Tagging in Oakland Chinatown.

Please click on the photographs to enlarge and clarify them.

One of my favorite parts of Oakland is Oakland Chinatown. There’s a vibrancy in the neighborhood that I really enjoy. It seems like people are always out, slowly strolling past sidewalk containers of fresh and exotic vegetables and fruit, with a parade of delivery trucks bringing more (for more information about Oakland Chinatown, please see our blog, ‘Keep Oakland Beautiful Point of Interest: Oakland Chinatown’, dated April 20, 2015).

Recently, a friend and colleague took me to lunch in Oakland Chinatown and I was shocked to see the extent to which the shops and buildings had been tagged with graffiti. The taggers hit everything – walls, windows, doors, and awnings. It angers me as I write this to think that such an interesting neighborhood could be so callously desecrated.


Graffiti along Webster Street, Oakland Chinatown.

I know that tagging is not a new phenomenon in Oakland Chinatown, but the taggers have really amped up their activities. The cool Chinatown murals like the one below, are now almost lost in a background of indiscriminate and ugly graffiti.


One of numerous Oakland Chinatown murals.

These so-called artists seem to have lost their civic pride in Chinatown and Oakland more generally. Their wanton destruction makes this entire, proud neighborhood look dirty, depressed, and uncared for.


More tagging along Webster Street, Oakland Chinatown.

The people that are doing this tagging are illegally destroying other people’s property. They need to find a more constructive way of venting their frustrations.


Even the police station on 8th St. in Oakland Chinatown isn’t exempt from the graffiti artist’s spray can.

The people of Chinatown are not powerless, though. By working together, the damage can be cleaned up and motion-detecting lights and cameras can be installed to discourage would be taggers from returning (for more information, please see our blog, ‘Discouraging Illegal Dumping and Defacement’ dated October 1, 2014). We also need to create a constructive dialogue with taggers, to understand them and to help them respect other people’s property and take pride in their community.


Tagging on walls and awnings on 8th St., Oakland Chinatown.

Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

We encourage you to share your thoughts in the reply section. We welcome the dialogue and learning of others’ perspectives.

3 Responses to Tagging in Oakland Chinatown.

  1. Mary Boergers November 18, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    I agree Eric. It is sad and shocking the extent of the graffiti.

  2. Ronnie December 27, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    Graffiti pretty hard to clean up. It is always coming back no matter what.

  3. anthony marrujo February 28, 2016 at 3:23 am #

    Eric, It angers me as much as it angers you. But the one’s who need to be the angriest….aren’t. I have written emails to Libby Schaaf asking her why she hasn’t taken an even more agressive stance on graffiti? Not just in Chinatown either, but the entire flatlands of the city. The corridor that follows highway 880 particularly. It’s truly disgusting and mayor Schaaf needs to force all businesses victimized to paint over graffiti right away to demonstrate the cities dedication and resolve. If a business cannot afford to do it themselves then the city should help. I have seen businesses in East Oakland and Chinatown tagged and left for years. It’s high visibility and disgraceful and our mayor needs to be at the forefront of this battle. Caltrans has been doing a satisfactory job keeping up with it since they finished construction on 880 through downtown Oakland, but they haven’t painted over the graffiti on the overpasses or their support columns. Someone needs to step up and quick, because this could affect the decisions of developers who are on the fence about whether or not the city has turned the corner and is worth investing in. Are we the only one’s with any commoon sense Eric?

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