San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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August 27th, 2008
Task force to combat graffiti

The San Marcos’ Mayor’s office and the Police Department are partnering up to create a volunteer task force that would help rid the city of graffiti. Crime Prevention Officer Danny Arredondo said the Police Department and the Mayor are beginning a preventative program geared to removing graffiti and keeping it out of San Marcos. Volunteers from Texas State University, the Civic Community Group, and Gary Jobs Corp will be recruited to aid in the process.”I started asking for this more than a year ago, we need to get this out,” said Mayor Susan Narvaiz.

The city has funded the purchase of a “soda-blaster” to remove graffiti from city property. The device would power spray baking soda and water onto the affected property, removing the graffiti without damaging the structure. It is designed to “blast” the graffiti away. Money has also been set aside for paint which would be used on city structures that have been vandalized.

“The whole idea is to improve the aesthetics,” said San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams.
Under Title 7 of the Penal Code, graffiti is defined as, “a person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, the person intentionally or knowingly makes markings, including inscriptions, slogans, drawings, or paintings, on the tangible property of the owner with an aerosol paint, an indelible marker, or an etching or engraving device.”

Williams said San Marcos is not experiencing a major problem with graffiti, but it is beginning to become more prevalent. “There are places unquestionably were graffiti is a bigger problem,” said Williams. “But it makes the city look disorderly, look trashy and generally unattractive. It tends to invite crime and disorder.”

Detective W. Gean Tucker said graffiti usually comes from three main sources, high school students, people that attend Gary Jobs Corp, and people at Texas State University. He said they tend to act at night in quiet private areas where they cannot be seen.

“If you want to prevent tagging, have lighting in your area and keep it clear,” said Tucker. “If your fence is tagged take a picture of it, call us right away, and as soon as we’re finished looking at it, paint it, cover it up,” said Tucker. “Don’t leave it. If you leave it, they’ll go, ‘oh he doesn’t care,’ and they’ll come back and keep doing it, and your fence will be covered in no time.”

Tucker said graffiti is less likely to return if it’s removed within 48 hours. He added that pinpointing the culprit is not always easy.

“I have sat down with quote unquote leaders of gangs in this area, and said ‘the tagging will stop, let’s have a deal; stop tagging San Marcos,’ and its worked when I can track down who it is,” said Tucker. “Although graffiti is not easy to locate the actor; usually the best way to do it is to find them in the act, which is difficult to do.”

Williams said online social networking sites like myspace, have proven to be a helpful tool. He said people post pictures of their “work” prompting the police department to follow up on them.

“This can be seriously punished,” said Williams. “You can do some serious time in jail for graffiti.”

Under Title 7 of the Penal Code graffiti charges can range from Class B misdemeanor to first degree felony.


Photos by Andy Sevilla

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0 thoughts on “Task force to combat graffiti

  1. It’s about time! Even though graffiti is not a huge issue in San Marcos, it still is an issue. I see bigger cities where graffiti is abundant and honestly it gives the city a horrible image, something I don’t want for San Marcos. Im glad to read this story, because we really need something positive in San Marcos, after the negative national attention we’ve been getting. I bet this story won’t make to the national scope though. Anyway, good job Mayor and Police Department.

  2. Painting over it and blasting it will not discourage these artists. It usually ends up prompting them to return to the streets to make up for lost artwork.

    In some major cities rather than painting and repainting, they have designated graffiti areas. These are usually not prominent in the city but still visible to some passer-bys. This would prompt creative competition without ramifications for property owners.

    Why not use their talent to beautify the city, instead of just applying a fresh coat of paint over the problem?

  3. Graffiti does make the city look trashy, luckily it’s not everywhere yet. I think this is a great plan, it’s not just “painting over the problem,” I think it will discourage more graffiti, according to statistics anyway. However I do agree that perhaps San Marcos should invest in designating a particular wall or area, that would allow for graffiti – which can be a form of art. If nothing else, it would at least minimize property damage.

  4. A soda- blaster? Sounds like something from a children’s book. Why don’t we look at other areas who have confronted this problem- like Deep Ellum in Dallas, TX. A few years ago, when I still lived and worked in Dallas, they joined forces with these “taggers” to create something beautiful and join together the community. On the first of every month, a building would be white- washed, and local artists of all sorts could come out and express themselves. People painted on the newly blank wall, they brought local goods to sell, and many brought instruments to play music. Unfortunately, this tradition was brought to a screeching halt a few years ago.

    If we did something like that here, we could seriously spark a change in the way people view graffiti and local art, and maybe even influence other communities around us facing similar problems.

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