LANCASTER — Graffiti vandalism is on the rise in Lancaster. There were 18,000 incidents of graffiti in the city in 2011; and this year, city crews have already removed more than 20,000 incidents of graffiti, officials said.
To directly address the negative impact of graffiti on Lancaster neighborhoods, the city council Tuesday approved a new Graffiti Abatement Volunteer Program.
“It’s a great opportunity for community residents, business owners, and groups to get involved in the community, volunteer to remove graffiti, and start taking over what is theirs,” said Public Works Coordinator Pat Murphy.
“Graffiti costs the citizens of Lancaster thousands of dollars each and every year,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Our new Graffiti Abatement Volunteer Program provides residents with the necessary tools and training to remove graffiti, and abate any further tagging in their neighborhoods.”
The program is open to residents, businesses, neighborhood watch groups, and other community organizations.
Those interested in participating in this volunteer effort should contact the Public Works Department through the graffiti hotline at 661-723-5977. Volunteers will be given an interest sheet to fill out and will be contacted for training, said Murphy.
“We show them how to use the various graffiti abatement products, how to properly paint over graffiti tags and how to use solvent materials to wipe off the graffiti,” Murphy said, adding that the training takes about 30 minutes.
Upon completion, volunteers receive graffiti removal supplies color matched to the location they have chosen to adopt, Murphy said.
“We provide them with a graffiti kit, which consists of paint, rollers and brushes, a paint pan, solvent wipes, safety gloves, and other supplies,” said Murphy. “We replenish the kit as they use it.”
The city has also launched a new Graffiti Reporting Hotline where residents can report graffiti for removal by calling 661-723-5977. Callers simply provide the location of the graffiti, and on what structure the graffiti can be found (i.e. wall, sign, building, etc.).
The sheriff’s department is also encouraging citizens to report graffiti in progress by calling 9-1-1.
“Give us an address or a specific location along with the taggers full physical description,” said Lancaster Sheriff’s Sergeant Theresa Dawson. “This can aid us greatly in apprehending taggers and lowering the cost to homeowners and to the city.”
For more information on how you or your group can participate in the Graffiti Abatement Volunteer Program, contact Pat Murphy at 661-723-6183 or firstname.lastname@example.org.