Vandalism vigilantes work out deal with San Francisco 

One day after The San Francisco Examiner reported that the Recreation and Park Department had disapproved of the goodwill efforts made by two people to cover graffiti in their neighborhood park, city officials met with the Excelsior residents to work out a compromise.

Phil Ginsburg, the Rec and Park director, offered to make 23-year-olds Aaron Perry-Zucker and Max Slavkin honorary members of the department’s three-man painting crew.

“We can use all the help we can get,” Ginsburg said.

Since around Thanksgiving and without The City’s permission, Perry-Zucker and Slavkin have taken it upon themselves to cover signs and benches in John McLaren Park that are covered with black graffiti.

Instead of painting over the tags with the dull khaki-green preferred by city crews, the two have been using bright red or blue paints. They hoped to not only stop vandals from tagging these spaces, but also improve the look of the park as a whole.

But while Rec and Park officials encouraged Perry-Zucker and Slavkin to help city crews repaint tagged structures in the park, they stopped short of saying the duo could use their bright hues. In fact, the head of Rec and Park’s paint shop, Joe Padilla, seemed determined that The City should stick with its current palette.

According to Padilla, the khaki-green color used on signs and other concrete structures is intended to make the manmade structure blend in with nature.

“The greenery is the focal point,” he said. “It should blend in [and] not be the focus.”

The signs were returned to the green color by Padilla’s crew on Monday.

Also, Padilla said using the special earth tones makes it easier for crews to paint over the tagged portions of the park signs rather than the whole thing. He also said the glossy paint Perry-Zucker and Slavkin used would eventually chip and could result in more vandalism.

Slavkin, though, said he still does not see why the colors cannot be different if the base is right.

“[Color] seems to be more successful in discouraging tagging,” he said. “Just because they’ve been doing it one way for years doesn’t mean it has to be that way.”

Ginsburg acknowledged the color could change in city parks, if the community wanted that type of discussion.

Perry-Zucker said he will not continue to break the department’s order and paint benches red, but hoped the department would consider changing its ways.

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