We met last night at Mae's Cafe in Phinney to talk about what the neighborhood can do to mitigate the graffiti/tagging that has become a growing problem.
Anthony Matlock, Community Project Manager, from the City of Seattle was kind enough to come to the meeting and speak about the various solutions that have helped in other neighborhoods. The main take home message from this meeting was to report the graffiti and clean it up right away. Taggers want their work to stay up as long as possible to be seen and to get props from their peers. The faster the tag is taken down, the less visiblity they receive and so they move on and look for another place where their tags can stay up longer.
So the number one suggestion was to approach your neighbor/neighborhood business and offer to help them clean-up the graffiti by gaining permission. Or to call the graffiti hotline: (206) 684-7587 and report the graffiti. Don't assume that the residence/business has already been approached or it has already been reported. Vacant properties also need to be reported as well. If it's not reported, the city is not going to know that there is a problem.
The city will be giving the Greenwood-Phinney Chamber a "red wagon" that has tools to paint out graffiti such as brushes, rollers and paint. As a business owner, if you have your building painted a specific color, and you would like volunteers to help you paint out any vandalism you have been hit with, you should invest in a small supply of your color to have on hand. That way when a volunteer paint out day is coordinated, you can have your matching color readily available.
What happens when graffiti is reported using the hotline?
A. A letter is then sent to the building/property owner that says they have 10 days to clean up the graffiti and if they do not, then fines will be enforced. So if you don't like this approach, then approaching the business and/or private residence is suggested. In fact, most people would prefer it!
Anthony suggested that a committee be formed that meets once a month to keep the neighborhood educated and informed as well as regularly scheduling paint out days. In order for a volunteer to paint out a business/private residence tagging, a form must be filled out and signed by the building/property owner to give permission for the paint out. Volunteers are not allowed to paint out on buildings they do not have this prior permission for. So the Greenwood-Phinney Chamber will be alerting chamber members of this in their next e-newsletter.
The strategic plan for our neighborhood needs to include a long-term and on-going program. It was suggested that the Chamber create an educational pamphlet for the residents and business owners that is specific to our neighborhood.
Another focus of "Art Up" is to create a mural project in our neighborhood using the talents of local artists and neighborhood youth. We will be looking into applying for a grant and possible fundraisers for this purpose. It was proposed to have a contest for the murals with an unveiling and art event to celebrate the new project.
The meeting was concluded with the note that the Chamber will be informing members of the proposed plans for this new program and to gain more feedback and involvement. Should you be interested in attending upcoming meetings, please use this blog site as a tool to keep updated. Meetings will be posted as well as meeting notes. If you have questions, please feel free to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org