Tag Archive for: graffiti

"Cine de Oro" by Ernesto de la Loza on Sunset and Mohawk in Echo Park

Last month, City of LA committees and departments held a public hearing on a possible new city-wide mural ordinance – one that would hopefully protect/preserve the city’s murals from land-use issues and graffiti, as well as foster an environment where new murals can be created. Long story short – the mural thing has been an issue for a long, long, long time in Los Angeles, involving law suits and billboard laws and unhappy artists. Echo Park has been a wonderful hub for colorful murals and activist art, including new artists like the French street artist JR, Cache, Banksy, and others (we even got a tour earlier this month of some of the city’s best and oldest street artists decorating the walls of Keystone Studios on Glendale Boulevard). And because Echo Park is historically a friendly environment for these murals, the new mural ordinance will definitely affect our neighborhood (and hopefully in a good way!).

Last week, Open Culture released nice summary of the mural issue (link via Curbed LA), along with a short documentary by Oliver Riley-Smith on the sad state of murals in Los Angeles in the face of graffiti and the white-washing of neighborhoods in the name of “redevelopment” (aka gentrification). The documentary features artist and activist Ernesto de la Loza, who has been fighting for years to save the city’s murals (of the 42 murals he painted over the last four decades, on nine remain). We believe he still lives in Echo Park (at one point his studio was also located here) and he once had several murals in the neighborhood – you can see his remaining piece, called “Cine de Oro,” on Sunset Boulevard and Mohawk Street (pictured).

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Echo Park Now reader Javier sent us this photo recently, writing: “Its hardly breaking news that Banksy has been running around the LA the last few days throwing up new pieces. But, is this stencil on the north side of Sunset Bridge on Glendale Blvd part of his Spring 2011 beautification campaign!?!”

An email forwarded to the Echo Elysian Neighborhood Council Yahoo! Forum the other day announced some good news about the city’s graffiti abatement programs.

Pat Gomez, the city’s murals manager, writes, “This is to update you that the graffiti abatement cut was removed from the budget reduction recommendations approved by Council and forwarded to the Mayor.”


The city addressed a recommendation by the mayor’s office to cut graffiti abatement program funding just a couple of weeks ago on Wednesday, January 12. They had recommended a drastic 50% cut to meet the city’s current budget constraints, worrying many here in Echo Park about keeping our streets clean and safe.

We were especially worried about the future of the Central City Action Committee (CCAC) located here in Echo Park. An important organization to many communities in Los Angeles, the CCAC removed 3.5 million square feet of graffiti in CD1 and one million from CD13.

We are happy the city did the responsible thing even if we don’t know where the next budget cut will be. In the meantime, keep telling the city about graffiti as soon as you see it by calling 311, reporting it on the anti-graffiti website at http://anti-graffiti.lacity.org, or using a 311 ap if you have an iPhone or Android phone.

We choose not to glorify gang graffiti, so here's the kind of artwork we prefer. Flickr photo via KellyLA.

Once upon a time, there was little to no city-funded programs to help clean up graffiti in Echo Park. Residents and activists involved in the Echo Park Improvement Association (EPIA) would drive around with paint in the trunk of their cars to paint over any new graffiti on the spot. Other residents could join a $10 per month program that would help Central City Action Committee (CCAC) pay for graffiti removal on the weekends.

It’s been a while since those days, but a recent proposal from the Mayor’s office to cut funding to graffiti abatement program has a few people worried. How will crime, safety, and the quality of life be affected if the streets are covered in graffiti?

According to an LA Times article, the budget cut would save the city $1.5 million per year (out of a total of $7 million spent on eradicating graffiti city-wide). For Echo Park and the CCAC (which is one of 14 contractors in the city with the same directive), the cut would actually reduce our anti-graffiti forces by 50%. Right now the non-profit has six teams out there for around 20 Los Angeles neighborhoods from Highland Park to Venice. A 50% reduction would be drastic.

Opposition to the budget cut isn’t without reason – everyone is fully aware of the budget issues on our communities and our city. It’s about prioritizing, as we all know, and for most of us our safety and the overall quality of life is affected by graffiti. When those gang names are crossed out and written over by a competing group, it’s concerning. And if it stays up, the crime could worsen. It’s not a risk we’re willing to take.

“What happens once the graffiti starts going up,” said CCAC director MaryAnne Hayashi, “you would never catch up…. I really think it’s a quality of life issue. People really deserve to have a clean neighborhood.”

The good news is, the everyone seems to be rallying against the graffiti budget cuts, even Eric Garcetti of CD 13. Spokesperson Yusef Robb told us, to our relief, that Garcetti’s office was fighting the graffiti cutbacks. “When it comes to graffiti,” he said, “the return that we get in terms of quality of life as well as financially makes it a worthy investment.

And what an investment – CCAC removed 3.5 million square feet of graffiti in CD1 and one million from CD13.

Over the past five or six years, Garcetti’s anti-graffiti program UNTAG (Uniting Neighborhoods to Abolish Graffiti) has seen a 70% decrease in graffiti district-wide. The program recruits block captains to oversee and organize neighborhoods to report graffiti for city crews to then clean up. If the city cuts the anti-graffiti budget, the simple fact is there will be less money for painting over graffiti and revitalizing neighborhoods.

The best part about non-profits like the CCAC is that they don’t just paint a white block over the graffiti, they make it look good and maintain the beauty of the neighborhood. They also follow certain safety procedures for when they might feel threatened by removing gang graffiti.

While the programs may indeed see some cuts, we’re hoping far less that what’s being proposed. And hopefully we won’t have to drive around with paint in the trunk of the car.

You can help by writing to your Council District representative along with making sure graffiti is reported as soon as you see it. If you see graffiti, call 311, visit the anti-graffiti website at http://anti-graffiti.lacity.org, or use a 311 ap if you have an iPhone or Android phone.

If you’re available during the day to help support the graffiti abatement work, there’s a City Council meeting on the subject on Wednesday, January 12 at 10:00 am.