Aug 30, 2023 - Culture

New Orleans to spend $300K to fight graffiti

Photo shows a man painting over graffiti on a white wall

Painting over graffiti is a common way to remove it. Photo: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

New Orleans leaders on Wednesday kicked off a new effort to remove graffiti as a way to fight blight and improve quality of life.

Driving the news: The city is spending $300,ooo to $500,000 from its budget to pay contractor Safe Wash Solutions to remove graffiti from infrastructure and public and private buildings around town, says Gilbert Montaño, the city's chief administrative officer.

  • The cleanup started Wednesday at the corner of Elysian Fields and St. Roch, where workers were painting over the graffiti-covered wall of the former Beauty Plus.
  • Once both walls are blank, another group — People for Public Art — will paint a food-themed mural on the building. The mural project is funded by grants and donations from the building owner and others, artist Monica Kelly tells Axios.
  • The mural will be covered with anti-graffiti varnish. "We want to demonstrate that this is the actual, true solution," Kelly said.

How it works: Safe Wash Solutions is canvassing the city and taking pictures of the graffiti, according to Maison McDaniel of Safe Wash.

  • Workers then send the images to the city, where staffers determine if the piece is graffiti or art. If it is deemed graffiti, it is removed or painted over. It wasn't immediately clear who would be reviewing the pieces.
  • Property owners and residents can also report graffiti that needs to be removed by calling 311 or submitting an online request.

Zoom in: The city is not targeting commissioned mural walls, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Wednesday.

  • "Culture is part of our economy too," she said. "It's something we're investing in as a city. Clearly we're not wanting to destroy public art."

The big picture: Cantrell and her administration have been plugging away at various cleanup initiatives through a $10 million anti-blight program.

  • Efforts include removing dumped tires in New Orleans East, demolishing blighted buildings and improving eyesores like Plaza Tower and the old Naval facility.
  • "We hope that we will see progress from month to month," Cantrell said about the anti-graffiti program. "We know that it will not happen overnight."

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