Agencies battle against graffiti problem

March 15, 2012 3:37:32 PM PDT
Graffiti can make a brand new building look like an eyesore and a perfectly safe neighborhood look dangerous.

Graffiti along Highway 59 has been a growing nuisance for residents and businesses. But to fix the problem, several groups have to come together.

If you've driven the 59 corridor, it's hard not to notice the recent unwelcome additions of graffiti.

"We've noticed it on the 59 corridor, and we're trying to address it," said TxDOT spokesperson Danny Perez.

Along the busy Richmond Avenue, businesses are facing a similar problem -- graffiti they have to clean up.

"My warehouse guy, someone has to clean it," said Shawn Sultanali, Baths of America owner. "We have to spend money to go buy the products to clean it. It wastes everybody's time. I don't know for why, what reason."

Sultanali's right -- whether they like it or not, it's the responsibility of property owners to keep their buildings graffiti-free. But what about markings on Houston's highways? That's the job of TxDOT.

Perez said, "It costs about $51,000 a year, to clean that up, to paint over it, to go out there with a pressure washer, to whatever it is we have to do."

TxDOT says it tries to clean up graffiti within 24-72 hours after someone reports it, but there is no obvious reason as to why the graffiti has increased, although some experts speculate it might correlate with spring break.

Patricia Harrington, director of the mayor's anti-gang office, said, "We see more tagger graffiti than gang graffiti, because the goal is to promote the tagger. So that's why you see it on the freeway signs, that's why you see it on the billboards. They want it in a place where it's really going to be exposed and seen."

Those involved with graffiti abatement say the busiest times of year are seasons when students are out of school.

You can report graffiti problems to 311.

We'll have more on this story this afternoon on ABC13 Eyewitness News.