Some downtown business owners have had to do more cleaning lately in response to a flurry of graffiti that’s become a nuisance to residents and vendors.

Graffiti isn’t new to downtown, but the most recent incidents, which have occurred over the past few weeks, can cost business owners, said Bret Lowry, owner of The Old Galveston Trading Company.

He had to power-wash and paint over the graffiti in the alley of his business, 2115 Postoffice St., Lowry said.

“It was quiet and then we got hit again,” Lowry said. “It’s destruction of private property.”

He already owns a power washer, but cleaning up the graffiti would be expensive if that wasn’t the case, he said.

He’s decided to install security cameras around his business because of the most recent incident, he said.

It is a nuisance, but appropriate action depends on what the graffiti looks like, Johnny Smecca, president of the Galveston Restaurant Group, said.

The company owns Sky Bar Steak & Sushi, 2105 Postoffice St., Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar, 2107 Postoffice St., and Taquilo’s Tex-Mex Cantina, 2101 Postoffice St. — all downtown — where staff discovered some recent graffiti, Smecca said.

“When it is vulgar and it’s distasteful language, we don’t even wait for someone to do something about it,” Smecca said. “We just paint over it ourselves. We’re not going to let people park in the parking lot and look at a terrible four-letter word.”

But graffiti might be more of an issue for people who live downtown, Lowry said.

“The residents are more concerned than the business owners,” Lowry said.

The graffiti doesn’t make downtown resident Guy Taylor feel unsafe, but it undermines efforts to beautify the area, he said.

“It’s destructive of other people’s property,” Taylor said. “It’s really never been a problem that I’ve seen until very recently.”

The Galveston Police Department hasn’t reported an increased in graffiti-related calls, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not happening,” Barnett said. “They’re just not getting calls on it.”

The city requires property owners to remove graffiti that’s deemed a visual blight, including unauthorized forms of painting, according to the city code.

If it sees the graffiti, the city will send a property owner a notice and pay for the paint necessary to cover the drawing or writing. If property owners don’t respond to the notice within 10 days, they’ll be responsible for the cost of covering the graffiti, according to city code.

“It’s horrible, but what can you do?” Theresa Dickerson said.

She manages the property at La Masion Rouge, 418 22nd St., where graffiti also has been a problem before, she said.

It’s an issue for business owners who want to improve the aesthetics of downtown, she said.

“We’re trying to revive from Postoffice to The Strand,” Dickerson said.

The graffiti just hinders that effort, she said.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter @HeathKeri.


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