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Sunday, September 27, 2020


On Sept. 8, 2020, Jeff Holman was walking by Windansea beach in La Jolla with his young son when he spotted his name in graffiti painted on the pump house. Photo by Jeff Holman.
La Jolla man embarks on a war against taggers who took aim at him, offers $1,000 reward.

Note: During this current pandemic, the San Diego Union Tribune has kindly offered responsible bloggers the rights to reprint articles of community interest.  Thank you.

GUEST BLOG / By Diane Bell, Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune--Residents in La Jolla’s Windansea beach area were greeted by the words, “Jeff Holman is a Kook,” early this week. The blue painted message popped up on neighborhood utility boxes and on the beach pump house.

But who is Jeff Holman? And why is he a kook?

Turns out, he is the local passerby who alerted city officials in late June to a snarl of blue graffiti along the wall of a public path to the beach and, two days later, to a tag instructing Zonies to stay out scribbled on the Windansea pump house.

The 42-year-old investment banker and body surfer took photos and used the city’s “Get It Done” app to report the tagging. A city clean-up crew immediately took action, painting over the unsightly messages.

On June 26, Holman gratefully thanked the city for its prompt action on the Nextdoor website that serves his neighborhood.
Then things got uglier. He became a personal target. It appears that the disgruntled vandal or vandals may have read his thank you post, which included his name, and embarked on a new graffiti spree — this time mentioning him.

The new round of tagging came to Holman’s attention last Tuesday morning as he and his 6-year-old son headed to the beach on their “walk and talk.” Suddenly his son exclaimed, “Dad, look at that,” and pointed to the words, “Jeff Holman is a Kook,” spray painted across the pumphouse. “That’s your name,” the boy noted, "... but you can’t cook.”

Holman good-naturedly gave his son an impromptu spelling lesson. Then he relayed the tagging incident to Chris Cott, well-known in the neighborhood for his personal mission of painting out graffiti, and got a big surprise.

“You haven’t seen the others?” asked Cott. “I’ve actually wondered, Who is Jeff Holman?” Cott explained that he had painted over the same phrase neatly stenciled in blue on city utility boxes. He sent Holman photos.
A tagger went to the trouble of making a stencil to paint this utility box attack on a well-meaning citizen who had reported graffiti to city officials.

An airbrush artist by trade, Cott, 62, says he paints out graffiti every day. “One less makes the world a little better,” he theorizes. He coordinates with local police and Enhance La Jolla and carries a supply of colored paints in his van.

“I look like a tagger. I have black for crossings, silver and white for the backs of signs, three colors of red for the curbs (depending upon the fade factor). He also has tans and light greens for public utility boxes and retaining walls. When he sees a tag, he pulls over and paints it out if he has the time. If not, he returns later.

He already had repainted three “Jeff Holman is a Kook” utility box messages before Holman contacted him.

The more Holman thought about the personal attack on him, the more incensed he became. He viewed the tagging as retaliation against a well-meaning citizen trying to keep the neighborhood clean and attractive and attempting to do the right thing.

So Holman decided to go on the offensive. He notified police he was being targeted. He also returned to the Nextdoor message site. He posted a photo of the “Who is Jeff Holman” tag and answered the question.

“He’s a La Jolla resident who lives here with his family, and views tagging his name as an attempt to intimidate him and/or his family. He’s also someone who doesn’t take kindly to intimidation. So, he’s the person offering a $1000 REWARD FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE SUCCESSFUL ARREST OF THE VANDALS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS GRAFFITI.”

Holman announced that anyone interested could contact him through Nextdoor’s messaging link or SDPD officer Scott Holden, whom he had consulted about the problem, at

“Even if you don’t really care about graffiti, you should feel a bit uncomfortable that someone trying to do the right thing and keep our neighborhood beautiful is targeted for retribution by criminals reading Nextdoor,” Holman posted. “Even if he is a kook!”

He added that he is willing to “call off the dogs” if the perpetrator messages him, apologizes and promises not to tag again.

An avalanche of neighborhood responders gave him attaboys, virtual back pats and pledges of support. Someone even sent an old photo of the pump house defaced with the message: “Tom Wolfe is a DORK!,” adding: “At least you are a level above Tom Wolfe, reviled author of ‘The Pump House Gang’” (1968).

“All part of the cancel culture,” observed a Mount Soledad resident. “If they don’t like what you stand for, they try to intimidate you. Keep standing up for what is right!”
Another commented: “I’m going to write in Jeff Holman for mayor. Get some yard signs going.”

La Jolla resident, Francis (Skip) Stanton, M.D., noted that sympathy is nice but real action is needed. He is offering to add $1,000 to the reward. If other pledges come in exceeding $1,000, he says he’ll match them up to $3,000. “This man has been cruelly victimized for doing the right thing,” he said.

Enough is enough. This time the graffiti vandals have crossed the wrong person.

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