Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Athens Graffiti Ordinance in the Works

Decisions Still to be Made for Graffiti Proposal

Meryl Swiatek

Chicka, chicka, chicka, sssssssssssssstttt. Just shake...and spray.

The graffiti problem in Athens has been long debated, both in the local news media and at City Neighborhood and Community Associations Executive Committees meetings. At the April 14th City Council meeting, councilwoman at-large Chris Knisely announced that she is working on an ordinance to deal with the graffiti problem on both public and private property. Knisely was a member of the Executive Committee before joining city council at the beginning of April, and she says she's been discussing possible solutions for the graffiti problem for the last two months.

In the draft for her "Graffiti Awareness and Action Program," Knisely refers to the City of Columbus "Graffiti Blasters" program and says that there are several ways that Athens can use the Columbus program as a model. The draft suggests a four-pronged effort of education, rapid response teams, prevention and legislation to increase community awareness of graffiti and to deal with it as it happens.

Knisley says the owners of graffitied property will probably be responsible for its cleanup, but she stresses that the ordinance is not meant to punish the victims. Knisley says there are many decisions still to be made about the wording of the ordinance and the exact procedures that property owners will have to follow.

Athens City Councilwoman Chris Knisely talks about how the ordinance will address graffiti.

How to Deal with Graffiti on Your Property

If your property has been damaged by graffiti, the Columbus Graffiti Blasters and the national Graffiti Hurts Program web site offers lots of tips to remove the graffiti and restore the surface.

1. Get to the graffiti early. The longer paint sits on a surface, the harder it will be to remove later.

2. Identify the type of surface that's been graffitied. Bricks, concrete, stone and stucco are more porous and harder to clean than wood, glass or aluminum siding.

3. Check the runoff paths from your property to make sure the paint and chemicals won't flow into nearby creeks or streams.

4. Research types of paint removers and cleaning methods and choose one that fits the surface and conditions of your graffiti. Graffiti Hurts suggests a product called PaintOut as well as other chemical removers, and Columbus Graffiti Blasters says powerwashing is an effective method.

5. Apply a protective coating to the surface like to make cleanup easier if the surface is graffitied again.

More tips about cleaning up graffiti are available at the web sites for the graffiti programs in Burlington, Vermont and Las Cruces, New Mexico. The San Diego Police Department also has a page for graffiti safety and responsibility.

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