The city’s Graffiti Hotline is starting to catch on with the
community, and Bob Van Hazelen thinks he knows why.
“Graffiti makes the city look ugly and unsafe,” said Van Hazelen,
the city’s assistant director of Public Works. “So our whole plan is
to take care of it as quickly as possible.”
Van Hazelen credits greater public awareness of the hotline and
its quick response time -- 90% of graffiti calls reported are
resolved within 48 hours -- for the increased usage.
About half of the 4,600 tagging incidents recorded in the past
fiscal year were reported by community members who called the
hotline, an increase of nearly 10%, he said.
The 24-hour hotline was created to encourage people who spot
graffiti to call and report the location on its voice message system.
The more people use the hotline, the better the city can prevent
future incidents, Van Hazelen said.
Each morning, the city relays the hotline reports to Azusa-based
Urban Graffiti Enterprise, a removal company that works with 13 Los
Angeles- area municipalities to sandblast or paint over the graffiti.
Van Hazelen said the city paid the removal company about $85,000 last
year for its services.
Juan Reinoso, president of Urban Graffiti Enterprise, said Burbank
has a “typical” amount of graffiti for a city of its size, but added
that gang-related tagging rate of about 15% of the total is below
average. South Los Angeles, in comparison, is at about 90%.
“Graffiti is kept under very good control [in Burbank],” he said.
“It’s more of a continuous battle in other communities, where in
Burbank, it’s more like maintenance.”
Although Reinoso said he normally dispatches one car per day, as
many as three to four cars are called upon during breaks in school,
when a majority of vandalism occurs.
Van Hazelen said if graffiti trends are noticed, his department
calls on reinforcements.
“If certain areas are hit hard, we usually ask police for extra
patrolling [there],” he said. “It usually does help.”
The Burbank Graffiti Hotline number is 238-3806.