June Gloom Gray – Who chooses the paint color for graffiti abatement in Los Angeles?

by Ian Besler

i. Two Square Miles of Paint

Last year the Office of Community Beautification in Los Angeles oversaw enough painting in its efforts at graffiti removal to have covered each letter of the Hollywood Sign with roughly nine inches of solid paint — about 1,800 variously colored coats rolled out across the face of each of the four-story tall letters.

Since the Office’s internal statistics take into account the three common methods of graffiti removal: painting, chemical washing, and pressure blasting, that hypothetical figure is probably a bit conservative. But if half of the graffiti removal that the Office oversees is accomplished by painting, then we’re talking about enough cumulative pigment to completely cover two square miles of the city’s surfaces over the 15-year period for which statistics are available. Two square miles of stucco, brick, concrete, cinder block, plywood, metal, and more. Hundreds of thousands of surfaces that have been abstracted to a manufactured color of paint — defaced, then brought back as if through the efforts of Hollywood set builders, their material fidelity slightly reduced, but close enough to pass.

The scale of the effort is staggering, and the complexity of it made trickier by the fact that the work aspires for invisibility. If any garish color of paint or any graceless method of removal would do, it might be a simpler task. But community beautification, done as a concerted effort, demands a level of scrutiny with the built environment that few of us will ever experience. READ THE REST HERE


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