themselves reported graffiti. graffiti.

In total, graffiti removal workers handled more than 8,000 calls in 2021 to cover up some kind of marking.

Something had to change.

Earlier this year, Operations and Maintenance Manager Ernesto Salinas enlisted the help of a muralist, a former tagger himself, to launch a pilot program designed to deter vandals from tagging highly visible locations. along busy thoroughfares by covering them with vibrant murals.

A colorful serape cover design on a utility box.

A bright linear design on a brick wall.

A Ukrainian flag.

Whether out of respect for an artist’s work or that a tagger’s mark will blend into a busy design, Salinas and his team have found that bold murals and artwork deter graffiti. .

“We hope it works,” said Salinas, whose program, if successful, could save the city about $2,000 a year in graffiti removal supplies and labor costs.

A landscaper walks past a mural of angel wings at Lake Seccombe Park in San Bernardino on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Already, murals have found homes at Lake Seccombe Park, Arrowhead Avenue and Fourth Street, Second and K Streets, and Second and L Streets, with more projects downtown and elsewhere. Business owners with storefronts and exteriors that taggers often target have even started commissioning art for their problem areas, Salinas said.

Salinas, who intends to see this pilot program throughout the year, is drafting a policy so that other artists can submit their creations to the city’s arts commissioners and get to work to cover hot spots.

“We want to prevent as much graffiti as possible,” he said.

In addition to starting the pilot program, San Bernardino added two graffiti removal workers and now removes graffiti seven days a week.

“One of the things I always mention,” Salinas said, “is that we can clean up the city as much as we can, but then the weekend comes around and it all blows up again.”

Investing in preventing graffiti as much as removing it, Salinas added, is a wise investment.

“But we are under no illusions,” he added. “If that doesn’t work, hey, at least we tried something.”

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