INDIANAPOLIS - City officials hope a new law that went into effect Tuesday will help clean up neighborhoods, fight crime and improve property values.
For the first time ever, Indianapolis has a law to combat graffiti, one that puts the burden for cleanup on the property owner.
City leaders said similar laws have helped clean up graffiti in cities like Houston and Philadelphia, but the law isn’t without controversy.
On the south side of Indianapolis, residents of Southview Apartments woke up to the disturbing sight of what looked like gang-related graffiti. It makes for an expensive and time-consuming cleanup, as well as a concern for the residents.
"It's terrible. They come through here and vandalize, and as fast as we can repaint, sometimes they'll come back the next day and vandalize again," Becky Corns said.
Under the new law, graffiti reported to the Department of Code Enforcement becomes the responsibility of the impacted property owner.
City code spells out that graffiti must be cleaned up or painted over within 30 days or the property owner could face a $50 fine. But unlike other code enforcement efforts, the new anti-graffiti initiative comes with a built-in abatement program.
"You can get free paint. You can get discounts for tinted paint. You can even sign up for mass cleanups and get rid of it for your own property. So, it's important that you call code enforcement. We don't want people to get a fine," City-County Councillor Jeff Miller said.
The city has partnered with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful . KIB has pledged to supply paint, brushes, rollers and volunteer manpower if needed.
"We want to support these owners to remove it, improve the quality of life for themselves and their neighbors. It brings down the value of the neighborhoods," Joseph Zarzan with KIB said.
Supporters of the graffiti law have classified the measure as a call to action, and to let people know that a failure to abate it only invites more graffiti, lowers neighborhood morale, decreases property values and increases the likelihood of more crime.
KIB officials said it is important for victims of graffiti to go to the KIB website and fill out an online survey that will alert them where it is located.
The data will give the city an idea of how much graffiti is out there and how successful they are in getting rid of it.
Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6