"In looking around the community, you're seeing more and more graffiti," Antioch Councilman Jim Davis said. "Some of it is gang-related, while some of it is very artistic -- but when it's gang related and you consider the problems we've had with violence, it's time to make the effort to get rid of it."
Davis, at the April 8 City Council meeting, is hoping to discuss the possibility of creating a program that rewards people up to $500 for identifying any individual responsible for tagging a public surface.
"The reward would be paid in the event of an arrest," he said. "A conviction would, of course, be nice."
According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, about $12 billion a year is spent cleaning graffiti in communities nationwide. The National Association of Realtors estimates that properties in neighborhoods rife with graffiti lose 15 percent of their value.
Davis said that money for the proposed reward program could possibly come via sponsorships from local businesses or the city's general fund.
"This is a program that would pay for itself," he said. "Another thing we could possibly do is have a graffiti wall sponsored by the city and the Parks and Recreation Department. It's amazing what some
Denise Skaggs, the city's neighborhood improvement coordinator, said that cleaning up graffiti on public property is a responsibility of the Public Works Department. If private property has been defaced, it is up to the property owner to fix the problem.
"When it's private property, we have to go through the normal code enforcement channels," said Ryan Graham, who heads the city's residential inspection program. "We'll send them a letter and ask them to clean it up within 10 days -- and we do supply property owners with recycled paint."
Graham said the city moves quickly to cover up new graffiti within 24 hours.
"Graffiti is similar to the broken-window syndrome," he said. "If it's not fixed right away, the problem is simply compounded, and more and more goes up."
Police Chief Jim Hyde said the reward program "is a great idea."
"Anyway we can get tips to stop graffiti -- whether it be gang-related, taggers or just plain stupidity -- is a good thing," he said. "I'd even expand it to cover all types of vandalism. Some neighborhoods have lost the brass lettering to their entrance signs."
Simon Read covers Antioch. Reach him at 925-779-7166 or email@example.com.