How much are San Diego taxpayers paying to remove graffiti?

There's a sign on I-5 south just before Front Street that tells drivers that only the next two exits go into the heart of San Diego.

But someone defaced that sign so badly that it was impossible to read. 

That's why Caltrans crews were recently out, repainting that road sign. It's the kind of graffiti that has to be fixed fast, because it has useful information for drivers unfamiliar with San Diego. 

The costs of removing that graffiti, however, is adding up for taxpayers.

Caltrans is spending about $280,000 to clear graffiti from highways in San Diego and Imperial Counties annually, with most of that coming in San Diego city limits.

"Taxpayers pay a considerable price for graffiti removal," said Caltrans spokeswoman Cathryne Bruce-Johnson.

The city of San Diego is also budgeting more for graffiti removal this year, setting aside a cumulative $2.1 million. 

Brandon Sullivan says crews recently removed a bunch of graffiti from his Cul de Sac in Little Italy, yards from where Caltrans repainted the I-5 sign. 

"We're paying the taxes regardless, it's nice to see they're doing things positive with the money, rather than keeping it in their pockets," he said. 

The City of San Diego has an online graffiti reporting system. It also offers a reward up to $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of graffiti vandals. 

Caltrans has its own online graffiti reporting system, or taxpayers can call (619) 688-6670.

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