The writing's on the wall
Los Angeles wants to balance its budget. To do so, the city council will have to save millions of dollars over the next six months. But one area might be immune to budget cuts: the money spent to remove graffiti.
More than three million square metres of walls, bridges and other surfaces in the Californian city are covered with spray-painted messages. The city works with 14 different organizations to clean them each day.
The efforts have become more and more high-tech, using special scanners, for example, to determine the colour of the underlying surface. With matching paint, the graffiti can be covered over without the entire building having to be repainted.
The city also plans to work with the police department to hand out cameras so that the graffiti can be documented before it's painted over. This could help to catch the offending taggers.
City councilman Ed Reyes said that graffiti scares off potential investors — and there is also a safety aspect to consider. "For gangs, essentially graffiti is like a message board for how they're going to hurt each other," Reyes told the Los Angeles Times.
The suggestion to save $1.5 million by the end of June by cutting the graffiti-removal budget in half came from the top financial advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But even the mayor says that idea is "way too much".