South Park BID Successfully Deters Graffiti Through Public Art Project
South Park Business Improvement District (BID)
March 14, 2016
Construction Fence Pilot Reduces Graffiti by 96% with Help from Local School
South Park Business Improvement District (BID)
Communications & Policy Manager
Los Angeles, CA (March 2016): In response to unruly construction fence graffiti across the 16 active construction sites in the district, the South Park Business Improvement District (BID) developed and implemented a resoundingly successful construction fence art project, reducing graffiti by 96% on a test site. Experimenting with one of the most vandalized construction fences in South Park, the BID worked with developers, construction companies, and students from the local Metro Charter Elementary School to create a replicable project for other sites.
With over 100 construction sites or soon-to-break-ground developments in Downtown LA, unsightly graffiti-covered construction fences are commonplace. According to the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works Office of Community Beautification, the City cleared nearly 31 million square feet of graffiti over 670,000 locations in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, an increase of 5% over the past two years. As the fastest-developing neighborhood in Downtown LA, South Park currently hosts over 10,000 feet of construction fences and reports between 15 to 30 graffiti tags per week.
Informed by the Broken Windows Theory, which suggests that small crimes such as vandalism may lead to more serious crimes, City developers are required to remove graffiti from the exterior of construction fences within 24-hours of a tag. Adhering to this specification could cost developers upwards of $20,000 a year for supplies and labor, depending on the size of the construction fence and tag rates. In many cases, sections of the scrim panel need to be replaced entirely due to legions of graffiti or other forms of vandalism such as rips and tears, an expense averaging $500 per panel. However, the larger problem is that covering the graffiti is only a Band-Aid solution: removing a tag simply creates a new blank canvas for graffiti taggers. Simply put, proactive developers find themselves in a discouraging catch-22 when it comes to graffiti removal.
In search of a more permanent solution that also enhanced the public realm, the BID worked with South Park Stakeholders Group (SPSG) District Identity and Marketing Committee (DISI), the Do Art Foundation, Metro Charter Elementary School, neighborhood developers, and local artists to invest $10,000 to design, build, and install the project, approximately half of the amount of what proactive developers spend each year on graffiti removal.
“The BID reacted to perturbed developers and members of the community with a unique, creative partnership-based project,” said South Park BID Executive Director Jessica Lall. “The result is new sense of safety for those who live, work, attend school, or simply pass by the Onyx site.”
Located at the corner of Pico Blvd and Hope St in close proximity to the LA Metro Pico Station, the Onyx development site used to be tagged an average of 5 times per week on its 500 feet of fencing. As one of the most tagged sites in the district, Onyx became the ideal location to test the construction fence art project’s success. Today, the Onyx construction fence experienced only two tags in nine weeks.
“We are fortunate to have strategic problem solvers like the BID and their community partners,” said Daniel Taban of Jade Enterprises and SPSG Board Member. “With this project, we were able to nearly eradicate our graffiti problem and the costs associated with it at the Onyx site, all while making the community more inviting. We hope that other developers will follow suit.”
The BID worked with one of Downtown LA’s leading charter schools, Metro Charter Elementary School, to paint 25 pieces of plywood while volunteers gathered, cleaned, and repurposed over 300 pounds of recycled materials, a product of the BID’s continued sustainability efforts. Local and renowned artist “Shrine On” (Brent Spears) composed his signature pattern-heavy, texturized designs and masterfully tied the pieces together. The result is a non-commercial artistic wrapping that today replaces the existing run-down construction fences. Designed to break apart and re-assemble easily, the construction fence art project provides the flexibility needed for growing and changing construction sites, and furthermore can be moved to a new site upon construction completion.
“Experiential learning is one of the fundamentals of our curriculum,” said Kim Clerx, Metro Charter Elementary Principal. “We jumped on the opportunity to engage our students in solving a real-life community concern and brightening our neighborhood.”
“The only thing growing faster than the rising development in Downtown LA is the strong sense of community, which is evident by the inspiring collaboration among the South Park BID, students from Metro Charter, DTLA developers, and local artists and partners,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “This problem-solving program addresses a top quality-of-life issue in a way that improves the community while creating a blueprint that can be used elsewhere in the future.”
The construction fence artwork is a testament to the next phase of the South Park BID Public Art Strategic Plan, which focuses on art that engages a community. The BID and the Do Art Foundation will continue to focus on ways to connect the neighborhood to its surroundings in a broader effort to create a healthier and happier community for everyone from elementary students to seniors.
If you are a developer interested in a construction fence art project for your site, please contact South Park BID Communications & Policy Manager Laura Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The South Park Business Improvement District (BID) is a 52-block neighborhood in Downtown LA managed by the South Park Stakeholders Group, a coalition of residents, property owners, and business who are deeply committed to the ongoing improvement of the district. Since 2005, the South Park BID has worked to make South Park safer, cleaner and more vibrant for the people who live, work and visit.
For more information, visit www.southpark.la
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