For several weeks now, one concerned resident of Mountain View has kept track of vandalism on Stevens Creek Trail and asked Mountain View Patch for help to figure out what's going on.
Frank Zajac, a member of the Kiwanis Club who bikes the trail every day, noticed that on May 13, four sign posts near the entrance on Easy Street—like the ones with the speed limit for bikes—had been pulled out of the creek by park rangers. He snapped a photo.
On May 19, Zajac took another photo of a post floating in the creek between Interstate 85 and the Creekside bridge. Then he snapped a photo of a sign that had been removed from a post near the Evelyn Bridge.
The first incident of graffiti that Zajac photographed, on May 23, was on a wall under the Interstate 85 off-ramp near Grant Road. He noticed more on Thursday and Sunday.
Zajac wondered, is there an increase in vandalism on Stevens Creek Trail, which begins in Shoreline at Mountain View and runs for about four miles?
According to the Mountain View police, the department tracks statistics manually of vandalism on the trail. However, the figures do not get updated frequently, and sometimes the criminal acts do not even get reported to the police.
"Sometimes the parks people and trail people just repair and fix things without reporting it to us," said police spokeswoman Liz Wylie.
According to Wylie, by mid-May, the police had received only two cases of vandalism called in this year—both graffiti. Last year, the MVPD had a total of eight cases of vandalism.
"So we are actually down in 2011, thus far," Wylie said. "As I said before, though, not all cases get reported to us."
Wylie added that "signs ripped out of the ground occur sporadically throughout the year, and sometimes we see an increase during school vacations when kids are out and about during the day instead of in school."
Bruce Hurlburt, parks and open space manager, agreed that "vandalism and tagging ebbs and flows during the year, both on Stevens Creek Trail and in the parks."
He said, "It's something all cities deal with."
The city of Mountain View employs a private company, California Land Management, which provides patrol services and maintenance in Shoreline Park, Stevens Creek Trail and neighborhood parks. According to Hurlburt, "a report is made when there are incidents of vandalism."
Hurlburt shared that he visited the Creekside Park—after Mountain View Patch informed him of the vandalism—and did note that one sign had been removed from the train and was in the creek.
"The sign in the creek will be retrieved and reinstalled once the creek is a little lower," he said. "Otherwise, I didn't notice anything missing either in the park, along in the trail or streets sign along Easy street."
William Symons, a Waverly Park neighborhood resident, said he noticed that the trail signage at the Sleeper Avenue entrance gets constantly damaged.
"Nearly weekly they are ripped up, and the city replaces or re-glues them back," he said.
Like Wylie, Symons has observed that incidents rise in relation to the number of school-age children on the trail.
"Some kids are in groups and act very rowdy," he said. "I am very happy the [high school] kids are biking to school, but not all of them respect the trail or our neighborhood."
To reports incidents of graffiti on Stevens Creek Trail, call these numbers or visit the city website.
- Graffiti Hotline, 650-903-6767, for Mountain View property. Messages are checked three times daily. Caltrans or freeway graffiti is 408-436-0930.
- The city of Mountain View's website offers "Ask Mountain View" as a way to report concerns, questions or vandalism issues.