Queens – Graffiti is a major problem in Queens, particularly in Community Board # 5 which includes Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village. According to Peggy O’Kane of the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation, graffiti was removed from 387 area cites during the past year and 75 % were in Ridgewood. O’Kane said there are 100 more cites to be cleaned, reflecting an escalation of incidents during the past two years as more young people have begun to write what she calls, “scribble tabs”. Not only has O’Kane seen an increase but she said, “The graphic ability of the people doing this has degenerated”.
Assemblywoman Nolan has reintroduced a bill in the New York State Assembly which would require a mandatory sentence of at lease 500 hours of community service for the crime of making graffiti. “Graffiti makes a mess of our beautiful neighborhoods. If passed, this bill sends a clear message that we are serious about punishment. As it is now perpetrators are given a few 50 or less hours of community service. We need an effective sentence that makes people think twice about committing this destructive crime,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.
Charles Ober, Vice President of the Ridgewood Property Owners, said he is pleased by the Mayor’s addition of 10 graffiti clean-up crews and the increase in the City’s graffiti removal from 5000 to 10,000 cites per year. The City Council passed a law called the Graffiti Nuisance Abatement Law, which requires building owners to clean up graffiti themselves or provide a waiver so the City can do it for them.
Mr. Ober told of a situation in his community in which a vandal came off community service and that very day he was found making graffiti.
“The bottom line is these people are committing criminal acts by defaming property and it needs to stop so that the people of Queens and New York State no longer feel powerless. It is time to take action so that vandals realize this is a serious crime,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.