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MAP: Sunset Park Tops City Graffiti Complaints in 2014

By Nikhita Venugopal | September 24, 2014 7:40am
 Sunset Park topped the list of 311 graffiti complaints for the city in 2014 between January and September. Manhattan's Lower East Side and parts of Williamsburg were among the highest number of complaints as well, according to records.
Sunset Park Leads Graffiti Complaints in New York City
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Click on this map to see how your neighborhood ranks in graffiti complaints to the city's 311 complaint hotline:

SUNSET PARK — In a city full of graffiti complaints, Sunset Park made the top of the list.

There were 452 graffiti complaints made to the city's 311 hotline so far this year in the zip code 11220, which includes Sunset Park south of 43rd Street as well as a small portion of Bay Ridge, according to city stats.

That's up from 255 complaints in the area in 2013. 

The area had more graffiti complaints than any other zip code in the city far outpacing Williamsburg's 330 complaints and East New York's 250 complaints.

Brooklyn also led the city with the highest number of borough-wide complaints in 2014, with more than 4,800. Borough hot spots also included Greenpoint and Cypress Hill.

Queens came in second with 2,271 complaints, while The Bronx had 2,240 and Manhattan had 1,781, according to 311 data.

Staten Island fared best with just 196 complaints about graffiti, according to records.

Locals said they believe the uptick in Sunset Park is spurred by smaller groups of residents and business owners mounting their own battle against vandalism.

“There’s a lot of pride in Sunset Park,” said Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District, which has spent close to $100,000 on graffiti removal in the last two decades, particularly through an extensive graffiti cleanup initiative on Fifth Avenue.

“We don’t want our communities to look bad.”

Graffiti vandalism which can be punishable by a range of criminal charges including felony criminal mischief is most prevalent along Eighth Avenue, pillars under the Gowanus Expressway and certain pedestrian pathways, according to data and Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer.

Sunset Park resident Anastacia Vergara, 53, has spent a decade trying to keep the front door of her building graffiti-free but it repeatedly gets vandalized, her daughter Jovita Sosa said.

While Vergara's tenants have pitched in to wipe down the door before the paint sets, Vergara most recently took advantage of the NYC Economic Development Corporation's free graffiti-removal program, which repainted her door this year, Sosa added.

Still, despite the rise in complaints, longtime Sunset Park locals say the graffiti situation is actually better than what it was two decades ago when tags covered walls, storefronts, doors and even sidewalks and telephone boxes, they said.

"Being here for all these years, this is nothing," said Giordano, who has lived in the neighborhood for four decades.

Residents urged those in the area to keep reporting graffiti as they see it, and also to take advantage of the city's free removal program.

In addition, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce announced a three-month cleanup program for Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park’s Chinatown.

“The quicker we can get these things removed,” CB7's Laufer said, “the better the chance we would have less recidivism.”