Wednesday, August 02, 2006


My staff and I celebrated the two year anniversary of the launch of Uniting Neighborhoods To Abolish Graffiti (UNTAG) by driving throughout the streets of CD13 and counting every single tag in the district. In 2004, we announced that our goal was to cut graffiti in half over the next two years. It gives me great pleasure to announce that over the past 24 months, we have reduced graffiti by 55%, from 20,763 tags in 2004 to 9,419 tags this year. The amazing pace of removal and abatement of graffiti is a credit to the collaborative efforts of the team of volunteer block captains who have commited to reporting tags as soon as they go up, the preventative measures that the police have used, and the quick and reliable work of the city paint out crews.

What was interesting about this year’s count was the qualitative difference that we noticed as we drove the streets of the city. Graffiti has moved off of the big walls and sides of houses where it used to be, and is limited to smaller and more remote media such as mailboxes, light poles and street signs. The canvas of tagging is indeed shrinking, as taggers are getting more and more desperate. The change that we have witnessed gets to the core of what UNTAG is all about – making neighborhoods feel safer. With graffiti less visible, taggers are not able to intimidate like they used to. The success of UNTAG is really in the way it feels to walk though the streets of your neighborhood.

Another revealing observation from this count was the success of our effort to remove graffiti at designated “hot spots.” Working together, the police monitor those areas that are chronically tagged, and our block captains have fully utilized our “rapid response” paint-out system. The success of our hot spots demonstrates the power of the community, and how important community participation is in improving neighborhoods. Click here to become a block captain today!

Picture courtesy of zota