I appreciate Brian Postelle’s article regarding gang activity [“The Writing on the Wall: APD Tracks Local Gangs,” Feb. 27]. I moved here from southern California a couple of years ago, and this brought back memories from many years ago. We started seeing “tagging” in the mid-80s, and at that time did not really take it seriously because, to us, all gangs were in Los Angeles—not in San Diego and Orange counties.
The tagging got worse, and then momentum really took [off] in many other areas, such as drug use and guns. The people that are tagging are not working—they are organizing and need money, and drugs are their venue. [This] took over our neighborhoods and children, with crack and black heroin. Robberies, break-ins and then the sound of guns began. It affects good, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens and changes their quality of life. The taxpayers [in my neighborhood] were footing the bill to clean up tagging and then are having to put up bars on their windows so they could stay safe. The police knew where these gang members lived and what they were doing, but no one rounded these guys up. They lived in apartment buildings a block from the ocean, did not work and hung out by schools. I was selling real estate out there, and it affected my livelihood because the values of the properties went down and people did not want to buy in these beautiful neighborhoods because they were not safe. Neighborhood watches did not help because it became too dangerous to walk those beautiful streets by the ocean.
You used a very big word: “yet”. This situation does require aggressive action—just not tolerating nontaxpayers’ taking over a community and defacing others’ properties.
I am not sure if this area has done this yet, but at every Lowe’s, Home Depot and hardware store—we locked up spray paint. The person buying had to show ID [and] sign a book. If that person was under 21, their parents were called to make sure they had permission to buy it. One baby step, but it did help.
— Name withheld at writer’s request