Mayor Chris Beutler today said a significant drop in graffiti complaints in the City over the past year can be attributed to increased education and awareness. From July 2010 through June 2011, the City received 776 graffiti complaints, a 27-percent decrease from the 1,064 complaints received in the previous 12 months.
"The philosophy of our Graffiti Prevention Program is that community improvement occurs through individual engagement," said Mayor Beutler. "By continuing to educate property owners about the importance of quick graffiti removal, we will continue to see a drop in repeat graffiti."
Beutler said the continued success in reporting and removing graffiti and in apprehending and prosecuting graffiti vandals can be attributed to increased public awareness, along with outstanding work and improved communication between the Lincoln Police Department and the Graffiti Prevention Program. The program is a component of Keep Lincoln and Lancaster County Beautiful at the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
During the same reporting periods, gang graffiti dropped 55 percent (350 to 158 complaints) and hip-hop graffiti dropped 50 percent (433 to 216 complaints). Graffiti Prevention Coordinator William Carver said gang graffiti is used to mark gang territory, as a message board for members and to send warnings to rival gangs. It can be in the form of letters, symbols and/or numbers known by gangs and law enforcement. Hip-hop graffiti could be a tag (the vandal's tag name applied quickly and repetitively), a throw-up (a more elaborate tag with large balloon-type letters) or a piece (large, detailed colorful drawings). Hip-hop graffiti vandals operate in crews and usually target public and commercial property.
The City's graffiti ordinance passed in 2006 requires property owners to remove graffiti within 15 days of City notification. If that deadline is not met, the City can remove the graffiti at the property owner's expense. The Graffiti Prevention Program was created as part of Mayor Beutler's Stronger Safer Neighborhoods Initiative in June 2009.
"The program's primary focus is to use an educational approach to minimize graffiti in Lincoln," Carver said. "Keys are using an efficient complaint process, delivering anti-graffiti messages to the community and encouraging collaborative efforts by the community and business owners to address and prevent graffiti."
When graffiti is reported, Carver sends a letter and photo to the property owner advising them of the complaint and their responsibility to remove the graffiti under City ordinance. The letter also explains the negative impact of graffiti, encourages removal within 24 to 48 hours and offers the assistance of volunteer groups. If the graffiti is not removed after seven days, the property owner is contacted again, and if the graffiti remains after 15 days, other intervention options are considered.
To report graffiti, contact Carver at 402-441-4690 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Graffiti also can be reported through the City ACTION Center by visiting lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: graffiti) or using the free Android application (search for "Lincoln Action Center" in the Android Market).