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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 27, 2006

In war on graffiti, wall is small part

A Honolulu graffiti wall? For legal graffiti?

It's worth a try. But let's not be deluded.

Putting up a city-sanctioned wall for graffiti artists to "do their thing" could satisfy a small minority view that sees what they do as artistic expression. It might even provide an outlet that lessens the urge to create unwanted graffiti.

But the wall does little for the vast majority who get a thrill from the illegal act of defacing public or private property.

That's why a wall should be seen only as a very small part of a more comprehensive approach. That plan should include community partnerships, better enforcement, including motion-sensor cameras, prompt removal of graffiti, and strong deterrents, including steep fines coupled with community service.

Enlisting the community's aid in a public education campaign could be an effective tool. For example, the city of San Antonio has a Web site (www.sanantonio.gov/graffiti) where residents learn about graffiti and what they can do to help solve the problem.

It's good information and an approach that's needed here.

Public education brings on community support, and that's a key component to eliminating graffiti.

But first the city must clearly communicate that unwanted graffiti is vandalism and not merely a form of artistic self-expression. Clearly it will take much more than a sanctioned graffiti wall to get that message across.