Veterans to battle Daly City’s graffiti

A rash of graffiti is plaguing the streets of Daly City, police said, and the ongoing problem could not have come at a worse time, with the recent retirement of the city’s graffiti cleanup crew.

But help is on the way. This week, three war veterans — two of whom are in their 80s — have volunteered to replace the retiring crew.

“We want to stay active with the community and there is no better way to do it than getting involved in the graffiti cleanup,” explained Peter Jalgunas, 80, who heads the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars, a nationwide organization.

In Dec. 18, a small group of volunteers — mostly elderly people, police said — retired due to old age after helping the city’s public works department clean up graffiti on private property in recent years. Since their retirement, tags have accumulated on stores, parking lots and abandoned buildings around Mission Street and other neighborhoods, authorities said.

“We are experiencing an upswing in the last couple of months, and some of it has to do with gang activity that goes in cycles,” said Daly City police Sgt. Dave Mackriss, who did not have exact figures on many graffiti incidents reported since the group’s retirement.

The veterans are planning to take over the duties in mid-February. Jalgunas, a Korean War veteran who lives in the Serramonte neighborhood, said he will be recruiting the help of local high school students and homeowners associations.

New volunteers would cut any expanded duties the public works department would have shouldered had no one stepped forward, officials said. Public works officials already spend close to 20 hours a week cleaning city buildings and street signs, interim public works Director Patrick Sweetland said. He said that public works officials are assigned to clean graffiti off public buildings while custodians scrub tagged school walls.

“We are very happy that people are stepping up,” Sweetland said. “We had a very strong core of citizens as a tremendous local asset, so now we’re working on a transition.”

The new volunteers have to learn how to track new graffiti and coordinate efforts with the police and the public works department, Sweetland said.

The veterans said they are excited to take over the duties and hope to learn all the tricks of the trade from former volunteers.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Mayor London Breed said Tuesday that with other counties moving ahead with expanding vaccine eligibility “we want San Franciscans to have the same opportunity.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Everyone in SF ages 16 and up is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

San Francisco expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday to everyone ages… Continue reading

San Francisco Park Rangers have seen their budget and staffing levels increase significantly since 2014. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Citations for being in SF’s public parks after midnight soar

Data shows disproportionate impact on Black residents

Parents and students line up socially distanced before the first day of in-person learning at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
‘It’s a beautiful sight’: The first students return to the classroom

San Francisco’s youngest public school students stepped into classrooms for in-person learning… Continue reading

File
Latest Breed nominee for Police Commission moves forward

Immigration attorney Jim Byrne clears Board of Supervisors committee

A rally at Golden Gate Park on Sunday April 11 drew a large crowd in support of calls to keep JFK Drive closed to traffic. (Emily Huston/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Hundreds rally for “JFK Thrive,” not JFK Drive

By Emily Huston More than two hundred gathered on a warm Sunday… Continue reading

Most Read