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Plungers in the street? City takes down vandal's bizarre intersection changes

"I noticed the plungers, and I noticed the dots, and I thought – this doesn’t look like a city job," said Elis Lessard, who owns a music store across the street. (Photo courtesy Gavin Rogers)

City officials are working to track down a vandal who installed plungers and painted colored dots on the street north of downtown.

"I noticed the plungers, and I noticed the dots, and I thought – this doesn’t look like a city job," said Elis Lessard, who owns a music store across the street.

The work appeared Friday morning at East Mistletoe and North St. Mary's. Soon after, city crews removed the plungers and blacked out the paint. Still, they have more work to do to better cover up the problem.

Lessard said one reason for the odd display may be to keep people from creating their own right-turn lane on East Mistletoe, which can make it difficult for drivers turning left to see traffic.

"I can understand why people put that, whoever did that, I can understand why they put it there because they were trying to get people to not cut that corner," she said.

The plungers and paint could be signs of a bigger congestion problem on the busy St. Mary's Strip.

Some relief is coming. Voters approved $7 million in the latest city bond for sidewalk and intersection improvements on North St. Mary's. The timeline is unclear, but much of the construction tied to the bond will take place over the next two years.

Peter Zanoni, Deputy City Manager, said in a statement that the city is considering legal action:

"Clearly the action taken overnight at the intersection of N. St. Mary's and E. Mistletoe is illegal, and is considered graffiti and vandalism of public property. In accordance with city and state law, this type of action may result in a misdemeanor to felony offense punishable with fines based upon the amount of property damage. Additionally, the City of San Antonio can prosecute for recovery of tax dollars spent to restore the road back to its original condition, which based on the work done today and what still remains, could be substantial. The City of San Antonio may take legal action as this case is further reviewed. Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI) traffic engineers investigated the location and deemed the vandalism to be unsafe. TCI crews were then dispatched to remove the vandalism, resulting in a waste of City crew time and tax payer money."

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