Have you ever seen a person spray graffiti on a wall?
I have seen it only once and it involved three obviously rich private school boys around 12 years old who sprayed the concrete dividers on the West Side Highway to demonstrate that they were no longer kids.
But few people ever see the graffiti bandits—they do it at night. But why do they do it?
The most common graffiti includes initials. The perpetrator is saying, “See? See? I exist and you must look at my initials forever because nobody will ever clean this.”
I hate graffiti and I hate that we just accept it; we don’t even notice it anymore. So, when I found myself parked on 6th Avenue right in front of a lamp post with years and years of decaying and unreadable ad stickers, I relived my angst through an article, printed in the March 2017 issue of WestView. That prompted Ben Benson to remind me that he was a truly professional graffiti hater, through his April letter to the editor.
Thank you, Ben Benson.
I read with interest your story about stickers and flyers on public street furniture. You may recall that, in October 2015, I wrote a piece, which was published in WestView on exactly this topic. There is in fact a City ordinance governing this issue, which can be found in the NYC Sanitation Code, Title 10-119 and 10-121. It also specifically states the fines meted out when someone is caught.
The NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has an Enforcement Division, which does its best to gain control over this bane. But, as with many City agencies, they are understaffed, and illegal postings are probably not considered a priority by the de Blasio administration. I frequently report such infractions to the DSNY Enforcement Division online: www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/
One especially egregious example is the ubiquitous blizzard of “MOVING” fliers that seem to go up all over the City. I have spotted these in Astoria, Industry City (Brooklyn), the Upper East Side, Flushing, Bay Ridge, Chelsea, Gramercy Park, the Upper West Side, the East Village, and elsewhere, but the City appears to be unable to stop it. As for the glued stickers that your March picture showed, many of these are now the “new graffiti”—often using the hard-to-peel-off U.S. Postal Service labels—and serve as graffiti gang tags and “territorial markers” (like a wolf pack peeing on a rock to mark territory).
The previous DSNY Commissioner, John Doherty, in fact encouraged private members of the community to remove them. I usually get canned replies from the DSNY Enforcement Division, as shown below, but I’m not sure if the DSNY is really doing anything about it. Even Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer has been involved in this issue but, to date, has not achieved any results. It may serve a purpose to contact her.
In the meantime, we can only encourage neighborhood residents to peel them off and rip them down.
Dear Ben Benson:
I am writing in response to your email dated January 25, 2017 to Commissioner Kathryn Garcia regarding the illegal postings of moving flyers in the vicinity of Washington Square Park, Manhattan.
On February 3rd, members of the Department’s Enforcement Division Illegal Posting Unit inspected the abovementioned location and a total of four handbills stating “MOVING 718.971.0628 PER MAN PER TRUCK $19” were sighted and removed. [Additionally], a warning letter will be sent to the responsible party. The letter will explain to the respondent the City’s posting law. Then, after a two-week waiting period, a re-inspection of the location will be [conducted] and if stickers or flyers with the same information are observed, Notices of Violation for the illegal posting of signage will be issued to that respondent.[Furthermore], our records indicate [that] a warning letter was mailed out on October 24, 2015 to the responsible party notifying them of the consequences of illegal[ly] postering…moving handbills. The letter explained to the respondent the City’s posting law and the two-week removal grace period. Since calendar year 2016, a total of 548 Notices of Violation for illegal posting of moving handbills have been issued to that respondent.
Department of Sanitation Enforcement personnel will continue to monitor the area for illegal postings and appropriate enforcement action will be taken if violations are observed.
Thank you for your email.
Chief/Director of Enforcement,
New York City Department of Sanitation