Warm Water Cove may not be graffitti-free long 

While a weekend crusade to clean up a blighted park in southeastern San Francisco has so far kept graffiti artists at bay, it could be a fleeting effort.

More than 100 volunteers flocked to Warm Water Cove to pick up trash, trim trees and paint over benches, trash cans and a wall covered in graffiti Saturday.

Not a drop of spray paint could be found at the park Monday morning. By the afternoon, however, someone had used a black marker to tag the wall, which had been painted forest green three days before.

Mohammed Nuru, deputy director of the San Francisco Department of Public Works, which helped sponsor Saturday’s cleanup, said he has launched an investigation into the tagging — alerting police and checking a surveillance camera located on oneof the nearby properties.

"Nobody should be touching the wall, period," Nuru said. "Any form of defacing property, whether it’s with marker or spray paint, is considered tagging. We’re going to go to battle for this for a while."

The cleanup of Warm Water Cove — also called Toxic Tire Beach — has ignited a battle between community members and graffiti artists who say The City has neglected the park for years. The artists say they gave the park a purpose when it had none — it has long been used for unauthorized music shows and a workspace for graffiti artists.

"People want to go and practice what they do," said Josh Couto, a San Francisco filmmaker and photographer who said he grew up as a graffiti artist in Southern California. "I thought it had a big upside."

Community members, however, say graffiti artists do not have permission to use the wall as a canvas. Property owners are required to remove graffiti within 30 days, said Nuru, who has also said the park is demanding more attention now that the Third Street light rail is operating a few blocks away.

Community members are determined to take back the desolate park, which sits at the end of 24th Street by the Bay, possibly turning it into an off-leash dog park, adding more barbecue pits and even allowing some form of regulated art projects.

"We’re not as enthusiastic about graffiti art," said Corrine Woods, who works part-time for the San Francisco Neighborhood Parks Council. "There were even tags on the art. It creates blight."

In the meantime, the Port of San Francisco has committed more resources to maintaining the park, Port spokeswoman Renee Dunn said. The San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Public Works are also visiting the park on a daily basis.


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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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