Come July, property owners in the neighborhood between 43rd to 59th avenues and McDowell and Camelback roads will be the guinea pigs of the city of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department's new "Graffiti Free Phoenix" pilot program.
Department employees describe the program as "simple" -- Graffiti Busters and Neighborhood Preservation inspectors will work together to track and remove tags, writing, and "gang-related" writing throughout the neighborhood. The city will provide educational materials and free color-matched paint for self-removal when a property is tagged, but when the fourth graffiti incident occurs on that property, the enforcement process will begin.
When a property is tagged for a fourth time, the owner of that property will receive a Notice of Violation and will have five days to remove the graffiti. After five days, a citation will be issued, the Busters will paint over the tags, and the case will go through regular code enforcement court process.
Department employees deny that the program ultimately punishes individual local business and home owners and insist that the citations are meant to get community members involved in city-wide graffiti removal, which up until the the pilot program was a financial and physical responsibility of the city and its Graffiti Busters.
"Graffiti is a crime that impacts every resident of Phoenix, and we must all be part of the solution," writes Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, chairman of the City Council Neighborhoods, Planning and Development, Housing and Homeless Subcommittee in an official statement released by the city. "I advocated for this pilot program because it will engage business owners and residents in the city's anti-graffiti efforts and help us revitalize our neighborhoods."
The pilot program was recommended by City Councilmembers Michael Nowakowski and Tom Simplot, who formed the city's Anti-Graffiti Task Force in 2011. The neighborhood between 43rd to 59th avenues and McDowell and Camelback roads was chosen for the program because of a high number of graffiti incidents reported last year.