Funding grants for the City of Asheville’s 1-2-3 Graffiti Free initiative continue through Sept. 30. After that date, the City’s removal assistance program will be discontinued.
Starting in July 2014, the City began the 1-2-3 Graffiti Free removal assistance program aimed at providing a comprehensive approach to tackling graffiti. Designed to be a 90-day intensive cleanup, City Council in September 2014 voted to extend the program through Sept. 30, 2015.
So far, 381 Notices to Remove Graffiti have been sent to the property owners. Already 93% of those property owners have complied and cleaned up their properties. Of those 381 notices, 23 were sent recently and those property owners are still within the grace period for graffiti removal.
The City has spent $78,323 on graffiti removal, according to Vicky Haskell, Graffiti Special Projects Coordinator. That money was paid to contractors who did the removal.
Still time to get on board
There is still time to participate in City-assisted graffiti removal. Here’s how it works:
- Property owners can report graffiti and sign up for removal assistance by using the Asheville App (gov/ashevilleapp), firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 828-259-5720.
- Property owners sign a contract with a City-approved vendor and pay all costs over the City’s $500 investment (one time $500 per property).
- The City pays the contractor for removal up to $500.
“I would like to thank the property owners and contractors involved with the initiative,” said Public Works Director Greg Shuler. “I feel like the initiative was generally successful where property owners took advantage of it. We will continue to enforce the ordinance moving forward to do our best to keep our community clean and safe.”
Stiffer penalties coming
Also a recently passed law in North Carolina stiffens the penalties for graffiti vandalism beginning Dec. 1, 2015, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable with a minimum $500 fine. Moreover, a third charge of graffiti vandalism will become a felony, if there have been two or more prior convictions, under the new statute. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law in June.
“This new law will not in any way change the way that APD has been going after graffiti offenders,” said Asheville Police Sergeant Jackie Stepp. “We take vandalism very seriously and charge those that participate in this activity accordingly.”
Reporting and removing graffiti
On top of using the Asheville app, residents should call Asheville Police at 828-252-1110 to report graffiti. Restitution may be available.
If you need advice on graffiti removal methods, email email@example.com or call Graffiti Special Projects Coordinator Vicky Haskell at 828-259-5720.
For more information, visit ashevillenc.gov/graffiti.