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Chicago Fighting To Erase Increasing Amount Of Graffiti

Mai Martinez Mai Martinez
Mai Martinez co-anchors CBS 2 Chicago’s weekend evening newscasts and...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Think you’re seeing more graffiti around Chicago? Well you’re not alone.

So far this year the City has received more than 100,000 calls for graffiti removal. That’s up from 80,000 for all of last year.

In this original report CBS 2′s Mai Martinez reports on how the City is tackling the problem.

Graffiti is an unwelcome sight in many Chicago neighborhoods.

“I just bought a place. I would like them to kind of sit in my shoes for once and think about what they are doing,” said East Village resident Dan Ralston.

And nothing is off limits, from buildings to sidewalks to street signs, garbage cans, parking meter boxes, and even trees.

“It’s pretty much everywhere,” said Wicker Park Resident Mary Hodur.

Hodur regularly calls 311 to report graffiti in her neighborhood, and she’s not alone. The city’s Graffiti Blasters respond to tens of thousands of calls every year.

“The city spends about $6.5 million total on graffiti removal,” said Debbie DeLopez, Graffiti Blasters Program Manager.. “It’s very detrimental to a neighborhood. You know, businesses don’t want to be there. People don’t want to live there.”

And it’s not always easy to remove. Sometimes a baking soda-water mixture does the job. Tougher graffiti requires chemical treatment and if it can’t be removed, a fresh coat of paint hides it.

“About 75 percent of the city’s graffiti is tagging. About 25 percent is gang-graffiti,” said DeLopez. “They can use shoe polish, marker, paint.”

Even areas near the city’s most popular tourist attraction–Navy Pier–aren’t spared. Not the best impression for those visiting Chicago.

“But that doesn’t look nice. So that kind of graffiti is a little bit worse,” said Martin Edvrdsson, a tourist from Sweden.

The Mayor’s 2014 budget calls for an additional 3-point-9 million-dollars in city services–including increased graffiti removal.

As for those behind the graffiti, if they’re caught they could face a $750 fine in addition to removal costs and up to 30-days in jail.