Anaheim Misfires in Effort to Outsource Graffiti Cleanup

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Anaheim city officials have found themselves back at the drawing board after the independent contractor they hired to remove graffiti has failed to adequately do the job.

Graffiti cleanup services were outsourced in October to the private company Urban Graffiti Enterprises. The company, which was the lowest bidder on the contract, had promised to erase the offending art within 24 hours of the request.

Urban Graffiti failed to meet that obligation, however, even after doubling the number of cleanup crews on the streets. In December, the company requested cancellation of its contract but is still removing graffiti until a new contractor is found, according to a staff report.

The city now is planning a “graffiti blitz” to catch up on service requests. It will hire a new contractor for three months that will focus on the parts of the city with the most graffiti while Urban Graffiti takes care of the less-affected areas.

“Our hope is that during this three-month period, that we would completely catch up on the graffiti that is present right now in our city,” interim City Manager Bob Wingenroth told the City Council last week.

After the three-month blitz, city officials plan to hire one contractor to clean up graffiti in the city.

The contract with Urban Graffiti was expected to save the city $162,642 per year, the Orange County Register reported. Now that the city will hire an additional contractor, it remains unclear whether those savings will be realized.

While city officials hope that a concentrated cleanup effort will eliminate graffiti in the short term, there are larger plans to expand the graffiti cleanup budget and perform a “best practices” review of the issue.

“We intend to go after it with a vengeance and stay after it,” Wingenroth said.

“This is unacceptable, and we’re going to fix it,” said Mayor Tom Tait.

At last week’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Kris Murray asked that the council receive regular updates on the city’s graffiti problem and efforts to tackle it. She also asked city staff to look at how other cities in the region and nationwide are handling the issue.

“I think Anaheim can set the bar on this program, and I would like us to achieve that goal” Murray said.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

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