In every major city, wherever there is an empty outdoor wall space, one might find the not-so-special ‘artwork’ of graffiti casting a blight on the surface. While some may think of it as wasted artistic talent, this type of nuisance and eyesore can pose a threat to public safety, or even subject an area to increased vandalism.

So explains Ben Brewer, executive director of Five Corners Improvement District. For that reason, the district has contracted with East End Management District’s graffiti removal crew, headed by Martin Chavez.

Twice each month, Chavez’ team brings a truck into Five Corners with a variety of 60 colors of paints and special solvents to eradicate graffiti art and “tags.”

“East End’s team has created a real niche for themselves in removing graffiti from so many neighborhoods and all over the city of Houston,” Brewer said. “They do really great work and generally, the graffiti stays gone once it is removed. They (graffiti artists) want visibility, and if there is a swift response to remove it, they do not get that visibility.”

Much of the graffiti these days is tied to gang activity, so it is more than a beautifying measure: It is in reality a matter of public safety.

“Certain language can be used to forecast a gang activity such as a hit in these tags that they leave, and this is reported to the gang unit of the Houston Police Department,” Brewer said. “The crews take before and after photos with date stamps, and shares these photos with law enforcement.”

Forms are available online at the Five Corners District’s website to report graffiti, and reports of the abatement that has been done can also be found there, along with photos.

Chavez of East End Management has been overseeing the graffiti abatement team since it began 20 years ago.

“We do this service for multiple management (or improvement) districts, and for the City of Houston and the City Parks Board by contract, and we perform this service according to the amount of need in each area,” Chavez explained. 

He is proud of the work his teams do in matching paint color and in restoring the surface to what it was before the graffiti incident. From brick, to stop signs, to painted surfaces, they try their best to do an exact match by using a “tint” machine to make sure paint colors match.

“It’s important that it looks good after we finish,” Chavez said.

Joseph Nguyen is a business owner in Five Corners, and he has used this service. His dry-cleaning business was spray painted with gang language. He reported it to the police and then filled out the form online at the Five Corners website to get the graffiti removed.

“They sent out a crew on a truck and fixed it, Nguyen said. “They matched the paint and it looked really good. I was so surprised and impressed that Five Corners provides this type of service.”

For reports, forms, and more information, visit online.

By Arlene Nisson Lassin