City crews spend 20 hours a week painting over graffiti

EUGENE, Ore. - Twice a month, Mark Schaeffer grabs some paint and hits the streets of Eugene to paint on poles, sidewalks, traffic lights, signs and transmission boxes.

"I got everything from Willamette Street to city view," he said Wednesday. "Now I'm going from City View to the city limits and come back."

Schaeffer is on the Eugene Public Works maintenance staff. He and his colleagues spend about 20 hours a week painting over graffiti.

"Almost every pole on that way on 18th had tags on them," Schaeffer said.

When he finds graffiti, Schaeffer snaps a photograph and sends it to Eugene Police.

Then he grabs his supplies, paints over the graffiti and moves on - although sometimes not for long.

"Looks like this is now the fifth coat that's just been on this one pole," he said Wednesday. "It's an ongoing battle."

At Public Works, Melysa Slavkovsky said crews remove about 4,000 tags each year. Since January 1, they've received about 50 calls reporting graffiti.

The calls can pile up in winter and spring, but Schaeffer said they'll catch up in summer.

The city takes care of painting over graffiti in the public right-of-way.

If a tagger makes a mess of your fence, however, cleaning up is your responsibility.