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Higher graffiti stats are on the wall 

Reports of graffiti have risen more than 80 percent in the city of San Luis Obispo since last year, according to police data.

In a report to the City Council on Dec. 4, members of the city's police and public works departments released the statistic and outlined what should be done to combat the outbreak. The departments aren't asking for any sort of anti-graffiti budget at this time, but they will appear in front of the council again with a more detailed plan of attack at the February budget hearing.

SLO Police Lt. Bill Proll said that the department received 266 reports of graffiti in 2007, up from 144 reports last year. Currently the police receive complaints through the graffiti hotline, or find it when dispatched to reported incidents on public or private property. Proll said that the department tries to organize complaints so that the number represents different instances of graffiti--but some overlap is possible.

Public Works Director Jay Walter said that his department actually responded to many more instances of graffiti this year. His department is responsible for graffiti clean up in public areas. Property owners are expected to remove graffiti from their own buildings.

"My guess is that the incidence of graffiti is actually much higher than that," Walter said, referencing the new numbers. "If you think about it, that number amounts to fewer that one call a day, and I know that at our department, we are responding to more than that."

Walter said that much of his intelligence comes from casual reports by Public Works employees.

The police and Public Works departments are preparing a comprehensive plan detailing the responsibility of each municipal department, which could result in the creation of a full-time job focused on "eradicating graffiti." The plan would be organized around four main principles: the fast reporting and removal of graffiti, educating community members about the problems graffiti creates, prevention by way of creative architectural elements and landscaping, and enforcement of vandalism laws.

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