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Graffiti shows frustration with Matilija Dam in Ventura County

September 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The debate over a decades-old dam that no longer holds water has taken an interesting twist. Graffiti of a giant pair of scissors was painted on the dam, showing where some think it should be taken down.

It was no small feat - someone or several people - painted a giant pair of scissors on the face of the 200-foot abandoned Matilija Dam near Ojai.

Ventura County owns the dam. Officials believe it was done last week. There also were 8-foot-tall dotted lines painted to guide where the massive shears should go to cut the dam down.

Destroying the dam has been debated for years. Officials said the graffiti sends a clear message that some people really want it gone.

"It had to be coordinated. I mean there's more than one person. Somebody had to put the stencil in place, and somebody had to use the paint. Heck, I'm sorry they ran out of time, because we don't know where the stitch-mark belongs on the other side," Jeff Pratt of Ventura County Public Works said with a laugh.

Some residents said it's time for the dam to go down.

"I would agree that it just needs to go. There's no purpose for it now," said Ventura resident Rershell Deleon.

The Matilija Dam was constructed more than 60 years ago as the main water source for Ojai and Ventura County. It was shut down years ago because of structural issues.

"It doesn't provide the water supply that it once did," said Pratt. "So yea, it's probably time for this thing to come down. Well, it is time for this thing to come down. We're just trying to figure out the best way to do it."

Officials said it would take at least $140 million to destroy the dam.

"It's such as peaceful demonstration. I don't see any harm in the scissors. My hats off to the people that did it," said Carla Friddle of San Luis Obispo.

Pratt said that, officially, there was a crime committed.

"There was trespassing. We've got risk management issues. You know, if someone gets hurt up there, we could be sued," said Pratt.

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