An estimated dozen downtown businesses were struck with graffiti the night before ArtWalk last Saturday. While angry merchants cleaned up the mess, some said the city and law enforcement need to make adjustments as downtown matures into a popular destination.
It was sort of ironic that we are promoting art in Livermore and then this guy takes it upon himself to display his art with no application or fee, joked Michael Ferrucci, owner of Fine Fretted Friends on First Street.
But Ferrucci wasnt joking when he addressed the City Council last week in a plea for more late-night police presence in the downtown.
We want this to look good because we dont want the graffiti guys to be gloating in their accomplishments, he said. The police presence has to be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. now that Livermore has a so-called night life.
Places hit with graffiti including construction site of a new movie theater, Peets Coffee, Vans Health Foods, Main Street Designs and the Chamber of Commerce building.
In addition to graffiti, trees behind Mels Furniture were torn apart.
Its gotten bad recently, said Mel Luna of Mels Furniture. Anytime this happens, we try to cover it up within two days. And graffiti is one thing, but when they are breaking trees, thats another thing.
Rich Hoefle, sales representative at A&R Paint Annex, which was also hit,
donated paint to neighboring businesses to cover the graffiti.
Ive had stores in Oakland and Berkeley, so Im used to that kind of stuff, he said. Weve seen it in Livermore, but not to that extent.
Sgt. Mark Overby said the police department has met internally to explore increasing its downtown visibility, including foot and bicycle patrols.
Its very clear that the city is increasing the downtown attractions, whether its through shopping, restaurants and theaters, he said.
He said last weeks spurt of vandalism was an exception, not the rule.
Its unusual for someone to go on a vandalism spree, he said. It was pretty brazen.
Hoefle said downtown businesses anticipate a new after-hours crowd when the movie theater opens.
Thats what were afraid of, he said. Once that theater opens, were going to have all these kids here at night. Were asking police to pay more attention after the bars close.
For Ferrucci, late-night mischief at his music store has become a headache. One morning in August, he found his front window smashed. A thief stole a hand-crafted guitar valued at $11,000. The suspect, arrested in Palo Alto, allegedly stole $150,000 worth of guitars from various music stores.
Tommie Van Fossens new deli, Tommies, on Second Street, held a grand opening on Oct. 16. Shortly thereafter, his front window was tagged. The window was replaced within days.
As merchants, our responsibility is to get this stuff cleaned up as soon as it happens, because they are just looking for attention, he said. Anytime you have increased traffic and visibility, youre going to add to that a certain amount of homelessness and vandalism and the potential for crime. But its not that we are getting more than our fair share.
Staff writer Brian Foley can be reached at (925) 416-4818 and firstname.lastname@example.org.