City Hall

Some Suggestions for Our New Graffiti Czar

OK, so Oak Cliff lawyer John Barr doesn't want to be called the graffiti czar. Fine. Not the point. This is: Scott Henson, who serves Grits for Breakfast, penned an item this morning in which he writes that much of what Barr told Sam on Wednesday sounds pretty danged good. Like, say, his suggestion that a bucket brigade paint over the offending eyesores without having to wait for City Hall's okee-doke. Or his proposal for an officially sanctioned area where taggers can do their thing.

But Scott raises a few points he'd like us to point out to Barr, such as:

[I] would caution that the whole stand-alone graffiti wall concept has had, at best, mixed success. Too often the neighborhoods to and from them also are subjected to tagging and they don't provide enough space, in enough diverse, visible areas, to siphon off graff writers if the city has a significant number of them. However, this blog has hypothesized that there's another, simpler method to provide permission areas in ways that bypass the shortcomings of stand-alone graffiti walls.

As mentioned in September, I've been advocating for quite a while on Grits that government begin to identify blank, under-utilized portions of the city landscape -- underpasses, concrete drainage areas, even the backside of street signs -- and allow street art there on a permission-based basis. ... Ideally, in this writer's opinion, the practice should be widespread, with available 'canvases' across every city and content only limited by obscenity laws and disallowing hate speech and known criminal street gang references.

There are other things such a "graffiti czar" could do, such as coordinate between local artists and private property owners who want to commission free or paid murals on outward-facing walls as a prophylactic against graffiti. Partially because it's been the only approach in the past and so it's efficacy has somewhat maxxed out, spending more on police manpower, much less jails, courts and prisons, gets you limited bang for the buck compared to the much cheaper and more effective graffiti abatement methods of rapid cleanup and providing legal outlets.

Prophylactic Against Graffiti. Why, he just sounded the Band Name Alert.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky