Seawall graffiti becoming more prevalent in Carlsbad

Seawall graffiti becoming more prevalent in Carlsbad
Charcoal graffiti on the seawall in Carlsbad has raised concern. It’s particularly prevalent on the seawall north of the Encina Power Station, according to Beach Preservation Committee member Fred Briggs. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — The amateur graffiti along the seawall in Carlsbad is posing a problem, according to Beach Preservation Committee member Fred Briggs.

“The graffiti accumulation on the beach side of the Carlsbad seawall is increasing and the offensive content is becoming worse,” Briggs said.

He discussed the issue at a meeting on Tuesday.

He said the majority of the graffiti he sees is done with charcoal left over from beach bonfires, although over the past two to three years, he said he’s noticed more people using paint.

“One single painted graffiti, took between three to four cleanings a week for one month, to reduce it, but it didn’t entirely eliminate the markings,” Briggs said.

He is worried about the cost to the city for having to clean the graffiti and the offensive nature of the drawings.

“The content is usually adolescent, however, the obscenity is becoming more common and more graphic,” Briggs told the committee.

The seawall is a tricky area to enforce because most of it belongs to the state, according to Briggs.

“There’s a real jurisdictional issue over who has the policing authority for the beach,” Briggs said.

According to Carlsbad Parks Superintendent Kyle Lancaster, the state owns 6.5 miles out of the 7.5 miles of beach in Carlsbad.

Briggs said he had a difficult time coming up with feasible solutions to the graffiti problem.

“I thought I was going to come up with some sort of magic coating that would make the problem go away but what I found instead was there’s more psychology here than chemistry,” Briggs said.

While there is a coating that can make the seawalls graffiti-resistant, Lancaster said that after it’s spray-washed two or three times it becomes ineffective.

Another option discussed was introducing designated fire pits that are routinely monitored and cleaned.

According to Briggs, the surrounding cities of Encinitas and Oceanside both have designated fire pits and heavy policing which deters this type of graffiti.

Carlsbad Police can enforce the laws on the beaches but they don’t patrol the area.

“To solve the problem is going to require having the beaches patrolled. Oceanside patrols their beaches and they don’t have this problem,” said Briggs.

He acknowledged that Oceanside has a problem with spray painted graffiti, which is often gang related, but not with charcoal.

The city hires a company to do routine monitoring of the seawall. They check it at least every other week, according to Lancaster. It is legal to have a fire on the beach as long as it is self-contained in a barbecue or grill that is 6 inches above the sand.

A few other options were discussed including the addition of a mural, which Briggs said, would likely deter people from defacing the wall or warning signs along the walls.

The committee plans to discuss the issue further to come up with a possible solution to present to the City Council.

People wanting to report graffiti in the city can call (760) 434-6700.

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