Volunteers Remove Graffiti at Community Center

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

September 21, 2023

Youths reportedly painted graffiti in multiple places at the South Bay Community Center in Los Osos. Photo by Dean Sullivan

A few folks, armed with paintbrushes, volunteered to help a Los Osos hub that had been vandalized. 

The 50 x16 side wall of the South Bay Community Center, 2180 Palisades Ave., was hit with graffiti, foul language and what are believed to be non-gang related signs, on August 31. 

“A homeless couple living here heard the spray cans at 10:30 on Thursday night,” said Gary Katayama, Community Center board member and Kiwanis representative. “They called the police department, and they picked up six kids and released them to their parent’s house.”

In addition to the Community Center, suspects also allegedly tagged the red barn, a cement wall, garbage bins and a utility box. 

The volunteer crew, made up of folks who heard about the incident on social media, spent an estimated 40 hours scrubbing the graffiti off, putting on two coats of primer and then the topcoat to match the rest of the facility. Sean Morson, a retired painter and handyman, led the project freely providing directions, skills and equipment.

“Between us, we spent probably $400 just in supplies as citizens,” said volunteer Emily Miggins, “for a couple of minutes of enjoyment. I know that the young men will do better in life after this. I think what’s important for people to know is this community center doesn’t have a budget and big maintenance staff. It doesn’t have the capacity to respond to stuff like this. They’re dealing with deferred maintenance already. The community response is critical on this, including educating our youth that this isn’t a recreational opportunity to paint.”

In addition to the monetary side of cleaning up graffiti, it can reduce property value, create increased vacancies in business properties, decrease potential renters for living space, raise insurance rates and lead to more graffiti in the area. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nationally, the annual cost of monitoring, detecting, removing, and repairing graffiti damage has been estimated as high as $15 to $18 billion.

“If any youth wants to come and help here, it doesn’t matter whether it’s sweeping, raking, or weeding; everyone who uses the Community Center would love it.

If a cloud has a silver lining, this group of volunteers will find it. The overall attitude is to fix the situation and make it a positive.

“The community came together, and we got it taken care of,” said Katayama. And we didn’t have to wait for the county government to do it. These things happen. Hopefully, it sends a message to these kids that were involved. I would like to see them come down and paint it themselves. It would be a learning experience.”

“I can’t emphasize how amazing everyone was in providing this help to our community center,” said Pam Hostetter, board V.P. 

A few of the folks who volunteered to clean up graffiti at the South Bay Community Center in Los Osos.
Pictured: Gary Katayama, Community Center board member representing the Kiwanis; Pam Hostetter, board VP; Emily Miggins, community activist and volunteer; and Sean Morson, a professional painter. Photo submitted

Anyone who wants to volunteer at the South Bay Community Center can be reached at 805.528.4169 or online at southbaycommunitycenter.com.

Be sure to check out one the next Unity in the Community concert to raise funds to help the Community Center gear up as a true emergency response center and help another local non-profits continue their work. The show is Oct. 1 from 2 to 6 p.m. with an opening set by Strange Cake followed by headliners Zongo All-Stars. The shows are free, but folks must have a ticket to enter. Get yours at my805tix.com.

You May Also Like…