“Graffiti Bandit” Eliminates Graffiti, Keeps West Bernal Sexy, Needs Your Help



There’s an anti-graffiti warrior on patrol along Bernal’s western frontier, and Neighbor Jaime Ross with the North West Bernal Alliance tells Bernalwood he could use your support:

North West Bernal has a one-man graffiti abatement program.

His name is Joe (shown above), and until recently he wasn’t willing to let anyone know about him, for fear of reprisal from taggers. And he went out under cover of night. But now he has no choice but to go public. He needs your donations to continue the never-ending job of keeping our neighborhood free from graffiti.

Here’s the back story:

In 1989, the top concerns at the North West Bernal Alliance meetings were graffiti and safety.

All the buildings along the Mission St corridor, from Cesar Chavez were vandalized. The property owners didn’t seem to care, so Joe (a member of the NWBA) decided to go out and get rid of as much graffiti as he could. That’s how the NWBA Graffiti Abatement program started.

Joe worked hard at it, and after several weeks he painted out all the graffiti from Chavez to Randall. But new graffiti appeared almost daily. It was an enormous job just keeping that area clean.

It took almost 3 years to get to a place where he was able to remove graffiti quickly. Then he was ready to tackle Mission Street from Randall to the 280 overpass.

Some days it took 10 hours to clean that area, but he was determined to get rid of all of it.
Once that removal became routine, he moved on to Glen Park.

By 1997 he was covering about 25 miles a day working 6-8 hours a day. He had some help but still it was a huge undertaking.

Joe depended on sporadic donations from grateful merchants and a few grants from SF Beautiful. He’s getting some money from a Community Challenge Grant, formally the Beautification Fund, The Department of Public Works donates paint for city trash cans; telephone poles; traffic call boxes and postal furniture, but it doesn’t nearly cover the cost for all the other paint and supplies Joe needs, so he’s using his own money.

Joe’s daily route consists of 36 miles, and Mondays he covers an additional 7 miles for a total of 43 miles of graffiti abatement.

We’d be grateful for your support to keep our neighborhood free from graffiti with a tax deductible donation. We’ll be happy to send an acknowledgment letter on our letterhead for tax purposes.

Please go to our website and click “Donate” on the right

Or you can send a check to:
North West Bernal Alliance 
 PO BOX 40989
San Francisco, CA 94140-0989

PHOTOS: North West Bernal Alliance

11 thoughts on ““Graffiti Bandit” Eliminates Graffiti, Keeps West Bernal Sexy, Needs Your Help

  1. AS I MENTIONED here previously, Joe was my landlord, and possibly the best landlord I ever had. He even gave me a nice gift of cash when he sold the building. He has been covering over graffiti with matched colors for years, at least 20 years that I’m aware of. Used to be he’d do this just before he went to work early in the morning. JOE is the reason why you never saw tagging along Mission between Cesar Chavez and Randal, when you’d see it north of Chavez and south of Randal. It wasn’t happenstance; it wasn’t luck; it wasn’t that Bernal residents were any more conscientious than other residents at keeping things clean. IT HAS BEEN JOE who painted over graffiti, usually within 24 hours of tagging!

  2. Joe, if you are reading this: Thank you.

    Separately, would you consider leading a day-time graffiti abatement program? Hopefully, a show of community will contribute to minimizing tagging. I would sign up to do this, and possibly bring my family to help.

    Thanks again.

  3. Thank you all so very much – this will go a long way towards covering his insurance and supplies for this year at least.
    “Wastenot” I’ll pass along your request though, since he does most of his graffti abatement during the night, he has a crazy sleep schedule during the day – but who knows he may be up for it.

  4. We’d only been in Bernal about a year when one Sunday morning our downstairs neighbor called to tell us our house had been tagged with black graffiti sometime in the night. We stumbled outside to see the damage and couldn’t find it! Called the neighbor back to ask her where, exactly, she’d seen the paint, and that’s exactly where we’d been looking. No trace of a tag. Then we heard about “the guy who paints out graffiti all over Bernal.” No one seemed to know his name or contact info, so we were never able to thank him. All these years later, thank you to Joe for painting over our graffiti before we even saw it! If we hadn’t already loved our new neighborhood, that surely put us over the top.

    • hi, thank u for your generosity. we r currently reorganizing our program and will get back 2 u.
      North West Bernal Alliance

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