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Local Artists Painting Downey’s Electrical Boxes Under Adopt-A-Box Program


By Tammye McDuff

In opening comments at a recent Downey Council meeting, Councilman Mario Guerra introduced the new Adopt-A-Box policy. Guerra addressed Council and the audience with the preface saying “I know that our Economic Development Director will be bringing up this new project, however, I want to begin to spread the word through the community and Chamber, about this new urban branding opportunity Adopt-a-Box.”

The City of Downey has joined a new urban improvement movement by allowing local artists to paint approved art on the cities electrical power boxes. Currently Downey has decorated eight power boxes, with a contract to finish ten more. Guerra states “This is a terrific way to beautify our community, is a deterrent to graffiti, and we will be offering the opportunity to our local businesses to adopt a power box.”

Council has already approved a theme for small power boxes – which will align with the cities new branding efforts ‘Discover Downey’. On the street corner of Columbia Way and Imperial, NASA theme boxes have been decorated depicting the Space Shuttle; Downey Bike Coalition has sponsored several boxes denoting ‘Bike Downey’; a power box outside of the Downey library notes a bookshelf full of reading classics and several other power boxes that showcase the train depot can be found off of Firestone Boulevard.

Guerra encouraged the audience to spread the word and begin considering this new project saying “These power boxes are a blank slate for taggers and graffiti; this improves the quality of life within the city and makes our city special.”

Utility boxes are for the most part rectangular, gray, metal structures housing needed electrical wiring. They are also both drab and ubiquitous. Now there are exceptions in the form of original artwork transforming drab to dramatic and gray to colorful. Adopt-A-Box is a mini street beautification effort that is now deemed Urban Art.

Neighboring cities have sponsored art boxes, the city of Bellflower have decorated many with an underwater theme. Bellflower Council made a statement saying “It’s a nice way to add art. You can look at art in different ways. You can look at big art that’s very expensive in the center of the city, or you can look at art that is less expensive and spreads throughout the city. It is a way to offer a spot of color to our neighborhoods.”

The Economic Development Division is responsible for growing the local economy in Downey. Specifically, the department strives to attract and retain quality businesses within the city and maintain a business-friendly environment for Downey businesses. Economic Development uses a variety of tools and initiatives to implement its objective. The Department oversees redevelopment project areas and uses the tools of redevelopment to attract and retain quality businesses in Downey. Redevelopment resources are also used to make infrastructure upgrades within the redevelopment project areas.

Guideline, artists, colors and themes are currently being discussed by Council and will be presented to the public.