Another manifestation of HPD's manpower shortage

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If you think you’ve seen more graffiti around Houston lately, you’re probably not imagining it.

Boss Hogg and Roscoe?

The increased defacement of property citywide comes after HPD (under the direction of the dynamic duo of White/Hurtt, no doubt) ended the city’s graffiti abatement program, according to a KHOU-11 report.

Now, the only graffiti abatement program in the fourth largest city in the country is available exclusively to East End residents and businesses, under the auspices of the Greater East End Management District:

The Greater East End Management District has the only mobile unit created to wipe out illegal aerosol art.

[snip]

“We’re here to clean graffiti. We’re the only graffiti abatement here in the City of Houston, right now,” [Martin] Chavez explained. He said his team is the only weapon against the crime since HPD stopped its graffiti abatement program more than a year ago.

Every day, private citizens and property owners who have been tagged call Chavez’ team for help. So do HPD and the city’s neighborhood protection office.

“The unique thing about the program is we color match the colors of the buildings,” Chavez said.

And it doesn’t matter where in the East End the crime was committed. The modern day “Mr. Cleans” armed with paint brushes and power wash equipment are committed to wiping slates clean.

Chavez said his team is always up for the job. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 degrees or 50 degrees, we’re out here.”

The driving force — Restoring surfaces back to the original style and bringing prestige back to one of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods.

“As far as our area goes, which is the East End, graffiti has really gone down,” said Chavez.

There were 700 sites abated when the program started five years ago, 526 in 2002, 528 in 2003 and 520 last year.

The crew is also spending less time on the streets. It used to take four days a week. Now they’re down to two.

“We’ve seen graffiti spread out of the East End and more into Midtown and downtown and other areas of town,” Chavez said.

Chavez said the mayor’s anti-gang office and a city council member have approached his group wanting to copy the program.

HPD used to have such a program! And as we learned from Mayor Giuliani in New York, such programs are not as trivial as they might seem.

But, Mayor White and Chief Hurtt seem to have some very different priorities for the city.


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