In a recent email to her constituents, Council Member Gale Brewer announced a recent survey her staff conducted finding “370 significant pieces of graffiti, one on nearly every block” from West 54th to 109th streets and between Riverside Drive and Central Park West.
She wrote this letter to six separate city agencies to address the issue, citing how “Multiple instances of graffiti were reported on nearly every block, mainly along avenues such as Broadway and their surrounding streets.” One example she gave was 88th and Amsterdam Avenue, where “five shuttered and boarded up buildings (200 West 88 Street along with 568, 570, 572, and 574 Amsterdam Avenue) … are covered in graffiti”
Brewer’s office also created this graffiti map to display the breadth of the issue.
“It is my understanding that the responsibility to remove graffiti does not lie entirely on one agency, but that the location of the graffiti determines which agency is responsible for its removal,” Brewer concluded. “For that reason, I request all agencies review the data and arrange for removal under your respective jurisdictions.”
The agencies addressed were the Departments of Sanitation and Transportation, the New York City Housing Authority, New York City Transit, the Fire Department, and the United States Postal Service’s Manhattan Postmaster.
Brewer argued in her letter that graffiti “degrades the quality of life” and “makes the neighborhoods appear unsafe and neglected,” also adding that it can “affect property values” and “deter customers from shopping at businesses that have been serving our community for years.”
After publishing this article, Department of Sanitation Press Secretary Vincent Gragnani reached out to ILTUWS saying they had issued the following response to Brewer’s letter:
“After years of being plagued by backlogs, the City’s graffiti removal program is now being managed by the Department of Sanitation.
“Since taking over the program in April, we have closed more than 5,000 graffiti service requests, an 85 percent increase from the same period last year.
“As you can see, we are aggressively working through this backlog at an accelerated pace, as well as on the 1,000 new service requests we receive per month.
“We appreciate the Council Member’s advocacy for clean streetscapes and look forward to continuing this work on the Upper West Side and across the five boroughs.”