SUISUN CITY — Fed up with the growing problem of graffiti, 10 Rotary members spent Saturday morning covering walls covered with tagging.
The Fairfield-Suisun Rotary Club separated into teams and picked a public service to volunteer their time. For one group, that meant grabbing equipment and heading to a wall near the railroad tracks on Railroad and Sunset avenues. The group will pick a spot in Fairfield next weekend for the same task.
Gang and other types of graffiti covered the walls behind the Cottonwood Apartments but was soon hidden behind a fresh coat of paint donated by various people. Dilenna Harris, Vacaville city councilwoman, said the problem of graffiti is growing and people are sick of looking at it around town.
“It’s such an incredible devaluation of the community. Everybody is tired of it in every city of Solano County,” Harris said. “There’s this endless cycle of unaccountability.”
Cities are busy tackling the problem as well, spending staff time and money to remove it. Fairfield is working on changes to its graffiti ordinance in an attempt to get a better handle on the issue, said Dawn La Bar, legislative and special projects manager. La Bar said she was working to put a report together and would present it at the March 19 council meeting.
George Hicks, Fairfield’s public works director, said the city spends about $100,000 a year cleaning up graffiti on public property around the city. That doesn’t include sound walls or signs on the freeway, which is handled by the California Department of Transportation.
That money breaks down to $50,000 spent on labor, $40,000 on replacing signs and $10,000 on materials used. He said the money from signs is based on the number they have to replace, rather than just clean.
Hicks said signs have a reflective gloss on them that will come off when removing the graffiti. He said the city has purchased some of that coating, but still has to regularly replaced damaged signs.
“It allows you to take the graffiti off once or twice, but it still doesn’t eliminate the problem,” he said.
Vacaville doesn’t track solid dollar figures as to how much the city spends getting rid of graffiti. The city has one full-time employee who spends one to two days a week – eight to 16 hours – doing nothing but removing graffiti, said Shawn Cunningham, public works director.
Cunningham said that costs the city around $35,000 a year just in labor. He said the figure doesn’t include all labor; workers in the field, such as in a park, will just take care of graffiti themselves.
“It’s getting worse . . . just the amount of time we spend on it,” Cunningham said of the graffiti.
Suisun City budgeted about $8,500 for graffiti and vandalism abatement in 2012-13, but that cost can change based on the number of incidents, said Scott Corey, marketing manager for the city.
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr. Susan Winlow and Amy Maginnis-Honey contributed to this story.