‘Graffiti is just becoming more commonplace’ in Spartanburg County on bridges, buildings
Spartanburg County notices increase in graffiti-related vandalism.
Officials say graffiti is not yet a major problem.
City of Spartanburg identifies graffiti culprits.
Boiling Springs resident Larry Bates says he believes it’s his civic duty to pick up litter along roads twice a week as he continues finding tossed leftovers from fast-food restaurants and beverage containers.
While roadside litter remains an issue with him, it’s an increase of spray-painted graffiti on vacant buildings and bridge underpasses that has caught his attention lately.
“Graffiti is just becoming more commonplace,” Bates told Spartanburg County Council members at their April meeting. “I used to think litter is terrible. It is. (But) you can pick up litter. Graffiti, it’s hard. Once it’s there, it’s completely defacing that property.”
He said graffiti can be found on bridges in and around Spartanburg, on vacant buildings and even on stop signs near his home on Old John Dodd Road at Belcher Road in Boiling Springs.
“It’s sad that we’re allowing this to happen,” he said. “Nobody really cares. If they do, they’re not doing anything. It’s just a downward spiral. We’ll be like other cities where it’s so rampant you can’t fix it.”
Spartanburg County: Graffiti not a major problem yet
County litter-control officials say they’re aware of the issue, but it is not a major problem yet.
“Graffiti is more of a city issue, but it has moved to the county a little bit,” said Jamie Nelson, the county’s director of Environmental Enforcement. “The problem is catching them in the act. It’s hard to catch folks.”
Claire Roussos, the county’s coordinator of Keep OneSpartanburg Beautiful, said she also is seeing more graffiti, particularly in fast-growing areas like Boiling Springs.
“It’s not just in the City of Spartanburg in a certain neighborhood, but it’s moving into other areas,” she said. “Graffiti abatement through public art is a beautiful way to counter the unsightly taggings. Most graffiti artists don’t tag over art. If we put up a mural instead of cleaning up the graffiti by painting over it, it can be a longer-lasting solution.”
County Councilman David Britt said he lives in the city and plans to bring the issue of graffiti to the attention of City Council.
“The graffiti stuff has got to stop,” he said. We’ve got to get focused on it and put pressure where it has to be. You start writing people tickets and put them in jail, it’ll stop.”
City of Spartanburg identifies graffiti culprits
Spartanburg has many beautiful wall murals painted by graffiti artists, but graffiti vandalism can still be found along major thoroughfares in the city, Roussos said.
City spokesman Christopher George said last year there was “an uptick in graffiti” in the city.
“Thanks to our police department, we were able to identify the culprits behind that uptick and graffiti has been less of an issue since as a result,” he said. “We still see some graffiti – typically basic street tagging – around downtown and work with property owners when a private building is tagged to remove that graffiti when it occurs.”
Roussos said the City of Charleston has come up with a solution to stop graffiti on its underpasses. The area near Poinsett and Grove streets was plagued by offensive graffiti, along with vulgar words and images. Volunteers covered graffiti on the column bases of bridges with mural art to give the space new life.
According to state law, graffiti is done without permission on public or private property. First offenders can be fined up to $1,000 and/or jail time from 30 to 90 days. A second conviction within 10 years results in a fine of up to $2,500 and/or jail time of up to one year.