Woman memorialized in graffiti tags, neighbors call it an eyesore

Frustration is growing in a San Joe neighborhood over a memorial some residents say is becoming an eyesore.

The memorial is for a young mother who died in a car crash, located at the entrance of Communications Hill at Hillsdale Avenue. Some neighborhood residents are divided on the memorial. On one hand, some say let family and friends grieve, while others think the graffiti is too much.

Homeowners pay top dollar for the picturesque views of Communications Hill, but it's the sight at the entrance of the neighborhood, they aren't too happy about.

“I think the memorial is okay for a week or so,” said Wes Munson of San Jose. “I think after that they should move on. I don't know what rest in peace everywhere does for the deceased.”

What started as a memorial with candles and flowers on the side of the road has spread. Rest in peace messages, graffiti splattered all over the Communications Hill sign, light poles, utility boxes and sidewalk. At one point, a tree trunk was painted over.

“This is a unique case apparently the young woman who died in the crash was close friends with people who are taggers,” said City of San Jose Spokesman David Vossbrink.

The messages are for 19-year-old Briseida Gallegos. The young mother died in a car crash at this site on May 12. A city spokesman said since then, the city's graffiti abatement team has been there a dozen times to clean up the graffiti only for it to return, costing taxpayer money.

“Graffiti is vandalizing,” said Vossbrink. “That doesn't seem like a respectful way to honor a death of a close friend or family member.”

Some of Gallegos's friends told KTVU they're still grieving, unsure who's behind it. They claim the family doesn't like the tagging either. At least one neighbor likes it.

“They are going to disagree with me but I’m an artist so I see things that may not be beautiful for other people but I see beauty in that,” said Vicky Pascual of San Jose. “I also think it's a nice thought."

However, most neighbors say graffiti is never the right response and not how the victim should be remembered.

“I have never seen anyone go as far too continually tag up the area,” said Munson. “I don't understand what that has to do with the grieving process. I don't know how it actually helps.”

The city hopes the tagging will stop but said catching taggers in the act isn't easy. In the meantime, the president of the homeowners association said they are considering hiring private security to monitor the situation at the homeowners’s expense.