Written by Alex Garcia (California State University, East Bay)
Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)
In addition to police corruption, illegal dumping, and a series of other public problems and issues, Oakland, California has recently been tasked with addressing its graffiti problem.
Ken Houston, the chair of the East Oakland Beautification Council, created Graffiti Cove. Located near the Oakland Coliseum Bart station, it is where artist can display their art. After a month, the cove is erased to let more artist display their work. The goal of Graffiti Cove is to deter the amount of graffiti around the city; however, residents claim it is not working. Houston said to me, “Graffiti is all about ego, even when it’s not gang related. It attracts people to do other illegal activities as well.” He continued to explain how graffiti removal depends on where graffiti is located in. For example, if there is graffiti on a train, the company of the train is responsible to remove it. If graffiti is on a building, the building is responsible to remove it. The city cannot remove graffiti, unless it is at public venues such as schools, libraries, parks, and city buildings.
According to the East Oakland Beautification Council website, graffiti cove is supposed to reduce graffiti by 75 percent; however, public records of Oakland show that the amount of graffiti has increased between 2015 and 2016. In 2015, there were only 10 requests to the city of Oakland for graffiti removal. In the first six months of 2016, there were 12 requests. Data of the last six months of 2016 is not available due to the city updating their data every fiscal year– which is every July.
The cost of removing graffiti has also increased. In 2013, the city spent about $480,000. In 2014, the cost increased to $625,000. Oakland is facing a huge problem with graffiti, and is spending a lot of money on graffiti removal. The only way to combat graffiti is for the residents and business of Oakland to report the crime.
Alex Garcia Chacala was born and raised in Oakland. Chacala is a first generation college student pursuing a BA in Communication.