As a homeowner living in a community with an association, I appreciate the amenities offered, the security, the fact that we as a group have agreed to certain standards of appearance etc. But I would give up all of that and continue to pay my monthly association fees if someone could simply come up with an answer to this graffiti problem that has really gotten out of hand in the last 12 to 18 months.
If you are looking to sell your property or rent it out, you can do all the cleaning, painting and "curb appeal" modifications you want, but you cannot do anything about the negative impact a neighborhood full of graffiti will have on the value of your home.
Aside from the diminishing re-sell value to your home, just think about how it makes you feel about the neighborhood in general. I know it isn't a reflection on my individual property, but it is embarrassing to invite friends and family over when they have to drive through an entry way of graffiti marked privacy fences, sidewalks, and of course, Oscar Perez Memorial Park.
To me, this should make the eradication of graffiti of this area (and really, all of San Antonio) a much higher priority than many of the other services offered, not only by this HOA, but by the city and the county.
For whatever reason, there seems to be this mindset that graffiti is inevitable, it is the work of harmless pranksters, and it is art. I'm sorry, but I have to call the Big BS on all of that.
This is art:
This is vandalism:
It is high time that parents teach their little Rembrandt's and Monet's the difference. And it is also time that as a city and perhaps as a community, we invest in technology that will not only deter such crimes, but will also catch these criminals and provide evidence toward their prosecution.
Yes, prosecution. The next time you rely on the fact that the city offers free paint to help cover up such crimes, think about the money that a homeowner invests to install a new privacy fence, only to have it spray painted days later. Simply painting over the damaged section in white paint does nothing to recover the value of the fence. It is ruined. If you don't agree, I'd like to suggest the next time you purchase a new car, you take a paint brush and cover an 18" X 18" square on the hood of your car with regular latex paint in a color different from your vehicle's factory paint job. The new car smell won't change the damage you have done to the new car paint.
Many of us have security systems installed at home that include a glass breakage feature. Essentially, a little sensor is programmed to recognize the specific frequency of glass breaking. The system can then sound the alarm, call the monitoring company or whatever action you have programmed it to do.
Why couldn't the City deploy similar sensors set to recognize the rattling sound of a spray-paint can being shaken? Perhaps when activated, a flood light would turn on, perhaps an eardrum shattering alarm or even a hidden video camera would begin recording. Perhaps the Park Police would be deployed.
Yes, I know this costs money and I know we have many projects some consider higher priorities, but just for a moment, consider what the cost is to each of us as individuals, the loss in property value, and the disappointment of coming home to the vandalism brought upon us by teens and young adults who get off on the thrill of tagging and in the back of their minds know that the most that will happen to them if caught is perhaps some community service?
Why is the destruction of private and public property via the spray can any less a crime than a person who breaks into your car and steals your radio? It is time that we treat this problem as a crime and it is time that the city take some action.
And to the point, I am posting the original e-mail sent by my neighbor to the Mayor, the City Manager, and the Distrct Council person, including the pictures, followed by Mrs. Sculley's prompt response. Mrs. Sculley is a fine city manager and I appreciate the fact that action was taken IMMEDIATELY. More of us need to call and e-mail to get the services we deserve as taxpayers.
((I have edited out the identifying information of my good neighbor Gus, though I do have his permission to use them)).
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 5:21 PM
To: Mayor Hardberger; City Manager; Sandra Garza
Subject: Oscar Perez Memorial Park disgrace
Dear Mayor, City Manager, and District 6 Council Woman
I have lived in this neighborhood for over 25 years. Until about 2 years ago, graffiti was not often seen here. Things have changed. The Oscar Perez Memorial Park was built. At first I thought this was a great idea to have a park where kids and families could enjoy the facility. I now wish is was a vacant lot full of sunflowers again. It was certainly more pleasant to look at. This park is covered with vulgar graffiti and is a disgrace to the neighborhood and to the city.
I resent that my tax dollars are spent having to pay park employees to repaint the equipment in this park every week only to have it tagged the very next day. The vandals that do this are criminals and should be dealt with as any other criminals. They are destroying property and should be apprehended and punished severely.
I am sure you are all aware of the problem, as it seems to be happening all over the city I have no suggestions to offer other that to suggest that if the problem continues the park should be returned to a vacant lot again. I am sure that Officer Oscar Perez did not sacrifice his life to be honored by a an eye sore such as this.
And here was the quick action and response taken by the City Manager, Mrs, Sculley.
Subject:RE: Oscar Perez Memorial Park disgrace
Date:Tue, 26 Jun 2007 17:32:20 -0500
Thank you for forwarding your concerns regarding the graffiti at the Oscar Perez Memorial Park. Via copy of this email, I will ask our Housing and Neighborhood Services Department to deploy our crews to remove the graffiti from the park property. I will also ask our Parks Police to be vigilant in ensuring appropriate security and safety of our residents enjoying the park and hopefully minimize graffiti activity. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Mrs. Sculley and her staff deserve our thanks for the prompt action, but the answer is that we need more work to put these little punks out of business.
Let GNW Security know if you see the little bastards in action and by all means, take their pictures and give them to police. If your property gets tagged, call the police, make them make a report, and demand action.
Okay, I feel a lot better - how about you? Do you or your kids know who the little taggers are? Tell me about it.