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Posted on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

DDA to put $2K toward combating graffiti in downtown Ann Arbor this year

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority announced on Tuesday it will put $2,500 into a fund to combat the city's nagging graffiti problem this year.

That continues the DDA's annual efforts to subsidize the cost of graffiti removal products for downtown businesses and building owners.

The DDA put $2,000 toward the program in 2011, which was down from the $5,000 the DDA provided in 2010.


Graffiti has become a problem not just downtown, but across Ann Arbor, officials say. Property owner Rob Cleveland paid thousands of dollars to remove graffiti from this building he owns at 220 Felch St., but taggers struck again just a few days later.

Angela J. Cesere |

"We all benefit when graffiti blight is removed quickly, and DDA grant funds have had the effect of improving downtown aesthetics without placing an additional burden on downtown businesses who are in fact the victims of graffitists tagging their property," said DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay, saying that's a large impact with a relatively small investment.

The grant program works in partnership with Anderson Paint and Fingerle Lumber. DDA officials say both companies have been strong supporters of downtown.

Downtown building or business owners who find their buildings or signs tagged with graffiti can visit either Anderson or Fingerle to obtain free anti-graffiti supplies.

Anderson Paint, 2386 W. Stadium Blvd., can be reached at 734-995-4411, while Fingerle Lumber, 617 S. Fifth Ave., can be reached at 734-663-0581.

In addition to offering paint remover and other supplies, Anderson and Fingerle are able to offer expert advice on the best way to address the damage, which is important because many downtown buildings are historic and require special attention, DDA officials said.

At the end of each month, the DDA reimburses the companies for the cost of the products they’ve dispensed.

The city's graffiti ordinance requires property owners to remove graffiti on private property within seven to nine days after being notified in order to combat tagging, which is a nuisance crime that officials say works against the sense of safety and security.

Residents have several options for reporting graffiti, including calling the community standards unit of the Ann Arbor Police Department at (734) 794-6942 or e-mailing complaints to They also can submit a complaint online.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Mar 30, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

They say that every little bit helps, but considering how much graffiti is around town, this really is the absurd definition of a little bit. "We all benefit when graffiti blight is removed quickly." So why does City property have graffiti on it for months and years? If the City of Ann Arbor and the DDA held themselves to the same standards they are holding private business owners, the graffiti vandals would be locked up in the public square - make no mistake.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

Ha Ha Ha. Throwing a penny at a dollar problem! What's the $2K going to accomplish? Certainly not graffiti assistance. Not even good will - we are not stupid, DDA.

Julius Zsako

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay is right in saying: "We all benefit when graffiti blight is removed quickly." Prompt removal is essential in preventing further graffiti. When graffiti is allowed to remain on structures or fixtures such as signs and lamp posts in the public right-of-way, it provides graffiti vandals with the visibility they seek. It also tells graffiti vandals that this is a great place to tag because it will stay up, and other graffiti writers will see it. The National Association of Realtors estimated that properties located in neighborhoods suffering from graffiti vandalism lost 15% of their value. That loss equates to $22,500 for the owner of a $150,000 home that can only sell for $127,500. In addition to harming the homeowner, graffiti hurts neighborhood retailers who may suffer decreased sales. Businesses also experience reduced property values. Imagine being a small business seeking additional financing and having a loan appraiser visit the property to find your building and nearby structures tagged with graffiti. As documented at, Some cities are only now starting regular graffiti removal programs. Others have been in the business a long time. The City & County of Denver spends more than $1 million a year on graffiti removal. The United States Department of Justice estimated that Americans spent $12 billion a year removing graffiti. Contact me at


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

Wow ....The generosity is is mind boggling...wonder how soon parking rates will go up again to cover the cost...


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

Before we give Anderson's and Fingerle too much credit. I think almost any business in town would give the supplies for payment at the end of the month. It's called CREDIT! And $2500 is a paltry amount!

T Wall

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

The graffiti program sponsored by the DDA is a step in the right direction. It is unfortunate that there seems to be a rise in graffiti incidents and I am wondering if this is due to a reduction in our police force and foot patrols. I would like to see a heightened attention being paid to these "artists" and when they are apprehended that they be directed to clean up the graffiti that is found. I think it is not right for the building owners to have to pay for the labor involved in cleaning up and this would be a good lesson to those who want to deface our buildings. If the city could designate certain walls as being available to graffiti artists and give them a place to express themselves, without displaying gang signs or other socially inappropriate "artwork" this might be one solution. In addition, as responsible parents, we must educate our children to respect personal property.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5 p.m.

At least they're using the money for paint and paint only. This is the first government program I've maybe every heard of in my entire life that doesn't seem like a huge waste. Good work!

Mike S

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

Will the mural under the train bridge on Miller get fixed or replaced? Some jerk sprayed over it.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Not sure if it's worth the cost of compliance, but If the city was really serious about this problem, it might consider 1.) Increasing the fines/sentencing guidelines and offer financial rewards for tips leading to the conviction of "repeat" offenders. 2.) forming (unarmed!) citizens watch groups 3.) This may sound even crazier, but consider regulating spray paint sales within the county like pseudoephedrine. Get names and ID#'s of the purchasers and provide lists to authorities upon request.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

I always hate it when they ask for ID at Kmart when I buy spray paint. I am 62

Long Time No See

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

I agree that #1 and #2 might be deterrents However, I think there are a lot of problems with #3. It seems like there might be a lot of other ways to get paint (online, from another nearby town/county that doesn't have restrictions, etc.). Also, it would treat legit purchasers unfairly. Maybe it's worth doing to fight a public health threat like meth, but I'm not sure I think graffiti rises to that level.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

Since the City won't act, the DDA should focus on eliminating pnahandling downtown.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Considering the amount of graffiti that has popped up just over the last year, $2500 is a joke of an amount. The DDA should be embarrassed to be so proud of this effort. I would like to see harsh punishment for those who vandalize property with graffiti. Unfortunately, we don't have the number of police patrols available to curtail this problem and, one way or the other, the business owner pays the price.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

I concur sir but please remember we have art. Art! Art will be there to save and comfort us all. We do not need well maintained roads, public safety, and other basic services, while we can go to city hall and view the art. Yes, we have art. All is well.

West of Main

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Wow. $2,500. That will really put a dent in the problem.