Phoenix Celebrates Graffiti Awareness Month


Throughout the month of February, the Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department has been working to remove graffiti from residential and commercial areas in the city.

Not just a random scheduled cleanup, however, the incitive is part of the city’s Graffiti Free Phoenix Awareness Month. The month-long event has been practiced for eight years.

About Graffiti Free Phoenix

Created by the Phoenix NSD, #GraffitiFreePHX has developed into a city-wide event that encourages residents, neighborhoods and community volunteers to remove and prevent graffiti. As a result of its popularity, in January 2021, Mayor Kate Gallego signed a proclamation officially making the month of February the Annual Graffiti Free Phoenix Awareness Month, further promoting the program.

“Graffiti is a crime. Not only does graffiti damage the property that has been tagged, but it also lowers property values throughout the entire neighborhood,” explained Ginnie Ann Sumner, the co-chair of the Citizens Law Enforcement Anti-Graffiti Initiative, a group of Phoenix community leaders who partnered with police to combat graffiti, at the time. “It has also been found that if graffiti isn't removed in a timely manner and allowed to stay visible, it will only attract more graffiti.”

Additional studies report that if graffiti is removed within 24 hours of being applied, its 90% less likely to return to the same area.

Through a group that the NSD has dubbed, “Graffiti Busters,” teams work to remove graffiti from properties with permission from property owners and verifies that a permission slip is on file or obtain one from the owner. Each time graffiti is removed from the property, Graffiti Busters staff provide the property owner with information on the program and offer free color-matched paint.

The group also reports that anyone can call to report graffiti and invites the community to spread the word by sharing #GraffitiFreePHX on social media, in addition to stories of how they’re fighting back against the vandalism and keeping their neighborhood graffiti-free.

In 2020, it was reported that the city of Phoenix used 9,800 gallons of paint to cover over 47,988 graffiti sites across the entire city. Since its inaugural year in 2016, the city reportedly removed 240,744 instances of graffiti.

“We intend to remain strong and focused in our efforts of keeping our residents safe through COVID while making Phoenix a community of desirable neighborhoods,” NSD Director Spencer Self said back in 2021. “Our mission is to Preserve, Enhance, and Engage Phoenix Neighborhoods, but we need help from everyone. Report graffiti to us so we can keep Phoenix graffiti free.”

Graffiti Free Efforts Today

The Arizona Daily Independent News Network recently reported that NSD’s Graffiti Busters were working seven days a week to remove graffiti from residential and commercial areas in the city. The service is free and continues to encourage residents to help remove graffiti or learn how they can report it for removal.

“At the end of the day, it’s to make the community look a lot nicer than what it did that day we went into that community. We want to make it beautiful,” said Michael Rosi, who has been a Graffiti Buster for seven years. “It is a passion of mine to go out there and make the city beautiful.”

During his graffiti removal efforts, Rosi was noted to be equipped with a pressure washer, 18 paint colors, a paint sprayer and brushes. In total, the city of Phoenix has 15 Graffiti Busters.

From July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, crews have tallied 51,797 graffiti removals.

“When a building has a big tag on it, or even a small sign, you notice it, you realize that a crime has occurred,” said Betsy Cable, the city code compliance manager. “Our goal is to remove it to the point where it’s as if it never existed.

“I wish (graffiti) wasn’t so prevalent. But that’s why (the Graffiti Busters) are out there seven days a week to get it removed and to keep Phoenix looking as beautiful as possible and as clean as possible.”


Tagged categories: Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Buildings; Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Good Technical Practice; Government; Graffiti; Graffiti removal; Maintenance + Renovation; Maintenance coating work; Maintenance programs; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Residential; Surface preparation

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.