UPDATE: Deputies arrest 2 after street-painting investigation

A picture of the lettering left on the street. Courtesy photo

Story updates cost estimate from city officials and additional information from attorney, Sheriff’s Department

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested two teenagers on suspicion of felony vandalism after city officials said the teens’ Juneteenth effort to write “BLM” in white spray paint across Cinema Drive cost more than $2,000 to remove.

The initial investigation started after a caller reported to the station that “15-20 individuals were spray painting on a street between Valencia Boulevard and Railroad Avenue,” according to an email Tuesday from Sheriff’s Station spokeswoman Shirley Miller. 

“Upon deputies’ arrival to the location,” Miller wrote, “deputies observed paint on the street and individuals with white paint residue on the palms of their hands. Deputies detained around half a dozen individuals at the scene.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, two arrests had been made as part of the investigation into the June 19 incident. 

Quynn Lubs, 18, of Santa Clarita, was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of felony vandalism, according to Sheriff’s Department arrest logs.

Photos obtained by The Signal show the lettering appearing on Cinema Drive, stretching across three traffic lanes.  

No other information regarding the investigation was released by station officials. However, Miller confirmed a second individual, a juvenile, was also arrested in connection with the incident. 

When asked earlier whether additional individuals would be arrested, Miller noted it was part of an active investigation by COBRA, which stands for Career Offenders, Burglary, Robbery, Assault. 

A GoFundMe campaign created to raise money for the two teens’ legal fees says one of the individuals was a juvenile arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism about 40 days after the incident, on July 31. The GoFundMe has local attorney David Barlavi listed as a contact. It was posted Sunday, and has garnered more than $1,900. 

“This did not in any way shape or form rise to the level of felony vandalism,” said Barlavi, who said he looks at it as, “what if after 9/11, a few of our local kids went out and wrote 9/11 on one of our streets, in … washable, non-toxic paint. … Would they be arrested and charged with a felony?

“The paint literally says for ages 4 and up — washable, nontoxic,” Barlavi added, describing the paint the teens used.

He confirmed Tuesday two of the individuals were his clients, and again questioned why it was still being called “spray paint,” when he said that’s not what was used.

Santa Clarita officials confirmed members of the city’s street maintenance team were the ones tasked with removing the paint. The paint was removed the following day. Santa Clarita officials updated Tuesday the initial estimate for the cost of removing the paint, providing a breakdown and explanation. 

“This total is inclusive of staff time and equipment use,” Carrie Lujan, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita, wrote in an email Tuesday. “Due to the size of the vandalism, lane closures and traffic control had to be implemented for the safe cleanup. In addition, a Vactor truck had to be used to suck up the water which was used for cleaning to ensure none of the paint was washed into the storm drains and then into the Santa Clara River, which would have resulted in a stormwater violation.”

The official cost was reported as $2,327.10, which included: five street maintenance workers for three hours, at a cost of $1,359; one supervisor for three hours, $454.80; one Vactor (a large vacuum truck) for three hours, at $248.25; and five pickup trucks for three hours, at $264.75. The city also supplied its cost formula for the billing: Pickup trucks come out to $17.65 per hour; a Vactor truck, $82.75 per hour; a supervisor at $151.60 per hour; and a street maintenance worker at $90.62. 

“I’m hoping that we’ll handle this as we usually do, like a family, a Santa Clarita family,” said Barlavi, “and that cooler heads will prevail, and that we won’t … go overboard, with our own kids.”

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