New Initiative As City Struggles With Graffiti

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Graffiti, some vulgar and anti-Semitic in nature, is a common site on the streets of Krakow. There are no laws that demand building owners remove graffiti from their property. Meanwhile, it is illegal for the city to remove graffiti from private property without the owner’s consent. The municipal government only has the right to remove graffiti on property it owns. Private property owners are discouraged by the reappearing vandalism which they must remove at their own expense and often take no action. Anti-Semitic displays in public spaces have long been intertwined in the rivalry between Krakow’s two soccer teams, Wisła Kraków and Cracovia. The city has not allocated significant resources for removal of graffiti and this is seen in the streets.

This may change-

A graffiti removal pilot program is launching in the coming months targeting two zones of the city with an allocated budget of 50,000 PLN, reports Gazeta Krakowska. The goal is to build collaboration between private property owners and city government. Owners of buildings without graffiti are encouraged to register their property on a new internet portal. The removal of any new graffiti will thereby be the responsibility of the municipal government. Buildings that currently have graffiti are required to undertake a final clean before registering. The city pledges a rapid response by government employees. The results of the program will be assessed at the end of the year.

The Krakowist reported earlier this month that swifter removal of graffiti is also a goal of the new “Otwarty Krakow” program.

There is some controversy whether public dollars should be spent cleaning private property but advocates of the program suggest graffiti removal should be seen as part of public safety and order which is within the mandate of government services. Long-time community leaders fighting for graffiti removal are skeptical of the initiative, saying that any serious effort requires changes in the law. The city has tried numerous approaches to graffiti removal in the past with limited impact.

There is already a functioning semi-official website where graffiti is reported by the public and is supposed to compel the city government to take action.

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