Signs plastered over tags call for stop to graffiti, but are they working?

Someone is trying to fight back against graffiti.

Signs are being plastered over spray-painted markings left behind by taggers. The hot pink signs are hard to miss.

Whoever is posting the signs appears to be trying to bring more attention to the vandalism, but some question if it’s just adding to the problem.

It also looks like whoever is posting the signs wants harsher penalties in order to stop the problem, but even though their intentions may be good, we’re told those same signs are violating a city ordinance.

Businesses along Kapahulu Avenue told KHON2 they first noticed the signs a few weeks ago.

“I have noticed that they are everywhere and all over the neighborhood, all over the windows, doors, walls,” said Haru Phillips with Island Paddler.

So who’s posting them? We asked Honolulu police and the city if they had any idea who’s behind the signs and both said they aren’t sure.

Environmental group 808 Cleanups says graffiti is a big problem across the islands.

“In the last two years, 808 Cleanups has removed almost 1,000 graffiti tags around the state like urban and natural,” said Fawn Liebengood, a volunteer with the non-profit group.

Bob Sullivan, a visitor from Phoenix, says the graffiti caught his eye.

“When I got into town, I noticed there was an abundance of it,” he said.

The signs are plastered all over tagged areas with a call for action.

“Graffiti tagging is one of the really tricky things to enforce, because how are you going to get eyes everywhere?” Liebengood said.

According to the Honolulu Police Department, there were 247 reports and 22 arrests for graffiti.

Some people say the signs are working because people are talking about the issue.

“I think they’ve said enough is enough and they’re not seeing action, which is really important for problems like graffiti,” Liebengood said.

“We have tourists coming down here for a lot of things, so we don’t want to give them a negative image,” Phillips said.

Others feel the signs highlight the problem.

“It does kind of add to the whole dirty appearance of the neighborhood,” Sullivan said.

Edward Pressley, a prospective business owner, said, “If my business was here, I wouldn’t want these signs all over, but I just think you need more signs like this around town letting people know that if you do graffiti, this is what’s going to happen.”

A city spokesman told KHON2 that city law prohibits anyone from posting notices and other devices onto city property.

We’re told the “Stop Graffiti” signs can be posted on private property as long as the owner says it’s okay.

Graffiti on city property can reported to the city at (808) 768-5180 or to HPD’s graffiti hotline at (808) 723-3475.

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