At the corner of Hutchins Street and Mendocino Drive, a long wooden fence with brick posts at regular intervals separates residents from the busy street. It is also a magnet for graffiti.
Some of the graffiti is vulgar, some is gang-related, and all of it is an eyesore for homeowners.
Alex Gaspar is tired of the fence and street corner being vandalized. He has lived near Hutchins Street for roughly eight years, and said the fence and sidewalk he and his neighbors share is vandalized three to five times a year.
The most recent vandalism took place Saturday night. The city of Lodi promptly responds to the vandalism and cleans it up, Gaspar said, but he wants something done that will prevent cleaning crews from having to remove graffiti several times a year.
Gaspar wants a streetlight installed by the fence. He feels it will deter vandals if the area is brighter at night.
"I'd rather see my money go to a light than cleaning this up every three or four months," he said.
One of Gaspar's neighbors, Ken Lorton, is fed up with the taggings as well. He just built a fort for his grandchildren in his backyard that is visible from the street, and is surprised it hasn't been vandalized yet.
"One of these days, it's going to get tagged," Lorton said.
Graffiti cleanup costs roughly $77 an hour total, spokesman Jeff Hood said. The effort requires a vehicle, personnel and equipment to restore vandalized property. Hood said the crews can be out there anywhere from a half-hour to all day. However, he said most jobs take about an hour-and-a-half to remove all traces of vandalism.
Several homes whose backyards face Hutchins Street have motion-sensitive lights. However, these lights only illuminate the yards themselves and do not light the street very well.
Hood said a streetlight in the area would cost $10,300. That cost would cover the survey crew, the light itself and installation.
"It takes up to three weeks from the order to install the streetlight," Hood said. He said the job would require workers to use jackhammers to create trenches and then pour the concrete.
Hood said the residents could talk to Lodi Electric Utility directly and offer to pay for the light. "Others have paid for streetlights," he said. "Residents pass the hat and pay for the installation."
Hood said the electricity would still have to be paid for. Lodi's electric utility pays $1.2 million annually for electricity for streetlights, that an extra streetlight would slightly change how the electricity is distributed.
"It's a small amount in the big scheme of things, but it's an amount," Hood said.
Hood did not say rates would necessarily rise from the installation of one streetlight, but that the city would have to account for its usage.
Gaspar said he would rather try his luck at a City Council meeting than raise the money among his neighbors. He said it would cost his neighbors around $2,000 each to get the light installed.
"Now is not a good time for that," he said. "The city should be on top of it."
As for graffiti suspects, "Sur 13" is one of the most frequent taggings in the repeated vandalism. It references the Surenos, a Mexican gang that has roots in Southern California and the Mexican Mafia.
The Mexican Mafia was founded in the 1950s at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy. The Mexican Mafia influences the Surenos, but they are still allowed independence.
The Surenos identify themselves with the number 13 because M is the 13th letter of the alphabet and represents their affiliation with the Mexican Mafia. The Sureno gangs are present in all 50 states and other countries.
Detective Eric Bradley of the Lodi Police Department said the three most common Sureno sets in Lodi are the Varrio Mojado Surenos (VMS), the Playboy Surenos (PBS) and the Pobre Side Locos (PSL). The graffiti from the most recent incident is all done in blue spray paint, the gang's color of choice.
Bradley said the Sureno sets in Lodi generally get along, although there has been territorial feuding from time to time. He said it is usually resolved quickly.
"It's usually over a girl," he said.