Graffiti Blasters Losing the Battle

City says its removed more graffiti this year than any other

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP

    The writing is on the wall in Wicker Park: Chicago is losing its battle with graffiti artists.

    Chicago spends $9 million a year to battle spray paint-wielding artists and taggers through its “Graffiti-Blaster” program, but a the specialized Streets and Sanitation outfit is having trouble keeping up with demand, according to the Sun-Times.

    Officials say it’s not for lack of trying.

    "The fact is that we did more total removals in 2009 than we did in 2008," Streets & San spokesman Matt Smith told the Sun-Times. "And we've done more removals so far in 2010 than we did in 2008.”

    But the casual observer can see that there are more tags than ever near the corner of Milwaukee and Western avenues.

    "Some years and months, there are more, and some less," Smith says. "It fluctuates. Graffiti is also impacted by the weather. I'm not sure it can be analyzed beyond all of these issues."

    Critics say the program is flagging because the city’s budget deficit has forced it to allocate resources elsewhere.

    "They recently came to blast the sidewalk but didn't take any off the light poles or the walls," Christa South, owner of Dance Spa on Milwaukee told the Sun-Times.

    Like others in the neighborhood, South, who installed cameras near her shop, is fighting taggers on their own. 

    "We've had to clean up a lot. Once we put up cameras, people stopped writing on our windows," she said.

    Whether its more taggers or fewer blasters the result is a lot more non-sanctioned art work along the walls of Wicker Park.