By Margie M. Palmer | SDUN Reporter
After many voiced concerns about possible graffiti on the newly constructed Aldine Drive restoration wall, an anti-graffiti coating has been placed.
The wall was constructed after an uncommonly high amount of rainfall during the 2004 season eroded sections of slope between Van Dyke and Fairmont avenues. After the rain, a state of emergency was declared for that portion of Aldine Drive, and the City secured federal grant funding to repair the damage.
The result was the $2.27 million stabilization wall along the hillside that will retain the landscape and protect Aldine Drive. Construction began in May 2011.
Soon after construction began, community members voiced concern that the project would become a graffiti magnet for local taggers.
In January, the Kensington-Talmadge Planning Group (Ken-Tal) wrote to members of the Federal Highway Administration and Caltrans requesting anti-graffiti coating be applied to the wall. Once applied, the coating would create a protective surface on which spray paint could not bond.
After learning the original plans did not include the protective coating, Ken-Tal Chair David Moty wrote to Caltrans, Federal Highway Administration and local elected officials. “We believe the lowest portion of the wall will become a prime target for vandalism. We believe [not including] an anti-graffiti coating in the project contract was a serious oversight,” Moty wrote.
Applying the preventative coating, he said, was a more practical and cost-effective approach than initiating a never-ending stream of graffiti removal requests.
District Three Councilmember Todd Gloria’s district includes Kensington and Talmadge. Gloria’s Communications Director Katie Keach said Gloria agreed.
“The coating was not originally there but the anti-graffiti coating has been recently added at the request of our office and several neighbors,” she said.
Moty said though the request took approximately three months to be honored, he said he believes this was “practically at light speed based on city processes.” He said, “We’re very pleased they managed to get at it before the first tags appeared.”
Kensington resident Kelly Waggoner said though she is pleased the coating was added, it should have been a foresight.
“Anyone who lives in or around the Mid-City is aware that graffiti is a problem in this area,” she said. “We see it time and time again in our neighborhood and feel this should have been addressed in the design states of the project.”
Moty said he agrees with Waggoner’s sentiment, noting that Hoover High School’s recently installed rough-rock surface bleacher stands have already been vandalized by taggers. The rough-rock surface is similar to the surface of the restoration wall.
“It’s going to be very difficult to remove the graffiti from this type of surface,” he said. “When you live in our part of the city [the coating] needs to be designed into every project.”