San Jose unveils graffiti abatement with winner of "Unleash your Geek" pilot project

The future of San Jose graffiti abatement took flight today, with the winning of the "Unleash Your Geek" project originally put forth by Mayor Sam Liccardo.

"This is the pilot project and what we've seen so far from the pilot is that the concept works," said Mayor Liccardo. “That’s good news.”

The downtown wife-and-husband team of Candace Marbury and Chris Farmer beat out 140 other competition submissions to claim the prize. They devised a way to outfit existing drones with spray paint, allowing the drones to cover over blight, especially in hard-to-reach high places.

"We kind of instantly went to a flying solution. One of the benefits of being in Silicon Valley is that there is evidence of really neat technology. We're kind of surrounded by drones being used in different applications," Marbury said.

Applying air power to this problem was sparked last year, after a spate of acts of vandalism on public and private buildings. Mayor Liccardo looked to the best and brightest through competition for a solution. Both drones can scale high places, Platform-2 can crawl up the side of buildings to hit troublesome spots and apply an even coat of paint. City officials say drones would be considerably cheaper than the 66-thousand dollar clean-up cost. CalTrans officials say it would be cheaper, safer, and remove the need to close freeway lanes for abatement, which forces traffic slowdowns and snarls.

"Every dollar that we spend removing graffiti and picking up litter is a dollar we don't spend filling pot holes," said CalTrans spokesman Bob Haus.

These prototypes still need to be perfected beyond the design stage. There are hopes to have both whizzing about removing graffiti by the Summer of 2018.