Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Happy Ending to a Grafitti Story

The newspapers have been covering a story about Anaheim shop owner Rosa Bobbio, and her battle with the City of Anaheim, and the dirtbags-excuse me, misguided youth, who have tagged her building for years.

Sadly, they are not sharing all of the story.

Back in fall of 2009, upholstery shop owner Rosa Bobbio reported to the Anaheim Police Department that her building had been tagged, once again. This time they hit the glass shop windows out front that display her work to passersby, etching the glass with their tagging. Rosa contacted the City to find out what she could do to stop the insanity. She had already installed bars on the windows and doors out back, after several burglaries, but she refused to put bars across the front. As she told me during a visit to her shop, she did not want the criminals to make her feel like she was in jail in her own shop, hiding behind bars. She also did not want the neighborhood to look “trashy” with bars on shop fronts. While the Police were unable to give her much advice on how to stop the tagging, the contact apparently triggered something in the system, alerting the City’s Code Enforcement department to the fact that Rosa had not eradicated the graffiti herself.

Rosa received a letter from Code Enforcement, demanding she replace the glass in her store front. After calling glass companies, she realized it would cost over $1500.00 to replace the large expanse of glass, and she had no assurance that the taggers would not come back and deface the new glass. Rosa felt she was trapped in a cycle of victimization she could not escape. Nobody wants to live that way.

Feeling defeated, Rosa left the graffiti. Clearly, this was not the answer, as Anaheim is committed to removing graffiti as quickly as possible, as that is the only known deterrent to the crime. These “artists” need their work to remain in place, for bragging rights. Get it removed before anyone else sees it, we remove the incentive for the taggers, and they will go elsewhere, to an area where it stays up long enough to be seen, and presumably admired by those with no respect for private property. Based on this stand against the crime, the City of Anaheim issues fines to property owners who fail to clean up their property, and that includes having been victimized by taggers. It is not fair, but life is rarely fair. How many of us clear the trash from our flower beds that was dropped by others? Same concept, but frustratingly for Rosa the price tag was much higher. Feeling victimized twice, first by the taggers, and then by her own City, Rosa dug in her heels. The press covered it, and the City of Anaheim became the big, bad meany.

The sad thing is that all of this was based on pure miscommunication. Rosa Bobbio was convinced that her ONLY option was an expensive glass replacement, with more to come as the taggers repeated their behavior. Once Sandra Seaton, the head of Anaheim’s Code Enforcement division caught wind of the problem, she plugged Rosa in with a company that polishes glass, ridding the window of the graffiti for a much lower price tag. A huge thank you to WKRP Inc. for coming out and tackling Rosa’s windows for free. They do all kinds of graffiti removal services, and the gentleman I met while I was out there talking to Rosa was very nice.

WKRP Services, Inc.

www.wkrpservices. com

Mike Speakman

714-832-2146 Ext 103

949-289-1457 cell

So in the end, Rosa’s windows are graffiti free, (for now) and she now has the name of a lower cost solution should the taggers return. Code Enforcement has waived the fines, as they were only seeking compliance, not punitive action. The only really happy ending to this story would be the tagger in the back seat of a Police car, but we will take our victories where we find them.

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