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Increase in vandalism reports at San Diego parks and trails

More users and graffiti since COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 6:26 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 21:29:17-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- With the increase in park usage since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego Park Rangers are noticing a slight increase in vandalism at city parks and trails.

On a scale of one to ten, hiking up Cowles Mountain was a bit of a challenge.

"For me, an eight," six-year-old Joaquin Santaruse said.

He, his brother, and two buddies zig-zagged up San Diego's highest peak Wednesday to get away.

"It's fun to be in nature sometimes," older brother Mateo Santaruse said. "It's a great view up there, and there's a bunch of cool rocks, and in fact, we found a pink one."

Many people have noticed and posted about an uptick in graffiti at parks and trails across the nation. Zion National Park published a post on their Facebook page, showcasing the recent vandalism incidents. In it, they are pleaded with people not to disrupt nature during their visit.

"We just saw that it was painted all pink, and we were like, 'Wow, look at that rock!'" Mateo said.

But that awe turned into a little disappointment for the young boys.

"The chemicals in the spray paint," friend Aaron Heredia said.

"The animals can try to lick on it and stuff, and then it's toxic," Mateo followed.

Tim Graham with the city of San Diego, says graffiti has both environmental and financial impacts. He sent ABC 10News a statement reading,

"Because of the location and size of some of the rocks, park rangers are unable to remove the rocks or the paint safely. The City is looking into contracting with a qualified vendor that can safely remove and capture the paint from the rocks."

This, unfortunately, becomes an unnecessary expense for taxpayers. So instead of leaving a mark, Graham is asking San Diegans only to leave footprints.

If you spot graffiti, email the city at or file a report at the city's Parks and Recreation website.