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Conducting Neighborhood Paint-outs

Neighborhood paint-outs involve neighborhood residents, businesses, schools and others in improving the physical appearance of the area. Working together instills a sense of community pride and responsibility for the future. Graffiti paint-outs are also good family projects because they teach children about the impact of graffiti on the neighborhood and the time and resources spent on graffiti abatement. Paint-outs also give parents a forum to discuss graffiti and vandalism with their children.

The Graffiti Control Program actively encourages involvement by property owners and concerned citizens to help prevent and remove graffiti. By working together, we can solve the graffiti problem.

How to Conduct a Neighborhood Paint-out

  • Form a committee with representatives from all sectors of the neighborhood.
  • Discuss plans and choose a date for the paint-out.
  • Use the Paint and Materials Exchange Bank or solicit donations from local businesses to obtain paint and other supplies for your paint-out. Submit the on-line form to receive materials.
  • Select a place for volunteers to register.
  • Send out a notice (flyer) of the event, requesting volunteers from households, businesses, schools and others in the area. Ask area churches to include notices in their bulletins.
  • Contact the Graffiti Control Program for assistance with informational materials or promotional items (i.e., buttons, erasers, book covers, pencils, etc.).
  • Alert newspapers, TV, radio stations of your plans and ask them to publicize and cover the event.
  • On the day of the paint-out, post safety guidelines or have them printed and distributed to volunteers as they check in.
  • Make arrangements to clean up the area after the paint-out. Have volunteers ready to assist in gathering painting supplies like brushes and paint cans. Put brushes in plastics bags and clean them out in a location where the water will not go into the street and pollute our water resources. Save extra paint for future paint-outs.
  • Provide plastic bags in which to store paint rollers and brushes.
  • Provide refreshments or a picnic afterwards to thank volunteers.
  • Have the planning committee discuss ways to keep the neighbor-hood graffiti-free (i.e., arranging strategy for future paint-outs, identifying frequently hit places, designating paint-out routes, posting signs and planting landscape).

Rules and Guidelines for a Safe and Successful Paint-out

  • Always get permission from the person responsible for the property before painting it.
  • Do not paint any public property, including sidewalks, curbs, U.S. Postal Service mailboxes or traffic signs.
  • Call (619) 758-7111 to report graffiti on U.S. Postal Service mailboxes.
  • Call (619) 527-7500 to report graffiti on stop signs and other street signs.
  • Call (619) 467-4042 to report graffiti on Caltrans property
  • Call (619) 525-8522 to report graffiti on other public structures, private property, utility boxes, or if the responsible entity is unknown.
  • When working near traffic, have volunteers wear safety vests or bright clothing.
  • Graffiti on painted surfaces should be covered by paint that matches the primary background color as closely as possible. If matching is impossible, paint the entire background. This will eliminate the "patchwork" effect. Save some paint for "touch up" jobs later.
  • Do not paint natural surfaces (brick, wood), and do not paint over signs or logos unless you have received the consent of the property owner.
  • Don't waste paints or solvents. Small amounts of unusable latex paint in cans should be left open to dry out. Once the paint is completely dry it can be disposed of in the trash. Large amounts of paint, solvents and any other hazardous materials should be taken to a city Household Hazardous Waste Collection event. Call the Household Hazardous Waste hotline at (619) 235-2111 to find the next event near you.
  • Water used to clean painting supplies is hazardous to the environment. This water should not be disposed of by pouring it down storm drains, into streets or on the ground. This polluted water can harm marine life as well as humans who use the ocean for recreation and as a source of food. Painting supplies should be washed out in the sink where the water will go through the sewage treatment system and not seep directly into the ocean or ground water. Remaining amounts of paint should not be poured down the drain, but should be brought to a Household Hazardous Waste collection event.