Sunday, February 21, 2010

McCarthy Paints A Picture Of Graffiti

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 sugg
ests 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.

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.

It will be great news for our city if McCart
hy, 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.

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.


Well, that comment got the attention of one of hi
s 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.


The Mouth ha
s, 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.

I don't want to demonize McCarthy by lumping him with The Mouth philosophica
lly. 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.

I don't disagree with McCarthy's assessment of the problem, but kind of expe
cted 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.


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 hou
sing, I expect a greater demand for rental units as opposed to owner-occupied housing in our city for years to come.


In my opinion, the only real solutions available to us are a tightening of our graffiti ordinance and enforcement thereof AND the estab
lishment, 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.

Or, now that we've got Wendy Leece's motto, "In God We Trust", hanging on the wall behind the dais in the council chambers, maybe we can just depend on divine intervention to take care of the graffiti problem.
(photo courtesy of the Daily Pilot)

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Anonymous CMTRUTH said...

Santa Ana's graffiti ordinance has done nothing to stop or reduce graffiti. Same will happen here.

I guess McClowney has not looked for graffiti on the Eastside or is blind.

2/21/2010 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CMTRUTH, welcome back. We missed your comments and MISS your blog...

I wonder if Colin ever gets to the Eastside...

2/21/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Humberto said...

I'm waiting one of your articles in the Daily Pilot on the "graffiti" issue. I doubt the DP will publish with you CMTruth aka. How about here, in A BUBBLING CAULDRON

2/21/2010 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Humberto, better yet... he could re-open his blog to permit a review of his many excellent posts on this subject, then rebut McCarthy as he feels is appropriate...

2/21/2010 11:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Colin McCarthy said...

I'm glad my article created a dialogue. I got lots of phone calls over the weekend. Let's work on this issue. CM Truth, if I don't get it, help me get it. Let's work on it together. I can handle name-calling if it means we can achieve less graffiti in this City. An ordinance is only one part of it. I understand fully that it's a complicated issue but we need to work together on addressing it. I'm tired of talk. I'm open to new ideas and help. Those with thoughts, email me- and let's get together soon to discuss.

2/22/2010 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Welcome, Colin... I hope CMTRUTH takes you up on your offer for a dialog. His perspective should be helpful in any serious discussion of the Costa Mesa graffiti issue. I continue to hope he decides to get back in the saddle again and re-open his blog.

2/22/2010 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger familyguy said...

The problem with tougher graffiti penalties is, the police have to actually CATCH the tagger. It only takes a few seconds to tag up a building, wall, tree or whatever. The little delinquents are hard to catch. The planning commissioners seem to be an an anti-rental crusade lately. I'd like to know, why? and exactly what is the percentage of renters vs owners in this city?

2/22/2010 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

familyguy, according to some recent statistics Costa Mesa is 58.12% rentals, 38.68% owned and 3.21% vacant. Of our contiguous neighbors, the most different is Fountain Valley, with 25.05% rental, 73.05% owned and 1.90% vacant.

2/22/2010 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous CMTRUTH said...

Sorry Mr. McCarthy politicians who think they understand graffiti get under my skin and mCClowney was uncalled for.

To be honest the fact the mouth has backed you in the past is a red flag.

I may be willing to get together with you to discuss graffiti.

I will commend you on recognizing the fact that graffiti is not a white or Latino issue.

Graffiti culture sees no color lines and will exist long after we are gone.

Graffiti can only be contained and will never be stopped.

The sooner people realize that fact the sooner they can reduce the problem.

2/23/2010 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Now, this seems like progress... I hope Colin takes CMTRUTH up on his offer of a discussion..

2/23/2010 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous CMTRUTH said...

Notice The mouth has no mention of the attempted bank robbery in CM yesterday? I wonder why... Oh, wait, that's right the suspect is white.

2/24/2010 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CMTRUTH, some leopards never change their spots.

2/24/2010 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Colin McCarthy said...

CM Truth,

I'm a little behind on my blogs today so my response is a bit delayed. Hope you see this. I'm interested in your thoughts and recommendations for this problem. I don't want to lose traction on this as newer topics de jure, emerge. Email if you want to get together, It's something I really care about. We just had a new rash of grafitti on the Caltrans soundwalls in Mesa North. or my phone number's in the book.

2/25/2010 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Colin and CMTRUTH, I hope one or both will report back on whatever progress you might make and/or new ideas you come up with. Regardless, I wish you good luck with this project.

2/25/2010 09:29:00 PM  

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