The impact of graffiti and how to deal with it in a neighborhood

While inspecting a house in North Sacramento yesterday I saw this fence. How does this image strike you? What does a fence like this tell you about the neighborhood?

Some might say graffiti has artistic value, while others say it clearly does not. Stepping aside from that discussion, from a real estate perspective, I’ve never seen evidence to suggest graffiti like this helps boost property values. All things considered, graffiti ultimately harms a neighborhood because it contributes to a negative perception of the community. Do others get the sense that residents care about a neighborhood if graffiti runs rampant? No.

Just like I mentioned in my “blight week” series a while back, it’s often the “small things” in a neighborhood like graffiti, debris and unkempt lawns that create a less than positive view of the community and impact the way others feel about the neighborhood too. So focusing on getting to know neighbors and taking care of some of the small signs of decay is often a relevant place to begin to bring change.

Tips for dealing with a neighborhood graffiti problem:

  1. Choose: Decide to be a part of the solution. Others may not step up, but you can be a game-changer for your street. Why not you?
  2. Local Police: Talk with local law enforcement. What is the nature of the graffiti? Know what you are dealing with in the community and ask for advice from police officers.
  3. Band of Neighbors: Get a few neighbors on board to deal with the issue by asking a couple of people to be on a rotating schedule for covering tags. Maybe you can switch on a weekly or monthly basis.
  4. Be Quick: Cover graffiti within 24 hours and keep doing that until the problem stops. The issue is likely to lessen or stop over time if it is covered immediately because why would a tagger waste his time if his tags are not seen by others?
  5. One Color: Use the same paint color if possible because it’ll look better and less blotchy. The residents in the picture above deserve applause because they are dealing with the issue. My hat goes off to them. Ultimately if they used one color though, it would look better, don’t you think?
  6. Ask for Paint: Ask code enforcement, city council members or a local hardware store for free or discounted paint and any resources they might have to assist you. You may not even have to spend your own money because there is bound to be someone out there who wants to get behind your cause.
  7. Keep a positive attitude: It’s easy to become discouraged when problems persist, but try not to take the graffiti personally. Try to get to the point where you find joy in getting to take care of your community on a more daily basis. You are doing something that needs to be done. You may never get recognition, but you are helping the community grow in the right direction, so practice thankfulness while you are painting and when you notice new tags too. I know that sounds like an odd concept, but just go with it.
  8. Celebrate your successes: Have a casual BBQ with neighbors in your front yard and invite code enforcement and a city council member to eat with you. This could even help spur on more discussion about solving issues.
  9. Any other suggestions?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your story. Feel free to comment below. Thanks for keeping it civil and constructive.

If you have any questions or Sacramento area real estate appraisal or property tax appeal needs, contact me by phone 916-595-3735, email, Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to posts by email.


  1. Anne Graviet, CHS says

    10. Move.

    Seriously. Uptown is beautiful what with all their sculptures and street design but I still wouldn’t want to live there. Same goes for Oak Park.

    11. Educate, support and cooperate with your neighbors – It’s often the aimless, lost and hopeless children who join gangs and tag, among other things. If they didn’t feel the need to join gangs and sell drugs in order to fill that hole in their soul, we’d not have issues with street violence and graffiti.

    12. Change our draconian drug laws and stop shredding families apart due to medical issues and filling private prisons with the resulting slave workers who build things for 25cents/hour. Drug dependance is an illness not a crime and is better treated with counseling and a doctor. Keep families together – they need each other – and strong families create strong communities.

    There’s more but I’ve only had 2 cups of coffee so far…

    • says

      Moving is always an option. It doesn’t solve the problem in the community, but it does make sense for some people to do so. I think you hit on how important it is to educate and really talk with neighbors to understand the issues at hand. Big change can happen with just a little intention and taking practical steps, but it’ll never happen without a sense of cooperation and a group of people really owning a vision to see change in the community. Interesting thoughts on drug laws, Anne. And that’s only after 2 cups. Watch out when you have more!!!

  2. says

    San Jose has a fast and furious graffiti abatement program, and an email account that is monitored. There is more and more graffiti however, and its truly sad. How do these kids get 25 feet above the freeway onto those signs and train tracks without being spotted or it being called in?

    • says

      That’s good to hear they have a quick response, although it sounds like there is too much graffiti cover. I guess it begs the question of whose responsbility it is to clean up graffiti. Local government? Property owners and renters? Or both? My take is that graffiti can never be solved only by local authorities. There has to be a sense of cooperation among residents and local authorities. The government should take care of graffiti in public places, but private owners need to quickly handle graffiti in their places of business and residence. Some cities do not have a graffiti abatement program, so San Jose is fortunate to have one in place. I too don’t know how kids climb that high. There are so many other more constructive ways to channel creativity and skill. I always get sad when driving on I-5 in LA to see that some of the murals during the 1984 Olympics along the freeway have been vandalized. It’s too bad because it makes it ugly for everyone.

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