Wiping Out Graffiti In Houston
The City of Houston and several government, nonprofit and commercial entities team up to fight graffiti in the Houston area. Collectively, they provide resources to eradicate graffiti and raise public awareness of the problem. Each entity has a specific jurisdiction and/or responsibilities, detailed below:
City of Houston
311 Help & Info - Operations Division, Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department
The City of Houston’s fight against graffiti begins with a report to 311 Help & Info by phone or online at www.houston311.org. Depending on the type of object or property defaced, the 311 system distributes service requests to several different departments and divisions.
Inspections & Public Services Division - Department of Neighborhoods
Inspections and Public Services (IPS), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, oversees the abatement of graffiti on residential and commercial property. The abatement is performed by community service workers. While the property owner is responsible for the eradication of graffiti, if a home owner signs a graffiti abatement waiver, IPS will abate the graffiti using community service workers.
General Services Department
The General Services Department oversees graffiti abatement activities for City-owned properties, except facilities assigned to the Public Works and Engineering Department and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. Graffiti abatement is performed by the Greater East End Management District pursuant to an Inter-local Agreement between the City of Houston and the District. The contractor provides 24 hour response time and emergency abatement.
Houston Parks and Recreation Department
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department abates graffiti in the City’s 366 parks primarily by contract with supplemental assistance through in-house resources. The department contracts with the Greater East End Management District to minimize response time to graffiti instances and reduce the cost of providing and maintaining graffiti abatement staffing and equipment. By contracting with the District, the department is able to reduce response time to approximately 24 hours, provide emergency abatement and coat and seal structures with finishes that minimize the effects of repeat graffiti instances.
Public Works and Engineering Department
The Public Works and Engineering Department removes graffiti from traffic signs, traffic signal control monitors and assigned property and facilities.
Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office - Department of Neighborhoods
The Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office (MAGO), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods, provides assistance to youth, families and communities in the prevention, intervention and suppression of gang activity and juvenile delinquency. The office educates youth about the negative impact and consequences of graffiti vandalism and helps adults recognize and address graffiti in their neighborhoods. MAGO also works with citizens to interpret graffiti and determine whether it is gang-related or tagger vandalism. To find out more about the City’s anti-gang programs and services, call 832.393.0931.
Environmental Service Center – Solid Waste Management Department
The Solid Waste Management Department’s Environmental Service Center, at 15500 South Post Oak Road, offers repurposed paint to residents for graffiti abatement. The paint is provided free of charge and can be picked up on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 12 noon. In cases requiring an immediate deadline for the removal of graffiti, residents can call 713.551.7355 for an appointment. Residents are invited to drop off paint for re-purposing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on the second Saturday of every month, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 713.551.7355.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Graffiti Abatement program is designed to remove graffiti markings from communities within Harris County. The graffiti is often perpetrated by gang members who want to mark their territory or send a message to another gang. The HCSO’s Graffiti Abatement program is a free service for all citizens and businesses in the unincorporated areas of Harris County. It aids the community by reducing or eliminating this type of criminal mischief through abatements, making neighborhoods and businesses safer and more aesthetically pleasing for the citizens of Harris County. For more information, contact the HCSO’s Community Services Division at 713.759.9454 or visit https://www.harriscountyso.org/Programs/programs_grafitti_abatement.aspx. You can also email GraffitiAbatement@sheriff.hctx.net or call 713.274.9388. Learn more about graffiti abatement by clicking on this link: State Law 250.006 - Graffiti Removal.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) is responsible for the investigation of graffiti vandalism and its removal on METRO facilities, buses, rail cars, bus shelters, benches, rail platforms and signs. Tagged METRO property should be reported to 713-224-COPS. METRO encourages corporate, group and individual volunteers to join the Adopt-A-Shelter program to assist with the upkeep of bus shelters between METRO’s scheduled maintenance. Residents can also help with beautification projects in their communities through participation in METRO’s “SEEING SOMETHING, SAYING SOMETHING” campaign. For more information, call 713.615.6339 or send an email to email@example.com.
Texas Department of Transportation
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Houston District is responsible for maintaining all state highways within the city limits. One of the responsibilities of the department is graffiti removal on state right-of-way. Supervisors and work crews patrol the sections daily and report newly-placed graffiti. Locations are listed and prioritized and plans are then made to remove the graffiti as soon as possible. TxDOT’s goal is to remove graffiti within 30 days. However, offensive or derogatory graffiti is handled as quickly as possible. Should the travelling public spot graffiti along the Texas highway system, they are asked to report the location to the TxDOT District Office at 713.802.5000 or online at https://www.txdot.gov/contact_us/form/. The district office will forward the information to the appropriate maintenance office for further action.
BNSF Railway Company
As the BNSF Police become aware of graffiti on fixed BNSF structures, direct notification is made to the structures management group for removal. Railcars that have been tagged with graffiti require a different process because they are nomadic, with most railcars loaded with customer product bound for another state. To process the abatement of graffiti on railcars, a non-mechanical repair order is issued and held until the unit is empty and near the appropriate paint and repair shop. BNSF Police apply a zero tolerance for all trespassers and specifically pursue the prosecution of graffiti vandals. To report graffiti on BNSF property, call 817.593.7200 or 800.832.5452, or log on to www.bnsf.com/in-the-community/.
Union Pacific Railroad
To report graffiti on Union Pacific Railroad property, call 1.888.877.7267 or submit a report online at www.up.com/aboutup/contact/public_contacts.
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Crime Stoppers Houston
Crime Stoppers Houston offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest or filing of charges against felony suspects, including people committing graffiti-related crimes. To report a crime, call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Greater East End Management District – Graffiti Abatement Program
East End Management District (GEEMD) maintains a successful Graffiti Abatement Program. Since its inception, the program has abated more than 10,245 graffiti sites within the boundaries of Houston’s historic East End, which covers 16 square miles east of downtown. With the generous help of community partners, the district operates four Graffiti Mobiles to remove or paint over graffiti. The service is available at no cost to commercial property owners within the East End. GEEMD also contracts with other management districts in Houston to abate graffiti. For more information, call the GEEMD at 713-928-9916.
Keep Houston Beautiful – Clean Neighborhoods Program
Keep Houston Beautiful (KHB) has several programs that include fighting graffiti as part of their mission. KHB’s Clean Neighborhoods program implements a comprehensive neighborhood-oriented strategy to combat existing litter, graffiti and illegal dumping in selected neighborhoods and heavily traveled transportation corridors. To prevent the recurrence of these blights, Clean Neighborhoods focuses on enforcement, community improvement education and beautification projects utilizing the valuable input and participation of area residents, businesses and civic groups. For more information, call KHB at 713.839.8855.
Keep America Beautiful – Graffiti Hurts Program
Keep America Beautiful’s Graffiti Hurts program provides communities with educational and programming tools to reduce the incidence and severity of graffiti and tagging. The program provides grants to community organizations, youth groups, crime prevention organizations and others that work to address graffiti. For more information, visit https://kab.org/graffiti-prevention-creating-a-community-mural/.