Grand Jury: ‘Frustrated and Exhausted’ County Employees over Graffiti | News
The Kern County Grand Jury released a report on Wednesday urging the Board of Supervisors to devote more resources to the county’s anti-graffiti program as it would be “buried under the daily demands” of graffiti cleanups and staff from the county is “frustrated and exhausted” with the problem.
Kern County’s anti-graffiti program includes an employee with a truck responsible for approximately 8,163 square miles, the report said, while noting that this person’s work is “stellar.”
County employees said in the report that a minimum of three people and another truck should help stem the vandalism. The grand jury said the city of Bakersfield spends about $2 million a year on graffiti reduction, while the county allocates about $70,000 a year.
“Although graffiti can be considered artistic expression, when a neighborhood is cluttered with graffiti, it sends the message that no one cares about that community,” the report said. “From storefronts to stairways, shop owners worry unsightly views will cost them business.”
Ryan Alsop, the county’s chief administrative officer, wrote in an email that he hasn’t had a chance to review the report, although the board of supervisors has 90 days to respond. He also admitted that the county’s reduction standards are not where he would like them to be.
“This is a war, and our path to victory is through a rigorous and robust reduction offensive, which we are working on,” Alsop wrote, adding that he looked forward to sharing new details about the graffiti crackdown soon. .
Kern County launched the Adopt a Wall program, which provides residents with an online form to fill out and then receive supplies to clean up graffiti. However, the report notes that county employees said the success of this program has been hampered by COVID-19 and a lack of enthusiasm from the community.
“Although the county provides the materials to cover up the graffiti, community members are unwilling to do the work,” the report said. “They want county employees to come paint it for them.”
Additionally, the grand jury reported that the county’s anti-graffiti truck was 15 years old and had 130,000 miles on the odometer; neither the County nor the City of Bakersfield has a sandblaster, which helps remove paint; and the county maintenance officer must spend many hours processing graffiti removal requests because it is often unclear whether vandalism exists within city or county jurisdiction.
Joe Conroy, a city spokesman, had no one immediately to comment on the claim that the city does not have a sandblaster.
“The city is aware of graffiti and its effects on resident morale as well as the impacts it can have on visitor impressions,” Conroy wrote in an email.
By contrast, the grand jury also says the city of Bakersfield’s anti-graffiti program continues to “thrive and grow” with 12 trucks and 12 full-time employees, despite the city’s jurisdiction representing less than 2% of the area the county should cover. blanket.
Grand Jury Asked Board of Supervisors to Double Kern County’s Graffiti Abatement Program Budget, Purchase Vehicles and Equipment by January 2023, Hire More Staff, Indicate clearly under which jurisdiction the graffiti falls and to apply for federal homelessness and gang grants, as both are major contributors to the graffiti.
You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @idesai98 on Twitter.