Visitors of the Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, CA should expect to see refreshing new works of art, only in unexpected places: the forest’s trash cans. Last month, a group of over 40 volunteers as part of the “Convert a Can” project painted murals on a number of large trash cans in an effort to beautify the forest, increase the public’s usage of the cans for trash, and prevent graffiti vandalism. The project’s success has garnered national attention and worthy recognition as a creative, community-driven solution to the serious problems of litter and graffiti vandalism. Since the program’s inception, the U.S. Forest Service (“USFS”) has reported a substantial decrease in the number of graffiti incidents on the converted cans in the Angeles National Forest—normally, USFS has to repaint multiple cans every week that are tagged. Clearly, these “Convert a Can” volunteers are making a difference in deterring criminal activity, helping the environment, and making the national forest a better place for visitors to enjoy.
On Feb. 23, Graffiti Resource Council (GRC) staff testified before the Arizona State Legislature’s House Committee on County and Municipal Affairs during an informational hearing on lock-up and graffiti vandalism. This year Committee Chair, Rep. Doug Coleman (D-16), sponsored HB 2425 — a bill spurred by the City of Phoenix’s Neighborhood Services Department’s efforts to reduce graffiti vandalism — which would create lock-up provisions for retailers who sell spray paint. The City of Phoenix has had a lock-up ordinance in effect since 2009 and has had an active Anti-Graffiti Task Force since 2011. A dozen other cities in Arizona have adopted lock-up ordinances or other restrictions on retailers such as customer registration, as well.