Eliminating Graffiti

I hate graffiti. It makes our city look terrible, it makes our neighborhoods seem unsafe, it discourages economic development, and it promotes crime.

A few years ago, my husband and I started a graffiti removal program in the M Streets to get rid of graffiti on street signs and other public areas. In the last couple of months, East Dallas residents Jeff Bryan, Sandy Graham, and Bill Peterson have organized graffiti removal days with volunteers.

Graffiti removal in Dallas is dependent upon volunteers because the City doesn’t have a real graffiti abatement program. Other cities, such as Fort Worth and Phoenix, have very successful programs. I asked City staff to brief the Quality of Life Council Committee on how those programs are run so we can look at adopting those graffiti abatement measures.

On Nov. 3, the Quality of Life Committee received a briefing, and the information was very enlightening:

  • If graffiti is removed within 24-48 hours, the likelihood that it will return is almost zero.
  • Most graffiti in Dallas is done by “taggers” who consider themselves “artistes,” not by gangs.
  • The Phoenix program costs $1.2M a year and is paid for through city funds and federal grants (community development block grants). It includes 8 full-time employees who go out and remove graffiti, a portable paint-matching machine (so there are no blotchy patches of over-paint), a non-toxic chemical removal system, and high-pressure sprayers.

(Read the briefing)

Because the City’s budget has already been approved for this fiscal year (Oct. 2005-Sept. 2006), we don’t have the money allocated to do this type of extensive program right now. However, I have asked city staff to investigate creating a database of volunteers, creating a database of release forms from businesses that are frequently tagged (allowing volunteers to remove the graffiti), and having a full-time staff member who could organize graffiti abatement days and acquire supplies.

I am also investigating ways that businesses in our city can assist with this effort. I met today with some business leaders to discuss a more comprehensive graffiti abatement program, and hope to have some good news in the coming weeks.