If you didn’t already know it, the “Great Graffiti Wipe Out” of 2016 ended last week, and during the six-week period, the Department of Public Works says it removed almost 3,000 instances of illegal tagging.
In a release on Friday, DPW says its first-ever graffiti “blitz” resulted in the taking down of more than 700 markings and more than 2,000 posters and stickers across the District. The initiative was launched on May 16, relying on help from residents and businessowners. Ward 4 saw the most marks removed at more than 450, followed by Wards 8, 7, and 5.
“Graffiti drawn on someone’s property without their consent is considered vandalism and that is a crime,” said DPW Director Christopher Shorter in a statement. “Fewer than a dozen personnel are responsible for responding to the thousands of graffiti requests we receive each year to clean graffiti.”
DPW adds that its graffiti-abatement team worked in each ward for roughly one week, targeting “highly visible areas” and responding to individual requests. Overall, the department says, it processes more than 40,000 removal requests per year; last year, DPW spent upwards of $250,000 combatting graffiti and handled more than 6,000 total requests.
Ward 4 and Ward 8 D.C. Councilmembers Brandon Todd and LaRuby May in January proposed an “Anti-Graffiti Amendment Act,” which would raise fines for intentionally graffitiing someone’s property without their permission. The bill sets the floor for penalties at $2,500 and/or a ceiling of imprisonment for up to 180 days. It also raises the fines for possessing graffiti material with intent to between $500 and $2,500. The Council is currently considering the proposal.
Still, not everything is spick and span at DPW: The department performed the worst in terms of quality responses to requests for service as part of city agency tests conducted by the D.C. Auditor for a report released earlier this week.