City steps up effort to clean up graffiti

May 6, 2013 7:52:07 AM PDT
The City of Chicago says it is making progress by stepping up efforts to get rid of the graffiti that defaces property and businesses.

Graffiti removal slowed down after the budget was cut a couple of years ago, but now the city says it's back on track after hiring more painters.

Graffiti Blasters is a city program that began under Mayor Daley in 1993. The point was to remove the graffiti quickly on private and public property so vandals wouldn't have a chance to put it up again.

But under Mayor Emanuel, the graffiti budget was slashed. Many painters were laid off. Requests began to build up, so 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti took the matter into his own hands, he said.

"My goal every day personally is to remove to hits a day, bring tools and bring paint," Fioretti said.

Fioretti also pays one of his staff members to rid his ward of graffiti. Fortunately, the city is working on catching up. This year, Mayor Emanuel added five more painters to the budget and last year, graffiti removal was moved from the ward to the grid system.

"We've done 7,400 more jobs than last year in first since hiring new painters," said Debbie Delopez, Chicago Dept. of Streets and Sanitation. "We also reduced our back log by 21 percent."

But many aldermen say five new painters are not nearly enough. Graffiti can be seen on everything from street signs to store fronts.

"We need to add more because the wait time is way too long for graffiti to be up in our neighborhoods," said 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz.

Munoz says the wait time in his 22nd Ward may be 30 days. He says when the program was fully staffed, graffiti was gone in a day.

Aldermen say that the timing is key and the best way to get graffiti removed is by calling 3-1-1.


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