Austin tackles graffiti backlog, looks to increased fines

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- The nature of tagging is when you remove it and paint it over, a new tag inevitably takes its place. For the city of Austin, it has been a daunting task to keep up with graffiti removal, especially with a shrinking staff.

By the end of 2016, the city had more than 600 service requests for graffiti removal. In a recent memo from the interim assistant city manager, the city says it is actually addressing the backlog of graffiti and they should be caught up by September.

The memo also states the city is working with law enforcement to draft a revised ordinance that would increase the fine for people caught tagging. In order to encourage art in public places, the city is creating partnerships with schools and colleges to use blank spaces and signal boxes to showcase student art.

Starting in September, the city also plans on rolling out a new city-wide volunteer group called Graffiti Busters. To make it easier for volunteers to remove the graffiti, the city is also looking at ways to loan out power washers and get donations of paint supplies.

In December, the city had to cut the number of positions in the Austin Youth Development (AYD) program, which was created to help at-risk youth. They're paid to remove graffiti, and also get workforce development.


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