Saturday, August 28, 2010

Livingston declares war on graffiti vandals

Truck with tools to paint over or wash away markings modeled after Fresno's.

LIVINGSTON -- It must be a tough life for taggers in Livingston.
That's thanks to an anti-graffiti truck and its operator, James Linan, said City Manager Richard Warne.
The truck was built by Dan Folkner, a vehicle maintenance worker, and Jesus Chavez Jr., a fleet maintenance mechanic, in 2006 after they were sent to Fresno to study a similar graffiti truck there, Warne said.

Folkner and Chavez made two trips to Fresno to make sure they knew exactly what they needed to build their own model.
The truck and equipment cost the city $68,943, but is worth every penny, Warne said.
The truck uses recycled paint that costs about $6 a gallon, instead of $22 a gallon for regular paint, said Jim Rightsell, street supervisor for the Public Works Department.

Before Folkner and Chavez built the truck, graffiti had to be removed manually and painted over with hand brushes and rollers, a monotonous task that would cost city employees lots of time, said Kathryn Reyes, Public Works superintendent.
Graffiti removal was a full-time job, and even then workers couldn't keep up with it, Reyes said. But since the graffiti truck's introduction in 2006, its operator, Linan, has not only been able to quickly eliminate graffiti with the truck's spray guns and seven various colors of paint, he also has time to work on parks and streetlight repair.

"Taggers don't have a chance," Reyes said.
Linan patrols the city for any graffiti outbreaks, but also takes reports from the police department and citizens, he said.
"I can probably clean it quicker than they (taggers) can make it, so it works in my favor," Linan said.
The city will remove or cover graffiti on public or private property at no cost to the owner, Warne added. The graffiti truck operates every day.
The quick removal of graffiti has worked as a deterrent to tagging, Rightsell said. It's even pushed graffiti outside the city limits.
Just as Livingston got the idea from Fresno, other cities near Livingston are starting to catch on.
Local officials from nearby communities have called and visited to learn about Livingston's graffiti truck, Rightsell said.
Mayor Daniel Varela Sr. doesn't see that as a surprise.
"This is one of the best things they could have done for the city of Livingston," he said. "It became a solution to an issue and a problem."
Skeptics may say there's not a lot to see in Livingston, but as long as Linan's operating the spray gun, there's one thing that will almost never be seen -- graffiti.

Taken from: Merced Sun Star

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