News / Stiffer penalties sought for some graffiti vandals

Stiffer penalties sought for some graffiti vandals

Graffiti vandals are warned. Those who don’t complete their community service hours painting out other vandals’ "art" will face more jail time and fines.

This week the Housing and Neighborhoods Subcommittee approved a modification to the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance to allow Phoenix judges to convert unmet community service requirements to stiffer penalties. The full City Council is expected to consider the modification in two weeks.

Tim Boling, deputy director of Phoenix’s Neighborhood Services Department, said the change could take effect as early as June 1

The subcommittee also lauded NSD on a new Blight Busters program that will tap into the community to remove graffiti, illegal signs and shopping carts.

Rick Naimark, deputy city manager, said following a 20 percent reduction in staff last month NSD’s Graffiti Buster program has a backlog of approximately 1,300 graffiti complaints, with a median response time of 10 days and growing. The new citywide program will formally kick off May 1.

"It’s one of the creative ways to expand our resource pool," Naimark said of the program. "It will help the city cope with the results of the cuts."

Boling said about 40 residents have contacted NSD expressing interest in the program. He’s hoping 200 to 300 residents step up to volunteer after the program begins.

"Graffiti and other neighborhood blight is everyone’s issue," Boling said. "Not just the city of Phoenix. We’re hoping hundreds of residents decide to participate in Blight Busters and help clean up their neighborhoods."

The program will provide training to ensure safe removal of graffiti and illegal signs and include security screening, since willing volunteers may be asked to monitor juveniles and others completing community service hours.

"That will help reinvigorate residents to remove graffiti in their neighborhoods," said Boling. "We provide the all the paint and the tools."

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