McCarthy Paints A Picture Of Graffiti
IT'S OLD NEWS
On Saturday the Daily Pilot published a commentary by Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner Colin McCarthy, HERE, in which he bemoans the graffiti problem in our city and outlines his view of "solutions". While accurate, McCarthy's observations are not new - we've heard the same laments in this city for more than a decade.
McCarthy places the needs in three categories - Enforcement, Prevention and Planning.
He suggests a tougher anti-graffiti ordinance similar to one passed in Santa Ana which nails the parents of offending graffiti artists and taggers for the clean-up costs and penalties.
PREVENTION - WHAT ABOUT INTERVENTION?
He, correctly, postulates that prevention is an important element in the control of graffiti. He did not use the word "intervention", though, which was disappointing. The current council majority has already let us know, loud and clear, that they don't think intervention should be part of the solution. Mayor Mansoor and his cronies feel that enforcement alone should be the solution to graffiti in Costa Mesa, despite the fact that every credible expert on this issue states the opposite view. This is just another example of the prevailing philosophy on the council dais that refuses to be influenced by facts once they have their narrow minds made up.
CAN HE CONVINCE THE COUNCIL?
It will be great news for our city if McCarthy, using all his lawyerly skills, is able to convince members of the council majority that intervention is an important element in reducing graffiti. However, if by ignoring intervention in his commentary, he has joined the council majority view, that is not good news. Until we take positive action to provide alternatives to tagging and graffiti for our young folks, this plague will continue to affect our city.
"GRAFFITI NOT A LATINO PROBLEM"
His final category, Planning, is very interesting because he states, "Graffiti is not a Latino problem or a Caucasian problem; it's a housing problem. Graffiti festers and spreads near our high-density rental housing." He goes on to address the fact that our city is upside-down from a housing standpoint, with too many rental units when compared to owner-occupied homes. This is not a new observation. It's one that Mansoor and others have complained about for years - even though, ironically, Mansoor is a renter in this city.
"THE MOUTH" CHIMES IN...
Well, that comment got the attention of one of his Mesa North neighbors - the guy I refer to as The Mouth - who posted a lengthy tome on his blog once again re-stating HIS solution. That solution is to plow under the apartment buildings that he, and apparently McCarthy, feel are the problem.
SWAMPS AND ALLIGATORS
The Mouth has, for years, ranted and raved about what he calls "slums" in our city and has used the metaphor of draining the swamp (eliminating the apartment houses) so the alligators will leave. Those "alligators" are the members of Costa Mesa's Latino population - roughly one-third of our residents.
MC CARTHY AND "THE MOUTH"
I don't want to demonize McCarthy by lumping him with The Mouth philosophically. My opinion, supported by his writings and actions, is that The Mouth is a flat-out racist who will only be happy when the last non-white person leaves our city. I give McCarthy the benefit of the doubt when it comes to associating him with his neighbor - until he demonstrates otherwise.
WHERE ARE THE SOLUTIONS?
I don't disagree with McCarthy's assessment of the problem, but kind of expected more from him in the way of solutions. Since he's a lawyer who works in the real estate arena, I hoped he might have some new light to shed on how we might legally shift the renters vs. owners imbalance in our city. I suspect that, as long as apartment owners associations continue to pump campaign dollars into local elections it's going to be difficult to actually make the changes.
NO BUCKS FOR APARTMENT REMOVAL
If part of the solution is to rid our city of apartment buildings, that requires lots of money. We need to buy the property and also pay huge relocation fees to the current residents. In these difficult financial times, that's just not going to happen. And, because of the current trends in housing, I expect a greater demand for rental units as opposed to owner-occupied housing in our city for years to come.
ENFORCEMENT and INTERVENTION
In my opinion, the only real solutions available to us are a tightening of our graffiti ordinance and enforcement thereof AND the establishment, with the school district, of a solid intervention program to re-direct the energies and artistic urges of those young people currently or contemplating tagging.
LET "GOD" HANDLE IT