Because Tucson spends more than $1 million a year to remove graffiti, other communities have found success with programs that prevent graffiti such as legal graffiti walls, utility box murals or other mural projects. City Councilman Steve Kozachik noted that spending money on mural projects which have been proven to reduce tagging is a better investment than increasing enforcement. For example, a mural program in San Diego turns public utility boxes into sanctioned art spaces, and Kozachik is working with local utility companies to launch a similar program in Tucson. Also, the Tucson Arts Brigade, formed in 1995 to introduce the creative arts in Tucson’s low-income schools. TAB has organized multiple large-scale mural art projects throughout Tucson, including the Amphi Community Action Mural Project, the 29th Street Community Mural Project and the Together We Thrive Mural at 316 N. Fourth Ave. From 2009 to 2013, communities that participated in one of the organization’s mural programs saw nearby graffiti decline at least 69 percent, Schwartz said.
This year, the organization is set to paint five trash containers at Tucson’s Environmental Services Center. It is negotiating with the Washington, D.C.-based Graffiti Resource Council to match the $5,000 of local funding.
The Graffiti Resource Council (GRC) attended the 83rd Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco, CA on June 19-22. The conference was attended by 277 mayors and numerous city officials, members of the business community, and executive branch staff. GRC staff had the unique opportunity to meet with numerous mayors to discuss its programs, and hear from distinguished speakers such as President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and leaders in companies such as Walmart, Salesforce, Airbnb, Kaiser Permanente, and Wells Fargo. Notably, the GRC spoke on a panel before the Vacant and Abandoned Properties Task Force on July 20. The GRC discussed how its resources can help mayors address issues involving graffiti vandalism on vacant or abandoned properties.
Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed into law a bill, House Bill 552, that makes graffiti vandalism a felony crime in certain circumstances. Specifically, a person who commits graffiti vandalism and all of the following 3 conditions is guilty of a Class H felony: 1) the person has 2 or more prior convictions under this section, 2) the current violation was committed after the second conviction for violation of this section, and 3) the violation resulting in the second conviction was committed after the first conviction for violation of this section.