Last May, nearly 700 volunteers from across the city participated in Dallas’ first city-wide graffiti wipe out, cleaning up over 37,000 square feet of graffiti. It was a great event, and as I’ve mentioned in other blogs, it was an amazing combination of residents, city staff, community organizations, and businesses.
Well, all that hard work paid off. Not only is our city cleaner, not only did we begin a great program that we will organize again this year, but to top it all off, we were awarded FIRST PLACE in the national Keep America Beautiful “Graffiti Hurts” competition! The team will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a FlashCAM-770 graffiti deterrent system to help stop graffiti in chronically hit areas. The camera senses motion up to 100 feet away, automatically takes pictures of the perpetrators, and plays a loud message, warning the intruder to leave.
Other bits of good news: One of the challenges we faced when I took office was that Dallas had no comprehensive plan to address graffiti. My plan was to tackle the problem in three ways: to bring together all aspects of the Dallas community to hold an annual graffiti clean up and show that folks from all across Dallas want a clean city, and secondly, to make sure that city departments are addressing graffiti in a concerted way and working together instead of haphazardly, and third, to create a new city clean up program modelled on Phoenix’s program.
In Phoenix, the city will clean up graffiti on private property FOR FREE. (If color-matching is involved, there is a charge.) What a great program! Although they spend $1.4M a year on graffiti clean up, they started small, and that’s what we’re doing. I was able to put about $200,000 in this year’s budget, and we’ll soon be hiring the graffiti cleaners and rolling out the new program. I’m hopeful that this will help us clean up our city, deter crime, and improve property values in areas that have been plagued by graffiti.
Congrats again to everyone who worked so hard on the Graffiti Wipe Out. Special thanks go to Keep Dallas Beautiful members, Leadership Dallas Class of 2006 alumni, the Meadows Foundation, Sherwin Williams Paint, Carraba’s Restaurants, Coca Cola, and city employees Ray Irvine, Dionne Driscoll, Josh Hathaway, Lori Frauli, Cheryl Cornish, Jennifer Richie, and Kathleen Davis.