Mayor Chris Beutler said the City's new approach to graffiti cleanup has resulted in 85 percent of the graffiti being removed at just 6 percent of the previously estimated cost. Since the City's Graffiti Prevention Coordinator began working in June, 277 of the 326 reported cases of graffiti have been cleared.
Graffiti invites more vandalism and crime by sending a message that no one cares about the neighborhood. It's a blight on our entire community," Mayor Beutler said. "Cleaning up graffiti can be costly, and that's why efforts like this are so important. Finding fast, effective and cost-efficient ways to remove graffiti is a priority for our efforts to revitalize neighborhoods.
Under the City's graffiti ordinance passed in 2006, property owners are required to remove graffiti within 15 days of being notified by the City. If that deadline is not met, the City can remove the graffiti at the expense of the property owner. Those who don't reimburse the City face a lien on their property, but the owner does not have to clear the debt until the property sells.
Under the new process, the Graffiti Prevention Coordinator sends a letter and postage- paid reply card to victims of graffiti. The letter explains the negative impact of graffiti, encourages removal of the graffiti in 24 to 48 hours and offers the assistance of volunteer groups. William Carver with Keep Lincoln and Lancaster County Beautiful (KLLCB) has been coordinating the Graffiti Prevention Program since June. Of the 49 cases currently unresolved, 30 were reported less than two weeks ago.
The new process came out of the Mayor's Stronger Safer Neighborhoods Initiative based on an idea from one of its partner groups, the Lincoln Policy Network. Mayoral Aide Jon Carlson, who manages the Initiative, said funding graffiti cleanup has been very difficult in tight budget times. He said the cost of funding City graffiti removal was estimated at $408,000 a year. The program headed by Carver is budgeted for $25,000 a year.
We are very pleased with the success the program has been able to achieve in just a few months," Carlson said. "Graffiti often is an indicator crime for more serious problems. The current program is having a significant impact on crime reduction and neighborhood quality of life for a relatively low cost."
I think the new program has been very effective in helping improve properties and the neighborhoods," said David Anderson, a board member of the Real Estate Owners and Managers Association. "Removing graffiti quickly is a key to keeping buildings safe and attractive places that people will want to live in.
To report graffiti, contact Carver at 441-4690 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Graffiti also can be reported on the City online ACTION center at lincoln.ne.gov.
KLLCB is affiliated with Keep America Beautiful, which has a mission to engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community environments.