The Graffiti Resource Council Attends and Participates in Panel at the 83rd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors


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.

U.S. Conference of Mayors

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) was established in 1932 and is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. The USCM holds Winter Meetings each January in Washington, D.C. and Annual Meetings each June in a different U.S. city. Additional meetings and events are held as well. The USCM’s function includes the following: helping develop and promote effective national urban/suburban policy; building stronger and more effective federal-city relationships; monitoring the effectiveness of federal policy in terms of its service to urban needs; helping mayors develop leadership and management tools; and creating a forum where mayors can share ideas and information.


The GRC is a member of the USCM Business Council. The Business Council was created within the USCM in order to bring the businesses closer to America’s mayors. The GRC joined the Business Council in order to increase awareness of the organization and have the opportunity to have direct, valuable access to city leaders, particularly mayors. An overwhelming majority of anti-graffiti laws or programs are initiated by city mayors and city councils rather than at the state or federal level. Mayors are key leaders in preventing the spread of graffiti vandalism in America’s communities. Graffiti can be a serious issue for cities; it can promote crime, devalue property, slow economic growth and tourism, and damage the aesthetic value of a community. It is a problem that, if not addressed early on, will spread and multiply, causing larger issues down the line. The GRC believes mayors can greatly benefit from its resources and years of experience developing effective policies that prevent graffiti vandalism.

Summer Meeting

At the USCM’s summer meeting, the GRC had the unique opportunity to interact with hundreds of mayors, other Business Council members, major businesses leaders, nonprofits, and Cabinet officials. The numerous panels and speaking events allowed for conference attendees to learn about pressing issues affecting cities, including education, job growth, climate change, public safety, water and air quality, technology, criminal justice, transportation and tourism/arts. President Obama and Former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also addressed the conference, speaking of gun safety reform and the need for communities to come together to end racism and promote tolerance in light of the tragic shooting in Charleston, SC.

USCM-Summer-article-3In addition to attending the conference, the GRC was asked by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to speak on its Vacant and Abandoned Properties Task Force, led by Mayors Stephen Benjamin (Columbia, SC) and Roy Buol (Dubuque, IA) during the conference on June 20th. The GRC’s Executive Director Heidi McAuliffe gave a presentation “Model Municipal Response to Graffiti Vandalism in Vacant and Abandoned Properties” outlining the aspects of the IMLA Model Anti-Graffiti Ordinance that allows city officials to enter vacant and abandoned properties to abate graffiti vandalism. Heidi also described alternatives to abatement, such as designating the property as a “street gallery” or “permission walls” where murals can be painted on the property, not only for beautification purposes but to deter graffiti. The mayors were interested in this issue because graffiti abatement can be a tremendous cost to cities, and with vacant properties, there are often legal issues with the city’s right of entry onto the property, and issues with costs since there is no property owner to fine for allowing the graffiti to remain.

The GRC will continue to be involved with the USCM at next year’s meetings, as well as exhibit at the National League of Cities (NLC) in November this year.

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