City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement

Anti-Graffiti Strategy--1998

The existence of graffiti causes damage to the public by creating blight, marring the City's visual attractiveness, adversely affecting the quality of life for the City's citizens and discrediting the City's reputation for livability. When graffiti is allowed to remain on a property and it is not promptly removed, it invites yet more markings and criminal activity, creating an atmosphere that fosters a general fear of crime. 

Mission--Coordinate graffiti abatement efforts of the community with strategies to make Portland graffiti free. 

The strategies fall into three categories: Education, Eradication, and Enforcement. This will be a community effort involving private, public, and individual commitment. 

Education Goals

1.Increase community awareness and involvement 
2.Identify and increase collaborative education efforts between existing agencies, businesses and individuals to provide for more graffiti abatement 

Education Goal 1: Increase community awareness and involvement. Most people are unaware of the cost of graffiti abatement in their community. In 1997, graffiti abatement costs for the United States were estimated at $13 - 15 billion. Costs to Portland for 1998 have been estimated at $1 - 2 million. Informing the public of this tremendous loss of resources and how they can help combat this problem is essential for the abatement effort. 


1.1 Increase graffiti abatement presentations to business, volunteer, neighborhood, school and public communities. 
1.2 Encourage the reporting and tracking of graffiti to the Graffiti Hotline phone number - (823-4824). Accurate and   timely reporting is a key element for rapid removal. 
1.3 Develop effective graffiti abatement brochure for mass distribution. 
1.4 Re-vitalize responsible retailers program to reduce access of graffiti materials. 
1.5 Distribute graffiti reporting forms through neighborhood associations and other community groups. 
1.6 Raise private sector funds to expand education, abatement and eradication efforts.

Education Goal 2: Identify and increase collaborative education efforts between existing agencies, businesses and individuals involved with graffiti abatement.
Valuable resources are wasted when efforts are duplicated. Research indicates that coordination of graffiti efforts will reduce costs and frustration as well as increase response time for graffiti removal. 

2.1 Identify organizations and groups who remove graffiti. Determine where there are overlapping services and how these agencies can avoid duplicate costs. 
2.2 Conduct regular meetings with key stakeholders to reduce liability and "turf" issues. 
2.3 Continue the monthly Graffiti Task Force meetings to provide public participation, trend identification opportunities and monitor national graffiti trends.

Eradication Goals:

1.Build on efforts of current city funded crews. 
2.Implement "graffiti free" zones 
3.Coordinate eradication efforts with other agencies 
4.Extend prevention programs 

Eradication Goal 1: Build on efforts of current city funded crews. Since April of 1996 the City has funded the current graffiti removal crews. These crews remove graffiti from both public and private property, free of charge to building owners. An essential component of any graffiti abatement program is the operations crew, those who actually remove graffiti. Performance output has increased from the first year yet the program may have reached a plateau under the current system. 

3.1 Evaluate current graffiti removal crew efforts for strengths and areas of operational improvement. 
3.2 Review available technology for graffiti abatement. Determine what additional equipment is needed to meet new performance goals. 
3.3 Maximize efforts of city crew's with other agency, business and individual efforts. Coordinate work plan to reduce duplication of abatement effort.

Eradication Goal 2:Implement " graffiti free" zones. Some portions of the city are "tagged" frequently. Research in other parts of the country show success with the creation of graffiti free zone's. A section of the city is designated as "zero tolerance" meaning graffiti is cleaned in this area daily until graffiti is no longer a problem.
The zero tolerance graffiti zone expands as graffiti is controlled in the original areas. Zero tolerance zones will be added or subtracted as necessary, to be decided by the Mayor or her designee. 

4.1 Graffiti is removed within 24 business hours. Daily removal prevents taggers from achieving their goal of constant exposure. The 24 hour turn around is
contingent upon having signed permission from building owners and barring excessive inclement weather. 
4.2 Building owners sign permission forms, allowing crews to remove graffiti without delay. The target is one hundred percent signed agreements in the designated zone. 
4.3 Notify owners of their responsibilities to report and remove graffiti on their own. 
4.4 Volunteer groups will be organized to adopt portions of zone to maintain on a regular basis. Other city agencies may be reporting graffiti and/or removing graffiti. 
4.5 Abatement removal will continue in other city areas. Removal time for city crews will remain 3-5 days. Gang or hate graffiti will be given priority for removal.

Eradication Goal 3: Coordinate eradication efforts with other programs. Research both nationally and locally indicates the need to coordinate the efforts of all the abatement participants. Resources are limited and can not afford to be squandered. Volunteer organizations or individuals play an essential role in abatement areas. 

5.1 Design and pool resources of existing organizations who do graffiti abatement. Currently there are many organizations in Portland who have budgets for graffiti abatement. Collaboration of efforts will reduce costs and increase efficiency. 
5.2 Increase the number of fire stations that provide abatement supplies to the public. At present, nine fire stations provide graffiti clean up supplies to citizens,
free of charge. 
5.3 Coordinate and support volunteer groups. Many groups do abatement on a volunteer basis. Recognition for these efforts and increased information on how to participate are needed. Encourage adopt a street, adopt a block, adopt a park type programs. 

Eradication Goal 4:Extend prevention programs--An effective means to combat graffiti is to create prevention programs, such as school education projects and mural and art wall projects. Many cities around the country have had success with these efforts. Locally, many murals created over the years have not been targets for graffiti. These methods also provide positive community projects. 

6.1 Work with SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) and others interested in educating school age youth on the impact of graffiti in communities. 
6.2 Develop partnerships with the Police Athletic League (PAL) and the Gang Resistance Education and Training program to include graffiti prevention awareness in their curricula. 
6.3 Review past mural and art wall projects throughout the city. Work with organizations who maintain these projects. 
6.4 Develop partnerships with property management association architects and business groups to design buildings not conducive to graffiti crimes.

Enforcement Goals

1.Amendment of graffiti ordinance 
2.Strengthen relationships with Police and District Attorney's office 

Enforcement Goal 1: Amendment of graffiti ordinance--A review of the original graffiti abatement ordinance indicated the need to make certain changes to improve
the effectiveness of abatement efforts. The amended ordinance makes significant changes in the areas of responsibilities, fund raising and coordination of graffiti abatement. 

7.1 Hire a manager to coordinate efforts city wide to abate graffiti and to administer the city graffiti regulations. 
7.2 Create a graffiti nuisance abatement trust fund for collection of any monies used for graffiti abatement. The City Commissioners shall direct the expenditures of this fund. 
7.3 Develop and make available to the public the necessary consent forms for graffiti abatement.

Enforcement Goal 2: Strengthen relationships with Police and District Attorney's office. Prosecution of offenders plays an important role in the overall abatement strategy. Catching and prosecuting offenders is difficult and the community must continue to support the efforts of the Police and District Attorney's office. The Graffiti Prevention Coordinator will work closely with these departments to assist with the capture and prosecution of major offenders. 

8.1 The Police Bureau will maintain efforts to arrest graffiti vandals through regular enforcement and special missions in the heavily impacted communities. 
8.2 Community based District Attorneys will work with precincts, Tri Met, ODOT, and other agencies to prosecute graffiti vandals. 
8.3 The District Attorney's office, Police, and the Graffiti Task Force will work with judges to encourage stronger sentencing and restitution consequences for convicted vandals. 
8.4 Neighborhood Crime Prevention staff, Police, and the District Attorney will encourage victims to report, press charges and participate in Court Watch programs.

Graffiti Nuisance Abatement Code. 

Hugh McDowell--Graffiti Prevention Coordinator