STOCKTON (CBS13) – In Stockton, where city leaders have declared bankruptcy and where police officers are leaving for other departments, there’s a grassroots effort to wipe out graffiti in one neighborhood.

Gangs that once targeted the Stockton neighborhood found themselves losing in their own graffiti war when homeowners started fighting back with their own cans of spray paint.

It was one woman and just one idea that finally took down the gangs and their years of vandalism in Stockton’s Venetian Bridges neighborhood.

John Lett moved to the neighborhood in 1985 when all the trouble started.

For a long time, the neighborhood would go through the normal reporting process.

They reported the graffiti that would show up on a daily basis to the city’s code enforcement and then waited.

“Sometimes it could take days,” said Donna Bolla. “If you leave a tag up, what happens is the next group comes along and tags the tag.”

Then six months ago, Bolla had a different conversation with code enforcement. She wanted permission to spray paint too. The city agreed, and even armed Bolla with paint.

Now every morning, Bolla and her army of neighbors are on patrol to paint over the graffiti.

“Whenever we see something, we attack it immediately. That’s the key, attacking it immediately,” said Lett.

The effort showed results “almost immediately” said Bolla.

Every morning, you can see somebody out in the neighborhood spray painting.

“There’s graffiti, but luckily there’s not that much graffiti,” said Bolla.

If that’s not a strong enough message, there’s a $500 reward for anyone supplying information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a tagger.

Bolla says the city will supply her with as much paint as she needs to get rid of the graffiti.


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