As part of this month’s “Graffiti Free Awareness Month,” the city of Phoenix, AZ, is hoping residents will spread the word about graffiti problems and how to combat a problem that’s costing the city, and subsequently the people, a lot of money. According to PBS in Arizona, Phoenix spends about $2 million a year cleaning up graffiti.
The city wants to “get neighborhoods, the community more involved, recognizing the blight in our neighborhood, which is graffiti,” said Lee Staten, volunteer coordinator with the city’s Neighborhood Services Department.
Compared to most cities, Phoenix is probably one of the most modern when it comes to tackling the issue. The city has an app called MyPhxAz, which residents can hop on and report the exact location of any graffiti they see around the city.
Phoenix even has its own designated team of “graffiti busters.” According to officials, the city regularly provide workshops to teach people to effectively combat the graffiti problem, and they even offer paint to organized groups who want to help the cleanup. Other potential solutions besides paint include anti-graffiti films and laminates to prevent buildings from being vandalized in the first place.
Even stiff penalties haven’t done much to deter graffiti artists in the area. Getting caught in the act is a class one misdemeanor that carries fines of $575 or more, community service, and even jail time.
“Graffiti lowers property value, it discourages businesses and homeowners from coming to the Valley,” Staten said.
On the other hand, there are many who claim the work they’re doing is street art and should be praised for the uniqueness and character it can give a city.
“Street art is something that really adds either value to a property or cultural value to an area, and that’s something that you will find intrinsic of most street art whether it is commissioned or noncommissioned,” Jesse Perry, a local street artist, told AZCentral.com.