3 Sites Chosen for Anti-Graffiti Project : Tagging: Under the $500,000 pilot plan, markings will be removed within 24 hours of being reported.


Pico-Union, Westlake and Temple-Beaudry have been chosen as trial zones for an experimental six-month "zero-tolerance" anti-graffiti program recently approved by the City Council.

Beginning in October, graffiti in these communities, as well as in parts of the San Fernando Valley, will be removed within 24 hours of the time it is reported. Until now, city graffiti abatement crews have worked within a 72-hour turnaround time.

The $500,000 project falls under the auspices of Operation Clean Sweep, a Department of Public Works program. Program director Delphia Jones said the pilot project will help the city determine whether quick removal helps deter tagging.

As part of the program, she said, the city will use state-of-the-art paint mixing units for the first time to restore surfaces to their original quality.

Similar to the computer-matching systems found in paint stores, the hand-held units--now being used in San Jose and San Francisco--will analyze paint to come up with the perfect color match on the spot to eliminate the mismatched blotches that mar painted-over walls.

"People deserve a community that looks the way it did before (graffiti)," said Jones, adding that blotches often end up encouraging more graffiti. "If you paint out an area, it's a little square canvas that they can come back and paint graffiti on. Sometimes, they paint right over our paint-outs."

The city will accept bids for graffiti-removal contractors for the zero-tolerance zones, Jones said. Three crews will be hired, she said: one for the "high-frequency" inner-city, one for the "medium-frequency" Northridge and Reseda zones and another for the "low-frequency" Mission Hills area.

Although the city will continue hiring community-based groups to paint out graffiti in various areas, Jones said, these groups will not participate in the experimental program because the city needs to determine actual costs.

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