Wiping away Amarillo's graffiti problem

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - It's a costly headache for property owners and an eyesore for Amarillo, which is why city leaders are working to wipe away the graffiti problem that has left many people feeling helpless.

Mayor Paul Harpole says, "It is not a prank. We won't deal with it like a prank. There was a judge recently in South Texas who leaned across the bench and said to a vandal, you didn't think you'd go to jail for graffiti. He put a 17-year-old in jail for 6 months and gave him a $2,000 fine. That's the message we want to send. It's not a joke. You're not some sort of new-defined artist. You're a criminal."

City commissioners will begin discussing a proposed ordinance at Tuesday's work session that would take the repercussions of tagging to a whole new level.

It would now be illegal for minors to even possess materials used to graffiti.

The new law would also put a clean-up program into place.

Mayor Harpole explains, "If we notify them that we want them to clean it up, they have 15 days to respond. If they respond in that time period, we come in and we help them clean it up at the city's cost. If they don't respond in 15 days, then we will go and clean it up and then we will bill them for it."

Meanwhile the city is also kicking another campaign into gear, called "Take Back the Wall Day," where groups of volunteers will go out May 19th and remove the spray paint from properties free of charge.

The committee's chairwoman Blair Harris says, "We are trying to bring awareness to property owners to let them know that if you get out there and take care of the problem, it will actually happen less often. The more you clean it up, the more these people will realize they can't make a billboard out of your property and they will move on."

In fact, experts say if you clean up the stuff within 24 hours of each time it happens, chances are, you won't have to do it again.

City leaders hope to vote on measure in the next few weeks.