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How to Deter Graffiti
updated: Feb 15, 2013, 3:19 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Suggestions needed for graffiti nuisance problem.

I'm hoping that wise Edhatters can help with this dilemma. We live in a condo association that has a wall facing 101 and the railroad tracks. This wall is constantly, and I do mean constantly, being defaced with graffiti. We repaint it, it is defaced within days. If we don't get it painted in time, the city paints it and we get billed, then the cycle starts all over again. We have no idea as a community how to deal with this problem. We were thinking of planting prickly plants in front of the wall, but that is about as creative as we have gotten. Any ideas?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 374819P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:26 PM

My first thought though is to get a motion-sensor light (maybe a few depending on the size of the area). But, I think the prickly plants idea is terrific. You could have some nice looking cacti and at the same time prevent vandalism (hopefully).


 COMMENT 374820 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:26 PM

Homeowners put security cameras on the front of their house? or even a fake camera will sometimes work to deter if you post signs .


 COMMENT 374822P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:27 PM

Install security cameras.

Install remote motion sensors at the walls, and when they alert you call the police whom will then arrest the people and get the video for further evidence.

You can do all this for less than $500 and you will save paint, time, and help SB.


 COMMENT 374823 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:28 PM

I don't know if Billy the Gardner would approve, but I'm thinking Bougainvillea. It's not picky about water so you wouldn't have to do more than hit it with a garden hose now and then. It tolerates crappy soil, although you have to worry about the train folks spraying RoundUp, so you might want to consult with them about that. Bougie can climb and grow 30 or more feet tall. Check some nurseries for recommended varieties, etc. Consider what direction the wall faces and how much sun it gets. Good luck!


 SBSURFERLIFE agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:36 PM

Are there such things as motion sensor sprinklers? When I was kid, my sister and I would hide in our bushes waiting for other kids to toilet paper our house. When they got close, we would jump out with the hose and water guns and our dad would turn on the sprinklers.


 COMMENT 374833 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:40 PM

Buff it ASAP. That is erase it. Taggers put it up to be seen. If they keep putting it up and it's erased before it is seen, they move on. My friend was a tagger in a previous life and he hated it when he got buffed.


 COMMENT 374835P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:45 PM

I like the motion sprinklers - I know they make them to discourage deer from eating gardens. I'm thinking something these delinquints don't want to step in ... dog excrement was my first thought, then something tarry/sticky.


 COMMENT 374838 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:50 PM

I like the spiky plant idea, and LOVE the idea about motion detector sprinklers (lights are good, too, but sprinklers are awesome!). Depending on how the taggers are getting to the wall, you can also try to come up with ideas to deter them even getting to the wall (again with the above ideas, but depending on the entrance, maybe just putting up some boards/fencing/etc could make it more of a PITA to get in?). Or just put buckets on the wall, and when the motion detector lights go on, push the buckets over. Fill the buckets with something other than water. Leftovers. Mud. Hot peppers soaking in water. Anything stinky (rotten eggs!). Or ice on really cold nights. Get creative! I know you'd have to hang out pretty late, but I think it might be worth it. :)


 COMMENT 374840 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:52 PM

Plant creeping fig to cover the wall entirely.....Billy Goodnick won't approve, but I think it will solve your problem. Also prickly pear cactus in front of the wall should do the trick. I also like the idea of motion sprinklers, we used them to deter the deer on the Riviera from eating our plants and it worked well.


 COMMENT 374841P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:52 PM

Or you could photograph the vandalism each time it occurs and report it to the SBPD.

But first get some cactus!


 COMMENT 374843 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 03:53 PM

Why not make it a mural? Or repaint it with some sort of pattern? Get some kids involved!

When you cover the wall in a solid color, you're simply providing a new blank canvas each time you repaint.


 COMMENT 374852 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 04:02 PM

Motion sensor floodlights - the highest wattage available. Then a motion sensor audible alarm. Lastly, an inexpensive motion sensor activated video system ( you know, just like the banks use..).


 COMMENT 374856 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 04:18 PM

How about some well placed 1x4's with nails sticking up. Sprinkle some leaves over it and wala! May not reduce tagging, but at least you'll sleep better knowing you got a bit of revenge and some taggers with sore feet.


 COMMENT 374859 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 04:34 PM

LOL! I like the "Polly-Anna" prespective of " paint a mural, get the kids involved..." Yeah, taggers love to paint pretty murals! If you're in a condo association, all of you footing the bill for security lights and video is the way to go until the vines grow in. There is a security "mat" that when activated, notifies dispatch to send units.


 COMMENT 374862 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 04:45 PM

I also think creating a mural would help. I've heard of other areas doing this on spaces that are repeatedly hit with graffiti. Once art appears it became a deterrent.


 COMMENT 374866 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 05:10 PM

Probably not a good idea to plant a board with nails. It could become an income generation device for lawyers. I like the idea of the motion sensors or security mat that trigger lights and cameras. Actually, with the night-vision stuff that's available you wouldn't need the lights. Then you wouldn't wake the neighborhood every time a cat, dog, possum, or racoon walked by.


 COMMENT 374874 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 05:24 PM

Bear traps?


 COMMENT 374875 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 05:24 PM

856: Not such a great idea. Someone could sue. Spikey plants are obvious (don't touch cactus - they are sharp! maybe I shouldn't tag here considering it will hurt!), hidden booby traps aren't obvious and they aren't exactly legal. And getting sued by the morons tagging your property would just be salt in the wounds. Stick to measures that make tagging a pain. Mural would be cool if they left it, but I'd feel bad if they ruined a mural.


 COMMENT 374879P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 05:37 PM

How many people in the condo association? Can you get volunteers to take various night shifts (to catch, photograph, pepper spray? them?) The motion activated sprinkler works. Prickly plants works. (We planted a bougainvillea hedge ourselves, for a natural barbed wire fence that looks nice.) In less litigious areas, the 'bear boards' mentioned work. (A bear board is a sheet of wood with nails sticking up out of it. You put it under windows and doors that bears are visiting at night to effectively discourage them.) There's some good ideas here. Best of luck.


 PAMSB agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 05:42 PM

Thanks, everyone, for the ideas. We've hesitated putting up any cameras or lights, thinking they would end up on Craigslist after the taggers stole them! Probably going the plantings route, but will look into everything. Just a shame that there are people in the world who have nothing better to do than cause problems for others!


 COMMENT 374917 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 08:08 PM

908: I think it's great to let people know when they've goofed up a word. (Wala. I'm going to be getting some mileage out of that one!) My favorite French mispronunciation occurred when I was 20 years old and on an extremely "hot" date.

This was the 70s and people (it seems) were into griping about SB wannabes and pretentiousness even way back then. My date was going on and on and then said to me, "It is all a big fuh-cade." hahahaha.

Naturally, I had to correct him. I didn't want him going through life mispronouncing such a critical and necessary word. We did have one more date, but that story is even more tragically amusing.

As for plantings that would discourage taggers: Native rose and native gooseberry are two plants that would keep anyone, even the most dedicated miscreant, away from an area. They take a while to grow, but then need only rainwater. Problem is---they are so thorny, they are a bit of a bother to prune. Bougainvillea thorns don't hold a candle to the thorns on rose/gooseberry.


 COMMENT 374920 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 08:25 PM

Wireless trail/game cameras at the entry points. They use infrared LEDs for a "flash" so taggers won't see them go off. If they do get stolen, the images have already been stored remotely. They run a 2-3 hundred bucks.

The trouble with video surveillance is that the image quality is usually very poor. Probably not good enough for an ID unless you spend a lot of money on the system. Game cameras take high resolution stills that capture a lot more detail.

I find it very irritating (but not surprising) that the local government punishes crime victims with fines instead of going after the criminals. Lazy [self-censored]s.


 COMMENT 374922P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-15 08:28 PM

I would go with the motion sensors and cameras. Anything that's going to cause injury to another, especially in light of it being spoken about publicly, is going to lead to future litigation. Honest, hard-working citizens are the easiest targets in our society. You're not going to be rewarded but demonized. One case in point is the homeowner who put broken glass on the top of his six foot high walls after being burgled several times. The crooks injured themselves, did not get arrested, and successfully sued the homeowner.


 COMMENT 374947P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-16 12:45 AM

Pam, is there WiFi in the area? If so I can suggest an good high resolution camera called DropCam. It uploads the video wirelessly, so even if they steal the camera, you have them on video since the data is stored remotely by the company.
For a few dollars a month they save all recorded video remotely and you can watch it later. The only negative is that the camera is not ok in rain, so you would need to remove when there is rain, or wait till rainy season is over.

For the wireless detection, use this.

It works well. Get 3 or so additional remote sensors and place them around the area. It is very unlikely that they will see them. Alternate with your condo association - perhaps each person just one night a week monitors the unit for alarms. Then you just either look at the DropCam video on your computer, or go out there to confirm and call the cops.

It is easy to catch these people, Pam, if you follow this advice.

No need for injurious methods people have submitted, and the motion sprinklers are not going to do anything as they will just remove them. Plants take a long time to grow and they can just poison them with RoundUp - It happens. Think about it, of they are willing to climb freeway signs, they are willing to pull out plants if they like that wall to tag.

If you can't mount the cameras high or in a place that is inconspicuous, just mount them near the condo where the criminals will walk by on there way to the wall. Then the motion sensor will alert you to watch the video. Very easy.
The camera has night vision, so no need for lights. Just bury or hide the power extension cord.

Any questions, let me know and please update us as to your results here on this page.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-16 07:08 AM

Wow, great ideas to solve the problem! Pays to toss the problem out here for some constructive advice.


 CORKY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-16 08:15 AM

I have to agree that a mural would also be defaced.


 COMMENT 374991 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-16 08:34 AM

Murals have been used in a couple of spots in the city to deter graffiti. Art works. Since the murals at Mason and Helena went up, 99% of the tagging stopped on that building, saving thousands of dollars for the property owner. Also, the old Autohaus building at the bottom of De La Vina had the same issues, daily tags, costly paint overs and city fines. Once art was installed it stopped 100% of the tagging and the neighbors and the property owner are thrilled. There will be a refreshing of the murals today at Mason and Helena. Stop by and check it out and we can chat about your problem. Enlisting artists from the neighborhood gives them a sense of pride and it will not be tagged again. Art works.


 COMMENT 375088P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-16 01:18 PM

Just on the off-chance the city might have some suggestions for neighborhoods besides painting over or sand-blasting (which is, understandably, the best fix-and-move-on solution for city work): City of Santa Barbara, "Graffiti" phone number : 897-2513.


 COMMENT 375500P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-17 04:16 PM

Pam / OP : any further response to the suggestions given?

Please keep us updated here as to what you end up doing and the results they enjoy. Graffiti is a big problem in a lot of places in Santa Barbara.


 PAMSB agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-18 12:12 PM

The board met on Saturday and decided to go the plants route and put up a chained link fence in the access point along the railroad track area. Other suggestions are still being explored. Thank you all so much for your input.


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