In every major city, wherever there is an empty outdoor wall space, one might find the not-so-special artwork of graffiti casting a blemish on the area. While some may think of it as wasted artistic talent, this type of nuisance and eyesore can pose a threat to public safety or even subject an area to increased vandalism.
So explains Alice Lee, executive director of Southwest Management District. For that reason, the district has contracted with East End Management District’s Graffiti removal crew, headed by Martin Chavez.
“The Southwest Management District abates graffiti on commercial properties, as well as on public properties such as stop signs, utility boxes or bus stops,” Lee said. “Gang taggings are a visual blight in our business corridors, and during this pandemic, we have seen multiple properties that are repeatedly tagged.”
Chavez’ team visits weekly and brings a truck into the Southwest Management District with a variety of 60 colors of paints and special solvents to eradicate all graffiti art and “tags.” They bring the variety of colors to make an exact color match to the surface that disfigured.
Much of the graffiti these days is tied to gang activity, so it is more than a beautifying measure. It is in reality a matter of public safety.
“This service is vital in helping to protect the property owners’ investments,” Lee said. “Photographs of gang taggings are also provided to the Houston Police Department.”
It’s a necessary and needed service for the entire aream — a service the city government does not provide — but especially valued by business owners.
“It is an ongoing issue here in our area,” agrees business owner Rahim Karowadia, owner of Mi Tienda Meat Market at 10211 Club Creek Dr. “I have experienced it six or seven times, but I simply call and get the service by the following Wednesday. Sometimes that means the very next day, but at the very latest within a week.”
Karowadia said he does not always submit a written request for graffiti removal. Instead, he makes some reports by phone. The abatement crew also finds graffiti on its own by doing a visual inspection of the area.
“The team drives by our area every week and they do other graffiti abatement when they see it even if it has not been reported,” Karowadia said. “I am very grateful and happy that the management district provides this service.”
Forms are available online at southwestmanagementdistrict.org to report graffiti, and reports of the abatement that has been done can also be found there, too, along with before-and-after photos.
Martin Chavez, director of operations for the East End District, has been overseeing the graffiti abatement team since it began 20 years ago.
“We do this service for multiple management (or improvement) districts and we perform this service according to the amount of need in each area,” Chavez explained.
He is proud of the work his teams do in matching paint color and in restoring the surface to what it was before the graffiti incident. From brick, to stop signs, to painted surfaces, they try their best to do an exact match by using a “tint” machine to make sure paint colors match.
Rahim Karowadia agrees that the work is done well and business owners are more than satisfied with the job that they do.
“It’s important that it looks good after we finish,” Chavez said.
— By Arlene Nisson Lassin