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West Sacramento News-Ledger

Community Coming Together to Fight Graffiti

Feb 09, 2023 12:00AM ● By By Michele Townsend

Vanessa Castro and Emiliano Rosas at first community meeting to fight graffiti. Photo provided by Alfred Melbourne

Community Coming Together to Fight Graffiti [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - A meeting was held at the Victory Outreach Church where approximately 70 community members gathered to fight the graffiti problem in the Broderick/Bryte area. Vanessa Castro, life-long resident of West Sacramento, has a friend whose elderly mother had her home vandalized with graffiti at the end of 2022. What made things worse was that she said the City of West Sacramento had sent her friend’s mom a letter saying that if she didn’t get the graffiti cleaned up, that she would be fined. With the lady being an elderly veteran, she could not easily just clean it up on her own. They painted the fence and, by the next morning, it was painted again with graffiti.

In January of 2023, Vanessa started noticing posts on the West Sacramento Community Discussion Board, on Facebook, from concerned community members about the growing graffiti problems. She had responded to a couple of the comments with suggestions. People started responding to her statements like she was in charge of fixing the problem. Realizing that this is not the City’s responsibility, nor do they have the funding for graffiti abatement, she decided she would do what she could.

Vanessa made up a flyer and talked to the Pastor at the Community Outreach Church on the corner of Sacramento Ave. and Kagel for a place to hold a meeting. She set up two different dates, in case the first date didn’t work out for anyone. She went to homes in the Broderick and Bryte areas, where she saw graffiti on the homes. She also went around their neighborhoods, handing out flyers and speaking with community members.

To her surprise, some 70 people showed up to the meeting. Attendees included Mayor Martha Guerrero, Councilwoman Norma Alcala and Police Chief Rob Strange. This was no simple meeting where the community members listened to speeches about how it would get better. This group of people came up with action plans, both short-term and long-term. They agreed to help each other out offering to paint over the graffiti for those who couldn’t do it themselves.

Councilwoman Alcala said that the City doesn’t have a graffiti abatement fund, however she was able to get the City to donate paint. She and Mayor Guerrero said that they would look into City resources that may help. John Archuletta, a member of the Knights of Columbus, offered $250 dollars on behalf of the Knights to help with costs and said that a local paint store may be willing to donate some paint. A task force was formed, and plans were in place to help each other with the graffiti, as well as help the police to catch the vandals. The police, in turn, are going to increase their efforts in trying to catch the vandals.

This is something the community realizes they may have to handle themselves. They are also trying to come up with ways to provide places to paint. Perhaps providing places that can be painted over and over. Finding places to paint murals was one suggestion. This may be an option for those who do it for the art. However, some of the tagging is part of a gang turf claim, according to the WSPD. That tagging is a little harder to stop because it’s an on-going battle.

Perhaps some of the people who do the painting could come to a meeting (without police presence) and explain the painter’s side. Would a public place to go paint without getting in trouble keep painters from painting people’s property? Regardless of the reason, this community, both business and residential, is tired of how the graffiti makes their neighborhoods look, and they will be working together, installing cameras and watching closely for vandals.

“My main goal was for the community to know that they had support, and I am very proud of the community for being there and willing to go to work and work together to help each other.”

Source: Vanessa Castro 

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