In monetary terms graffiti vandalism is costing the Christchurch rate payer in excess of $1 million annually. This is a 140% increase on graffiti expenditure in 2003. Great news for City Care – the company contracted to do the clean-up work from public areas and front boundary fences.
In less measurable terms, graffiti is painting an ugly picture for Christchurch tourism and causing grief and intimidation for hundreds of hard-working Christchurch home-owners.
As well as the City Care clean-up scheme, the Christchurch City Council has also set up a Graffiti Vandalism Removal Volunteer Programme. Quite a snappy name, huh?
The Programme supplies paint to volunteers to clean up their neighbourhood. While there are certain practices in place – no painting until the owner has been informed, etc. – there are still some hesitations by many home owners to take advantage of the programme.
One of the problems is the colour range. The Council provides pre-mixed colours of white, cream, green, brown, grey and black. I’ve spent over 5 years working in the paint industry and I can tell you now that if you called me and asked for green paint, I would laugh. Then I would send you some forest green paint that would clash horribly with your bottle green wall. A long fence with random patches of a colour that has clearly been mis-matched is almost as bad as a fence covered in graffiti.
Another problem arises when you have a stained fence over a painted fence. The majority of volunteers just wouldn’t have the skills or the resources to remove the tag without damaging the wood.
Auckland is tackling the problem with a similar volunteer programme but has also introduced an education and awareness programme for primary schools. The programme educates children on the problems caused by tagging and rewards them for adopting an area of their neighbourhood to keep clean. The two week programme is currently in use in over 50 primary schools around Auckland.
On top of educating primary schools, more should be done to limit spray can sales around Christchurch. Spray cans have already been locked away in cupboards and given age restrictions, but this isn’t much help if the key for that cupboard is in the pocket of a store assistant muppet. More should be done to limit the places where spray cans can be purchased. One street-wear store on Christchurch’s High Street sells clothes, trainers, baseball caps … and spray cans.
Now let’s not be stupid here. People aren’t going to go to this store to buy some loose fitting trousers that droop below their ass and at the same time pick up some spray paint to freshen up their car’s bodywork.
For now, the best solution continues to be to act quickly. If you’ve painted your own boundary fence in the past, keep hold of any extra paint, or even the empty container, so you can supply the paint yourself or at least re-order new paint with the same name.
If taggers are persistant and the paint bills are starting to stack up, you can always chain some form of angry animal to your front fence. Ever come across a pissed off goose? That whole “breaking an arm with one beat of the wing” thing is no lie ya know.
Either way, to request removal of graffiti in Christchurch you can contact the Graffiti Office on 03 941 8666 or 0800 VANDAL (should have gone with 0800 MORON).