Friday, August 27, 2010

Lets Clean Up Some Graffiti In The North End

When I went for my first walk down the back alleys surrounding my block on Aug 25 I was surprised at the amount of graffiti. My block does not have any graffiti, well not really. The block down from me has three garages and/or fences with large graffiti sprayed across. I took pictures of the graffiti. I remember seeing a place on the website where one could report graffiti. It's at the self serve section of the site at My thought was that I would send an email, and include the photos. I could help get rid of graffiti while doing the dumpster checks.
So, home I went. I sent an email to containing the three pictures and the approximate locations in the back lane where the graffiti was located. That was on Aug 25.
On Aug 26 I received an email advising me that 311 cannot process the request to have the graffiti cleaned up unless I have an exact address for each piece of graffiti. I replied that I did not have an exact address, and that I noticed the graffiti while in the back lane. I said the graffiti would be easily identified in the back lane, and commented that I was just trying to be a good citizen. That's what I was trying to be.
I received a further email regarding the graffiti today. The addresses in question will all receive waivers that must be completed and returned to the City. Once the waivers are received the graffiti can be cleaned up.
There was no mention of waivers needed when I was at the City of Winnipeg website. I am not sure if the people being sent the waivers will fill them out either. I understand that it is private property and the City does need permission to fix the graffiti. But here's the thing. I was talking to one of the residents who has the graffiti on his garage. This person has already painted over it several times. The graffiti keeps re-appearing. I asked him if I could put a request in to the city to have it removed. He said I could. But will he bother filling out a waiver and send it in to the City? He is already tired of painting over the graffiti that keeps coming back.

If I had graffiti on my garage and submitted a request just to find out a form would be mailed (tax payer money) for me to fill out and send back (at my expense?) I think I would be a little ticked. Why not just offer the waiver form online? Why not tell me up front that a waiver is required for the graffiti to get cleaned up? Wouldn't that save time, tax payer money, and aggravation? I could have had a form with me and gotten it signed while I was talking to the person in his back lane.
The current self serve section of the City of Winnipeg website offers several options, including Graffiti Report. It even says a tracking number is available so the ticket can be tracked online. That all sounds great. The form asks for the address of the graffiti, and a description and location of the graffitti. It also asks for a contact name and address. Then it offers the opportunity to attach a file before sending the ticket off. But it doesn't say anything about a waiver form being mailed out to the address of the graffiti.
Maybe somewhere in the form it could mention that a waiver would be sent out to the residence. Maybe the online form could offer the option to print the waiver now or send it in the mail. Maybe the form should mention that nothing will be done without the waiver being sent back to the City of Winnipeg.
I wonder how many good citizens are reporting graffiti and how many waiver forms are being sent out. I wonder what percentage of waivers are being returned to the city for processing? I wonder how many times each piece of graffiti has a request and subsequent waiver sent out? I wonder how many people tried to report graffiti once and came to the same point I am at right now.
Please, adjust the online form for reporting graffiti. Let the users know that a waiver is required and you will be sending it out in the mail when we submit the form. Change the website to allow the waiver to be printed online so it does not have to be mailed out. Change the website to allow the waiver to be sent back to the City of Winnipeg online, as an attachment, maybe include the ticket number with it, or some form of identification.
Please, help us help ourselves!

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