The writing’s on the wall, and a Bay Ridge community leader says it’s the mayor’s mess.
John Quaglione, Republican district leader of the 46th Assembly District, blames the increase in graffiti on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s suspension of the Graffiti-Free NYC program.
“Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, I noticed an increase in graffiti on store gates, walls and mailboxes, and I would regularly report the locations to 311 or to the US Postal Service,” said Quaglione. “The situation has only worsened since March. Now when I call 311, they say the graffiti-removal program has been suspended due to COVID-19 and they are unable to take the complaint.
“This was even the case with an anti-police message I called to report on a wall at a major intersection. In that case, after persistence, I was transferred to the NYPD and who took the report and removed the graffiti.”
The New York City Economic Development Corporation says on its website that the program began in 1999 as the first full-time, street-by-street graffiti-removal service in the city. It started in Brooklyn and then expanded citywide.
Concerned residents could call 311 to request graffiti removal service or submit a claim.
However, according to 311, “The Graffiti-Free NYC graffiti removal program for residential and commercial buildings has been suspended indefinitely so the city can devote resources to essential needs. Requests for free graffiti removal on residential and commercial buildings are not being accepted until further notice and open requests have been canceled.”
Quaglione wrote a letter to de Blasio asking that the program be reinstated.
“As I have traveled throughout Brooklyn primarily for work over the last six weeks,” he wrote, “I have noticed communities are plagued with graffiti, including Williamsburg, Sunset Park as well as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst/Bath Beach.
“The program worked well in the past and should be restarted as soon as possible. In addition to improving the quality of life, it will create cleaner commercial streets that will help our businesses and restaurants who are continuing to try to come back from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The 68th Precinct tweeted Wednesday that it was removing some of the graffiti in the neighborhood.
“Our Auxiliary Coordinator Police Officer Davis was out today helping clean up Bay Ridge,” the post read.