Graffiti Eradication Program

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The City Council and City staff take the position that the existence of graffiti is detrimental to property values, adversely affects quality of life and community attractiveness, and discredits the City's reputation for livability. When graffiti is allowed to remain, it invites yet more graffiti and may lead to an increase in vandalism and other criminal activity. Rapid removal is considered key to controlling and eradicating graffiti.  

City of Santa Clara graffiti eradication efforts are outlined below, and are considered a joint effort by the City, its citizens, and other agencies, with education as a strong component. The City is participating with the County and with other cities in the County in regional graffiti eradication efforts. Questions may be addressed to the Street Department at (408) 615-3080, by email at or the City Manager's Office Complaint Ombudsman at (408) 615-2210.

Agency Phone Number
Santa Clara Valley Water District
(graffiti along creeks/creek beds)
(408) 265-2600
Amtrak property (408) 271-3550
County Expressways (408) 573-2400
(bus benches & enclosures)
(408) 977-5285

  • Maintain a healthy, safe and clean environment;
  • Preserve the City's quality of life; and
  • Involve working with our residents and businesses

An integral part of the program is the City's Graffiti Watch program, instances of graffiti can be reported online through Santa Clara Police Department's online report service or by telephone on the Graffiti Hotline 24 hour number at (408) 241-9495. Information leading to the identity and apprehension of a person who defaces any building or property with graffiti in the City of Santa Clara may qualify for a monetary reward of $250.00 through the program. 

City Efforts

  • The Street Department conducts a Graffiti Abatement Program for graffiti on private property. Street Department personnel notifies property owners of the existence of graffiti on their property and requests that it be removed as swiftly as possible. Approximately 75% of graffiti is removed by property owners within two weeks after the initial notification. Contact the Street Department at (408) 615-3080 to report graffiti on private property.
  • Employees of all City departments have as a goal the removal of graffiti from municipal facilities, equipment, signs, etc. less than three days after it is sighted, and usually removal occurs within a single day. All departments participate in graffiti removal.
  • Fire, Police and Street Departments currently track incidents that include graffiti, illegal dumping, and the illegal placement of signs. The Street Department provides monthly reports to the City Manager's Office. Coordination of department efforts is made to maximize graffiti abatement impacts.
  • The SET (Special Enforcement Team) of the Police Department photographs and catalogs graffiti vandalism (for potential future prosecution and cost recovery); undertakes surveillance, stakeouts, and stings in problem areas to apprehend graffiti vandals; and actively seeks to arrest graffiti vandals.
  • Graffiti observed on non-City public property is reported to the responsible public agency. In some cases, the City works directly with these other agencies to assist in the timely removal of this graffiti.
  • The Street Department has assigned an employee to spend 25% of their time on a combination of the mitigation of illegally posted signs and the identification and reporting of graffiti for removal.
  • The Police Department utilizes POP (Problem Oriented Policing) to seek resolution of graffiti problems and solutions to prevent future graffiti vandalism in certain problem areas. For example, Police personnel will work with other departments and the neighborhood or business to identify and have installed better lighting in an area and/or trim adjacent vegetation in an effort to decrease future incidents of graffiti vandalism.
  • The Police Department has assigned a Community Service Officer (CSO) whose principal responsibility is to act as a clearinghouse for graffiti eradication. The CSO works with the Code Enforcement Committee, and provides information to assist with the promotion of graffiti removal through such avenues as the City's newspaper, this website, Municipal Cable Channel 15, etc.
  • City Council has passed a Graffiti Ordinance proposed by the City's Code Enforcement Committee. The ordinance emphasizes empowerment, education, eradication and enforcement - the "4 E's of Graffiti Eradication." The ordinance is desired to help strengthen the City's efforts toward the elimination of graffiti and addresses a number of issues including graffiti on private property.
  • Through the Youth Outreach programs of the Police Department, and working in conjunction with other City departments, juveniles periodically participate in graffiti abatement to meet alternative sentencing requirements, working on weekend work crews.
  • Working with the Cities Association of Santa Clara County, the City is participating in "Tag You Lose," a county-wide program to hold youth accountable for graffiti by suspending drivers' licenses as punishment for the conviction of a graffiti offense. The program will assign convicted taggers and their parents a specific area to keep clean of graffiti for up to one year. The program states "Tag You Lose...Do graffiti and lose your drivers license, lose your weekends, and lose your money. It's the law."

Community Efforts

  • Property owners are encouraged to paint out graffiti as soon as it appears. The Street Department follows up with property owners to encourage them to comply; in the case of absentee landlords, to notify them about the graffiti and needed removal; and in the case of property owners who are unable to remove the graffiti themselves (for example, infirm citizens) to assist in locating volunteers to paint out their graffiti.
  • The City's "Give A Little...Help A Lot" municipal utility bill insert program accepts donations for Keep Santa Clara Clean, an endeavor of the City's Cultural Advisory Commission. Community donations are used to purchase paint, supplies and equipment for graffiti paint-out.
  • The Police Department works with property owners to document and identify/track graffiti tags and possible gang-related tagging for potential arrest, conviction of vandals, and cost recovery.


  • The City's Code Enforcement Committee, established in 1997, has made it a priority to increase public awareness and effectiveness of all code enforcement activities, including graffiti removal. City resources, including utility bill inserts, the quarterly newspaper distributed to all residents, etc., are including information on code enforcement including graffiti elimination. The June, 1999 issue of the newspaper contained an article on graffiti vandalism, and how residents can help reduce/eliminate it. This issue also promoted the Graffiti Hotline and reward program.
  • The City's Dial-A-Tip/Graffiti Hotline, (408) 241-9495, has been in existence for more than 10 years. It is listed yearly in the Phone Directory inside the City's Annual Report/Calendar, and is included in a number of other publications, including the new Code Enforcement brochure. This brochure was mailed as a utility bill insert to all customers in November, 1999.
  • The Police Department also undertakes community education about graffiti eradication through programs in the schools. This same educational effort is utilized in Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch and the Youth Outreach (alternative sentencing) programs.
  • Other educational efforts include announcements and information placed on the government cable channel, Graffiti Hotline posters distributed to local businesses, periodic Police Department bumper stickers, website promotions, etc.
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