By Erin Golden
Star Tribune Staff Writer
Minneapolis residents will have to be more vigilant about fighting graffiti in the new year.
Residents have always been responsible for removing graffiti from their property, but in recent years the city has provided help through a handful of prevention and cleanup efforts. Those programs, however, were cut from next year’s budget -- prompting the city to send notices to some residents, reminding them that they’ll need to take care of graffiti on their own.
The city won’t be funding its “Innovative Graffiti Prevention” micro grant program, which helped neighborhood groups with public art projects that were meant to deter graffiti. In recent years, the city budgeted amounts ranging from $75,000 to $150,000 for projects like utility box art wraps in the Longfellow neighborhood, a mural and graffiti patrol around Cedar-Riverside and anti-graffiti education programs in Powderhorn Park.
Since 2008 -- with the exception of 2010, when the program was not offered -- the city has funded an average of 11 projects per year, which each receiving up to $10,000.
Meanwhile, the city will also be cutting a program that helped property owners clean up gang-related or obscene graffiti that was located within five feet of the public right of way. The city didn’t set aside a specific amount of money, but provided cleanup at no charge to property owners.
Finally, it has also dropped a three-year-old “Graffiti Shadow Program,” which provided a second notice to property owners who had been notified about removing graffiti and failed to do so. The program also funded the cost of a second inspection.
Casper Hill, a spokesman for the city, said property owners are notified about graffiti by mail and have seven days to clean it up. If that doesn’t happen, the city can paint over the mess and bill the property owner.
“As always, it’s the responsibility of property owners to remove graffiti from their vandalized properties,” he said.
The $1.2 billion budget passed by the council earlier this month includes just over $1 million for documenting and removing graffiti around the city. That’s down slightly from the line item in this year’s budget, which provided $1.3 million.
Graffiti is the most common problem reported on the city’s 311 phone line, with the largest number of complaints coming from south Minneapolis.