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July 13, 2024


The Spread of Graffiti and Gang Tagging

The purpose of this letter is to address the problem of graffiti and gang tagging in the Irvington District. My family has been residence of Fremont, since 1984 and we have certainly seen changes in the city, but not necessarily for the better. When we came here there was no graffiti or gang tagging!

When we moved to Fremont, Congressional Quarterly listed Fremont as one of the safest cities to live in with a population of over 100,000 people. Our city management has failed us over the years, and we now live with graffiti and gang tagging.

Over the past five years we have made numerous calls to the city, to Union Pacific, and BART, only to receive a bureaucratic run around. In the military we called this “shirking responsibility.” It is the old “not-me” syndrome. While the City of Fremont does have a staff to address graffiti, it has been no real help, and the spread of graffiti only continues to get worse and worse.

I do believe that the City of Fremont has the tools to stop the spread of graffiti and gang related tagging—but this issue seems to be ignored. We have called the police when we have seen individuals tagging walls, but the police have always arrived too late. Letters to Mayor Mei have gone unanswered.

Let me recommend a few approaches that might curtail, if not stop the spread of graffiti and tagging:

  1. Treat tagging and graffiti as a litter violation. There are laws on the books to stop and clear littering. The fines are large and can be elevated to a criminal offense. Maybe the litter law can be amended to include graffiti, which is a form of visual littering and uses profanity.
  1. Include graffiti as part of the city’s weed abatement program. It might be easier to cite BART or Union Pacific under a modified abatement policy. My recommendation is that the city needs to cite owners of buildings, walls, or any place that graffiti appears. If anyone fails to make the correction, they are fined and if they fail to pay the fine, they are taken to court; and/or
  1. The city set up motion cameras in threat/risk areas. The cameras can be temporary, as they should be moved to various locations in the city that have been pre-surveyed. Fines for anyone caught tagging or making graffiti marks should be similar to litter fines. Initial fines of $1,000 and for habitual taggers, much greater fines.

The individuals who participate in graffiti are few, but the threat is likely to increase with the expansion of housing. I suggest that you visit Irvington and personally witness the problem of graffiti along BART and Union Pacific rail lines.

I suspect that addressing the issue of graffiti and tagging with BART and Union Pacific will not be a simple challenge, but we were successful with weed abatement policy. The City needs to take culprits to court and see that they are fined.

We do not wish to have these repulsive, unsightly eyesores that tell people this is gang territory. The City leadership can do more, only if they take the issue more seriously.

Sincerely yours,

COL. Brian A. Barlow (retired)



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