Most Viewed Stories
Linda market owner uses mural in fight against graffiti
If you would like graffiti painted over in Yuba-Sutter, call Lou Binninger of Zero-Tolerance Graffiti Busters at 713-1838. There is no charge for the service.
GRAFFITI PREVENTION TIPS
To step up graffiti prevention efforts:
• Keep up the neighborhood. Keep the appearance of a neighborhood clean and neat. Remove litter and trash, fix broken fences, trim landscape, and ensure all lighting is working properly.
• Remove graffiti promptly. Rapid removal of graffiti is an effective prevention tool. Data shows that removal within 24 to 48 hours results in a nearly zero rate of recurrence.
• Encourage citizen reporting. Educate the public about the impact of graffiti vandalism and provide a way to report graffiti.
• Enforce anti-graffiti laws. Enforce existing anti-graffiti laws. Law enforcement dedicated to tracking and apprehending graffiti vandals is a strong deterrent.
"The whole wall was full," said Raj Sanghu, owner of Cloverleaf Market in Linda, describing the graffiti that covered the west exterior wall of his store.
Having owned the market on Feather River Boulevard for three years, he said last week that he had painted over graffiti in one solid color three or four times. Six months ago, it got out of hand — he blames teenagers and gangs using spray cans, paint brushes, felt pens, even shoe polish — and it was time to cover up the graffiti again.
This time, Sanghu decided to take a different approach. He covered what should've been a huge white wall with a mural, which was completed in the second week of January.
"I thought people would leave a mural alone. Maybe if I make it look nice, people will appreciate the artwork," said the shopkeeper. "It's good for the area, to make it look beautiful."
He got the idea from a mural he'd seen on a convenience store on North Beale Road. Through the owner of that store, he got the name of the San Francisco artist who had painted the mural. Sanghu commissioned his own mural for $1,200, and the lone muralist took eight to 10 days to complete the work, which covers the whole 50-foot length of the west wall and 10 feet of the front side.
Sanghu chose a mural with a pastoral scene of cows and plowed fields and mountains in the background to go with the market's name and the rural character of the Yuba-Sutter area.
Does he worry about the work of art being defaced?
"Of course. I put a lot of money into it. I don't want people to mess it up," he said. "That's why I put up the security camera."
Sanghu said he spent $1,000 for a new security-camera system installed two weeks ago, with one of the cameras pointed at the mural.
He may or may not have more success than one Yuba City shop owner.
"We tried painting murals. We did a wall of sunflowers that looked really cool — and that lasted about six months," said Cindy Smith, owner of Hair Affair on Percy Avenue.
Smith has run the beauty salon near the traffic circle for 35 years.
"Graffiti is a continuous problem; it comes and goes. It doesn't appear for a while, then all of sudden — poof," she said. "It's been quiet lately."
"I don't leave it on there more than a week. The police tell you to paint over it quickly," Smith added. "My mother does the painting."
She also gets help from Jon Law and the Zero-Tolerance Graffiti Busters group.
"They did my whole building," said Smith. "He came by, brought a bunch of kids and they just covered up the graffiti. They go around the neighborhood."
"They do it on their own," she said of the volunteer group. "I take whatever he does."
When Smith, or her mother, 80-year-old Elizabeth Judd, does the painting, they've learned to match paint with the adjacent store owner in the same building.
The shopkeeper next-door is Jim Pennington, owner of The Book House.
"I get nailed once a year with the gang stuff. As long as I paint it over, they don't seem to like it," said Pennington, who has operated his store at the spot for 21 years.
"It's not as bad as it used to be. But it's around. Other places catch it a lot worse," he said. "The last time was a month ago; it's been about a year before that."
To fight graffiti, he has bought a bucket of paint and disposable brushes and painted it out.
Pennington also praises Law and his work.
"Jon Law does a heck of a job to keep it under control. He's always going around," the bookseller said.
In downtown Yuba City, Don Covey, owner of Yuba City Florist on Plumas Street, said, "There's been an ongoing (graffiti) problem. And there's been a good response in getting it covered. We work with the Police Department and Glad Tidings Church, who have stepped up to get rid of the graffiti."
"Most of it has happened on the back side of the stores and in the alleys," said Covey, who has served as president of the Downtown Business Association (DBA).
He said shopkeepers who get tagged are advised to report it to both the DBA office and the Police Department. He added that some landlords will immediately get it repainted, sometimes paying for the work, sometimes doing it themselves.
"Sometimes Glad Tidings will come in and paint over it, but not necessarily the same color as the building," he said. "It's important, I believe, that we keep it not just painted, but clean (without patches)."
"It's been relatively quiet the last six to eight months," said Covey. "Some periods, it's been heavy, when every building in the back is marked."
Over in downtown Marysville, it's been fairly peaceful on the graffiti front recently.
"It's not a big problem, but it is a problem," said Jim Sullivan of Sullivan's Saddlery on D Street. "Right before the Bok Kai Festival last year, they painted the town."
As for cleaning up graffiti, "We pretty much do it ourselves," Sullivan said. "Those guys that go out and paint over it do just one color; they don't try to match the building."
Lou Binninger knows "those guys" well. They are the Zero-Tolerance Graffiti Busters, a program run by Glad Tidings Church in Yuba City, the central group in the fight against graffiti in the Yuba-Sutter area.
Binninger, who serves as liaison between the group and law enforcement agencies, calls the Graffiti Busters a "public-government partnership."
Police and sheriff's departments log graffiti cases and refer them to the anti-graffiti group. Graffiti Busters enters the cases in their database and goes out with teams to paint over the graffiti in Yuba and Sutter counties.
Everything is done by volunteers with donated materials. There is no charge to businesses or homeowners that benefit from their work.
Zero-Tolerance Graffiti Busters was officially founded in October 2001, according to founder Binninger, but the idea had its genesis when he worked with Jan Duke, a crime prevention officer with the Yuba City Police Department. They organized an anti-graffiti painting day in the early 1990s.
"We contacted law enforcement and asked if they'll work with us — and everybody wanted to," recounted Binninger, a Marysville resident.
"In the '90s, we just pecked away at it," he said, referring to the graffiti problem. Now that the group has been organized, "We address the graffiti in an organized and concerted manner."
"We have a number of professional painters — Jon Law, Leo Machado, Larry Reimers," said Binninger. "There's a variety of people — from Glad Tidings, folks off the street, even a political science class from Yuba College that needed a project to do."
He said they don't match paint to the afflicted buildings because it is impractical for a volunteer group with limited means to do so. They often block out the graffiti with painted rectangles.
The Graffiti Busters also puts up murals to help prevent graffiti from reappearing.
About three months ago, the group painted a mural along Featherside Drive on the wall under the 10th Street Bridge in Marysville. "The mural hasn't had tagging in a while," said Binninger.
"Murals do help," he said. "For some reason, there is a respect for someone that's an artist. A lot of (graffiti painters) consider themselves artists. They're amazing artists and really could be professional graphic artists. There's respect for someone else's artwork."