As the frequency of graffiti tagging continues to rise, so too do the costs for cleaning it up. In a creative attempt to force the graffiti taggers to shoulder a greater percentage of the financial burden, both to cover real abatement costs and to discourage future graffiti tagging, in San Francisco, the City Attorney is filed a civil law suit against a graffiti taggers to cover the costs of cleaning up her graffiti tags. The complaint lists 58 tags and assigns the remediation cost at $53,788 or $927.38 per graffiti tag.
In this case, most of the property owners will be city or transit agencies.
City graffiti abatement staff photograph graffiti tags prior to removing them using the city's 311 app so that a database of graffiti tags can be accumulated.
Los Angeles, California: With municipal budgets already strained, the City of Los Angeles spends millions of tax-payer dollars every year to clean up graffiti.
The specific numbers are hard to pin down, but over 30,000 graffiti reports are received by the LA Office of Community Beautification per month.
LA County reportedly spent $30 million dollars abating graffiti in 2007.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Felony and misdeameanor charges have been filed against five graffiti taggers in Salt Lake City, aged 20 to 23. These taggers have cost the city thousands of dollars in graffiti abatement costs. Some large scale roof graffiti cost and graffiti on historic buildings exceeded $25k.
A determined effort by the police department and gang unit lead to the arrest of the taggers. Many others are being pursued. In the meantime, the arrests and charges should make taggers think twice before tagging again.
An elementary school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was the target of a graffiti attack over night. The extensive black spray paint graffiti covered multiple walls and is expected to cost the School District thousands of dollars to clean up.
With school budgets stretched thin, the dollars spent to remove graffiti are reallocated from another priorities. Perhaps a vacant building or some other blighted structure is fair game for graffiti, but tagging on schools, or for that matter, churches, parks, and community centers is vandalism. No matter how good the "street art" is, the costs for removal is real and drain funds away from much needed improvements and maintenance.
Colorado Springs, Colorado - A rash of vulgar graffiti tagging in Colorado Springs has gottent worse as the weather has gotten warmer.
"The way we count graffiti is every tag would be $54.11," explained Mark Davis with the Graffiti Removal Team, pointing towards graffiti on a wall. "So if we were to cover that up, sandblast it off is how we would do it, $54.11 and we probably did 50 of them today."
More at KOAA.com
Tucson, Arizona - Mario Figueroa is a man on a mission. This 62-year old spends his time cleaning up graffiti from his Tucson neighborhood. The City of Tucson spends approximately $750,000 abating graffiti.
Tucson Officer Stephanie Brown estimates that most of the taggers are 14 or 15 years old. Spray paint is readily available depite a Tucson city ordinance which prohibits spray paint to minors,
According to Tucson City Spokesman Michael Graham says, "When you're spending three-quarters of a million dollars to eradicate graffiti, I'd say we have a pretty big problem out there."
"That's money that, from the general fund, that could have been used to improve city parks, or other city infrastructure. instead, that's going for graffiti abatement."
More at News 4 Tucson
Salt Lake City- Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank spoke with Graffiti Removal Supervisor Brent Ahlander urged residents to stay vigilant in the fight against graffiti and report graffiti tags though a hotline and through a new smartphone app. The City has a full-time crew devoted to graffiti abatement and spends approximately $400,000 per year.
More at Salt Lake City Fox News 13
A twelve year old was arrested for causing over $15,000 of damage in Murrieta, CA.
More at The Press Enterprise
Fascinating article which explores murals, tagging, and the increasing frequency of murals as targets of tagging. Published by the Phoenix Newtime and written by Claire Lawton.
"Taggers have realized that their tags stayed up longer on murals because the building owners and the commissioners of those murals can't afford to bring back the original artist to repair the mural," Greg Esser says. "So tagging on a mural has become code for longevity."
Kristian Holmes, age 32, was found guilty by a London jury on 38 counts of criminal damage. Total damage caused by his graffiti between 2003 and 2010 was estimated at £250,000. He frequently targeted trains and train stations.
More detail at Bexley Times.
From Clean City Innovation Graffiti Watch