Thursday, January 24, 2008

You Lived Here Longer Than Me, But I’ve Got More Pride

Every week for the last year and a half, I’ve placed a call into the Santa Ana Graffiti Hotline (speed dial 11 on the cell) and reported graffiti that I see all around the city. Call me odd, but I think it may have had something to do with watching Captain Planet and the Planeteers when I was just a wee lad.

For some reason though, I could never get the clean-up crews to clean the graffiti off the freeway signs near Santa Ana Boulevard and Grand Avenue.

On a day when I got through to an actual operator (due to my high-frequency calling, we are now on a first name basis) and not the answering machine, I asked her why the freeway signs never get cleaned up. She informed me that CalTrans is responsible for all maintenance in regards to these signs, including graffiti removal.

With my good buddy Google, I was able to locate Glenda Dobbins, a public information officer over at CalTrans. Glenda asked that I simply send her an email stating the locations that needed the clean up. That’s it. No forms, no signatures, just an email.

Within a couple of days of sending Glenda the email, the signs were cleaner than I’ve ever seen them. So clean in fact that I thought that they were brand new signs.

Now here’s what gets me. When I hear the protests from those against the “Yuppie Loft Owners” at the Renaissance Plan meetings, I wonder if these folks even know who or what they are criticizing.

I’ve listened to their stories of how they’ve lived their entire lives in Santa Ana and have nothing but respect and pride for this city?


So why does it seem like the new guys in town are the only ones trying to clean it up?

Glenda Dobbins can be reached at:
949.724.2644 or via email @

Santa Ana’s (24/7) Graffiti Hotline: 1-877 786 7824


Anonymous said...

So why does it seem like the new guys in town are the only ones trying to clean it up?

Now that is not true. I know alot of people that call on graffiti all the time. I know of quite a few people that have the graffiti hotline and Caltrans on speed-dial.

So it is not only the new people that care. The people that have worked and lived here all their lives care.

ps..I am one that has both on speed dial.

Ben Dayhoe said...

From my experience, if I don't call, the graffiti will stay there. When I place that call for clean up though, it's taken care of immediately.

(There is the slight chance that someone else called the exact same day as me though I doubt it.)

The graffiti on those freeway signs was there for over six months. I don't know how many thousands of cars/day drive along that street, but not one of them got the job done.

What I need to do is meet more folks like you that give a hoot (or do I know you already).

Nonetheless, if what you say is true about you Anonymous poster, then I'd like to thank you for caring.

Urban Messiah said...

#1 maybe you live in a different area of town but I will tell you that I have done a little experiment of my own. I'll sometimes let a graffiti sit for a few days and when it is still there I will call. Within 24 hours it's gone. We have to go with what we see here and honestly like Ben said, it will sit there until one of us calls and by some uncanny coincidence it is gone.

Gustavo Arellano said...

While I applaud your vigilance, Ben, I must agree with Anon 1. I've known people who call in graffiti and wait at least a week for an accusatory callback, and longer for the actual clean up (many times, it depends on what neighborhood the graffiti is in). Your own experience with SanTana's graffiti line is proof that all the calls in the world sometime don't make a difference.

I *Heart* SA said...

I LOVE Public Works - they are SO FRIGGIN RESPONSIVE. I call in at night and by the time i get home it's cleaned up. I'm with you guys - people don't care and don't call because if they did, Raitt St. would not look the way it does every day. They are starting to know me by name but not yet. I cannot stress enough how willing to work the City Staff is, we just need to lead them to the work! (Code enforcement vs. WARE is a little different, things are dying at the top of the rank and file.)

Maybe I'm just better at describing the exact location of graffiti and always say please and thank you and call me with questions?

BTW, I've been meaning to follow up on some lighted sign problems that I called in to CT but they hadn't fixed the problem yet. your resource just came in handy.

Two Fisted Mama said...

You doing the lords work Ben!

Robert said...


You have meet me, and you know I give a hoot.
Your going to meet more like us sooner or later.

I really do think it depends where you live. Example if you lived in Floral park and called for graffiti removal. There going to come out in a heart beat and remove the vandalism. Even the mayor himself would remove any graffiti even at 4:45 am. I could just picture him in his pajama's full of dollar signs and bunny slippers. lol

I live in the South Coast Metro area and when we ever see taggers spray painting. We put our cars high beams on them, they just run away. We call the police and they come to check out what happend and usually some one comes in the morning to clean it up. Or we just paint it our selfs.

A great deal of my family members live in central Santa Ana and their graffiti stays there for days. Are some neighborhoods more important to the city?

Keep on fighting to win back this city

Anonymous said...

Besides taggers, do you guys at the lofts have any transients hanging around?? What happened to poop lady? I find the homeless problem is as bad as the graffiti. SOme are kind folk just in a bad place and some are crazy junkies! I've been told that the problem is not the city's problem, but because we are the county seat and the homeless shelter's are here. What about hiring the homeless to keep an eye on tagging, I guarantee that they would scare the taggers away better than anyone.

Anonymous said...

How about the classy taggers that paint the trees on First and other streets? WTF?!?!? No talent hacks

Robert said...

I think they got poop lady a portable toilet. lol

Ben Dayhoe said...

Mr. Messiah,
I thank you and anyone else who takes two minutes out of their day to clean up this city.

My experience with the graffiti hotline has only proven to me that it only works when a call is placed.

Did I forget to mention that I can be quite the sweet talker?

I *heart* SA,
I too love Public Works–they always get the job done. Thank you for calling in graffiti–glad my resource was helpful :)

2F Mama,
Thank you. Your kids deserve a clean Santa Ana just as much as everyone else.

I agree with you on Floral Park. That area doesn't even fit in with the rest of SA.

I've heard stories about central SA and the HUGE graffiti problem there. These kiddies will tag anything (houses, cars...even dogs!).

Anon #1
We used to have a homeless issue here, but it dwindled down fast once more people moved into the complex.

Homeless usually make their way around here when it's trash day. They go through our recyclables, but do a good job of cleaning up after themselves.

I've actually talked to a couple of homeless folks and got their opinion of the taggers. They call the taggers "scum" and "trash", but most of them are actually afraid of the taggers.

Funny you should mention, I was just thinking about Poo-Lady the other day.

Anon #2
Tagging on lame is that? How can we "teach" the youth to care about their surroundings? Or do we just need harsher punishment for first-timers?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't buy the "it depends on what neighborhood".

People either don't care, have given up, or don't know the phone numbers to call. The graffiti clean up folks aren't checking to see where you live before they decide to respond. Get real.

One final note, my car is equipped with double barrel high beams.

Earl said...

My double barrel is equipped with an angry redneck

Anonymous said...

It might be that some residents have a host of bigger problems and concerns than dispiriting graffiti, compared to the average loft dweller. We all choose our battles, given our individual circumstances. It's not necessarily a character issue. Indeed, if graffiti cleanup makes your top-ten action list, many might count you fortunate, relatively speaking.

Santa Ana Slim said...

The only reason graffiti isn't on someone's top ten list now is because it never made it there back when it would have been in the top five. Shitty areas thrive on apathy. Now the list is so long that graffiti doesn't make the top ten. I applaud any single person's effort to make community better, but it takes the whole community to give a shit, or at least a good chunk of it to make things happen. Luckily that's what we have with the SSL, a whole bunch of people that give and shit. And while change takes time anywhere, I think the potential for change is greatest where people actually make an effort.

Poo Lady said...

What's wrong with leaving your dogs poop on the grass?

Ben Dayhoe said...

I don't buy into that statement one bit. Graffiti should be in your top ten no matter where you live.

It's about caring for your surroundings and respecting a world in which we all live.

Apparently you've never attended a Santa Ana Town Hall Meeting, a ComLink Meeting or a City Council meeting judging by your statement.

The good taxpaying citizens that live throughout this city (and not just in lofts) are always raising the issue at these meetings that graffiti is destroying this city.

Santa Ana spent over 2.7 million dollars last year on graffiti clean up.

Not caring about graffiti is a character issue–It says that you've given up or that you just don't care.

Anonymous said...

Since you guessed that I didn't attend those meetings, I will likewise speculate that you have no children, and are not poor. Good luck with your quest, and deep congratulations that graffiti is one of the biggest problems you currently face in your life.

Ben Dayhoe said...

You are correct. No kids, but poor is a relative term. I'm poor in comparison to Orange County's median household income.

Graffiti should be everyone's problem, including the low income.

Graffiti brings down everyone's property value.

Graffiti attracts a bad element into OUR neighborhoods.

Graffiti is a gateway for other more serious crimes.

Graffiti is part to blame as to why so many kids were shot last year in Santa Ana (and the years prior).

If you have kids, then graffiti should definitely be a top concern of yours–Especially in Santa Ana.

Will the fine that the city imposes on the parents of caught taggers then make it problem of theirs? Education starts at home. If you as a parent don’t see graffiti as a problem, then your children won’t either.

It really doesn't take much to make a difference–no matter what socio-economic background you are from. A simple phone call, neighborhood watch, a conversation with your kids or a little extra elbow grease is all it takes to make Santa Ana a better place for you, me and your family.

Graffiti isn't one of the biggest problems in my life; it's those that say that it isn't one of theirs.

Not penn'ys boat said...


Take that cretin!

Thomas Anthony Gordon said...

Judy Ware has ponied up $ 10,000 to the Yes on Measure D campaign led by Mayor Miguel Pulido and Sal Tinajero.

Madison Material, also owned by Judy Ware, has ponied up 10K more.

If it was not clear before, it is now.