Probe: Feb. 26, 2002

February 26, 2002

QUESTION: I live in the Lewis Homes subdivision near Interstate 8 in El Centro. I have a problem with what's going on here. There are people who think it's necessary to put graffiti all over the walls. Other people think it's fine.

I think it's an eyesore and an embarrassment. Just because it holds religious meaning doesn't mean it's OK.

I called the police to complain. A cop said the property owners had agreed to have the walls painted. He said I should talk to the property owners that permitted the graffiti.

What if the owners did agree to this trashing of the neighborhood? Isn't the entire neighborhood entitled to be consulted? — Homeowner, El Centro

You can't paint graffiti on walls — even if you own the walls. If a tagger leaves his spray on your wall, you must paint over it. That's the law in El Centro.


You may hate it, but the painting on the walls along Interstate 8 is not graffiti. Although it may or may not be art, the paintings could qualify as murals or even religious art.

Being consulted would have been nice but we're not sure you are entitled to vote on the matter. Some neighborhoods are governed by associations that spell out in deeds what you may or may not do with your property.

There's an association on the East Coast that prohibits parking a pickup in a driveway. We don't know how that would stand up if a determined (and well-heeled) property owner took the issue to court.

Most Holtville deeds forbid the sale, serving or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises. We've been told the provision would never hold up in court. But you never know what will hold up in court until you get to court.

QUESTION: Recently there was an article in your paper about a new state law that said kids may wear a hat to school for sun protection. I have heard many versions of this new law. Can you give me the details? What do I have to do to wear a hat to school? — Middle School, El Centro

The state law went into effect Jan. 1. The law says students may wear "sun protective" clothing to school. It specifically lists hats as protective clothing, but don't grab your hat yet.

It also says schools may set policy to determine where, when and what kind of hats may be worn. The El Centro Elementary School District (and we assume other school districts) is hammering out a policy now, said Alicia Armenta, an El Centro school administrator.

In times past, children seldom set foot out the door without head covering. However, in recent years, educators have frowned on hats and caps, finding them disruptive.

Armenta said any piece of clothing that can be grabbed will cause disputes.

QUESTION: I recently moved to Calexico and amidst the disruption of moving, I have neglected to register. I know there are general elections coming up in March. Where can I register to vote if it's not too late to do that? — Unregistered, Calexico

It's too late to register for the March 5 election — and you're missing a good one. But go ahead and register (at City Hall) anyway so you'll be ready to vote in November.

If you think, "What's the use … the fat cats buy elections," remember that fat cats have the dollars but ordinary people have the numbers. And in elections, numbers matter!

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